French Bulldog Health Issues
French Bulldogs are charming little buddies, and can be great companions for owners who are generous with their attention and affection. That said, it’s vitally important even for the most well-meaning prospective owners to have a great understanding of the French Bulldog’s health requirements, tendencies, and potential issues before committing to a long-lasting future with these furry friends.
Despite their popularity and reputation as wonderfully loyal companions, the French Bulldog is one of the most high-profile breeds for heredity health issues. Let’s delve into the types of issues they can potentially face.
The reproductive process for French Bulldogs is complicated; it’s as simple as that. Due to issues with their build and conformation, medical problems are common in every aspect of the process from conception to birth.
In fact, many males are completely unable to breed naturally, because their body structure prevents proper mounting in the breeding process. Believe it or not, a large number of French Bulldogs are bred via artificial insemination because of this!
As far as females are concerned, they are incredibly prone to “silent heats” which are inconsistent and hard to predict. Finally, because of her narrow hips and puppies’ large heads, many Frenchie females must deliver via C-section
In short: if you’re interested in breeding French Bulldogs, it is not for the faint of heart (or the slight of wallet)!
French Bulldogs are prone to a bleeding syndrome called Von Willebrand’s Disease (otherwise known as VWD). This disease is similar to Hemophilia in humans as it can prevent clotting and excessive bleeding. Typically if VWD is a concern, so are thyroid issues, as they do go hand in hand. Both can be tested for by breeders before the breeding process to ensure a completely healthy litter.
For whatever reason, French Bulldogs do tend to suffer from a vast range of issues with their eyes. Conditions like Cherry Eye, Retinal Fold Dysplasia, Glaucoma and Corneal Ulcers run rampant in the breed on a more serious scale. Younger Frenchies are also much more prone to Juvenile Cataracts than dogs of other breeds, and if they don’t develop it as young pups, they’re almost certainly to develop them later in life.
French Bulldogs are brachycephalic dogs, meaning their muzzles are incredibly short and have a “smashed” in appearance - this is what makes them impossibly adorable! Aesthetics aside, this can be an incredibly dangerous issue for owners who are unaware of what this means.
Primarily, the shortness of the muzzle can lead to the dog being unable to pant effectively – an action which is pivotal in maintaining the appropriate body temperature. From this stems a condition called brachycephalic syndrome, which is comprised of a wide variety of breathing issues and challenges related to extremely short airways.
In addition to brachial issues, some French Bulldogs suffer from a elongated soft palate (or cleft palate). Most puppies born with this effect are put down after birth, as this effect is nearly impossible to correct and incredibly dangerous. Laboured breathing that’s severe enough to cause the dog to pass out is a common problem in this condition, as is the likelihood of passive regurgitation (vomiting after eating or exercising). Because of how serious this can be for animals, it’s always encouraged that you ask your breeder if either parent has (or has ever had) an elongated soft palate.
The French Bulldog has spinal issues which date back to the 1800s, when they were first bred by English workers in France. The workers, who travelled specifically to find work, brought with them only the smaller (dwarfed) bulldogs, and began breeding and selling them with great demand as a unique breed.
With that, the breed as a whole has a heightened genetic predisposition to a range of spinal issues, all of which stem back to being bred from dwarf bulldogs. The primary issue that is commonly encountered is chondrodysplasia, or partial dwarfism.
Finally, Patellar luxation (a dislocation of the kneecap) can also affect the breed due to a congenital deformity that the French Bulldog is susceptible to at birth.
Caring for Your Little Guy
Don’t underestimate the cost of owning a French Bulldog! Given the challenges and health complications mentioned, caring for your dog certainly won’t be cheap; at times, it’ll be more expensive than you bargained for.
If you’re living payday to payday without a reserve for emergencies, a French Bulldog may not be a great fit for you, and there’s a great chance you simply won’t be able to care for it.
Step one in ensuring the health of your puppy is to find a reputable breeder you can trust. The purchase price for a well-bred French Bulldog puppies is higher, and not just because of their prestigious reputations. Great breeders will certainly factor pre-breeding health screening and safe methods of conception and delivery (artificial insemination and C-section) into their asking price.
If you find a French Bulldog for sale at a cheap price, chances are there are major health concerns with the dog, or the breeder has not done adequate research (therefore does not need to cover his costs.)
If you have already found that breeder and you’ve brought a puppy home, you’ll need to be really pro-active in caring for your French Bulldog to minimize health risks and concerns!
Eyes and muzzle as a whole require regular cleaning and thorough drying, and you should have your vet detail what you need for this and how it’s done. Staying on top of regular maintenance (not to mention routine vet visits) in this way will ensure that your little one avoids infections and bacteria that could wreak havoc over time.
You’ll also need to be mindful of your little one’s susceptibility to brachial issues because of his short snout. Avoid leaving him outside on hot days, and avoid taking him on long or strenuous walks at any time of year. Rather, your Frenchie should be an indoor dog the vast majority of the time, and walks should be kept short (best to do two short walks a day instead of one long one).