French Bulldog Health Issues: Common Problems to Watch Out

french bulldog health issues

In 2018, the Royal Veterinary College found that 72% of French Bulldogs had health issues. It’s vital to know this before adding one to your family. This breed often faces serious health problems due to how they’ve been bred.

They can suffer from Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), overheat, and have skin allergies and infections. French Bulldogs might also get ear infections easily and often need help giving birth.

Spinal issues like hemivertebra can hurt their spine and cause other nerve problems. The breed’s breathing problems, like a narrow windpipe, increase risks during surgery. Eye diseases such as cataracts and cherry eye are not uncommon. Plus, they might have stomach issues and hernias, adding more to worry about.

Key Takeaways

  • French Bulldogs are highly susceptible to skin infections and allergies, typically manifesting between 1-3 years old.
  • Determining allergens can be costly and time-consuming, occasionally taking months to years and costing upwards of $1,000.
  • French Bulldogs commonly suffer from ear infections, which can worsen over time due to ear canal complications.
  • These dogs almost always require cesarean sections for birth due to disproportionate head-to-hip size.
  • Spinal conditions like hemivertebra can cause significant neurological issues, requiring advanced imaging and potential surgery.

Thinking of getting a French Bulldog? Be ready for regular vet visits and maybe big medical bills. Pet insurance and choosing ethical breeders can help protect your dog’s health. This info is important for anyone considering a French Bulldog as a pet.

Brachycephalic Syndrome and Breathing Difficulties

French Bulldogs are known for their flat faces, but this look brings big health risks. They can struggle a lot with breathing because of this. Their syndrome makes it hard for them to get enough air. This can become a very serious issue for them.

brachycephalic syndrome

Causes of Brachycephalic Syndrome

This issue comes from people breeding French Bulldogs to have shorter faces. This kind of breeding has caused problems like small nostrils and a too-long soft palate. The way their throats and windpipes are built also adds to their troubles.

Another thing that makes it worse is breeding for a deep underbite and small eye openings. All these changes make it tough for French Bulldogs to breathe.

Signs and Symptoms

BOAS signs usually start showing when a French Bulldog is 1 to 4 years old. These include finding it hard to breathe, not handling heat well, and making noise when they sleep. Often, they’ll cough or sneeze for no clear reason. They might find it hard to exercise too.

In bad cases, they might even completely lose their breath. This can be very dangerous, especially if it’s hot or they’re very active. Some Bulldogs show mild symptoms, others have it much worse.

Management and Treatment Options

Coping with BOAS often means changing the dog’s lifestyle. This can include not letting them get too worked up, not letting them get too hot, and keeping their weight in check. Getting a vet’s opinion might mean some risky tests, like ones that need anesthesia. It’s a bit risky because of their breathing problems.

If things are really bad, they might need surgery. Surgeries could involve making the nostrils bigger or the soft palate shorter to help them breathe better. Making sure they don’t get too heavy is very important. Owners should know how much obesity makes BOAS worse. They should also avoid buying dogs with this problem, to help these dogs live better lives.

Heatstroke Risks and Prevention

French Bulldogs are at high risk of heatstroke. They can’t pant well because of their short noses. This is part of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). It’s vital to know how to prevent heatstroke. This helps keep these pets safe from deadly heat issues.

Causes of Heatstroke in French Bulldogs

French Bulldogs have short airways and can’t sweat. This makes them likely to get heatstroke. Even on mild days of 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit, they can be in danger. For example, a hot car can reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit quickly. Their inability to cool themselves makes heatstroke a real risk.

Signs and Symptoms of Heatstroke

You’ll notice heatstroke in French Bulldogs by their excessive panting, drooling, and red ears. Severe signs can include weakness, stumbling, and fainting. If you see these signs, act fast. Cool your dog with water, ice packs on the head, or a cool bath. Lowering their temperature is crucial.

Prevention Tips

Preventing heatstroke involves key steps. Always give them shade and lots of fresh water when it’s hot. Watch the weather and don’t let them out in extreme heat. Be very careful when it’s over 80 or 90 degrees. Never leave your dog alone in a car. Car temperatures can become very dangerous quickly.

  1. Check the weather forecast before heading outside with your French Bulldog.
  2. Always provide a shaded area and plenty of water during outdoor activities.
  3. Supervise your dog closely and limit their activity when it’s hot.
  4. Use cooling mats, coats, or bandanas designed to help dogs stay cool.
  5. Exercise your French Bulldog indoors when temperatures or humidity are high.

By taking these steps, you can greatly lower your French Bulldog’s heatstroke risk. This will keep them safe and well during the warm season.

Spinal and Neurological Problems

Fighting spinal issues in French Bulldogs is key. Look out for hemivertebra and Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD). They can bring on serious nerve problems and need quick care.

French Bulldog spinal issues

Hemivertebra and Spinal Cord Compression

Hemivertebra is a birth issue found in French Bulldogs. It squeezes the spinal cord and causes back leg weakness or even incontinence. These nerve issues show up mostly if the spine is bending or squeezing the nerves.

One study looked at 533 French Bulldogs with nerve signs. About 18.7% of these dogs got symptoms in the first year. To find out the exact problem, imaging like CT or MRI is crucial. Sadly, not fixing it urgently usually means bad news.

Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD)

IVDD is a big concern for French Bulldogs, making up 45.5% of nerve cases. It strikes the neck or lower back most. Yet, 39.8% occur in the neck and 60.2% in the back. Signs can include pain, hard time walking, or even being unable to move their legs.

Quick help from a vet is a must for IVDD, which might mean surgery. Hansen type I disk herniation is the main type seen.

