We own a male Frenchie but also regularly look after a female one too, and it’s hard not to notice the difference in their nipples. Yes, I know that sounds weird, but I am talking about when you give them a belly rub!
Sometimes you might notice that the nipples have got bigger; this is most common in female French Bulldog, but sometimes can happen with the males too. Swollen nipples are mainly a female thing, so I will explain that first, then lower down talk about the possibilities of big nipples or teats in male Frenchies.
French Bulldog enlarged nipples: the possibilities
Before I explain why your Frenchie’s nipples have got bigger and swollen, it’s important to understand that it doesn’t always mean there is a health problem. It could be an entirely natural symptom of her heat cycle (read more about Frenchie heat cycles).
Here’s the most probable reasons why your Frenchie’s nipples are so big:
1. Enlarged nipples after heat cycle
If your female Frenchie hasn’t been spayed (read the pros and cons), she will go through her heat cycle. This is the period where her body gets ready to become pregnant and have puppies.
When the female goes into heat, she will have a number of physical changes, including swollen nipples. Her body is sending an enhanced blood supply to the mammary glands making them grow bigger than usual.
In most cases, the nipples will return to their normal size once the heat cycle is over, but it’s not uncommon for the teats to remain enlarged and permanently stay big. It doesn’t necessarily mean she’s pregnant.
Frenchies that have been spayed before they have their first heat cycle are unlikely to develop large nipples as this bodily function is almost eradicated.
Likewise, if you decide to get your Frenchie spayed after a heat cycle where her nipples grew bigger, they can actually get a little smaller after spaying. They will never return to the tiny size they were before puberty but will reduce down.
Handy Hint: Have you ever wondered how many nipples your Frenchie should have or even noticed an odd number of teats? Take a look at my guide to Frenchie nipples and what it can all mean for males and females.
2. Enlarged nipples during pregnancy and lactation
Big nipples and swollen breasts can be a sign of pregnancy. Whilst it’s not easy for Frenchies to mate naturally, it’s not entirely unheard of. Ask yourself if your female has been left alone with sexually active and non-neutered male dog.
If she has become pregnant, whether deliberately or not, her nipples will get larger to prepare for her puppies.
3. Swollen nipples due to a false / phantom pregnancy
Yes, false pregnancies in French Bulldogs, and all dog breeds, is actually a thing. The medical name for it is a pseudopregnancy or pseudocyesis and it’s more common than you probably think.
Phantom pregnancies mostly occur in intact females 6 to 8 weeks after the heat cycle but has also been reported in dogs that have been spayed.
It can manifest itself with all the usual signs of pregnancy, including behavioral and physical changes including swollen nipples.
Handy Hint: I recently wrote a guide to French Bulldog phantom pregnancies which includes the signs to look out for and how you can help your female get through this tricky time.
4. Big nipples due to allergic reactions
Frenchies are renowned for suffering a wide range of ailments, with allergies accounting for a large proportion of vet admissions. Some of these allergies can result in swollen breasts.
For example, your Frenchie could suffer with skin allergies (here’s a comprehensive list) which flare up due to their diet, contact dermatitis, cleaning products in your home, fleas, or even pollen.
If you see her scratching her itchy nipples and they are visibly bigger, it could mean it’s an allergy. Signs of allergy on and around the nipples include:
- Itchy nipples: she is trying to get at them constantly.
- Bleeding nipples: she has successfully itched and scratched them already.
- Purple nipples: changes in color can also mean allergy but can also mean tumor.
5. Swollen nipples after an injury or accident
Frenchies love to play, jump, run, and chase. They aren’t always the most graceful of dogs and can get caught off balance and roll. This is the most likely time they could damage a nipple, along with playfighting with other dogs.
Look for evidence of a wound, as swelling can occur as the body’s natural way of treating an injury.
6. Enlarged breasts due to mastitis
Mastitis occurs when your French Bulldog’s mammary glands get inflamed due to a bacterial infection. It typically occurs in Frenchie’s that have been feeding their puppies with breast milk but can also happen after a false pregnancy or even in some males.
Look for swollen breasts, discolored nipples, pus discharge, obvious pain, and your Frenchie trying to lick and scratch the area.
7. Big nipples due to cysts or tumors
Your French Bulldog’s nipples could be enlarged due to a serious health condition, possibly even cancer. Some people say you can feel for harder lumps under the nipples as a possible sigh, but please consult with your own vet.
I am not a vet, so I am not going to advise you too much on this point other than the following statement:
If you are at all concerned about your French Bulldog’s nipples being enlarged, always consult with a professional vet no matter how minor you think the problem might be.
If you see your Frenchie licking her nipples or trying to get at them, and they have got bigger, this suggests there is some pain and discomfort.
Why does my male Frenchie have enlarged nipples?
But what if your male French Bulldog’s nipples are enlarged?
It’s not as common as big nipples in the female of the breed, but it does still occur. The most common reasons why your male French Bulldog’s nipples are big are:
- Allergies: teats can become bigger due to a skin allergy
- Hair loss: sometime male Frenchie nipples can look bigger if they have lost hair
- Health issue: possible mammary gland tumors, cancers and cysts.
- Injury of accident: might have caught or cut the nipples.
- Mastitis: this can also occur in male Frenchies.
When you spend so much time petting and playing with your Frenchie it’s easy to see changes in their body. Our Claude loves his belly rubs (you can see a video on our YouTube channel) so I would notice if his nipples got bigger.
Thankfully we’ve never had to wonder why our French Bulldog’s nipples were so big or have become enlarged. That’s mostly because we have a male (you can see us trying to count his nipples in the video below).
The take-out here is to monitor your Frenchie for any changes in their appearance or behavior; big nipples are often no sign of a serious condition but should always be checked.
Disclaimer: I am not a vet and all information in this article was collated after doing my own online research. If your French Bulldog’s nipples are big and noticeably enlarged, please always seek a professional opinion.