The Life Span of the French Bulldog

A dog is a lifetime companion, and the longer that lifetime lasts, the better. Different breeds have different life expectancies, so a breed's average life span may play a role in your choice of your next dog. French bulldogs are adorable, fun, and conveniently sized, but are they right for your family? In addition to considering the life expectancy of a French bulldog, you should also be sure to think about the health issues to which the breed is prone when deciding if this breed is right for you.

Happy French Bulldog in Flowers Outdoors
The Life Span of the French Bulldog
credit: Purple Collar Pet Photography/Moment/GettyImages

Life expectancy of French bulldogs

According to PetMD, the Frenchie life span averages between 9 and 11 years. The good news is that the life span of the French bulldog is a fairly long one, especially when compared to the shortened life spans that are typical of larger dog breeds.

French bulldogs aren't without their challenges, though. This breed is sensitive to anesthesia, and French bulldog puppies must be delivered by Caesarean section. Unfortunately, Frenchies are prone to many serious health issues, so it's important to familiarize yourself with the problems these dogs may face before deciding whether the breed is right for you.

Hip dysplasia

Frenchies are prone to developing hip dysplasia, a condition where the ball and socket joint of the hip is malformed. According to PetMD, the malformation causes the joint to rub and grind rather than smoothly slide. This can cause severe pain, and a dog may have difficulty walking, develop an abnormal gait, or even become unable to walk.

This condition is hereditary, and breeders can test for it in order to avoid breeding dogs affected by hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia can be treated in a number of ways, and keeping a dog at an appropriate weight is essential. Surgery can help to improve the condition, but the right treatment will depend on the severity of the condition.

Breathing issues

Vetstreet states that Frenchies are prone to brachycephalic airway syndrome. Because Frenchies are a flat-faced breed, their facial bones and tissues are compressed. This compression can lead to a number of problems including laryngeal collapse, narrowed nasal cavities, and even an elongated soft palate. All of these issues are referred to as "brachycephalic airway syndrome."

You may not be able to visually see the problems of a Frenchie, but you can probably hear the results in the dog's breathing. Dogs with this syndrome experience labored breathing after minimal exercise. They may even need surgery to help improve their breathing.

Heat sensitivity

According to Canna-Pet, French bulldogs are highly sensitive to heat and are prone to developing heatstroke. Because brachycephalic airway syndrome often blocks the airflow to the dog's trachea, Frenchies have a hard time cooling their bodies down. When their temperature rises, they have difficulty regulating their airflow enough to stabilize their temperature.

This results in heatstroke, which can result in organ failure and even death. If your Frenchie suffers heatstroke, you may notice symptoms including excessive panting, drooling, vomiting blood, extreme confusion, a high heart rate, and diarrhea. A dog who is suffering from heatstroke will require immediate veterinary attention.

Allergy issues

Allergies tend to be one of the most common health issues that afflict French bulldogs. According to Canna-Pet, allergies are often linked to a Frenchie's diet and can be triggered by meats, dairy products, wheat, and other ingredients. Because environmental factors like pollen, mold, dust, and other factors can also trigger allergies, diagnosing the exact cause can be a challenge.

Vets may use intradermal skin testing to narrow down the potential allergy causes, but an elimination test may be the only way to truly get to the root of a dog's issues.

Frenchies with allergies have a variety of symptoms, such as excessive tearing in their eyes, licking, sneezing, scratching, itchy skin, blistered patches on their coats, and difficulty keeping food down.

Cleft palate

Canna-Pet states that because French bulldogs have naturally flat faces and are prone to birth defects, they are at an increased risk of being born with a cleft palate. A cleft palate can be minor and simply cosmetic, but if it is more serious, it can result in respiratory problems. In some cases, a dog may need corrective surgery.

A French bulldog who has a cleft palate may appear to choke while drinking water and may have trouble eating. The dog may appear to have a constant runny nose and may seem to always be short of breath, even during light activity.

To diagnose a cleft palate, a dog needs to be anesthetized. This condition can put a dog at risk of recurrent infections, and severe infections can be life-threatening.

Intervertebral disc disease

Intervertebral disc disease, or IVDD, is a condition that often occurs in smaller dogs like French bulldogs. According to Canna-Pet, when a dog has IVDD, the discs between the vertebrates of the spine become displaced. Depending on how much the discs are affected, IVDD can range in severity.

IVDD causes symptoms such as extreme spinal pain, neurological issues including extreme nervousness or mood changes, and even paralysis. Dogs with IVDD may appear lazy or may be unwilling to jump, and they may complain when you try to pick them up. An MRI or CT scan is often needed to determine just where the issue lies and what treatment steps may be appropriate. IVDD can be hereditary, but an injury can also cause it.

Keeping your Frenchie healthy

There are a number of ways that you can help increase the chances of your dog living a long, healthy life. Vetstreet states that one of the easiest ways to extend your French bulldog's life is to keep him from becoming obese. Carefully monitor your dog's diet and ensure he gets a bit of daily exercise in order to keep him at a healthy, appropriate weight.

Additionally, it is important to be aware of your dog's physical limitations and sensitivities. Because Frenchies are so sensitive to heat, you should never leave your dog outdoors on a hot day or in a home without the air conditioning turned on. It is also very important to never leave your Frenchie (or any dog) in a hot car.

PetMD states that the Frenchie cannot swim, so if you have a pool, you need to be extra careful in watching your dog and keeping him safe.

Finding the right dog for you

The American Kennel Club recommends that if you decide to add a French bulldog to your family, you should only buy a dog from a responsible, reputable breeder. A responsible breeder will prioritize the health of the French bulldog puppies and will screen their breeding stock for hereditary conditions that could be passed on to the offspring.

Look for a breeder who performs a hip evaluation, a patella evaluation, an ophthalmologist evaluation, and a cardiac exam on their stock. If you are having trouble finding a reputable breeder, your vet may be able to refer you to breeders nearby.