Signs to Watch For

Seeing nerve and spine problems early can really help your French Bulldog. Keep an eye out for these signs:

  • Hind leg weakness or dragging
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Pain when touched or lifted
  • Difficulty in walking or uncoordinated movements
  • Visible discomfort or changes in posture

Tools like wheelchairs can boost your dog’s life quality. Don’t skip regular vet visits to watch for signs.

Neurological DisorderPrevalence in French Bulldogs
Intervertebral Disk Herniation (IVDH)45.5% of cases
Spinal Arachnoid Diverticulum (SAD)11.3% of cases
Brain Tumors36.8% of encephalopathies
Meningoencephalitis of Unknown Origin (MUO)25.0% of brain disorders

Common French Bulldog Health Issues

French Bulldogs are known for their cute looks but can have many health problems. They commonly face issues with their skin. This often shows up as itchy rashes on their paws, belly, and the folds of their skin. Younger dogs, usually between 1 and 3 years old, are more likely to have these problems. It’s important to clean their skin folds to prevent infections. They can also have allergies, which might mean they need treatment their whole lives. This can be expensive because of the many tests they might need.

allergies in French Bulldogs

Another common issue is with their eyes. They might get Cherry eye, have cataracts, or develop corneal ulcers. In some cases, they might need surgery to fix these problems. Dr. Lillian Baker, D.V.M., says that Cherry eye often requires surgery, but it doesn’t often happen again after that.

French Bulldogs can also have stomach problems. One big issue is chronic diarrhea, which might be because of food allergies or a disease called inflammatory bowel disease. They might need special diets and medicine to manage this.

These dogs’ cute ear shapes can actually cause them trouble. Their narrow ear canals can lead to ongoing ear infections, especially if they also have allergies. They’ll need regular visits to the vet and treatment to keep their ears healthy.

Hip problems and spine issues are also common. These can make it hard for them to walk or climb stairs without pain. Sometimes, they might need scans or even surgery to fix these issues.

With all these health problems, owning a French Bulldog can cost a lot of money. It’s very important to have pet insurance, and to be ready for the potential medical issues. This is key for anyone thinking of getting a French Bulldog.


Thinking about having a French Bulldog in your life? It’s key to know they face many health issues. This is especially true as they’ve become the top choice in the U.S. by the American Kennel Club. Their unique looks, like their smushed faces, can lead to breathing problems, trouble with heat, and more.

Taking good care of a French Bulldog means visiting the vet often, feeding them special food, and keeping them clean. Learning about these dogs’ health issues helps you care for them better. It’s also important to support breeders who prioritize health to help future French Bulldogs lead healthier lives.

Finding out how much it costs to care for a French Bulldog is also very important. They can have steep medical bills, especially in emergencies. Pet insurance can help with these surprise expenses. With the right care and financial planning, your French Bulldog can bring you and your family lots of happiness.


What are the most common health issues in French Bulldogs?

French Bulldogs often have health issues. These include a risk of breathing problems called Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). Also, they may experience allergies, spine and eye issues, and hip dysplasia. Skin infections, ear infections, and needing cesarean sections for birth are also common.

What causes Brachycephalic Syndrome in French Bulldogs?

Their unique looks cause Brachycephalic Syndrome. This includes narrow nostrils and a small windpipe. These traits come from selective breeding for a flat-faced look.

What are the signs and symptoms of Brachycephalic Syndrome?

Signs of this syndrome are labored breathing, dislike of heat, loud snoring, and serious breathing problems. These issues usually start showing between 1 and 4 years of age.

How can Brachycephalic Syndrome in French Bulldogs be managed or treated?

Managing this syndrome involves some lifestyle changes. These include limited exercise, keeping their weight under control, and avoiding stress and hot weather. In severe cases, surgery may be needed to help them breathe better.

Why are French Bulldogs at risk of heatstroke?

Their flat faces make French Bulldogs prone to heatstroke. This is because they can’t cool themselves as effectively through panting. Hot and humid weather can be especially dangerous for them.

What are the signs and symptoms of heatstroke in French Bulldogs?

Heatstroke signs in French Bulldogs are heavy panting, drooling, confusion, and weakness. Severe cases can lead to coma. Fast action, including seeing a vet right away, is critical if heatstroke is suspected.

How can heatstroke in French Bulldogs be prevented?

To prevent heatstroke, keep your French Bulldog cool and well-hydrated. Be careful during outdoor play and never leave them in a hot car alone.

What spinal and neurological problems are common in French Bulldogs?

Hemivertebra and Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD) are typical spinal issues. These can cause problems like hind leg weakness, loss of bladder control, and sometimes paralysis.

What are the signs of spinal and neurological problems in French Bulldogs?

If your French Bulldog has spinal or neurological issues, they may struggle to walk or show signs of pain. In severe cases, they might become paralyzed. Seeing a vet immediately is crucial.

What other health issues are common in French Bulldogs?

Besides Brachycephalic Syndrome and spine problems, Frenchies can have skin infections, allergies, and eye issues. Gastrointestinal problems like chronic diarrhea also occur. They are at a higher risk for hip dysplasia.

How can I better manage the health of my French Bulldog?

Good care involves regular vet visits and healthy practices. It’s important to keep them at a healthy weight in a good environment. Being aware of common health problems and supporting ethical breeding with health insurance can also help.

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About the author

Nathan Green

I'm Nate Green, a lifelong dog lover and proud owner of numerous dogs throughout my adult life. My passion for dogs goes beyond just owning them; I am dedicated to understanding and sharing the joys and complexities of dog ownership with fellow enthusiasts.