The Most Common Health Problems in French Bulldogs

May 9, 2018
Amanda Carrozza

Amanda Carrozza is a freelance writer and editor in New Jersey.

Their rapid rise in popularity has prompted researchers to examine some of the most common health problems recorded in French bulldogs, many of which are associated with substandard breeding practices.

They might be short in stature, but when it comes to breed popularity, French bulldogs are leaping over the competition. Earlier this year, the American Kennel Club went so far as to declare that the pint-sized pups were poised to take over the top spot—held by the Labrador retriever since 1991—as the most popular breed in the United States.

But what do pet owners, breeders, and veterinarians really know about French bulldogs other than that their photos garner hundreds of likes on social media?

A new study conducted by the Royal Veterinary College in London revealed a number of unexpected facts about the popular breed—most notably that these dogs are susceptible to a myriad of health problems. In fact, 72.4% of the French bulldogs studied had at least 1 recorded disorder.

These findings “are not only helpful to puppy buyers but also to breeders, veterinarians, and welfare organizations, and will feed into the Kennel Club’s wider health work for brachycephalic dog breeds, helping us to build a better picture about the health issues in French bulldogs and how they might be tackled,” said Caroline Kisko, secretary for the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, the group that supported the study.

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A total of 2228 French bulldogs under veterinary care participated in the analysis, which the college is calling Britain’s largest ever study of the breed. Upon evaluating their data for patterns of disease, the researchers found that the most common disorders recorded in French bulldogs were ear infections (14%), followed by diarrhea (7.5%) and conjunctivitis (3.2%).

Compared with other dog breeds, French bulldogs were particularly prone to skinfold dermatitis (3%), cherry eye (2.6%), and brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (2.4%).

Gender also seems to play an important role in the susceptibility of French bulldogs to developing health problems. Males were more likely to be diagnosed with 8 of the 26 most common breed-associated conditions, whereas no issues were more common in females.

The authors hope their findings provide potential pet owners with information on the issues that they could expect and should look out for in French bulldogs, as well as the importance of researching breeders.

“There has been an unprecedented surge in popularity of the French Bulldog, as well as irresponsible breeders, who want to make a quick profit, are cashing in on this trend by churning out puppies with no regard for their health, temperament or welfare,” Kisko said. “The paper shows that many of the health problems seen in the breed can be caused by low welfare standards, often seen on puppy farms."