Health Concerns:
Information Every French Bulldog Owner Should know... Every breed has genetic weaknesses that dispose them to certain diseases, and their temperaments (and yes looks) are often why we choose one breed over another. It makes good sense to know the breed you may be thinking of buying or rescuing, and to better understand what you can do to prevent problems for your own dog if you already have a certain breed. 

There are several congenital diseases and conditions that French Bulldogs are prone to, although they are still considered the healthiest of the Bull Breeds. Please scroll down to see certain diseases and information.

Frenchies can suffer from Von Willebrand's Disease (VWD), a bleeding syndrome similar to to Haemophilia in humans which can impede their clotting. In conjunction to this, French Bulldogs may also suffer from thyroid condition. Many breeders follow a program of testing younger dogs for VWD, and only testing for thyroid at that time if the VWD factor is low. In this program, the breeder tests thyroid again just prior to using the dog for breeding. Other breeders test both VWD and Thyroid at the same time.

As a result of the rather cramped conditions that a Frenchie's flat face creates, one of the most common defects in French Bulldogs is elongated soft palate or cleft palate. Puppies affected with Cleft palate are generally put down at birth, as it is generally considered to be an almost impossible condition to correct. Elongated soft palate can manifest as anything from a mild condition causing laboured breathing to severe condition that can cause the affected dog to pass out from moderate exercise. One of the most disgusting possibilities in a dog affected with elongated palate is passive regurgitation, in which the affected dog vomits up food or phlegm after eating or exercise. It is generally advisable to ask breeders if either parent has elongated soft palate, or has ever been operated on for the condition.

Another result of the compacted air way of the French Bulldog is their inability to effectively regulate temperature. While a regular canine may suffer to some degree from the heat, to a Frenchie it may be lethal. It is imperative that they be protected from temperature extremes at all times, and that they always have access to fresh water and shade.

French Bulldogs can also suffer from an assortment of back and spinal diseases, most of which are probably related to the fact that they were selectively chosen from the dwarf examples of the Bulldog Breed. Some breeders feel that only dogs that have been X-rayed and checked for spinal anomalies should be bred from, but this is a difficult position to take sides on. While it is true that no dog affected with a spinal disease should be bred from , there is a great deal of variance in the appearance of a French Bulldog's spine as compared to, for example, a Labrador Retriever. If possible, such decisions should be left to either a Vet or breeder who has seen quite a few Bulldog Breed Spinal Xrays, to avoid eliminating dogs unnecessarily.

No matter who you buy your French Bulldog from, make sure to ask what disorders they are testing for, and beware of any breeder who cavalierly states that "They don't have any of those problems in *their* lines." Reputable breeders are struggling to produce dogs that are as healthy as possible, and while these tests are expensive for the breeder to do, they can help to save the puppy purchaser hundreds or even thousands of dollars in potential vet bills. Needless to say, any one who would consider the purchase of a French Bulldog from a pet store would be further ahead to just sign their life savings over to their vet. In spite of all this, French Bulldogs are still considered to be the healthiest of the Bull Breeds.

Major concerns: stenotic nares, elongated soft palate, intervertebral disc degeneration, hemivertebrae
Minor concerns: CHD, patellar luxation, entropion, cherry eye
Occasionally seen: distichiasis, cataract, deafness

Since Frenchies have small throat openings you must be careful when giving pills that are not chewable. When giving 
oral medications such as pills, place pill in some cream cheese... They will gladly swallow the pill this way. You can try sliced meats/cheese also, but cream cheese works better.

Anesthesia:  French Bulldogs require special precautions when going under Anesthesia. Make sure your Vet is experienced with flat faced breeds. Young Frenchies are more prone to have adverse reactions to anesthesia so puppies should only go under anesthesia for emergency procedures.

Click Here for Frenchie Anesthesia Information

Heat Stroke:
Keep Your French Bulldog Cool in the Summer...
Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body temperature exceeds 107 degrees for more than a few minutes. Dogs, especially Frenchies are easily overheated in hot weather because their only significant way of releasing excess body heat is through panting. Dogs at increased risk are thick-coated dogs, naturally anxious or "high-strung" dogs, short-nosed dogs, or "noisy panters." These dogs may overheat on a hot day even while resting in the shade. Insufficient water to drink may also predispose a dog to overheating. Dogs left in a car even on relatively cool days may rapidly overheat because of the heat that gets trapped inside the car.

Initial signs of heat stroke are deep, rapid breathing and sluggish mental status, followed by loss of consciousness and possibly seizures (convulsions). Complications arising from heat stroke, even following treatment, include kidney and brain damage and widespread clotting of the blood inside the blood vessels (a deadly condition called D.I.C.). The first step to take if you suspect overheating or heat stroke is to lower the body temperature. The goal is to lower it rapidly until it is less than 107 degrees, then slowly after that. Do not actually immerse the dog in water. Saturate the fur with alcohol and cool water and apply cool compresses to the head and groin area. If the dog is conscious, give him cool water to drink--small amounts every few minutes. Go to a veterinary emergency facility as soon as possible, since survival is some cases of heat stroke depends upon early initiation of intravenous fluid therapy.

