French bulldogs make great pets for apartment dwellers due to their compact size and not-so-small-dog typical personality. They're highly susceptible to obesity from lack of exercise, genetics, and overeating.
Veterinarians will recommend you keep yours trim and under 30 pounds. Their bone structures can't support a lot of weight, and it can make genetic disorders and symptoms worse.
Read on to understand why you might have a difficult time keeping your French bulldog at a healthy weight. You can learn tricks to maintain their weight without putting their health at greater risk too.
How Can I Ensure My Bulldog Stays Healthy?
You have to understand the types of conditions French bulldogs face from birth. These genetic conditions can interfere with a healthy routine, which includes exercise.
A Frenchie's characteristic short snout enables the breed to snore and grunt, but it hinders their ability to breathe and regulate their body temperature. They can easily overheat in moderate springtime temperatures.
Frequent or prolonged exercise can also lead to overheating and overexertion. In a larger breed, the dog usually rebounds after water and rest. It can mean death for a Frenchie.
Because they can't exercise as much or as long as other breeds, you can have a difficult time with their weight. This doesn't include their inert stubbornness and individual personalities, which will also undermine your efforts.
Frenchie Health Issues that Can Affect Weight Management
- Brachycephalic or shortened head
- Palate abnormalities that cause blockage to the trachea
- Stenotic nares or narrow nostrils
- Hypoplastic trachea or narrow windpipe
- Allergies, including skin and food
- Intervertebral Disc Disease
- Hip dysplasia
According to HillsPet, The list features breathing difficulties, and one way a dog regulates their body temperature is through breathing. This makes their exercise tolerance lower than other breeds and at greater risk for heatstroke.
The same study found males were more likely to have genetic differences than females too.
These conditions also worsen the more obese or overweight your dog is, so diet and moderate amounts of safe exercise are still important to your French bulldog's health.
Genetic conditions occur for multiple reasons, and you can't control them once your French bulldog enters the world.
Should I Invest in Genetic Testing for My French Bulldog
Yes, especially if you intend to breed your Frenchie. This provides you with flaws and medical conditions you could potentially pass on to their litters. You might change your mind about breeding altogether.
Even if you have zero plans to breed, a genetic test can prepare you for future medical costs and care. Frenchies aren't lacking in this department either. According to BioMed Central, French bulldogs have a 72.4% chance of developing at least one genetic disorder.
The majority of genetic anomalies stem from poor breeding practices, including a lack of testing and screening prior to mating. Unlike other breeds, your Frenchie can't reproduce without help if mating a pair of them.
Be wary if your breeder claims otherwise; French bulldogs can't mate like normal dogs due to their bone structure. If a breeder claims the conception and birth occurred naturally, you likely have a mixed puppy and a careless breeder.
Why does this matter? Don't get us wrong; we love mutts too. However, having an unknown breed in the mix could introduce new complications in overall health and weight management.
My Dog's Test Came Back. Does it Mean My Dog Will Inherit These Disorders?
No. What it means is your dog might develop one or more of the disorders on your results. They might not develop them, but they certainly are a carrier.
Being a carrier is also important if you have plans to breed. Those disorders could present in future litters, and breeding should be about bettering the lineage.
How Can I Make Sure My French Bulldog Exercises Enough?
With Frenchies, try not to think in terms of length of time. Most are naturally playful and rambunctious. They like their toys and will even zoom around your house or yard for no reason. Each of these small acts is a form of exercise.
Remember, your dog isn't a human and doesn't require 35 minutes of exercise a set number of days per week. What your Frenchie does need is one session a day whether it be playing indoors or going for a walk in the park.
What Are the Signs of Heatstroke?
Always watch for warning signs shown in the video of your Frenchie overheating.
Stop the activity at once and allow your Frenchie to rest in a cool place with fresh water. If your dog collapses or has serious symptoms, call your veterinarian straight away and follow the tips from PetMD to cool down your dog.
6 Signs of Heatstroke in Dogs
- Excessive panting that worsens
- Angry red or pale gums
- Pacing, restlessness
These are common warning signs you should look out for, but this isn't a complete list. Remember, a Frenchie is susceptible to heatstroke at far lower temperatures than other breeds. Humidity can also play a major role.
On warmer days or climates, you might do best with shorter walks or keeping your dog in an air-conditioned space.
No matter what, do not leave your dog in a hot car with the windows up. Even with windows down, a Frenchie can quickly fall into a coma and die if you're in partial sun, so be sure to pick a shaded spot. However, we don't recommend leaving a dog in a vehicle unattended even with the windows down.
What are Fun and Safe Ways I Can Exercise My French Bulldog?
- Go for a walk in the morning and evening when it's cooler outside
- Run for a bit in the shade
- Jump in the sprinkler or splash in a kid-sized pool*
- Play fetch or tug-of-war indoors
- Set up an inside obstacle course to exercise your Frenchie's body, intelligence, and confidence
- Teach your pup to skateboard, like this intelligent and talented Frenchie
How Can I Find Quality Food?
Quality matters regardless of the breed. However, that alone is an opinion that varies greatly among dog owners, veterinarians, and government agencies. We feel the optimal diet is the one that works for your pet and doesn't produce nutritional gaps.
I Feed My Frenchie Treats. Should I Cut Back?
If your Frenchie has weight issues pushing them over 28-30 pounds, treats should be the first area you address. Many are low quality and nutritionally empty. Providing safe, healthier alternatives could be a way to keep snacks in their routine though.
Many fresh fruits and vegetables are great for dogs in moderation.
Should I Feed Grain Free or Limited Ingredient Diet?
These types of food vary widely, and some could be beneficial to your Frenchie. Your veterinarian can provide you with more detail and steer you toward a formula that will provide optimal nutrition without added calories.
However, we'll briefly run down the pros and cons of each type.
- Good for dogs with grain allergies and intolerances
- Less artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
- Most formulas cover all life stages
- Many formulas opt for a balanced nutritional profile suitable for all dogs
- Can still contain meat and fish from questionable sources
- Can contains exotic or unusual ingredients veterinarians and the FDA link to heart failure in dogs
- Generally free of common allergens like corn, wheat, and soy
- Gentler formulas for your dog's digestion
- Nutritionally complete formulas available
- Can still contain cheap fillers
- Might have exotic or unusual ingredients linked to heart failure
- Some don't cover all life stages
Final Thoughts on Maintaining the French Bulldog's Ideal Weight
Reaching the average weight for a Frenchie is easy. Maintaining it without causing them harm or aggravating health issues is harder.
Start by understanding what medical conditions could stand in your French bulldog's way of achieving a healthy weight.
Remember to exercise your pup daily and feed a nutritionally sound food. If your dog is already overweight, look for safe ways to increase exercise.
We wish you are your Frenchie the best of luck on your lifelong healthful journey.
As a freelance pet writer and blogger, Shannon is passionate about crafting knowledge-based, science-supported articles that foster healthy bonds of love and respect between people and animals. But her first and very most important job is as a dog auntie and cockatiel, tortoise, and box turtle mama.