History The French bulldog originated in England from the English bulldog, the breeders in England crossed the English bulldog with terriers & pugs to create the French bulldogs. The French bulldog got popular in France, when the nottingham lace makers from England were welcomed by the french to the coastal towns of Normandy to Brittney and Calais ware they found work. They took their smaller bulldogs dogs (French bulldogs) with them because they were suited for the new, cramped, living conditions in the apartments and small houses the workers lived in and because they were excellent ratters. Why these little dogs became so popular amongst the workers of nottingham lace industry in the first place is not clear. But they figure that these little bulldogs were culls (best of the breed) of the well established breeders in England, who were more then happy to sell these undersized examples of their breed to fanciers of the new toy breed in England. In the farming communities north of France where the nottingham lace makers moved to, the little bulldogs became very popular as ratters and loyal family companions and their population soon grew. In the 1860's the export of the miniature or toy bulldogs (French bulldogs) from England to France was so great that they practically became extinct in England. The French bulldog were originally bred to be ratters, but are now being bred as lap dogs and companions.
Size Adult French bulldogs average 12 to 14 inches in height and weighs 19 to 28 pounds.
Average life span of the French bulldog is approximately 9 to 12 years of age.
Temperament The French bulldog is a very loving dog, he is playful, affectionate and likes attention from all those he comes in contact with. A frenchie needs constant companionship from his family, so he would not do well left alone in a back yard. He makes an excellent companion for children, although very small children may not tolerate his over enthusiastic nature. He generally gets along well with other animals as long as they are as playful as he is. They generally are not excessive barkers, They will protect their home and alert owners to intruders as well as when people are at the door. They do not sound vicious, but do have a deep bark. They are often referred to as "little clowns" and a more fitting description could not be found! The frenchie is at his utmost content when he is showered with affection and will return the favor to his utmost capabilities. He is a true lapdog, an extreme lover, bodyguard, a playful companion, and is a true "best friend". Just as with people, dogs do differ and while the above is relatively a true picture of the average breed of the French bulldog the frenchie can vary. Some are more boisterous than others, but almost all French bulldogs have the loyalty and love for their owners which make them an excellent companion.
Training The French bulldog is attentive, intelligent and easy to train; however, the breed is most cherished as a family pet, which comes naturally to the "frenchie"
Health Concerns French bulldogs are adorable.... Their little flat faces, stubby bodies, bat ears and short backs all combine to make for an adorable little package, yet they also combine to produce conditions which make French bulldogs prone to some rather alarming health conditions.
First I would like to point out this is a lot of reading, can at times be rather alarming. But when viewing the health concerns of a French bulldog and looking at their health issues, you should keep in mind that all breeds of dogs have conditions that are common to their particular breed and the French bulldog is no different. The chances that your dog, or your potential dog, might be afflicted with any of these conditions drops rapidly if you are purchasing your puppy from a reparable breeder that has good quality dogs without health issues. Also you'll want to keep in mind that even the most conscientious breeder, using ONLY healthy dogs, can still occasionally produce afflicted dogs. This is a fact that anyone considering the purchase of a frenchie or any breed for that matter, needs to be aware of.
- Brachycephalic (Respiratory) - Frenchies are a Brachycephalic breed which means they have short muzzles, flat faces and condensed breathing systems. This is what's responsible for the adorable snorting and snuffling sounds the Frenchie makes - but it's also a serious matter for your dog's health. They also combine to make anesthetic a serious matter for this breed. Anesthetic should only ever be administered for the most critical of procedures.
- Heat Stroke - The shorter breathing system of the French bulldog is also what puts them at such a strong risk for "Heat Stroke". Shorter airways=less possibility of cooling the air which the dogs draws into its body. Never, Ever underestimate these dogs susceptibility to heat stroke. Limit their exposure to temperatures which you might personally find only mildly hot, be conscious of the proximity to hot pavement, NEVER leave a frenchie in a locked car in even warm weather, and should always allow them lots of access to fresh water, shade, and cool areas to escape from the heat. And should always be alert and be prepared with the things you need to save your dogs life.
- Elongated Soft Palate - One of the most common forms of airway obstruction in brachycephalic breeds is do to elongated palates. The soft palate is an extension of the hard palate which forms the roof of the mouth. The purpose of the soft palate is to serve as a mobile flap preventing food and water from entering the nasal passages during swallowing. A soft palate that is elongated will either hang in front of the airway or will fall into the larynx during inhalation. Dogs affected by chronic airway obstruction (CAO) tend to breathe rather noisily when excited. Mouth breathing, snoring and snorting are characteristics of this condition. These characteristics become more pronounced when the dog is hot or during periods of exercise. The dogs frequently gag in an attempt to clear their airway and occasionally bring up foam and saliva while eating or drinking and in some cases frequent registration vomiting. The harder the dog breaths, the greater the swelling and elongation of the soft palate. Most often an elongated soft palate is difficult to positively confirm other than while dog is under general anesthesia, surgical correction is usually done.