Click Here for Hot Tips & Simple Measures For Keeping Your Frenchie Cool This Summer


Cherry Eye
When the tear gland of the third eyelid pops out of position, it protrudes from behind the eyelid as a reddish mass. This prolapsed tear gland condition is commonly referred to as "cherry eye". The problem is seen primarily in young dogs, including the Cocker Spaniel, Lhasa Apso, Shih-Tzu, Poodle, Beagle, and Bulldog. It's also seen sometimes in certain cat breeds including the Burmese. 

This can be due to a weakness in muscles or pressure exerted by inflammation or infection.
The first thing to do is reduce (roll back) the protrusion to its correct position, immediately it occurs. Often this alone will be sufficient. Using a clean handkerchief, place over the protrusion. Place thumb on lower, inner edge of eyelid and roll thumb inward with minor pressure, popping the third eyelid back into its original, correct position. Veterinary assistance with an anti inflammatory eye drop could be beneficial in maintaining the integrity of the third eyelid, while swelling reduces and healing takes place.

Worst case scenario is when the third eyelid is not retained and therefore surgery is necessary. A number of effective procedures are available, with no further problems occurring during the dogs lifetime, hence the condition is more annoying at the time, rather than being a serious long term condition. To correct cherry eye, surgical REPLACEMENT of the gland is necessary. This treatment is superior to a somewhat older technique of surgically REMOVING the gland. The gland of the third eyelid plays an important role in maintaining normal tear production. We now know that dogs who have had the tear gland removed are predisposed to developing Dry Eye Syndrome later in life. Dry Eye Syndrome is uncomfortable for the patient, and requires the owner to administer topical medications several times a day for the remainder of the patient's life. To avoid this condition, it is preferable to tuck the tear gland back inside the third eyelid, where it can continue to function normally.

The procedures use to correct cherry eye by ophthalmologists vary depending on surgeon preference but a common procedure is called a "pocket technique". Although the gland cannot be put back into its original position in the third eyelid, a new pocket is made near the original position. The tear gland is tucked inside the pocket and the pocket is sutured closed.

Click Here to read more about Cherry Eye and see BEFORE AND AFTER PICTURES. This is a Neo Mastiff site, but very informative.

Brachycephalic Syndrome
Most people are not familiar with the term "Brachycephalic," but if you own a pug, Boston terrier, Pekingese, boxer, bulldog, shih tzu or any one of the other breeds with "pushed in" faces, you should become familiar with this word. The word comes from Greek roots "Brachy," meaning short and "cephalic," meaning head.Brachycephalic dogs have been bred so as to possess a normal lower jaw, that is, one in proportion to their body size, and a compressed upper jaw. In producing this cosmetic appearance, we have compromised these animals in many important ways and you, as an owner, must be familiar with the special needs of your pet.

THE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM - Brachycephalic breeds are characterized by "brachycephalic respiratory syndrome," which affects the different areas of the respiratory tract. Fortunately, most dogs do not suffer from all aspects of the syndrome but you should be aware of which your particular pet may have.

STENOTIC NARES - This is a fancy name for narrowed nostrils. The brachycephalic dogs begins by having very small nasal openings for breathing. If this is severe, surgical correction is possible.

TRACHEAL STENOSIS - The brachycephalic's windpipe may be dangerously narrowed in places. This condition creates tremendous anesthetic risk and should be ruled out by chest radiographs prior to any surgical procedures. 

HEAT STRESS - Because of all these upper respiratory obstructions, the brachycephalic dog is an inefficient panter. A dog with a more conventional face and throat is able to pass air quickly over the tongue through panting. Saliva evaporates from the tongue as air is passed across and the blood circulating through the tongue is efficiently cooled and circulated back to the rest of the body. In the brachycephalic dog, so much extra work is required to move the same amount of air that the airways become inflamed and swollen. This leads to a more severe obstruction, distress, and further over-heating.

Click Here to read about this syndrome, it is VERY useful information.

A problem that is frequently seen in French Bulldogs is called, elongated soft palate. The soft palate is a flap of mucousal tissue which closes off the animal's airway (nasopharynx) during swallowing to prevent foods and liquids from going into their lungs. It is difficult to fit the soft tissues of the canine mouth and throat into the brachycephalic's short face. As a result, the soft palate which separates nasal passage from oral cavity flaps loosely down into the throat creating snorting sounds. Virtually all brachycephalics suffer from this but, except in bulldogs, actual respiratory distress is rare. Excess barking or panting may lead to swelling in the throat which can, inturn, lead to trouble

In the figure to the left, you can see the soft palate just above the Esophagus. In animals with a normal soft palate, it touches or slightly overlaps the epiglottis.

