Breeds

Common French Bulldog Health Issues

Written by: BARK

September 12, 2022

The brawn to your brains, the bull to your matador, the light in your life—if you’ve ever met or owned a French bulldog, you know how charming this pint-sized companion can be. 

But those irresistibly boopable flat noses can be both a blessing and a curse: Like any other dog breed, French bulldogs are born with their own unique features that predispose them to dog health issues that can compromise their quality of life.

As a proud owner of your favorite French, your top priority is to return your pup’s affection and loyalty with quality routine care for their health and well-being. In this guide, we’ll touch on six dog health complications your Frenchie could face so you can learn how to spot and treat them if they arise.

6 Common Health Conditions in French Bulldogs

If it were up to us, every doggo would have a long, joyful run at life with pristine pet health and unlimited tummy time. But as a caring pet owner, it’s crucial to know which predispositions your pup has according to their breed—because the more prepared you are, the better quality of life you can give your little partner in crime.

Below, we cover six common French bulldog health conditions your doggo could face, plus tips for keeping them healthy and getting back to the dog park in no time.

#1 Skin Fold Pyoderma

Frenchies are known for their wrinkly faces, and while adorable they’re also a perfect breeding ground for skin fold pyoderma

If your fur baby comes home with a cut or scrape near one of these facial folds, bacteria can easily slip into that moist area and propagate. This could cause an infection, which may also turn up around their armpits, groin area, or other skin folds. 

Symptoms associated with skin foldsinclude:1

  • Redness
  • Discharge
  • Foul odor
  • Excess moisture
  • Itching and scratching

If your pup exhibits any of those symptoms, it’s time to make an appointment with the pet doc. The good news? Skin fold pyoderma is highly treatable with canine medicineprescribed by your vet.

french bull dog in the park


#2 Ear Infection

Frenchies’ adorable bat-like ears and round piggy-shaped bodies have earned them the fitting nickname of “bat pig.” Regrettably, those perky ears come with some especially narrow ear canals, which can lead them to develop otitis (the fancy term for an ear infection).

To help your Frenchie’s ears stay in tip-top condition, keep an eye out for the following otitis symptoms:2

  • Excessive head shaking
  • Stinky smell
  • Scabs or crusties in the ear
  • Dark-colored ear discharge

Once your vet has diagnosed your pup with an ear infection, they’ll likely use a medicated ear cleanser to flush out their ears. Depending on the severity of the infection, their vet may give you a topical medication to cleanse and treat their french bulldog health issue at home.2

#3 Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (BAS)

BAS is a breathing condition that can result due to another one of the French bulldog’s most lovable traits: their perfectly smushy little faces. Because of this, many Frenchies suffer from BAS in their lifetimes, even if their condition is mild.

Some tell-tale signs of Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome  in French bulldogs include:3

  • Snoring
  • Shortness of breath
  • Intolerance to heat and/or exercise

If the health problem is caught in the early stages, you can manage your pooch’s BAS by regulating their exercise routine, ensuring they hang out in a cool environment, and helping them maintain a healthy weight.

However, if their condition worsens, your vet may suggest some more intensive (and, at times, costly) treatment protocols:4

  • Medication – For temporary relief, your Frenchie may be prescribed steroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or oxygen to improve their breathing.
  • Surgery – As a long-term solution, your vet may recommend surgery to correct any snout abnormalities preventing them from breathing comfortably. These surgical correction options may include correcting stenotic nares, shortening an elongated soft palate, or removing laryngeal saccules, depending on your pup’s unique condition.
french bulldog in field of flowers


#4 Heat Stroke

Not-so-fun-fact: Dogs with flatter faces are twice as likely to suffer from a heat stroke.5 Why? Because while humans sweat to cool themselves down, dogs pant to help regulate their body temperature.

Because Frenchies are predisposed to Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome , which can impair proper breathing, they have a tougher time regulating their body temperature. If left unchecked, this could turn into heat stress, which could result in heat stroke if they’re overheated for too long. 

Especially in those hot summer days, keep an eye out for the following heat stroke symptoms:

  • Red or blue gums
  • Excessive panting
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 

If you notice any of these symptoms, immediately bring your Frenchie inside and pour some cool water over their head and neck to help them cool off.7 To help them avoid heat stroke in the future, keep your pupper in a cool, shady environment with extra water when home alone.

#5 Hip Dysplasia

Those stocky legs your Frenchie uses to strut alongside you are attached to hips that can sometimes cause French Bulldog health problems in the long run. 

In French bulldogs, hip dysplasia occurs when the ball and socket joint of the hips doesn’t fit together correctly, causing the joint to grind rather than glide smoothly together. For your pup, this can be extremely painful.

In addition to losing the range of motion in their hips, other hip dysplasia symptoms include:

  • Diminished overall activity
  • “Bunny-hopping” (you’ll know it when you see it)
  • Difficulty standing up or climbing stairs
  • Stiffness and limping

There are several treatment options for hip dysplasia, depending on the severity of the condition. Your veterinarian might suggest one or more of the following:8

  • A change in diet – Much to your pup’s chagrin, a change in diet may help them to lose weight, putting less pressure on their hip joints.
  • Restricting exercise – Your Frenchie might need less exercise or be asked to avoid exercising on hard surfaces.
  • Taking medications – Some vets prescribe anti-inflammatory medications or suggest supplements like glucosamine or chondroitin to alleviate pain and ease joint inflammation.
  • Surgery – In its advanced stages, hip dysplasia may require surgery to resolve. The type of procedure recommended will depend on your Frenchie’s age and whether they need a partial or complete hip replacement.
french bulldog on a couch


#6 Cherry Eye

Frenchies are masters of puppy-dog eyes, but when “cherry eye” crops up this look can be far more uncomfortable than it is cute. 

