15 Common Health Problems Seen in French Bulldogs

Written by Amber LaRock
Updated: August 23, 2023
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The French bulldog has won the title of America’s most popular dog breed! With their unique appearance and adorable personality, it’s no wonder so many people love this special pup.

The French bulldog might be the most popular dog breed in the states, but they do come with a slew of common health issues. If you plan to welcome a French bulldog into your family, then it’s time to learn about the potential health complications your little one could face.

Let’s discuss 15 common health issues seen in the French bulldog!

15 Common Health Issues Seen In French Bulldogs

french bulldog

©Angyalosi Beata/Shutterstock.com

There’s no denying just how adorable the French bulldog is, but these unique features increase their risk of a variety of health complications. Let’s break them down in detail below!

#1 Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

Brachycephalic airway syndrome is a common health issue seen in flat-faced breeds like the French bulldog. Brachycephalic dogs were designed to have shorter noses and squished faces, leading to restricted airways as a result. These pups often have narrow nostrils, elongated soft palates, and narrowed windpipes, putting them at risk of brachycephalic airway syndrome.

Brachycephalic airway syndrome can lead to difficulty breathing, exercise intolerance, and an increased risk of overheating. These pups will often snort, snore, pant, and tire easily with exercise due to their difficulties with pushing air back in and out of their lungs.

“French bulldogs with severe brachycephalic airway syndrome can find relief with surgery that opens the nares and resects their elongated soft palate. These procedures can help to open their airways and improve their quality of life.” – Dr. Amy Nicole Lewis, BVSc MRCVS

#2 Skin Irritation

The French bulldog is highly prone to developing skin irritation. The French bulldog is known to have skin folds around their face and the base of their tail, and these areas are often a breeding ground for bacteria. Not only are these moist skin folds just asking for a skin infection, but the French bulldog is also prone to suffering from irritating skin allergies. With these issues combined, you are left with a pup that is frequently struggling with irritated skin.

French bulldogs will often struggle with skin redness, itchy skin, pustules on the skin, sores on the skin, skin odor, and excessive shedding. Cleaning your French bulldog’s skin folds a few times a week can be a great way to prevent infection, as well as treating any underlying skin allergies as they develop.

#3 Overheating

The threat of overheating is incredibly high in French bulldogs due to their facial anatomy. Dogs rely on panting to bring cool air into their body when they are warm, but due to the French bulldog’s short snout and elongated soft palate, they are unable to do this properly. This makes it challenging to cool down their body in warm temperatures, leading to the increased risk of overheating and heat stroke.

For this reason, it’s important to take pay close attention to your French bulldog in warm temperatures. We always suggest bringing them back inside if they are panting excessively, drooling, or losing energy. It’s best to limit all outdoor activity to 10-15 minutes for French bulldogs when it is above 85 degrees.

#4 Ear Infections

French bulldogs are prone to painful ear infections due to their increased risk of skin allergies. Allergies in dogs can lead to a cycle of inflammation on the skin, and this leads to inflammation within the ears as well. Inflammation and swelling within the ears can increase the likelihood of bacterial growth, causing chronic ear infections to follow. Getting your French bulldog’s allergies under control will typically decrease the amount of ear infections they suffer from.

Ear infections in French bulldogs often cause ear redness, ear odor, pawing at the ears, rubbing their face on the ground, ear discharge, crusting of the ears, and pain when the ears are touched. Most ear infections in dogs will require a trip to the vet.

#5 Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is incredibly common in French bulldogs. Hip dysplasia refers to the improper alignment of the hip joints, leading to laxity and instability within the hips. This often causes the hip joints to rub and grind with each step the dog takes, eventually leading to breakdown within the hip joints over time. This can be extremely painful for the dog affected, and it will only get worse as time goes on.

Some common signs of hip dysplasia in French bulldogs include limping, joint stiffness in the hind legs, muscle wasting around the hips, difficulty getting up and down, hesitance with jumping, pain in the hind legs, and disinterest in physical activity.

#6 Back Injuries

French bulldogs have an increased risk of back injuries due to common abnormalities within their spine. The most common back issue seen in French bulldogs is a hemivertebra, or an incomplete vertebra within the spine. This spinal abnormality can cause compression of the spinal cord, hind leg weakness, incontinence, and even paralysis. This condition often requires surgical revision to resolve.

#7 Dystocia

Dystocia refers to a difficulty with giving birth. This is incredibly common in French bulldogs due to their large heads and narrow hips, making it near impossible for the Frenchie to birth their puppies naturally. This is such a common issue that most Frenchie breeders plan for their pregnant mothers to have C-sections rather than allowing them to birth naturally.

