Choosing the right dog: Can French Bulldogs Climb Stairs?

When choosing to add a dog to your family, you must consider the breed’s common traits, common health issues, your lifestyle, and your home. While French Bulldogs are trendy, they also have many special needs and are not right for every family.

One consideration should be the number of stairs in your home or leading to your home, that your potential French Bulldog would have to climb. Though this beloved breed is notorious for having serious health issues, they are generally small and not heavy.

Could you carry your Frenchie up and the down the stairs multiple times a day? Or were you hoping they would be able to navigate the stairs themselves?

So, can French bulldogs climb stairs?

Yes, they can. Most of them can easily go upstairs, but struggle to go downstairs. Younger French bulldogs generally have an easier time climbing stairs than senior Frenchies. Unfortunately, French bulldogs are prone to several health issues that stairs may inflict or worsen.

What makes stairs difficult for French Bulldogs?

According to Dr. Patty Khuly of Vet Street, French Bulldogs are prone to many serious health issues. Some of the health issues they are predisposed to impact their ability to go up and down the stairs.

If their joints are impacted, their physical ability to go up and down the stairs is limited. These conditions can make their joints painful, and navigating the stairs can worsen them:

According to VCA Hospitals, Patellar luxation occurs when a dog’s knee cap dislocates. If your Frenchie has experienced any knee issues, using the stairs can cause the issue to reoccur, or just be painful to perform.

Surgical intervention may be required for this condition. As such, if your Frenchie has knee problems, it is recommended that he be carried up and down the stairs to prevent future injuries.

According to French Bulldog Owner, Hip dysplasia occurs when a Frenchie’s hip joint and thigh displace. Although this is most often seen in large breed dogs, Frenchies have been known to suffer from it. The ability to use their hips is crucial to being able to navigate the stairs.

According to CannaPet, Hemivertebrae causes a Frenchie’s spine to be misaligned as a result of fused or abnormally shaped vertebrae. If his back hurts, a Frenchie will struggle with the stairs.

This condition usually does not impact the French Bulldog’s ability to live their best life; it often goes untreated. However, some dogs require surgical intervention.

According to FrenchieWiki, Intervertebral Disc Disease is a painful condition caused by the spinal discs between the spinal vertebrae bulging or herniating into spinal cord space.

This condition can be caused by forceful jumping and landing; making the stairs a possible trigger for the condition. Frenchies who are already afflicted should not navigate the stairs.

Degenerative Myelopathy is luckily rarely seen in French Bulldogs. However, it is a serious condition and Frenchies have been diagnosed with it. It is a progressive disease that impacts the spinal cord and causes the loss of coordination in the hind legs, difficulty standing, and buckling legs.

This disease can act quickly; most patients become paralyzed within six months to one year of diagnosis. These patients should not navigate stairs.

If their vision is affected, they will have trouble seeing where to put their paws, and they may fall down the stairs as they try to climb them:

Distichiasis occurs when a Frenchie’s eyelashes grow in an abnormal direction or location. Distichiasis causes patients to blink and squint; the inability to keep eyes open can lead to falling down the stairs.

Left untreated, this condition leads to blindness. Dogs with any vision difficulties should be carried up and down the stairs, as their vision loss can cause them to fall and be injured. This condition is hereditary.

Cataracts are clouds on the eye’s lens. This is most often seen in senior Frenchies, but dogs of any age may develop them. The main result of cataracts is vision impairment, especially in dim areas.

Your Frenchie will most likely ask you for assistance to get up and down the stairs if they are afflicted with this condition. The good news is that cataract surgery has a ninety percent success rate.

What factors impact are French Bulldogs being able to climb stairs?

There are several factors that impact their ability to climb stairs, such as:

1. Health

You may think that the biggest factor would be age; after all, stairs are no friend to senior dogs suffering from arthritis. In fact, age is the second biggest factor. The first is the French Bulldog’s health.

A French Bulldog of any age will struggle with stairs if they have serious medical conditions that impact their joints, back, and vision. These three physical abilities are needed to successfully navigate the stairs.

Joint and vision health problems that French Bulldogs are prone to include: Intervertebral Disc Disease, hip dysplasia, Hemivertebrae, Degenerative Myelopathy, Patellar luxation, Distichiasis, and Cataracts.

2. Age

Senior French Bulldogs are most likely to suffer from the joint issues common to the breed, and they are most likely to have arthritis, which makes the mobility needed to navigate stairs difficult.

3. Life Experience

A French Bulldog’s life experience will color how they view the stairs. A Frenchie who was abused may have been thrown down the stairs; a Frenchie rescued from a puppy mill may never have experienced stairs, or perhaps he may have fallen down the stairs like a puppy.

Any negative experience Frenchie associates with the stairs will cause him to be frightened of them. With patience and positive reinforcement training, your rescue Frenchie will be climbing the stairs in no time if their health permits.

A rescued adult French Bulldog had a totally different life before they became a part of your family. Keep that in mind and have patience with them as they adjust to their new status of royalty.

How can you train your French Bulldog to climb stairs safely?

Shield K9 Dog Training made a YouTube video on how to train a French Bulldog to climb stairs; watch it here for your reference.

As you follow their instructions to train your French Bulldog, keep the following in mind:

These little bat-eared angels are prone to tracheal collapse and heat stroke, so be sure to use caution when using a collar to apply pressure as demonstrated in the video and be sure to train your French Bulldog inside your home when the weather is hot.

If your French Bulldog is very frightened of the stairs, you will need patience. Choose a time to begin training when you are calm to avoid becoming frustrated, which may frighten him further.

Always choose a small flight of stairs to begin training on; the higher the staircase, the greater the chance of injury.

Keep the sessions short and sweet; once your Frenchie has successfully climbed the stairs without your intervention a few times, end the session on a positive note with lots of attention and a few treats.

Practice a few times a week until your Frenchie totally understands the drill.

How can you make your stairs safe for your French Bulldog?

A significant part of your French Bulldog’s ability to climb stairs will be their confidence.

There are a few things you can do to help the stairs be less threatening, such as:

If your stairs are not carpeted, your French Bulldog may not like going up and down them because they do not feel comfortable with the slippery surface they must climb. Purchase stair treads and or treaded socks to give them some traction.

Sit on the bottom step of the stair case in your home and invite your French Bulldog to sit with you there to be petted. Encourage any guests visiting your home to do the same. This will help him associate the stairs with something positive that he loves; attention.

Leave your Frenchie’s favorite toy or snack on the third or fourth step from the bottom. He will be motivated to practice using the stairs to get to this prize.

Summary

While your puppy may initially have no problems climbing up and down the stairs, as they grow older, they may develop health issues that seriously impede, or totally prevent, their ability to navigate stairs independently.

If you live in a house with lots of stairs, or many flights of stairs leading to your home without an elevator and will not be able to carry your French Bulldog up and downstairs, this may not be the best breed for you.

If you still want a Frenchie, perhaps consider moving to a one-level home, or relocating to a ground-level apartment.