The French bulldog, also referred to as the ‘Frenchie,’ can be perfect canine companions. They have the innate ability to make people laugh; hence, they are also often called clown dogs. The French bulldog has taken the Labrador Retriever’s spot as the UK’s most popular dog breed. Despite the increasing popularity of the breed, not many people know that the breed can suffer from hereditary health problems.
You might also be interested in reading the article on why Frenchies have become so popular.
Are French bulldogs prone to health problems? Just like any other brachycephalic or short-muzzled breeds, they are susceptible to certain diseases from selective breeding to produce dogs having extreme brachycephalia features.
‘They have got all of the tissues in their head that a normal dog has, but they have less room, they get dental crowding and they also get the soft palette hanging down – that is what gives them the (breathing such as snuffling or snorting) sounds,’ stated Professor Paul McGreevy, a researcher from the University of Sydney.
Allergies on French bulldogs
Chronic allergies are usually observed in Frenchies and may manifest from either food allergy or environmental allergy.
Food allergy happens when the dog’s immune system mistakenly thinks that the food your dog consumed are foreign bodies. The immune system then attacks it by producing antibodies. The allergic reaction is then manifested, like itchy skin. Beware of the following food that can cause food allergies:
- Chicken eggs
- Dairy products
This type of allergy can be contracted from physical contact or exposure to certain allergens. Hypersensitive canines are most vulnerable. Beware of the following:
- Animal dander
- Airborne pollen
- Dust mites
Signs that a Frenchie could have an allergy:
Brachycephalic airway syndrome (BAS)
This manifests through primary upper airway anatomical abnormalities that result in elongated soft palate, everted saccules, hypoplastic trachea, and stenotic nares. This condition is commonly observed in flat-faced canines including French bulldogs, pugs, and Boston terriers.
- Elongated soft palate – This is the narrowing of the dog’s airways, which causes an increase in effort to inhale.
- Everted laryngeal saccules – There would be small pouches or sacs that can be found inside the larynx. The swelling saccules will soon obstruct airway flow without surgical interruption.
- Hypoplastic trachea – This can be observed from the abnormal narrow windpipe that disrupts airflow and proper breathing.
- Stenotic nares – This is a condition where the nostrils are narrowed, restricting the air flow into the nostrils.
- Breathing is accompanied by extreme noises such as heavy snoring
- Exercise intolerance
- Coughing and gagging
- Difficulty in breathing
Signs of severe respiratory distress:
- Increased weight
Mating and reproductive problems
One of the frequently asked questions regarding French bulldogs is this: ‘Why is the French bulldog so expensive?’ Perhaps, one of the reasons is the breeding. The French bulldog is not easy to breed. Due to issues with their body build and conformation, it results in a challenging process of mating and giving birth.
Frenchies are born with too narrow hips. This results in the difficulty of male dogs in mounting females during the mating process. As such, breeding requires artificial insemination for a successful mating and conception.
The same problem can be said about the delivery. The same conformation problem results in a challenging delivery of litters. In most cases, French Bulldog bitches deliver litters through caesarean section.
French bulldog health problem: cleft palate
Genetic defects include palate deformities in Frenchies. The palate is the opening of the mouth that parts it from the nasal passages. What is a cleft palate? This can be observed when palate tissues do not properly grow from birth. Symptoms vary on the deformity.
- Cleft lips can be seen with protruding gums or teeth. Nostril deformities may take form as well.
- Secondary cleft palate takes form inside the mouth, which has signs that are easy to miss.
French bulldog spine problems
Frenchies often suffer from hemivertebrae. This occurs when spines are abnormally shaped and do not align with other bones in the spine, creating deformity in the spinal column. This condition is common in breeds having screw-tails. Screw-tails are believed to have been caused by hemivertebrae in the tail, which may be connected from the hemivertebrae in the spine. Further, all Frenchies are likely to have spine problems but can only be confirmed through X-ray.
Brachycephalic breeds have short noses resulting in difficulty in breathing. This makes them susceptible to heatstroke. Heatstroke happens to pets left in a car without proper ventilation on a hot day.
Signs of heatstroke include:
- Excessive panting
- Red or dark gums
Owners that notice the signs and symptoms on their Frenchies should immediately call the vet for treatment and medication.