- Stenotic Nares - (constricted nostrils) occurs exclusively in brachycephalic dogs. This birth defect can not be overemphasized. The cartilages that help to shape the nostrils are too soft. As the pup breaths in the nostril collapses restricting or shutting off air flow. In severe cases the pup's chest becomes flattened. There is a nasal discharge that can either appear watery or foamy. Breathing is labored and accompanied by snorting. When excited or active they tend to breathe through their mouths. This excess laboring in order to bring oxygen to the lungs puts additional stress on their systems, and with reduced air flow they tend not to thrive. These dogs should be treated surgically as soon as possible. Treatment normally consist of removing a portion of the nostril cartilage to enlarge the nostril openings.
- Tracheal Collapse - Is the name given to a syndrome in which the rigid structure of the trachea becomes weakened. This weakened area collapses due to external and/or internal pressure created during activity, thus interfering with normal respiration. The weakened area becomes irritated. Since coughing and respiration exertion can cause further irritation, clinical signs will worsen and the condition can become self perpetuating. Tracheal collapse may occur alone or in association with another airway disorder (most often chronic bronchitis). A chronic "honking" cough can be an indication of this condition. In some cases the cough can become severe that the animal behaves as though there is something caught in it's throat. Other indications of this distorter include; breathing difficulties, tiring easily, and exercise intolerance. Mild cases often respond well to cough suppressants and stress reduction (reduce intense exercise and excitement). These dogs can live long healthy lives. In more advance cases surgical correction may be necessary. In cases of combination airway disorders, treatment of the contributing disorders may be necessary before treating the tracheal collapse.
- Cleft Palate - The palate (roof of the mouth) is a well, partitioning the nasal and oral cavities. This partition is made up of two parts : the hard palate and the soft palate. The hard palate forms the front portion of this partition and is made up of two bony plates (one on each side) that are normally fused together at their midline junture. This fusion normally takes place during fetal development. The soft palate forms the rear portion of the palate wall. Both palates are covered with a mucous membrane. The most common type of cleft palate results when the two bony plates fail to fuse. The lack of bone fusion leaves a hole or slit in the roof of the mouth. The cleft (hole) drastically impacts nursing; suction is affected, a portion of the food that the puppy is able to draw is passed into the nasal cavity is highly prone to infection, and the puppy will literally wear itself out trying to satisfy it's appetite. The cleft is present at birth and can usually be detected by examining the roof of the mouth. Occasionally milk can be observed running from a puppy's nose while nursing. The only treatment for a cleft palate is to surgically close the opening. In cases of severe clefts the affected pup is usually euthanize. Most cleft palates are assumed to be genetic unless other causative factors are found.
- Megaesophagus - Is a condition in which is esophagus is enlarged or dilated. The results of this condition are: regurgitation, lose of overall condition and frequently leads to aspiration pneumonia. Megaesophagus interferes with effective peristalsis thereby preventing food from passing down into the stomach. In practical fact, it is a really unpleasant condition for even the most tolerant of pet owners to put up with. The dog frequently vomits almost immediately after eating, exercising or doing anything more strenuous than getting off the couch. Megaesophagus can be congenital or acquired. Some of the cases of acquired megaesophagus are: esophageal foreign bodies, esophageal tumors, strictures, neurological disorders, autoimmune diseases and heavy metal poisoning. Treatment for acquired megaesophagus disorders are dependent upon the causative factors. In the case of congenital megaesophagus in puppies the symptoms generally manifest shortly after the puppies begin to eat solid foods. Affected pups will frequently begin to eat eagerly, then suddenly back away from the food dish, regurgitate a small amount of food, which they will eat again. By repeatedly eating the food, the meal is liquefied, thereby making it possible to be passed into the stomach. Portions of the food can be aspirated into the lungs, making the puppy prone to aspiration pneumonia. Treatment for congenital megaesophagus in puppies is primarily directed toward maintaining and improving the nutritional status of the pup. Food and water are usually given by raising the bowls up off the floor (raising the bowls help facilitate swallowing). Many owners have reported that feeding the pups a semi liquid or gruel mixture has shown good results. Other pups seem to respond best to being fed solids. Treatment has to be based upon which method the individual pup will respond to best. The first few weeks are the most critical. Pups that survive this critical time appear to spontaneously improve. Any dog with Megaesophagus should be spayed or neutered regardless of how well it "outgrows" it's condition.
