Breed breakdown: An in-depth look at the French bulldog
The vet’s office
By Dr. Beth Engelbert, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
The French bulldog has risen greatly in popularity in the last few years. With the “Frenchie’s” playfulness, intelligence, adaptability, and utter cuteness, it is easy to see why.
The French bulldog gets its roots from the English bulldog. In the 1800s breeders wanted to create a “toy” bulldog. Pugs and terriers were bred with English bulldogs to create a smaller size. The changes started in England, but refinement occurred in France, sparking much debate over the naming of the breed. The French bulldog was officially accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1898.
The Frenchie’s most recognizable feature is its ears. Even in the breed standard the ears are called “bat ears,” being “broad at the base, elongated, with round top, set high on the head, … and carried erect.”
The shape of the head is also an important feature. The head is large and square with a rounded forehead. There is a “hollow groove between the eyes with heavy wrinkles (that form) a soft roll over the extremely short nose” with broad nostrils. The “underjaw is deep, square, broad, undershot, and well turned up.” The Frenchie is also a very muscular, broad dog with heavy bones but is compactly built. Any dog over 28 pounds is considered a disqualification.
French bulldogs as a breed are generally healthy, but they are not without health problems or considerations. The dogs’ short noses and longer soft palates can make breathing difficult, particularly in hot and humid weather. Due to brachycephalic syndrome, hot weather can be fatal.
Even though they are small dogs, hip dysplasia can occur, leading to pain and lameness. Frenchies are also prone to luxating patellas — loose kneecaps. Though, if they are problematic, surgery can be done to correct the problem.
Frenchies can have problems with intervertebral disc disease and misshapen vertebrae. Some of the orthopedic conditions can be traced back to the selection of dwarf and short-legged English bulldogs in breed development.
Hypothyroidism and allergies can be seen in French bulldogs as well. This breed can also have eye issues such as inherited cataracts, multifocal retinopathy, and rod-cone dystrophy. All three of these are genetic and lead to blindness. Degenerative myelopathy affecting the spinal cord leading to paralysis has been reported in Frenchies. Hyperuricosuria can also occur, which can cause stones to develop in the kidneys and urinary bladder.
Like other “bully” breeds with wide, muscular chests, most Frenchies are bred with artificial insemination and born via cesarean section. Like any breed, it is hoped that breeders who invest in the inseminations and C-sections will also invest in testing for and eliminating any genetic diseases. Researching and asking questions will help you find the perfect French bulldog for you.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.