The average lifespan of a French bulldog is 10-12 years. However, one study suggests the average lifespan of a French bulldog to only be 4.5 years! See the link to the study at the end of this post.
Frenchies that live the longest tend to come from highly reputable breeders. However, even the most ethical breeders can’t guarantee against certain health defects. Many health conditions have complex genetic and environmental influences.
As a result, the responsibility rests with pet owners to optimize the health and well-being of their Frenchies.
In this post, we’ll explain the most common health conditions in French bulldogs, along with 7 ways pet parents can help improve a French bulldog’s lifespan.
Buying from a Reputable French Bulldog Breeder vs Rescuing a Frenchie
There’s no question that rescuing a French bulldog is a wonderful alternative to purchasing one from a breeder.
Sadly, some owners may be forced to surrender their Frenchie due to financial reasons, their own medical issues, job loss, moving, etc.
In some cases, French bulldogs are taken in by shelters from backyard breeders or puppy mills. Sadly, these people often don’t have the best interest of the breed in mind.
These puppies haven’t been bred properly and come from poor living conditions.
The result is a dog with a variety of genetic health issues and potential behavioral issues from lack of socialization.
Adopting a French bulldog can be a rewarding experience that not only enriches your life but also makes a positive impact on the life of the dog you welcome into your family.
The Lifespan of a Rescued French Bulldog
While rescuing a French bulldog can be a gratifying experience, there are some potential cons and challenges to consider.
Unfortunately, rescue dogs often come with unknown or limited background information. There could be behavioral challenges, health concerns, or attachment issues.
Things to consider when rescuing a Frenchie.
Of course, a loving dog owner can work through all of these potential issues.
However, it’s important to realize that your new addition to the family could come with serious health issues. Those health issues can contribute to a shorter lifespan.
If the health conditions are severe, it could take a toll on your finances and contribute to a poor quality of life for your dog.
What to ask for
If you opt to get your Frenchie from a shelter, ask if they conducted any health and behavioral assessments. You should be able to find out whether the dog understands basic commands or if he or she has been fostered.
At the end of the day, rescuing a French bulldog is a wonderful gesture. However, it still comes with some unknowns that could impact the dog’s lifespan and quality of life.
Things to consider when purchasing a French bulldog from a breeder.
If you opt to get your French bulldog from a breeder, be sure to research the breeder’s reputation. Look for reviews and testimonials from previous puppy buyers.
Ask for references and contact other owners if possible.
The best thing you can do is visit the breeder before you make a purchase. Don’t be in a rush, either. If the breeder tries to pressure you into buying a French bulldog as soon as possible, walk away.
A reputable, ethical French bulldog breeder should be able to provide the following:
- Proof of health clearances for conditions like hip dysplasia, brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), and others.
- Certain health guarantees that are covered for a specific period of time after purchase.
- Are willing to answer your questions without hesitation.
- Offers lifetime support and advice to puppy buyers.
When buying from a breeder, carefully review the purchase contract.
It should outline the responsibilities of both the buyer and the breeder, along with information on conditions or restrictions regarding the puppy’s care.
Common Health Problems in French Bulldogs
French bulldogs are undeniably adorable and affectionate companions. However, they are also prone to a wide range of health issues.
The unique characteristics that make Frenchies so endearing can also contribute to their ill health.
The following are the 21 most common health conditions in French bulldogs. We’ve included an explanation of each, along with ways to possibly avoid or reduce the risks to your dog.
You’ll find the 7 most effective ways to enhance your French bulldog’s life (and potentially extend his or her lifespan) further in the post.
Hip dysplasia is a common skeletal condition that affects many dog breeds, including French bulldogs. This genetic disease causes a deformity of the hip, affecting the ball-and-socket joint.
In a healthy hip joint, the ball of the femur fits snugly into the socket of the pelvis. This allows for smooth movement.
Dogs with hip dysplasia may suffer weakness and pain in the hind legs.
Some dogs may experience lameness. As a result of this condition, dogs will often develop degenerative joint disease (DJD) or osteoarthritis (OA).
Intervertebral Disc Disease
The condition causes the spinal discs to progressively degenerate. As you can imagine, this is quite painful for the dog.
In addition to pain, the dog may suffer nerve damage and, potentially, paralysis.
Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome
BOAS is a collective term for various breathing difficulties that affect brachycephalic dogs, including French bulldogs.
Their short snouts, soft palate elongation, stenotic nares, and narrow airways contribute to respiratory problems.
This makes it difficult for them to breathe properly. Unfortunately, a dog that can’t breathe properly also isn’t able to regulate its body temperature.
French bulldogs are susceptible to certain heart conditions. These include dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and mitral valve disease (MVD). Both of these conditions can lead to heart failure in dogs.
Regular veterinary check-ups, including cardiac evaluations, may help in early detection and appropriate management.