- Hemivertabrae - The French bulldog was selectively bred from examples of the English bulldog. This fact, when combined with the intentional selection of shorter specimens in the breeding programs of today and yesterday have combined to give us both today's short backed dog, and the plethora of the spinal issues plaguing this breed. Another possible correlation is the breed standard's prizes 'short and lowset' tail, which sometimes manifests as a non existent, telescoped or screw tail. Genetical can produce hemivertebrae, although the genetic structure appears to be a complex (multiple genes involved) interaction. Commonly referred to as "butterfly" vertebrae, hemivertebrae has its highest incidence in brachycephalic (short muzzled), screw-tailed dog breeds. In fact the screw-tail is actually an example of the hemivertebrae formation. This malformation may be pleasing when located in the tail but can have serious repercussions when located elsewhere in the spine. Hemivertebrae is the result of the left and right halves of the vertebrae failing to fully fuse during fetal development. The resulting vertebrae resembles a butterfly when viewed from above. Each half of the hemivertebrae body often grow unequally, creating a wedge-shape (viewed vertically) body. The presence of the wedge vertebrae can cause a dorsal curvature (kyphosis) or a lateral curvature (scoliosis). Deformations in the backbone can compress the spinal cord and/or its blood supply, with serious ramifications. Symptoms indicative of hemivertebrae will be dependent upon the number of malformed discs and the locations of these discs. The best way to be assured of proper spinal formation is through x-ray evaluation by a veterinarian familiar with "proper" spinal formation for your breed. Hemivertebrae may be successfully detected as early as four month old.
- Von Willebrand's Disease -This disease is a bleeding disorder found in many breeds of dogs as well as other animals. It is characterized by hematomas, nosebleeds and intermittent limping (due to bleeding into the joints). Similarly to hemophilia A, dogs with this disorder are deficient in clotting factor VIII activity. One of the primary distinctions of von Willebrand's disease however, is that the disorder is not sex-linked. Hereditary von Willebrand's disease is complex. Each breed of dog will have different set of "typical symptoms" of the disease. Symptoms can range from abnormally long bleeding time due to a cut toenail, to hemorrhaging during minor surgery, to spontaneous nosebleeds, with wide assortment of presentations between. Injuries that are followed by bleeding may or may not require a transfusion. Even a small wound may necessitate veterinary treatment. Carriers of this disorder can live their entire lives with no outward indications of this disease. Only testing of all prospective breeding stock and selective breeding is there a hope of eradicating this disorder. The test is simple and inexpensive, and will show if the tested dog is a high, low or non carrier of the disease. The common sense procedure of not breeding from high carriers, and of not breeding low carriers to other low carriers may eradicate VWD forever from our breed.
- Hip Dysplasia - Hip dysplasia is the most common cause of rear-end lameness in canines, and is due to the structure of the hip joint. In the healthy dog there is a broad pelvis with a rounded cup into which the ball of the femur fits solidly. The ligaments and the good musculature hold the ball in place while allowing free motion of the femur. Canine hip dysplasia (HD) is caused when the femoral head does not fit properly in the hip socket, causing instability of the joint. Over time, this malformation can cause degenerative joint disease (DJD) which increased pain and immobility. Surgery can help to correct the problem, but can be expensive and stressful for dog and family. Genetics play the largest role in whether or not a dog will develop hip dysplasia. Other factors include environmental (including weight and nutrition) and under what conditions the puppy is raised, also training methods and rearing practices. Even dogs with normal hips can produce dysplastic puppies.