We always suggest planning for a C-section if you intend to breed your French bulldog, as it is uncommon for them to birth their puppies naturally without issue. A dystocia can be fatal for both the mother and the puppies if you do not seek immediate veterinary care, so it’s always best to budget for a C-section ahead of time.

#8 Cataracts

Cataracts are common in French bulldogs as they age. Cataracts occur when the lens within the dog’s eye thickens, leading to a cloudy appearance that disrupts their ability to see properly. Cataracts are more common among the French bulldog breed, but they are also common in dogs with diabetes.

Cataracts are not usually painful, but they can impact your dog’s quality of life due to how much they impact their vision. Cataracts can lead to eventual blindness over time, so surgical revision is often necessary to prevent complete blindness down the line.

#9 Corneal Ulcers

Corneal ulcers are common in French bulldogs due to their bug eyes. A corneal ulcer can form when the eye is injured or scratched in any way, leading to a painful ulcer to follow. Corneal ulcers will often worsen when left untreated, and some dogs may even need to have the eye removed due to increased eye pressure.

Some common signs of a corneal ulcer include eye redness, eye discharge, crusting around the eye, pawing at the eye, bleeding around the eye, squinting, and light sensitivity. We always suggest having your French bulldog assessed by a vet if they are experiencing any of these symptoms.

#10 Entropion

Entropion in French bulldogs occurs when the upper or lower eyelid rolls inward. This causes the dog’s eyelashes to rub against the eye, often leading to irritation and an increased risk of infection. Many dogs will also develop painful corneal ulcers as a result of the constant irritation.

The most common signs of entropion in dogs include eye watering, eye discharge, eye redness, pawing at the eye, and frequent eye infections. A French bulldog with entropion will need surgery to correct the issue and prevent further eye irritation. Most furry friends find great success with the surgery!

#11 Gastrointestinal upset

French bulldogs are known to struggle with a sensitive stomach. This means they can develop diarrhea from time to time, but especially when their diet changes in any way. We suggest being careful about any new additions to their diet, and trying to keep their food intake as consistent as possible. We suggest transitioning them over to a new food over a two week period if you do need to change their diet for any reason.

#12 Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation refers to a kneecap that pops out of place from time to time. This is not only uncomfortable when it occurs, but it can lead to arthritis within the knee joint over time. French Bulldogs with patellar luxation may experiencing occasional limping, skipping when walking or running, leg stiffness, and even pain when the leg is touched. The most common symptom is sudden limping during physical activity, only for it to resolve moments later on its own.

Some dogs with a minor case of patellar luxation will not require surgery, but if your dog is truly struggling, they may need to see an orthopedist for surgical repair of their luxating patellas.

#13 Tear Stains

The facial anatomy of the French bulldog makes them more prone to developing chronic tear staining. This occurs due to the improper development of their tear ducts, causing the ducts to back up and cause tears to drain down their face. This can lead to brown stains around the eyes that have to be cleaned frequently. Most French bulldogs will need to have their face cleaned with a warm wash cloth a few times a week to prevent chronic eye staining.

#14 Skin Infections

Skin infections are common in French bulldogs due to their increased risk of skin allergies, skin fold irritation, and yeast overgrowth. Skin infections in French bulldogs can lead to skin redness, itchy skin, sores on the skin, excessive shedding, skin odor, and frequent skin discomfort. In most cases, your vet will need to get to the bottom of your Frenchie’s skin irritation to treat the current skin infection. This will also prevent future skin infections to come.

#15 Cherry Eye

French bulldogs are genetically predisposed to an eye condition known as cherry eye. Cherry eye occurs when the tear gland in the corner of the eye prolapses, leading to the presence of a red mass in the inner corner of the French bulldog’s eye. Not only is this an unsightly cosmetic issue, but it can lead to dry eye due to the involvement of the tear gland. Many dogs will require surgery to revise the issue.

Final Thoughts

French bulldogs are prone to developing an array of medical conditions that can impact their quality of life. It’s important to establish a close relationship with a veterinarian the moment you welcome a Frenchie into your family, as they can stay on top of your pup’s health as the years pass. We also suggest keeping a close eye out for any of the symptoms we discussed above, as this will allow you to seek prompt care for your little one when needed!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Hryshchyshen Serhii/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Amber LaRock is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics surrounding pet health and behavior. Amber is a Licensed Veterinary Technician with 12 years of experience in the field, and she holds a degree in veterinary technology that she earned in 2015. A resident of Chiang Mai, Thailand, Amber enjoys volunteering with animal rescues, reading, and taking care of her two cats.

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