French Bulldog Health Information

As the newest favorite breed in America, DOGG!T aims to shed light on critical health issues concerning French Bulldogs.  We prioritize health above all else in breeding practices.  Given the susceptibility of Frenchies to significant health issues, we implore you to conduct thorough research if considering adding one to your family.

It’s disheartening to witness numerous cases of poorly bred Frenchies.  These beloved dogs deserve better care.  Let’s strive for improvement, starting with education.  Don’t stop your efforts here either!  Take the time to familiarize yourself with their health concerns and refrain from purchasing a Frenchie puppy without diligent research or vetting of the breeder.

Should you have any inquiries about a breeder, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.  We have the knowledge and compassion needed to assist you in finding a happy, healthy, sound puppy.

One of the following tests:

  • OFA Radiographic Hip Evaluation
  • PennHIP Evaluation. Results registered with OFA.

ACVO Eye Exam

  • Annual Eye Examinations. Results registered with OFA

Patellar Luxation

  • Veterinary Evaluation of Patellar Luxation. Results registered with OFA.

Cardiac Evaluation

One of the following tests:

  • Congenital Cardiac Exam – Echocardiagrams recommended but not required
  • Advanced Cardiac Exam – Echocardiograms recommended but not required
  • Basic Cardiac Exam – Echocardiagrams recommended but not required

Autoimmune Thyroiditis (Optional but recommended)

  • Autoimmune Thyroditis Evaluation from an approved Lab. Results registered with OFA.

Elbow Dysplasia (Optional but recommended)

  • OFA Radiographic Elbow Evaluation

Tracheal Hypoplasia (Optional but recommended)

  • OFA radiographic evaluation for Tracheal Hypoplasia.

Let’s dive into some common health concerns in this breed.

BOAS: Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome

What is BOAS?

BOAS is a condition that can lead to respiratory challenges in breeds like Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, and Pugs. This syndrome arises when there is an excess of soft tissue in the nose and throat, partially obstructing the airway and causing difficulties in normal breathing. BOAS is a progressive disorder, affecting a dog’s capacity to engage in exercise, play, eat, and even sleep. Clinical manifestations of BOAS vary and may include audible breathing, intolerance to exercise and heat, as well as issues like regurgitation and difficulty swallowing. Unfortunately, many owners are often unaware of this condition, mistakenly attributing breathing noises or difficulties to being normal for the breed.

To help determine the level any dog may be affected by BOAS, health professionals use The Respiratory Function Grading Scheme (RFGS), which utilizes a sliding scale of 0 to 3 to objectively diagnosis BOAS: 

Grade 0 – the dog is clinically unaffected and free of any respiratory signs of BOAS (no evidence of disease, no BOAS related noise heard even with a stethoscope) 

Grade I – the dog is clinically unaffected but does have mild respiratory signs linked to BOAS (noise is mild and only audible with a stethoscope) 

Grade II – the dog is clinically affected and has moderate respiratory signs of BOAS (noise is audible even without a stethoscope) 

Grade III – the dog is clinically affected and has severe respiratory signs of BOAS (noise is audible even without a stethoscope)

Both Grade 0 and Grade I are deemed clinically normal, indicating that dogs in these grades are unaffected by BOAS. They exhibit no exercise difficulties and show no clinical signs related to airway obstruction. Dogs classified as clinically normal (Grades 0 and 1) will be granted OFA certification numbers, and their results will be made available on the OFA website. On the other hand, in Grades 2 and 3, where stertor or stridor noise is perceptible without a stethoscope, be it intermittent or continuous, these dogs are considered affected, experiencing clinical signs that impact their quality of life. Results for dogs falling into Grade 2 or 3 will only be published on the OFA website if their owners grant authorization for the release of abnormal data. While all results will be shared with the international team of collaborators for statistical purposes, individual abnormal outcomes will not be disclosed publicly unless explicitly authorized.


There are many ways to help a dog who is affected by BOAS. Some examples are as follows.


There is also a useful scoring system for evaluating whether an animal is underweight or overweight is the Body Condition Score (BCS).

Research reveals a significant association between obesity (i.e., BCS≥7) and Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). Excessive fat tissue within the airway tract can contribute to further narrowing of the lumen. For dogs that are obese and exhibit mild to moderate signs of BOAS, weight loss is recommended before considering surgical intervention. Generally speaking, keeping your dog in good shape will enhance their life and health in all instances.