- Patellar Luxation -This is the dislocation (slipping) of the patella (kneecap). In dogs, the patella is a small bone that shields the front of the stifle joint. This bone is held in place by ligaments. As the knee joint is moved, the patella slides in a grove in the femur. The kneecap may dislocate toward the inside (medial) or outside (lateral) of the leg. This condition may result of injury or congenital deformities (present at birth). Patellar luxation can effect either or both legs. Testing is available to predict the presence of PL in a dog, but cannot predict it. The most common occurrence of luxating patella in French Bulldogs is the medial presentation. Shallow femoral groove, weak ligaments and malalignment of the tendons and muscles that straighten the joint are all conditions that will predispose a dog toward luxating patellas. Indications of patellar luxation are; difficulty in straightening the knee, pain in the stifle, limping, or the tip of the hock points outward while the toes point inward. The diagnosis of the condition can usually be confirmed (by a veterinarian) by manipulating the stifle joint and pushing the patella in and out position. There are 4 grades of deviation for this condition: Grade 1: Intermittent patellar luxation- occasional carrying of the affected limb. The patella can easily be manually luxated at full extension of the stifle, but returns to proper position when pressure is released. Grade 2: Frequent patellar luxation - in some cases luxation is more or less permanent. The affected limb is sometimes carried, although the dog may walk with the stifle slightly flexed. Grade 3: Permanent patellar luxation - even though the patella is luxated; many animals will walk with the limb in a semi-flexed position. Grade 4: Permanent patellar luxation - The affected limb is either carried or the animal walks in a crouched position, with the limb partially flexed. Medial is termed "congenital" because the luxations occur early in life and are not trauma associated. Clinical indications: 1) Neonates and older puppies - display clinical signs of abnormal leg carriage and function from the time they start walking. These cases are generally grades 3 or 4. 2) Young to mature animals - usually exhibit intermittently abnormal or abnormal movement all their lives. Generally evaluated when the symptomatic gait worsens. Most often grade 2 or 3. 3) Older animals - may exhibit sudden lameness. Usually due to further breakdown of soft tissues or the degenerative nature of joint disease. These cases are usually grade 1 or 2. There is a school of thought that French Bulldogs frequently have grade 1 luxations. One of the most common French Bulldog poses, the rear leg extended sit which gives them their typical 'frog look', is actually considered to be an indicator of luxation. Breeding from an animal exhibiting any form of diagnosed luxation is doubtful, but breeding of any dog with level 3 or greater luxation is decidedly inadvisable. OFA, GDC and OVC all do screening for patellar luxation.
- Hot Spots - A"Hot Spot" is an area of bacterial skin infection that increases through self mutilation by the dog. An area of the skin is irritated (flea bite, allergy or other irritant),the dog scratches or chews the area enlarging the opening, the area becomes infected, thus begins the cycle. Hot spots are warm swollen, painful patches of the skin that exude pus and serum, and tend to give off a foul odor. These areas can appear suddenly, they tend to enlarge rapidly (especially in hot humid weather) and can reach a size of several inches in diameter, hair loss is rapid. Between the dog chewing or clawing the coat out and bacterial spread the progress can be significant within a matter of hours. Hot spots most often appear on the neck, ears, chest, rump, flanks and back (areas of access to clawing or chewing). Treat by clipping all remaining hair away from the infected area. This will allow air to dry the area and promote healing. Gently cleanse the area with a surgical soap (pHisoHex, Oxydex or Betadine). Apply topical antibiotic steroid cream such as Panalog to aid in reducing irritation and promote healing. Dependent upon the extent of the hot spot the dog may need oral antibiotics and steroids as well. The dog must be restrained from doing damage to this area, this may necessitate the use of an Elizabethan collar. To end the cycle the underlying cause must be determined. In the event of fleas - the fleas must be removed. In the event of allergies the irritant must be determined to prevent hot spots from occurring elsewhere. A word of warning - do NOT treat hot spots with tea tree oil! Tea Tree oil has been known to cause neurological damage in canines and humans when applied in the undiluted form.
- Atopic Dermatitis - Is known by many names throughout the dog world. Among these names are: canine atopic dermatitis, canine inhalant dermatitis, allergic inhalant dermatitis, atopic disease, and inhalant allergy. This condition is a commonly occurring, inherited, hypersensitivity to pollens or other environmental allergens, as result of a disorder of the immune system. The primary clinical indication is itching. This itching can take one or multiple forms, and is most often exhibited by licking or chewing of the feet, and/or the groin area; rubbing and scratching the face, ears, and front torso: rubbing sides or buttocks on furniture or any available object; and frequent periods of "sit and spin" sessions. Additionally, affected dogs can display reversed sneezing, coat discoloration, crusty, reddened of the skin, papules, and hair loss. This condition can vary greatly from region to region. Since the most common allergies are: pollens of grasses, weeds, and trees; dust and molds. The irritants can be seasonal and some regions of the United States have higher incidence in females. The most common age of onset is between one and three years of age. It is alarmingly common in French Bulldogs, and its origins are a mystery at this time. It has been theorized that hypothyroidism is at root of this disorder, but thyroid testing of the dogs which we have had with this condition have been negative. Perhaps there is some other, underlying immune suppression at work which are not yet equipped to pin point or diagnose. Idealistically, avoidance of this irritating substance would present the most desirable long-term means treatment. This can be achieved in some cases, but in most this is not a practical solution. Medically, there are numerous treatments such as glucocorticolds and/or antihistamines. In some cases hypo-sensitization is the best means of treatment.
