The sweet-natured French Bulldog, unfortunately, is a grossly deformed breed. In fact, he's deformed in two ways – his short legs and long back are chondrodysplastic, and his short pushed-in face is brachycephalic. Both of these syndromes can cause orthopedic problems, respiratory problems, and eye problems.
The French Bulldog Club conducted a health survey in which 1 out of every 4 French Bulldogs had bone or joint problems, especially intervertebral disk disease and hemivertebrae.
Hemivertebrae is an inherited orthopedic disease in which one (or some) of the little bones in your French Bulldog puppy's backbone is deformed into a shape called hemi.
Your puppy already has some of these deformed vertebrae in his tail, which is why it's bent into that curly/kinky shape that looks cute but is actually deformed. Hemivertebrae don't harm the tail, but if they also occur in the backbone....
A single deformed vertebra in the backbone is usually okay, but multiple hemivertebrae (or a single one in the wrong place) can compress the spinal cord, and then, at 3-6 months old, your puppy will experience pain when you press on his back, or loss of sensation (weak hind legs).
Mild symptoms can be relieved by acupuncture, but most puppies with severe symptoms are put to sleep before a year of age, because major surgery would typically put the puppy through a lot of pain for nothing.
Hemivertebrae occur in French Bulldogs more than any other breed. In my opinion, any anatomical structure that compromises a dog's health in this way should be changed by breeders – most certainly not "preserved" for the sake of appearance.
Other orthopedic issues occurring regularly in French Bulldogs are luxating patella and hip dysplasia. The Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of over 350 French Bulldogs and found 32.5% dysplastic – the 14th worst rate of 142 breeds. And the true rate is even higher because most of the obviously bad X-rays were not sent in for official evaluation.
The most common eye diseases in Frenchies are corneal ulcers, retinal dysplasia, cherry eye, entropion, and eyelash abnormalities. At 6-24 months old, cataracts can appear and can progress to blindness.
Heart disease is a concern in French Bulldogs.
Skin diseases occur regularly in Frenchies, especially allergies (which cause itchy skin and often lead to pyoderma) and demodectic mange in French Bulldog puppies.
Blood-clotting diseases include von Willebrand's, factor II deficiency, hemophilia A, and the more serious hemophilia B.
Other health issues in French Bulldogs are epilepsy, colitis, and inherited deafness in puppies with a lot of white on their head.
Virtually all French Bulldog puppies are born by C-section, birth defects are common, and the puppy mortality rate is high.
The most common health problems in French Bulldogs:
Feeding Your French Bulldog
When you receive your new French Bulldog puppy, he/she will be accustomed to eating 3 times a day (morning, noon, and evening). Because we feed more than one puppy at the same time (the rest of their litter mates), we put a large bowl full of their puppy food in their kennel and let them eat until they are satisfied. Once all of them walk away from the bowl we know they are done, and we take it away.
Puppies are changing and growing rapidly, and they need to eat more frequently (at least 3 times a day) to provide all the proper nourishment and nutrition for their rapidly growing bodies. Make sure your Frenchie always has access to fresh water through out the day.
Once your Frenchie is older, he/she can taper down to one or two feedings a day. Your vet can help you determine the frequency and amount you should be feeding your Frenchie based on the needs of your Frenchie, size (over/under weight), activity level, etc. You can either feed him/her on a set schedule (which will help you know when he needs to poop) or you can have food available at all times. Just be sure to only give what he/she needs for that day.
There should be a guide on the food bag that tells you how much to feed the puppy at each weight. This is only a rough guide depending on activity level, etc., and you may need to decrease or increase the quantity based on how quickly your pup is gaining weight and whether he/she finishes all the food at one time. It’s hard to say exactly how much your Frenchie pup will need, but the amounts on the bag will give you an idea of where to start.
You should use a puppy formula until your Frenchie is at least 1 year old. While he/she may look like a fully grown dog, your puppy is still finishing his/her growth and bone formation and needs those extra calories and nutrients. When they are 1 year they should transitioned to a high quality, small or medium dog, adult food.
If all is going well with your puppy after being in your home for a month or so, you can start transitioning over to another high quality, small or medium dog, puppy chow if you choose. If you plan on changing dog food brands we advise making the change gradually so the sudden change does not cause any irritation to the digestive tract, which may result in loose stools and diarrhea. If you decide to change brands of dog food, mix the new brand with your existing brand on a 1×3 ratio. If he/she tolerated this well, mix half and half for a few days. If he/she is still doing well, mix the new brand to the old brand on a 3×1 ratio for a few days. If things are still going well after a few days, switch over completely to the new brand.
Tips and Advices
The French Bulldog makes a very good companion dog. She is playful and fairly easy to care for, but she needs plenty of human attention. She is generally good around other pets and loves children. As a reminder, never cleave a child unsupervised around a puppy or dog.
The approximate adult size (two years old or older) of the French Bulldog is about 12 inches to the withers (highest point of the shoulder). There are two weight classes, 19 to 22 pounds and 22 to 28 pounds.
She should visit the veterinarian several times in the first year for shots, boosters and check up. Then, as an adult, she should visit the veterinarian yearly for shots and check up. As she gets older, six years and on, she should visit the veterinarian twice a year for check ups and shots. Remember; avoid feeding your dog sweets.
Grooming - The French Bulldog has a short, smooth, fine and brilliant coat. She is an average shedder and should be brushed regularly. Brushing will help her maintain a clean and healthy coat, avoid mats and help you keep a closer eye on her health and strengthen your emotional bond with her.
Her teeth should be brushed at least twice a week with toothpaste and toothbrush designed for dogs. Brushing removes the accumulation of plaque and tartar which can cause cavities (rarely) and periodontal disease. Dog periodontal disease can lead to pain, loss of teeth, bad breath and other serious disease.
Her toenails may need to be examined for growth and clipped regularly. The toenails of the rear feet grow slower than the toenails of the front feet. Generally a guillotine type trimmer is the best for this chore and competent instructions to accomplish this can be found on the net.
Training requires time and patience. It can be different for all dogs, but we do have to keep this in mind and take the time and energy to train our French Bulldog.
Another common mistake (also because of the lack of patience) is to give up. Many people think that they have already tried everything but the dog doesn’t want to learn. In this case, maybe the methods are not the best, or they need more time. There are no dogs who wouldn’t be able to learn at least a few commands. Giving up is never a solution.
Training French Bulldog puppies should not begin too early however, as there is evidence to show that before a certain age, the brains of puppies are not significantly developed enough to process complex learning. Please remember, French Bulldogs are slow learners.
Professional dog trainers are best when it comes to training your dog as they will ensure that the proper habits are set for life, including how to behave around strangers. For the safety of your dog, it is your duty as an owner to ensure that he or she is well trained.