Avoid overheating

While maintaining your dog’s fitness through regular exercise is crucial, it’s essential to be mindful of brachycephalic breeds, especially those affected by BOAS, as they may struggle to regulate their body temperature. It is advisable to refrain from over-exercising your dog, especially in hot summer weather. Generally, it’s best to keep them away from environments or situations that could induce excessive excitement or stress.

Signs of overheating in dogs include heavy panting, elevated body temperature, glazed eyes, increased pulse, vomiting/diarrhea, excessive thirst, dark red tongue, excessive drooling, and staggering. In severe cases, dogs may experience seizures, collapse, loss of consciousness, or even death. If you observe signs of overheating, promptly move your dog to a cool place with adequate air conditioning. Offer small amounts of water to prevent dehydration and use cool water to help lower their body temperature. Seek immediate veterinary attention for further treatment and evaluation.

Treatment/Surgical Procedures


The primary lesions in the pharynx associated with BOAS include an enlarged soft palate and everted/hypertrophic tonsils. Various surgical techniques have been documented to address the elongation and thickness of the soft palate. The elongated soft palate should be trimmed to the tip of the epiglottis. In cases of thickened soft palate, a folded flap palatoplasty may be employed to both shorten and thin the soft palate.

BOAS-affected dogs commonly exhibit everted/hypertrophic tonsils, where the tonsils are enlarged and protrude from the crypt, further narrowing the pharynx. Partial removal of the extruding tonsils has been shown to increase the pharyngeal space.


Untreated primary airway lesions in BOAS-affected dogs can lead to varying degrees of secondary laryngeal collapse. Everted laryngeal saccules may occupy a substantial portion, up to 2/3, of the windpipe opening. The removal of everted laryngeal saccules is a straightforward and effective procedure that opens the ventral part of the larynx, and with fine laryngeal surgical instruments, the complication rate is very low.

Laryngoplasty, involving the trimming of deformed or collapsed cuneiform processes, is a viable option for dogs with Grade II and III laryngeal collapse or those with laryngomalacia characterized by very soft laryngeal cartilages. In cases of irreversible Grade III laryngeal collapse, further interventions such as laryngeal lateralization (laryngeal “tie-back”) or a permanent tracheostomy may be necessary.


Both wedge resection of the nostrils and Trader’s technique, involving amputation of the nostril wings, are effective surgical methods for widening the external nostrils. However, in many BOAS-affected dogs, there is a secondary stenosis behind the nostril wings at the level known as the nasal vestibule. To effectively address this issue, alar fold resection is a recommended surgical approach.

Nasal cavity

Laser-assisted turbinectomy (LATE) has proven effective in addressing intranasal obstruction, especially in pugs and French bulldogs, by removing aberrant and hypertrophic nasal conchae. This surgery is recommended for dogs exhibiting rest-related mouth breathing, excessive panting during exercise with heat intolerance, sleep-disordered breathing (e.g., apnoea), and those with minimal improvement following conventional procedures like soft palate shortening/thinning and nostril widening.

Post-surgery, rhinitis and reverse sneezing may manifest, but these symptoms typically resolve spontaneously. To assess nasal obstructions, we routinely conduct CT scans and rhinoscopy. Combining these results with whole-body barometric plethysmography after conventional BOAS surgery allows us to determine if a dog is a suitable candidate for laser-assisted turbinectomy.

Risks and prognosis

The primary concern post-surgery is the recovery from anesthesia, posing a significant risk. Inflammation and swelling of the airway can occur during this period, and if necessary, a temporary tracheostomy tube may be inserted. Another potential risk is aspiration pneumonia due to regurgitation, for which all surgical patients receive gastro-protectants.

The outcomes of the surgery vary, contingent on the severity of the disease. Dogs with Grade II or III laryngeal collapse typically have a less favorable prognosis. While BOAS is not curable, corrective surgery for the upper airway can significantly enhance the quality of life. Regular post-operative rechecks are advisable, and in some severely affected dogs, revision surgery might be necessary.

IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disease)

Intervertebral disc disease, commonly referred to as IVDD, is a degenerative ailment impacting the spinal discs in dogs. These discs serve as cushions between the vertebrae, offering flexibility and support to the spine. IVDD stands out as the predominant neurological disorder, occurring in 45.5% of cases, among French Bulldogs. Given their classification as chondrodystrophic dog breeds, they are predisposed to experiencing degenerative alterations in the intervertebral disc (IVD).

The condition arises when the discs undergo weakening or herniation, resulting in pressure against nearby nerves or the spinal cord. Such compression can induce pain, hinder mobility, and, if not addressed, may progress to paralysis.