French bulldogs are prone to ear infections due to their anatomy.
For one thing, French bulldogs have narrow ear canals that can easily trap debris, wax, and moisture.
Allergies, including food allergies and environmental sensitivities, can also contribute to ear infections.
French bulldogs can develop a variety of allergies. The most common allergies include:
- Food allergies (beef, chicken, or grains)
- Environmental allergies (dust mites, mold spores, pollen, etc.)
- Atopic dermatitis
- Flea allergy dermatitis
Due to their brachycephalic anatomy (short-faced), French bulldogs are more prone to sleep apnea. It occurs when a dog’s breathing is interrupted or becomes shallow while they sleep.
These episodes can result in decreased oxygen levels and disrupted sleep patterns.
A cleft palate is a congenital condition where there is an opening in the roof of the mouth.
Like people, this can also impact French bulldogs. Bulldogs, and other dogs with significant cleft palates, are unable to consume food normally. As a result, the dog doesn’t get the nutrients required to grow properly.
This is a significant health risk that requires surgery.
Patellar luxation is a painful hereditary condition that causes a dog’s kneecap to slip out of place. The condition has various grades or levels of severity and is often treated with surgery.
Obesity is a common problem in French bulldogs. In fact, it can significantly impact their overall well-being and lifespan.
Overfeeding and a lack of exercise can contribute to weight gain, placing extra stress on their joints. It can also contribute to diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Overfeeding, lack of exercise, and age are all factors in weight gain.
French bulldogs are susceptible to various eye issues, including:
- Cherry eye (prolapsed third eyelid)
- Dry eye (insufficient tear production)
- Corneal ulcers
- Entropion (inward rolling of the eye)
French bulldogs are prone to a variety of skin issues, including:
- Skin fold dermatitis
- Hot spots
- Canine acne
- Contact dermatitis
Dental disease can occur in any dog breed.
Sadly, periodontal disease (also known as canine periodontitis) is a common and serious oral health issue in dogs.
If plaque is not effectively removed through regular brushing or professional cleaning, it can mineralize and harden into a substance called tartar, or dental calculus.
As plaque and tartar buildup continues, the gums become irritated and inflamed. This leads to a condition known as gingivitis. At this stage, the gums appear red and swollen and may easily bleed.
If left untreated, the inflammation extends into the gumline and affects the supporting structures of the teeth. Pockets may form between the gums and the teeth, allowing bacteria to get in. The result is usually tooth loss, pain, and discomfort.
As periodontal disease progresses, bacteria enter the bloodstream, which can lead to potentially more severe health issues as organs (heart, liver, and kidneys) are affected.
French bulldogs are more prone to heat sensitivity and heat-related issues because of their unique anatomical features.
For one thing, their short noses and narrow airways make it more challenging for them to breathe efficiently. As they pant in an attempt to cool down, the limited airway may not provide enough airflow. This makes it hard for the dog to cool down properly.
The inability to keep themselves properly cooled is directly related to brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (not above).
7 Potential Ways to Extend Your French Bulldog’s Lifespan
Unfortunately, life doesn’t come with many guarantees. This includes the lifespan of your French bulldog.
However, there are some preventative measures pet owners can do to help their Frenchie live their full lifespan.
1. Regular Veterinary Check-up
Schedule regular visits with your veterinarian. Early detection of health issues can lead to timely intervention and better management of potential health concerns.
Veterinary visits should start from the moment you bring a French bulldog puppy home.
Your dog will need vaccinations, regular flea and tick control, deworming, and a physical examination to ensure your dog is in good health.
2. Healthy Diet
Feed your French bulldog a balanced diet to ensure they receive the necessary nutrients without overfeeding.
Should I feed my French bulldog a raw meat diet?
Feeding a French bulldog, or any dog, a raw meat diet is an ongoing debate among veterinarians, pet owners, and nutrition experts.
The most recent data from organizations like the CDC and AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) discourage feeding raw diets to pets. This is due to bacterial contamination and potential health problems associated with raw meat-based diets.
It’s important to note that bacterial contamination from raw meat can affect humans as well as animais.
What type of food is best to feed a French bulldog?
There are many different types of kibble on the market appropriate for French bulldogs. Look for food that has been approved by AAFCO.
3. Weight Management
Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for a French bulldog’s lifespan. An overweight French bulldog is at risk of various serious health issues.
In fact, the risks may be even greater in a brachycephalic breed. Risks of obesity include:
- Heat sensitivity and heat stroke
- Respiratory problems
- Joint and mobility issues
- Cardiovascular disease
- Skin and coat problems
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Reduced lifespan
Monitor treats, provide regular mealtimes, and exercise portion control when feeding your French bulldog.
