All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
The French Bulldog is prone to certain health problems. Here’s a brief rundown on what you should know.
These small, flat-faced dogs are prone to a couple of conditions. One is called brachycephalic airway syndrome. Dogs whose facial bones and tissues are compressed can have obstructed breathing because they may have an elongated soft palate, laryngeal collapse, narrowed nasal cavities or related problems. Dogs with these problems are said to have brachycephalic airway syndrome. Even if you can’t see their structural defects, you can tell they exist by listening to the dog’s labored breathing after minimal exercise. Dogs withbrachycephalic syndrome cannot tolerate excessive heat or exercise. In some cases, surgery may be needed to improve airflow and breathing.
In addition, Frenchies can suffer from spinal malformations and a spinal condition called intervertebral disc disease. Reproductive problems are the norm, not the exception. They may also develop eye problems, such as cataracts, and intestinal malabsorption disorders.
Not all of these conditions are detectable in a growing puppy, and it is impossible to predict whether an animal will be free of these maladies, which is why you must find a reputable breeder who is committed to breeding the healthiest animals possible. They should be able to produce independent certification that the parents of the dog (and grandparents, etc.) have been screened for common defects and deemed healthy for breeding. That’s where health registries come in.
Before individual French Bulldogs can be included in the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) database, the FBDCA requires them to have [a clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation, hip evaluations from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, PennHIP or Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), and an OFA patella (knee) evaluation. Optional tests are OFA cardiac (heart) and thyroid exams. You can search the OFA and CHIC websites yourself to see if a pup’s parents are listed.
Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database. A dog need not receive good or even passing scores on the evaluations to obtain a CHIC number, so CHIC registration alone is not proof of soundness or absence of disease, but all test results are posted on the CHIC website and can be accessed by anyone who wants to check the health of a puppy’s parents. If the breeder tells you she doesn't need to do those tests because she's never had problems in her lines and her dogs have been "vet checked," then you should go find a breeder who is more rigorous about genetic testing.
Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy develops one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in most cases the dogs can still live a good life. If you’re getting a puppy, ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and what they died of.
French Bulldogs are sensitive to heat. Never leave one outdoors on a hot day or in a home without air conditioning.
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