The signs and symptoms of IVDD can range from mild to severe in French Bulldogs, emphasizing the importance for dog owners to stay vigilant and recognize these indicators for early detection and treatment.

One prevalent sign is a noticeable change in your dog’s gait or difficulties in walking. Observing your dog dragging their back legs or displaying hesitation in activities like jumping or climbing stairs could be indicative. Additionally, watch for signs of pain or sensitivity around the neck or spine area, such as yelping when touched or visible discomfort.

Muscle spasms, limb weakness, and loss of bladder control are other symptoms to be mindful of. Sudden changes in behavior, like decreased appetite, restlessness, or reluctance to move, may also signal potential IVDD issues.

Immediate attention to these signs is crucial, as early detection significantly enhances the likelihood of successful treatment and recovery for your dog. If there’s a suspicion of IVDD, consulting a veterinarian specializing in spinal conditions is vital. Your veterinarian will conduct a comprehensive examination, incorporating neurological tests and potentially utilizing imaging such as X-rays or MRI scans.

Treatment approaches vary based on the condition’s severity but typically involve medications for pain relief and inflammation reduction, coupled with a period of strict rest and limited activity levels. In instances where conservative treatments fall short, surgery may be required to alleviate pressure on spinal nerves.

Our DOGG!T breeders form the foundation of these improvements for the breed.  Each and every breeder who has breeding dogs on DOGG!T’s platform performs the health clearances that are recommended above.  Additionally, those clearances are screened and reviewed for validity by DOGG!T Concierge Team Members. Thank you for doing some research!  Ask us or any of our breeders for more insight about any of the above, their breeding programs, and any other questions you may have regarding the health and happiness of a French Bulldog.

Frequently asked Questions about Frenchie Health

What are responsible breeders doing to preserve the French Bulldog breed?

Health Testing: Firstly, responsible breeders will conduct thorough health tests on their breeding dogs to screen for hereditary health issues. This may include hip and elbow evaluations, cardiac evaluations, and genetic testing for conditions like IVDD. Embark and genetics testing is NOT enough! (Read more about this in our Mythbusters resource).

Selective Breeding: They carefully select breeding pairs based on health, temperament, and conformation to minimize the risk of passing on genetic health issues to the offspring.

Breeding Standards: They adhere strictly to breeding standards set forth by kennel clubs and breed clubs to ensure that only the healthiest and soundest dogs are bred.

Avoiding Overbreeding: Responsible breeders limit the number of litters each dog produces to prevent overbreeding, which can exacerbate health issues.

Breeding Age: They breed dogs at an appropriate age to minimize the risk of complications during pregnancy and birth.

Health checkups: Breeders ensure that their dogs receive proper veterinary care, nutrition, exercise, and living conditions to maintain optimal health.

Education: Responsible breeders educate puppy buyers about the health risks associated with the breed and provide guidance on how to care for their French Bulldogs properly.

Lifetime Support: They offer lifetime support to puppy homes and are willing to take back any dog they’ve bred if the new owner can no longer care for it.

Participation in Health Initiatives: They actively support and participate in health initiatives and research aimed at understanding and addressing breed-specific health issues.

Participation in their Breed Club: They are active members and engage with the French Bulldog Club Of America.

Ethical Practices: They prioritize the well-being of the dogs over profit and are transparent about the health history and lineage of their breeding dogs.

By following these practices, responsible French Bulldog breeders contribute to the overall health and well-being of the breed while minimizing the incidence of genetic health issues. However, it’s important to note that no breeder can guarantee that their puppies will be completely free of health problems, but these measures significantly reduce the risks.

Are their supplements or at-home treatments to help with IVDD?

DOGG!T is able to assist you in finding support in your region and for your exact dog’s health issue. Please contact us for some assistance if you need specialty vet recommendations. We do not recommend generalized advice, however groups and networks such as Facebook’s ‘French Bulldog IVDD Support Group’ are great places to review experiences, gain support and suggestions to assist with your dog’s comfort. The biggest advice we can give is to be diligent in noticing your dog’s comfort level, learn their communication tactics, observe their movement and energy level, and seek immediate vet care if anything seems remotely off.

Should I get pet insurance if I have a Frenchie?

Do you have health insurance? Chances are if you are a responsible adult, you do. Same goes for your dogs. Insurance is, as always, a support mechanism to help you through what can be unexpected, shocking, stressful and an uncomfortable time. We provide partners in this space who can offer you health care plans which support your means and dog’s needs. We highly recommend a health insurance provider for any breed. Please contact us for recommended healthcare providers.