French bulldogs should never be fed table scraps. The exception to that would be raw vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, green beans, etc.) or vegetables that have been cooked without added seasonings or salt. Note: Raw potatoes should never be fed to dogs because of potential toxicity.
Onions, which are often cooked into regular meals, are toxic to dogs as well. Avoid feeding your dog onions, garlic, leeks, and chives.
Read this article by the ASPCA for a full list of people food to avoid feeding your pets.
4. Regular Exercise
Regular exercise is vital for your French bulldog. While they may not need intense workouts, regular walks and playtime help keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
In addition, regular exercise can help keep your French bulldog from gaining excess weight. Just remember to adjust the exercise to match the weather.
Avoid overexertion during hot weather. Brachycephalic breeds are prone to heat sensitivity.
5. Dental Care
Practice good dental hygiene by regularly brushing your French bulldog’s teeth. Use dog-safe toothpaste and a toothbrush made specifically for a dog’s mouth.
Provide safe dental treats or toys, especially when they are puppies. The teething phase is tough, so make sure your dog has toys made specifically for teething puppies. Watch for any signs of wear and tear on the toys as well.
Once a toy develops a split or crack, the strength has become compromised. It’s best to toss the toy away rather than risk having your dog choke on a piece of it.
You’ll also need to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for professional dental cleanings.
The best thing you can do for your dog is to help him or her avoid periodontal disease.
Unfortunately, dogs with periodontal disease can end up with things like kidney disease. This has to do with the bacteria that is introduced through the mouth, which then enters the bloodstream.
6. Manage Environmental Risks
Be mindful of potential hazards in your home or surroundings. Keep toxic substances out of reach and supervise your dog during outdoor activities.
Some of the top environmental risks to dogs around the home include:
- Toxic plants
- Household chemicals
- Human medications
- Small objects
- Electrical cords
- Open flames
- Foods that are toxic to dogs (chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweetener, etc.)
7. Choose a Responsible Breeder
If you haven’t purchased your Frenchie yet, make sure to do your research first. Ask your veterinarian for suggestions on where to find a reputable French bulldog breeder.
The reason is because responsible breeding practices play a significant role in the overall health and longevity of French bulldogs. Choose a breeder who prioritizes the health and well-being of their dogs, and who screens for common genetic issues.
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Read the study on the average life expectancy of common breeds, including the French bulldog.
Average Life Expectancy of a French Bulldog
The average French bulldog lifespan is said to be between 10 and 12 years.
Unfortunately, French bulldogs are vulnerable to so many health problems that those years may be of poor quality.
Providing proper care is the key to extending and improving your French bulldog’s lifespan. Maintaining their overall health through a balanced diet, regular exercise, and mental stimulation is crucial.
However, one of the most important aspects is ensuring your dog receives regular veterinary care. Routine check-ups can catch common health issues early before they begin more difficult to treat.
By incorporating these practices into your Frenchie’s daily life, you can create a healthier journey for your canine companion.
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“Cleft Palate in Bulldogs – BulldogGuide.com.” BulldogGuide.com, 8 Dec. 2016, bulldogguide.com/cleft-palate-in-bulldogs.
Eniko, TomKings. “Fat French Bulldog? Tips to Help Your Frenchie Lose Weight.” TomKings Kennel, 9 June 2023, tomkingskennel.com/fat-french-bulldog.
“French Bulldog: Temperament, Lifespan, Grooming, Training.” French Bulldog: Temperament, Lifespan, Grooming, Training | Petplan, www.petplan.co.uk/pet-information/dog/breed/french-bulldog. Accessed 21 July 2023.
Frenchiestore. “THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO PATELLAR LUXATION IN DOGS.” Frenchiestore, frenchiestore.com/blogs/frenchie-blog/patellar-luxation-in-dogs. Accessed 21 July 2023.
“Intervertebral Disc Disease (Ivdd) in French Bulldogs – Should You Be Worried? – Vetcarenews.” Vetcarenews, 9 Jan. 2023, vetcarenews.com/what-is-ivdd-in-french-bulldogs.
John. “5 Common French Bulldog Skin Problems | Vetericyn.” Vetericyn Animal Wellness, 9 Dec. 2022, vetericyn.com/blog/common-french-bulldog-skin-problems.
“Luxating Patella in Dogs | VCA Canada Animal Hospitals.” VcaCanada, vcacanada.com/know-your-pet/luxating-patella-in-dogs. Accessed 21 July 2023.
Mayousse, Vincent, et al. “Prevalence of Neurological Disorders in French Bulldog: A Retrospective Study of 343 Cases (2002–2016).” PubMed Central (PMC), 5 July 2017, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12917-017-1132-2.
Shannon. “Dental Health for French Bulldogs – Canadian Frenchies.” Canadian Frenchies, 5 Feb. 2022, canadianfrenchies.ca/blog/dental-health-for-french-bulldogs.