Your French Bulldog is a small, charming dog. It was bred as a companion animal in Great Britain and France in the 19th century. Your Frenchie loves to socialize, and probably follows you around the house. Frenchies attend closely to their humans, and sometimes suffer from separation anxiety if they don’t have people or dogs to interact with over long intervals.
Like all dog breeds, Frenchies are more susceptible to certain diseases than other breeds. Your Frenchie is more likely than other dogs to develop these health conditions.
Respiratory Problems in French Bulldogs
Frenchies are brachycephalic. They can struggle with breathing because of the shape of their heads. Brachycephalic dogs have smaller airways than other dogs. Their nostrils are narrow, and don’t draw much air. They have a hard time cooling down on a hot day or after exercise; dogs cool down by panting, and brachycephalic dogs struggle to do so. Shi Tzus, Boston Terriers, and Pugs are other examples of brachycephalic breeds.
Brachycephalic dogs favor breathing through their mouth, instead of their nose. All Frenchies are brachycephalic, but some have more severe cases than others. Dogs with severe brachycephaly sometimes require surgery to open their airways.
Over time, Frenchies’ respiratory systems can become inflamed because of brachycephalic strain. If your dog has trouble exercising, experiences fainting spells, or is lethargic, they might suffer from this inflammation. If your Frenchie isn’t getting around the way it’s supposed to, you should have your vet check them.
Degenerative Myelopathy in French Bulldogs
Degenerative myelopathy is a spinal nerve disease. If your Frenchie suffers from degenerative myelopathy, they’ll start to have trouble moving their hind legs. They might eventually struggle to control their bowels. Your Frenchie might start to lose muscle mass and have trouble standing. Eventually, your dog might become paralyzed.
Since Frenchies love to socialize, this disease can really hold them back. You’ve probably noticed that your Frenchie likes to follow you around the house when you’re at home and watch what you’re doing. They like to listen to your voice and spend time sitting near you. A dog with degenerative myelopathy might struggle to socialize. They will have a hard time getting around, and will struggle to climb furniture or stairs.
There is no cure for degenerative myelopathy, but it can be managed. Your dog will definitely need a comfortable bed, because they’ll have trouble moving. Make sure they’re groomed often: if they lie down often, your Frenchie might develop bed sores.
Kinesiology tape can help dogs with degenerative myelopathy. The tape can restore some feeling and circulation to affected areas.
Partially paralyzed Frenchies also might benefit from a wheelchair. Custom-built dog wheelchairs like the ones we build at K9 Carts can make an animal with degenerative myelopathy much more comfortable. They’ll get under foot again in no time.
Back Problems and Herniated Discs in French Bulldogs
Frenchies are uniquely susceptible to back problems, like herniated discs. Since Frenchies were bred to have short back legs and curled tails, their spines can sometimes be defective at birth. Those birth defects can cause pressure and injury in a Frenchie’s spine.
Dogs have cushions, or discs, that separate their vertebrae from each other. When those discs flare up, become misshapen, or move out of place, it’s very painful for your Frenchie.
This condition is known as Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD). A herniated disc can cause nerve compression, because a dog’s nerves are inside their spinal cord. Frenchies’ irregular spines can cause major pain or injury. In the worst cases, slipped discs can cause some degree of paralysis.
As with degenerative myelopathy, a Frenchie with a disc injury might struggle to socialize in the way that they’re used to. A custom-built, K9 Carts wheelchair can help them hang out with other dogs—and you.
This article isn’t a substitute for advice from a veterinarian. If you think your dog has any of these diseases, consult a professional as soon as you can.
Learn More About Your Frenchie’s Health
What is a brachycephalic dog? — Veterinary Expert
The Brachycephalic Syndrome — Dr. Jan Grebe
Disc Disease — UC Davis
French Bulldog — Wikipedia