“Cherry eye” occurs when your dog’s third eyelid (yes, they have an extra eyelid!) prolapses, causing what looks like a bulging red mass situated on the periphery of their eye.9 Under normal conditions, this eyelid (officially termed the nictitating membrane) provides an additional layer of protection from debris or the occasional scrap with other dogs.10

Cherry eye isn’t necessarily a painful condition for your pup, but it can cause further issues like chronic dry eye or frequent eye infections if left untreated.11 In most cases, healing from cherry eye requires a surgical replacement of the eyelid.

4 Tips for Keeping Your French Bulldog Healthy and Happy

Just like humans, every dog, whether it is a Frenchie, Goldendoodle, Chow Chow, or Huskie enters the world with their own pet health-related proclivities by dint of sheer genetics. Fortunately, there are many proactive measures you can take to keep them looking and feeling their friskiest from head to tiny little tail.

Here are four ways to do right by your best French buddy to keep them healthy and safe from French Bulldog health problems:

  • Daily exercise – Your pupper may look cute with an extra roll or two (okay, they definitely do) but remember that French bulldogs are prone to obesity. Daily morning and evening strolls will help keep them strong, but if it’s too hot outside, you can always opt for a rousing game of rug tug-o-war or surprise them with a box of new toys.
  • A proper diet – Providing high-protein, low-fat meals is key for keeping your French bulldog feeling like the lovable little rock star they were born to be. And if your little piggy tends to eat their meals with a little too much vigor? Consider buying them a slow-feeder dog bowl to help them keep pace.
  • Use a dog shampoo for sensitive skin – Since French bulldogs are prone to skin conditions, find a shampoo suited to sensitive skin types. The right pooch ‘poo should be hypoallergenic, PH-balanced, and have anti-itch and anti-dandruff properties.
  • Regular vet visits – French bulldogs plus other dog breeds should see their vet at least once a year to stay up-to-date with their vaccines. Annuals will also give your vet the chance to give them a thorough once-over to make sure their ears, eyes, hips, etc., are in grade-A condition.
french bulldog stretching on a yoga mat


BARK: Curated Canine Care, Delivered Monthly

No one can predict your pup’s medical future, but you can do everything in your power to make sure they have everything they need to live a cozy, fulfilling life in your care.

BARK offers monthly subscriptions designed to help your pooch play, pout, and prowl around in tip-top shape. Treat your Frenchie to a fun-filled BARK box, with themed gifts like Boops and Scoops ice cream-themed treats to keep them cool. Or, discover a flavor they love with balanced meals from BARK Eats, full of premium ingredients like farm-raised chicken and rice.

Whether you’re cozying up at home or meeting new friends on the local dog track, shop the goodies, make your main man’s or miss’s month, and check out BARK Post today.

Sources:

  1. Walkin’ Pets Blog. The Most Common Health Problems in Frenchies. https://www.handicappedpets.com/blog/common-health-problems-in-frenchies/ 
  2. AKC. Dog Ear Infections: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/dog-ear-infections/ 
  3. Southern Cross. The 10 Most Common French Bulldog Health Problems. https://southerncrossvet.com.au/french-bulldog-health-issues/ 
  4. VCA. Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome in Dogs. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/brachycephalic-airway-syndrome-in-dogs/ 
  5. Daily Mail. Flat-faced dogs are TWICE as likely to get heat stroke because their short snouts make it almost impossible for them to cool down by panting. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8422757/Flat-faced-dogs-TWICE-likely-heat-stroke.html
  6. Pet 365. How Do Dogs Regulate Their Body Temperature? https://www.pet365.co.uk/how-do-dogs-regulate-their-body-temperature/ 
  7. Southern Cross. The 10 Most Common French Bulldog Health Problems.  https://southerncrossvet.com.au/french-bulldog-health-issues/
  8. AKC. Hip Dysplasia in Dogs. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/hip-dysplasia-in-dogs/ 
  9. VCA. Cherry Eye in Dogs. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/cherry-eye-in-dogs/ 
  10. The Spruce Pets. Cherry Eye in Dogs. https://www.thesprucepets.com/cherry-eye-what-is-the-best-option-3976996
  11. Gahanna Animal Hospital. How Concerned Should I Be When My Dog Gets a Cherry Eye? https://gahannaanimalhospital.org/how-concerned-should-i-be-when-my-dog-gets-a-cherry-eye/ 
  12. Frenchie Journey. French Bulldog Ear Infection Causes And How To Treat Them. https://frenchiejourney.com/french-bulldog-ear-infection-causes-and-how-to-treat-them/ 
Written by: BARK

September 12, 2022

INNOVATIVE DOG STUFF, EVERY MONTH.

A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.

INNOVATIVE DOG STUFF, EVERY MONTH.

A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.