- Hypothyroidism - The clinical signs of hypothyroidism are caused by a decrease in normal thyroid activity. The disorder may be acquired (a progressive deficiency of thyroid hormone) or congenital (meaning the animal is born with the disorder). The acquired form is the most common disorder of the endocrine system in dogs. It occurs as a result of gradual atrophy of the thyroid gland or of gradual infiltration and replacement of the thyroid gland with lymphocytes due to an autoimmune process (lymphocytic thyroidities). Acquired hypothyroidism is generally seen in middle-aged (4 to 10 years) mid - to large dogs. Congenital hypothyroidism is very rare. For many breeds and many disorders, the studies to determine the mode of inheritance or the frequency in the breed have not been carried out, or inconclusive. The general consensus among those investigating in this field and among veterinary practitioners, that the condition is significant in this breed. What this means to you and your dog is the changes due to gradually decreasing levels of circulating thyroid hormone are slow and insidious. Early signs (which are usually not recognized as being related to hypothyroidism) include lower energy levels and increased susceptibility to infections. As the disease progresses, you will likely notice changes in your dog's hair coat-symmetrical hair loss with or without darkening of the skin, and dry greasy hair. Other signs of hypothyroidism include a slow heart rate, lethargy, mental dullness, intolerance to cold, infertility in males and females, constipation, and weight gain. Less commonly, a dog with hypothyroidism may experience heart disease, a bleeding disorder, profound muscular weakness associated with abnormalities in the muscles or nerves, or another endocrine disorder such as diabetes mellitus. In congenital hypothyroidism the thyroid hormones are essential for normal growth and maturation of the nervous and skeletal systems. Puppies with congenital hypothyroidism will have stunted growth as well as many other abnormalities. Severely effected puppies most likely die before weaning. This disorder can be difficult to diagnose because there is such a broad range of possible clinical signs. Blood tests may show certain suggestive (but non-specific) abnormalities. Most likely if a veterinarian suspects this condition he/she will perform laboratory tests to assess thyroid function. Treatment-The standard treatment is levo-thyroxine given once a day, this must continue for life. Within a week of starting treatment, your dog's attitude and activity should improve. It takes up to 6 weeks before there is noticeable improvement in the skin and hair coat, but eventually all abnormalities should completely resolve.
- Eye Conditions - Cherry Eye - A prolapse of the gland or "cherry eye" occurs when the base pf the gland (embedded in the cartilage) flips up and is seen above and behind the border of the third eyelid. The prolapse gland becomes swollen and inflamed. The condition frequently occurs in both eyes and is most common in young dogs of the breeds, has not yet been proven that this condition is inherited. Dry Eye (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca-KCS) - KCS or "dryeye" is an eye disease caused by abnormal tear production. The lacrimal glands produce the watery secretions that make up the bulk of the tears. A deficiency in this secretion causes KCS in small animals. Entropion- Is a common hereditary disorder in dogs. Entropion is the inward rolling of the eyelid, most commonly the lower lid. This irritates the surface of the eye (the cornea) and may ultimately cause visual impairment. Eyelash Abnormalities - Normally the eylashes (or cilia)grow from follicles in the eyelid. Abnormalities of the eyelash are a common hereditary problem in dogs. The three types are 1. Distichiasis - in which extra eyelashes grow from abnormal follicles located on the inside edge of the eyelid. They may be singular. 2. Ectopic Cilia- In which the extra eyelash grows through the eyelid to the inside. One or more ectopic cilia may be present. 3. Trichiasis - In which eyelashes growing from normal sites turn inward. The eyelashes are often abnormally long. With any of these disorder, the clinical signs relate to irritation of the cornea (the surface of the eye). The degree of discomfort varies greatly, depending on the number of abnormal cilia, and whether they are very fine, or more coarse. Retinal Dysplasia - The normal retina lines in the back of the eye. The retinal cells receive light from the external environment and the transmit the information to the brain where it is interpreted to become vision. In retinal dysplasia, there is abnormal development of the retina, present at birth. The disorder can be inherited, or it can be acquired as a result of a viral infection or some other event before the pups were born. There are 3 forms of retinal dysplasia 1) folding of 1 or more area(s) of the retina. This is the mildest form, and the significance to the dog's vision is unknown. 2) Geographic- areas of thinning, folding and disorganization of the retina. 3) Detached- Severe disorganization associated with separation (detachment) of the retina. The geographic and detached forms cause some degree of visual impairment, or blindness.