This breed can be susceptible to certain illnesses and diseases, and prospective owners should be aware of these possible conditions. Because this is a “short-faced” breed, it is essential to have a good veterinarian with experience treating Frenchies and the diseases they may develop. Should you purchase your French Bulldog from a breeder, do some research to verify that the breeder is reputable and trustworthy. Good breeders will have health clearances and documentation from both of the puppy’s parents to prove they have been tested for genetic diseases.
Here are some common medical conditions that afflict this breed:
Brachycephalic Syndrome is a condition found in short-faced breeds; these dogs often have short heads, soft or elongated palates, and narrowed nostrils. they are short-faced breeds, which means their airways are obstructed to some degree. This condition can result in mild to labored breathing to a complete collapse of the airway. It is common for a Frenchie with this condition to snort and snuffle. Treatment ranges from oxygen therapy to surgical procedures to shorten the palate or widen the nostrils.
Hemivertebrae is a condition wherein one or more vertebrae are malformed, causing the vertebrae to become misshapen in a triangular or wedge shape. This deformity can occur on its own but can be part of a series of vertebral malformations as well. This medical condition can either cause no harm to a Frenchie, or it can put pressure on the spinal cord, leading to weakness, pain, and possibly paralysis. No treatment exists for hemivertebrae unless spinal cord pressure is occurring; then, surgery may be an option.
Allergies are often a problem for some French Bulldogs. Most allergies are the result of an inflammatory reaction to food, environment, or are caused by genetic predispositions to a particular allergen. If your Frenchie is frequently or excessively scratching, itching, or biting at his face, ears, neck, legs, paws, sides, hind end, or stomach, he may be suffering from allergies. Talk to your veterinarian who can diagnose the allergy, potentially determine its cause, and advise appropriate measures to manage allergic reactions. In most cases, allergies can be reduced or eliminated with medications or a new diet.
Patellar luxation is when the kneecap is dislocated, a common injury in small dogs like the French Bulldogs. Also called “slipped stifles,” patellar luxation happens when the kneecap (patella) is not lined up with the joint socket, and slips in and out of it. This action causes significant pain, and the condition typically occurs in the back legs. Because it is a congenital disease, patellar luxation is present from a dog’s birth; however, the actual injury does not occur until later in life. This disease can also lead to other debilitating medical conditions, such as arthritis, from the rubbing caused by the kneecap slipping in and out of the joint. Pain management and physical therapy can help a Frenchie with patellar luxation live a reasonably normal life, although in severe cases, surgery may be required so the dog can walk without severe pain. Likely, dogs with this disease will always be lame or have a limp.
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is a medical situation wherein a disc in the spine herniates or ruptures and pushes up into the spinal cord. When that action happens, nerve transmissions are prevented from moving along the spinal cord, resulting in pain, weakness, and temporary or permanent paralysis. IVDD can be caused by a variety of factors, including age, trauma, or simply a French Bulldog stepping or jumping the wrong way. Treatment depends on several conditions. Generally, dogs with IVDD may be candidates for surgery, but only if the procedure is done within a day of the injury occurring. Physical rehabilitation is also a possibility, and a veterinarian can give you an accurate assessment if rehab would be beneficial for your Frenchie. In particular, water treadmills, swimming, electrical stimulation, and massage are excellent rehab options for dogs.
Elongated Soft Palate and Cleft Palate are conditions that are common in this breed. Because of their physiology, Frenchies are prone to developing an elongated soft palate, which is the extension of the roof of the mouth and separates the oral and nasal cavities. This condition can cause serious issues, including causing difficulty in breathing and obstructing the airways. An elongated soft palate can be corrected through surgical removal of the excess part of the palate.
Another palate condition that affects French Bulldogs is a cleft palate, wherein a unilateral or bilateral slit that ranges in size from a small hole to a large break. Frenchies can be born with this deformity, or it can occur due to injury later in life. A cleft palate impacts both the soft and hard palates, and if it affects them at the same time, it may cause a cleft lip. The only treatment for a cleft palate is surgery to repair and close the hole. Not all dogs require this surgery, and some can live a normal life without it. Cleft palates are common, especially in small dog breeds, but most puppies born with this condition either do not survive much past birth or are euthanized by the breeder.