In dogs with an elongated soft palate, the palate overlaps the epiglottis to a considerable degree, partially obstructing the animal's airway during breathing. This is manifested by snorting, snoring, strider, gurgling and gagging. The obstruction is worse with exercise.

In time, stretched ligaments in the larynx leads to labored breathing and laryngeal collapse. Laryngeal collapse is a late stage in airway obstruction. Pressure changes caused by the elongated soft palate bring about the stretching of the ligaments that support the laryngeal cartilages. These cartilages gradually collapse inward and block the airway. (See the drawing below).

In the diagram you can see that more air moves freely in and out of the lungs in the normal dog's airway, but the dog with the collapsed airway has less air flowing through it. At this stage any changes in the dog's need for air can cause acute respiratory insufficiency and cardiac arrest.

TREATMENT: An elongated soft palate is treated by surgically shortening the palate so that the edge opposes or slightly overlaps the epiglottis. Results are good and can extend the life of your French Bulldog by years if the operation is done before destructive changes occur in the larynx. It is for that reason that you have your French Bulldog checked by a veterinarian who is familiar with French Bulldogs and is skilled in identifying this abnormality. 

by Jan Grebe
Premature degeneration of the intervertebral discs, like hemivertebrae, is an all-too-common problem in French Bulldogs. In Sweden, research indicates that Frenchies are second only to Dachshunds in the incidence of disc disease, proportionate to the breeds' population sizes. No data are available for the frequency of the condition in the United States Frenchie population; but it seems to be high here as well.

Researchers believe that the breeds most commonly affected are the "chondrodystrophic" ones in which an abnormal development of the bones results in various skeletal disproportions, such as short legs and noses. In these breeds, chondrodystrophy predisposes the discs to being prematurely converted to an abnormal type of tissue, whose consistency is unsuitable for the discs' function. Then, in the parts of the back most subject to mechanical stress, these degenerated discs are liable to rupture or protrude.

Click Here to read more and see pictures on HEMIVERTEBRAE
Click Here to read more and see pictures on INTERVERTEBRAL DISC DISEASE

Patellar Luxation
The patella, or kneecap, is part of the stifle joint (knee). In patellar luxation, the kneecap luxates, or pops out of place, either in a medial or lateral position.

Bilateral involvement is most common, but unilateral is not uncommon. Animals can be affected by the time they are 8 weeks of age. The most notable finding is a knock-knee (genu valgum) stance. The patella is usually reducible, and laxity of the medial collateral ligament may be evident. The medial retinacular tissues of the stifle joint are often thickened, and the foot can be seen to twist laterally as weight is placed on the limb.
Click Here to read more about Patellar Luxation

Click Logos to visit links...

Orthopedic Foundation For Animals

Canine Health Information 

Canine Eye Registration Foundation

Louisiana State University BAER

Disclaimer: We do not claim to be veterinarians & by listing any information on this page we are not giving medical advice. We do not claim that the information herein will guarantee that this correct with anyone else's French Bulldog. Please do not use these links to attempt to diagnose or treat your pet. A licensed veterinarian is the best source of health advice for an individual pet. Remember that different veterinarians often disagree about the best treatments for pets. There are often several perfectly acceptable ways to treat the same condition. Just find the right Vet and ask a lot of questions!!!! We place these articles here for the public to read, as information, not FACTS. We found this information online, through web sites and other sources of information and list it here to inform others what we have read and what we think is important regarding French Bulldog Health concerns. If we state certain methods we have used or use on or have experienced with our own dogs, we do not wish to infringe these methods on anyone else, it is solely our opinion and nothing else. By reading, and/or using the material contained herein,  reader or user of this information fully understands the above and again agrees to utilize this information AT HIS OR HER OWN RISK TO HIS OR HER OWN PET.

We do not claim to be experts & by listing any information on this page or any page on our site we are not giving expert advice. We have owned Bullies for decades and French Bulldogs for years now, but feel no matter how many years you have in anything, you can never know enough and there is always something new to learn. We do not claim that the information on this website will guarantee that it is correct with anyone else's French Bulldog experience. Please do not use any links or pages on our website to make your decision. If any images here are copyright and they belong to you and you would like acknowledgment or removal please email us, they were sent to us to use on this page years ago

Remember that different breeders and owners have different opinions and often disagree. Frenchies vary in personalities and there can always be an exception to what is normal for the breed, therefore you must understand this BEFORE purchasing one. We place these articles on our website for the public to read, as information, not FACTS. We found this information online, through web sites, our own experience, friends experiences, things we have been told from other  Frenchie owners, etc. If we state certain methods we have used or use or have experienced with our own Frenchies, we do not wish to infringe these methods or opinions on anyone else, it is solely our opinion and nothing else. This is America, we do have Freedom of Speech and we are all entitled to an opinion. By reading, and/or using the material contained herein,  reader or user of this information fully understands the above and again agrees to utilize this information at your own risk.

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