French Bulldogs are incredibly popular purebred dogs today. They are known to be low energy pups that require very little daily exercise and adore warming the laps of their owners.
But French Bulldogs are not "perfect" dogs – especially if you like your pups quiet and self-contained.
Being a French Bulldog owner means getting used to a whole range of weird noises you probably never even realized a dog could make!
In this article, we explain what each of those noises means and also which ones may mean your dog needs medical attention.
Why Do French Bulldogs Make Weird Noises?
There are lots of reasons why the French Bulldogs make weird noises. Some of the sounds Frenchies make are based on behavior and some are based on anatomy.
French Bulldogs have a type of muzzle shape that is called brachycephalic or short muzzle. They have flat faces and short respiratory passages.
This anatomy can cause loud breathing, snoring, snuffling, snorting and a whole host of other noises unique to short muzzle dog breeds.
Listen to Some of the Most Common Frenchie Noises
This owner-made YouTube video highlights some of the many weird and wild noises that French Bulldogs are known to make.
However, these are far from the only sounds that your French Bulldog is likely to make throughout life.
What Is BOAS?
BOAS, or Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome, is a health condition that can arise in dogs with brachycephalic muzzle shapes and short faces – dogs like the French Bulldog.
As VCA Animal Hospital explains, BOAS is the most extreme version of respiratory symptoms these short-muzzled dogs are likely to inherit.
In some French Bulldogs, the symptoms will be mild and may range from snuffling during the day to snoring at night.
The more severe symptoms can cause open-mouth breathing and sleeping while standing up, both of which tend to make it easier for the dog to breathe.
If a dog with BOAS gets over-heated or over-excited, they may gag, vomit, cough, or even faint from lack of oxygen.
But in other French Bulldogs, BOAS can create a whole range of secondary symptoms that may require a lifetime of symptoms management and possible surgical correction as follows.
Stenotic nares mean small or narrowed nostrils. This can constrict breathing by limiting the inflow of air.
Sometimes these small tissue-covered bone ridges may be too long in a short-muzzle dog, which can obstruct air trying to flow into the pharynx, which is located directly under the nose and behind the mouth.
Elongated soft palate
People who have elongated soft palates often suffer from sleep apnea, the potentially deadly sleep disorder where oxygen flow gets interrupted or cut off during the night.
French Bulldogs can also suffer from sleep apnea if they have an elongated soft palate.
When a French Bulldog's trachea is said to be hypoplastic, this basically means it is too narrow. A narrow trachea will further impair free airflow to and from the lungs.
Laryngeal or bronchial collapse
The larynx, or voice box, is made of a softer material than bone called cartilage. Over time, it can actually collapse due to increased airflow pressure. This in turn can lead to bronchial collapse as well.
With too much pressure to breathe, these tiny sacks may get displaced from their normal position inside the larynx and end up blocking free airflow.
Other Sounds Associated with BOAS in French Bulldogs
BOAS symptoms are not just limited to the respiratory system in French Bulldogs.
As the United Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) points out, the French Bulldog's famously sensitive stomach is also linked to BOAS.
Vomiting, acid reflux, painful swallowing (dysphagia), regurgitating food, and similar symptoms are all associated with further internal defects such as hiatal hernia, which happens when the stomach protrudes up into through the diaphragm into the dog's chest.
BOAS is a very serious condition, of which weird noises are the least worrisome symptoms.
In fact, the suite of strange sounds that affected French Bulldogs can and will make is really just a collection of warning bells to alert you to a more serious medical issue that needs urgent attention.
Other Strange Sounds Your Frenchie May Make and What They Mean
Although many wills, not every strange noise that your French Bulldog is likely to make will relate to anatomical or respiratory issues.
In fact, French Bulldogs are not known to be a barking breed, per se, but they are a vocal breed in many other ways. To that point, here is a collection of other well-documented French Bulldog noises and their most likely meaning.
In fact, as Les Mark Ranch Bulldogs breeder points out, some French Bulldogs are actually known as "screamers." The screaming sound is an attention-getting sound – like a spoiled child.
As we mentioned in the previous section here, French Bulldogs are more likely to experience medical issues with their stomach and digestion, which is often linked to BOAS.
An unfortunate side effect of a Frenchie with a sensitive stomach (which is most Frenchies) is farting. Sometimes the farting may be very audible. Most of the time it will be stinky.
As Lindor French Bulldogs kennel and breeder explains, farting on its own usually isn't a major concern. But if it happens with vomiting, diarrhea, or reflux, seek veterinary care right away.
Reverse sneezing is most typically caused by respiratory irritation or over-excitement. It usually sounds like a combination of gag-giggle accompanied by short, sharp inhalations.
French Bulldogs may be neat and refined in their appearance, but just wait until they head for the water bowl. You will hear some pretty amazing slurping sounds.
These sounds relate to their short, flat, wide faces, which can make it harder to lap up water.
When eating their kibble, a similar kind of snuffling sound is often audible. It can help to choose a dog food that is made for brachycephalic dog breeds where the kibble is shaped so it is easier to grasp and chew.
Snuffling sounds can also indicate your dog is just sniffing around or is trying to catch their breath while playing.
Any dog that is panting is probably overheated or over-anxious. French Bulldogs are particularly prone to panting if allowed to be outside in hot weather. It is smart to keep your Frenchie indoors during the hottest part of the day for this reason.
When to Seek Help from Your Canine Veterinarian
The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA) reports that the French Bulldog breed's skyrocketing popularity is in no way dampened by their known issues with genetic BOAS.
However, what many owners are unprepared for is how expensive the associated health issues can be to manage and treat.
The United Kennel Club (UKC) explains that some associations will do a formal grading to determine how severe your dog's case of BOAS may be.
This may be especially important if you are thinking about making a lifetime commitment to a Frenchie puppy or adult rescue dog.
You want to be sure you understand the responsibilities that can come along with caring for a brachycephalic dog breed and that you are budgeting ahead if more serious health issues occur later in life.
In many cases, French Bulldogs are relinquished because they require more medical care than their owner can afford. You can also ask your own veterinarian to assess any rescued Frenchie you are thinking about adopting to avoid a second rehoming.
If you notice that your dog seems to be waking up in the middle of the night all of a sudden and gasping for air, this is a sign your dog may be suffering from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can be fatal without treatment.
And if you notice that your dog starts vomiting, regurgitating food, reverse sneezing, or experiencing acid reflux more frequently, treatment can help manage these symptoms to make your dog's life more comfortable and ease your worries.
The best way to minimize the impact BOAS may have on your dog's quality of life is to choose a reputable, health-focused and responsible French Bulldog breeder to work with.
How to Choose the Healthiest French Bulldog Puppy
While it is not possible to completely eliminate all symptoms of BOAS because the French Bulldog has the brachycephalic muzzle shape, it is definitely possible to choose breeding pairs (parent dogs) carefully to minimize severe health issues.
A reputable breeder will do their utmost to schedule pre-screening health tests and choose the healthiest dam and sire dogs to produce healthy litters of Frenchie puppies.
French Bulldogs have so much to offer as companion canines. Your Frenchie will also rely on you as well to help them have the best quality of life.
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.