French Bulldog Life Expectancy and Health Issues

Jan 26, 2022

If you’re considering adopting a French Bulldog, be prepared for people to stop you in the street so they can say hi to your adorable dog. With fans all over the world, the French Bulldog is a popular dog these days. With their large, almost bat-like ears and steady disposition, it’s no wonder these dogs are one of the most sought-after breeds in the world. In this article, we’ll discuss French Bulldog life expectancy, their common health problems, and ways to help your dog live a long and healthy life. 

What is the Life Expectancy of a French Bulldog?

These smaller dogs can expect to live between 10-12 years, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). While lifespan is partly dictated by genetics, there are many factors under your control like good nutrition, exercise, and oral care. All of these things, and more, can help your French Bulldog live a long and healthy life. 

Common French Bulldog Health Issues

Unfortunately, the list of potential French Bulldog health issues is a long one. Many of them are rooted in genetic causes. Here is a list of five common ones, but the full list goes on past twenty. Part of their health issues is related to their flat faces, which can complicate breathing. Other common health issues for French Bulldogs include hip dysplasia and spinal disorders. It is recommended that, in addition to adopting from a reputable breeder, French Bulldog owners purchase health insurance for their dog. 

  • Allergies

Respiratory allergies are complicated in French Bulldogs because of their shortened snouts. Their compromised airways are more susceptible to irritation from environmental allergens. 

  • Hip Dysplasia

In dogs with hip dysplasia, their hip socket joint doesn’t form properly, so the ball joint of the leg can’t fit properly into the hip socket. Over time, the wear and tear of an improperly fitting joint will degrade the protective cartilage cushion, leading to bone rubbing on bone. This is incredibly painful and will eventually lead to loss of function. 

  • Conjunctivitis (pinkeye)

This is an irritation or inflammation of the tissue that covers the top of the eyeball. Its symptoms include bloodshot eyes and a mucousy discharge from the eye. It is aggravated by allergies. If you notice your French Bulldog rubbing its eyes frequently, check for redness, swelling, and discharge. It’s not serious and can easily be treated. Do take your dog to the vet to rule out anything more serious. 

  • Deafness

This condition varies in its presentation. Sometimes dogs are born deaf, others lose their hearing as they age. It can be in one ear or both. It completely depends on the dog. Due to genetics, French Bulldogs with certain colorings, white and merle, are more prone to deafness. 

  • Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

This term includes a few different airway and breathing issues French Bulldogs are more likely to develop because of their flat faces. Allergies can irritate French Bulldogs more easily, and they may have stenotic nares, which are pinched or narrow nostrils. The Elongated Soft Palate is another condition where the soft palate blocks the throat because it is too large. Tracheal collapse happens when the trachea, or breathing tube, weakens over time becoming unable to support itself. French Bulldogs with any of these issues may require surgery to breathe better. 

How to Improve Your French Bulldog’s Health and Lifespan

  • Responsible breeding

If you are looking into adopting a French Bulldog, then choosing a good and reputable breeder is the best way to ensure you have a healthy dog. Good breeders take care of their dogs and put their animal’s welfare above profits. Adopting a puppy from a breeder who doesn’t take care of their dogs or treat them ethically does no service for you or the breed’s overall health. Here are a few indicators that you’ve found a quality French Bulldog breeder.

  1. Happy animals are a sign of a quality breeder. Good breeders care about their dogs and would only have as many as they could take the best care of. On this note, a good breeder will let you see their animals, especially the mother of the litter you’re considering adopting from, and where she and the puppies are living. 
  2. Good breeders perform a whole battery of health tests on any dogs they’re considering breeding. There are lists of standard tests needed for specific breeds, a good breeder will have done all these tests and have the records to prove it. Many quality breeders will also go above and beyond to do more medical tests than is strictly necessary, as well. A good breeder will never, ever breed dogs that aren’t healthy or are at risk of producing unhealthy puppies. 
  3. Good breeders generally have a waiting list, especially for French Bulldogs. This is because dogs can only safely breed once a year. And, it’s only healthy for a dog to have up to three litters in a lifetime. So you may need to wait once you’ve found a breeder you want to work with.
  4. Expect to be interviewed thoroughly as your breeder determines if you’ll provide a suitable home for one of their puppies. Good breeders never give their puppies to unfit homes. 
  • Nutrition

Nutrition is the number one way to extend and improve your dog’s health. Good nutrition will increase your French Bulldog’s lifespan. Your dog’s body knows how to heal itself and stay healthy, as long as it has all of the things, like good nutrients, that it needs. Stay away from dog foods with grains as the first three ingredients. Beware of ingredient splitting, which is when manufacturers try to disguise the main ingredient by splitting it up into parts. For example “corn” becomes “cornmeal” and “corn gluten”, which allows these ingredients to be found lower on the list. The first three ingredients of your dog’s food should be meat, pure and simple. And not meat byproducts, but real meat. Some grains are healthy, but dogs require high protein diets since they are naturally carnivorous.

Another thing to consider is that cheap dog food is often formulated to meet the minimum nutritional requirements for the “average” dog. Considering that all dogs are very different, there’s a very good chance that some dogs, who don’t fit the “average” category are not having their nutritional requirements met. 

While quality dog food is more costly than cheap kibble, it is worth it because your dog will be healthier and happier for longer. And, consider the expense of vet bills. A healthy diet is no guarantee that your dog won’t have health issues, but it is something you can do to actively prevent or minimize them. By giving your dog what it needs nutritionally in the form its body is made to use, you can likely extend the lifespan of your French Bulldog. If you want suggestions for good dog food, talk to your vet. They likely carry high-quality dog food as well.

  • Exercise

French Bulldog’s don’t need as much exercise as other dogs. While a playful breed, they aren’t physically built for serious exertion, since their flat faces can make breathing difficult. Don’t ever let your French Bulldog overexert themselves in hot or humid weather, since they could have difficulty catching their breath. That said, French Bulldogs are very playful and love canine sports like obedience, agility, and rally. They are great dogs to take to a dog agility course, and since they are smart, they will learn quickly. As far as exercise requirements for the breed, they are happy with a short walk or outside play session once a day and that is enough to keep them in shape. 

  • Grooming

Grooming includes adequate oral care. Dogs need to go in for cleanings around once a year, but as often as their vet recommends. When the teeth aren’t cleaned, they become ripe for developing gum disease, which most dogs do develop over their lifetime. Poor oral health affects the whole body, especially the kidneys. So brush your dog’s teeth regularly, or use some kind of oral care spray or water additive to protect their oral health.

Caring for a French Bulldog’s coat is easy. They don’t shed very much and weekly brushing with a mitt or bristle brush is all they require. Keep the folds around your French Bulldog’s mouth clean and dry.

  • Veterinary care

Regular veterinary checkups are essential to the health and longevity of your French Bulldog. Your vet will be able to spot any health issues that are forming, and if your dog needs medical treatment, it’s better to start sooner rather than later. These checkups are especially important for French Bulldogs since they are at risk of so many different genetic conditions. 

  • Supplements

Your French Bulldog can benefit from nutritional supplements. If you can’t afford a higher quality dog food, see if you can fit a nutritional supplement or two into your budget. Your French Bulldog will benefit from hemp seed oil, which provides skin-nourishing essential fatty acids. Probiotics are always helpful and may support a dog who is prone to allergies. Vet recommended glucosamine and chondroitin are also a good idea for French Bulldogs, who are prone to hip dysplasia and spinal disorders. These supplements help the body build and maintain protective cartilage in the joints. 

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