French Bulldogs are known to be incredibly loving companion canines. They are smart, cute, and comical in how they love to entertain their people and charm the socks off strangers.
But one thing that often surprises new French Bulldog owners is the wide range of sounds that Frenchies can make.
Snorting is not a sound most people associate with dogs. But all that changes when you decide to share your life with a French Bulldog.
Why do French Bulldogs snort? What the weird noises do these compact canines make? Is there a reason Frenchies don't bark much but are so vocal in other ways? We are going to take a look at these and other interesting questions in this article.
Meet the French Bulldog
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the French Bulldog is the fourth most popular companion canine in the United States. That is saying a lot, considering the AKC has registered 195 purebred dog breeds!
Frenchies actually got their start in England. When some English owners decided to move to France, their bulldogs accompanied them. It didn't take long for their new French neighbors to fall in love with these dogs as well.
Later, the French and the English had a literal falling out over who the Frenchie rightfully belonged to and what this dog breed is supposed to look like.
Even so, today the French Bulldog is beloved around the world for their delightful people-centric personalities and ability to be happy even in tiny living spaces. However, the snorting these dogs do can take some getting used to!
What Other Sounds Besides Snorting Do French Bulldogs Make?
Every day around the world, neighbors get mad at each other over barking dogs. But rare is the time when a neighbor will complain about the dog next door snorting too much.
French Bulldogs are relatively quiet when it comes to barking. But they are not quiet once you consider their crying, whining, wheezing, snoring and snorting.
French Bulldogs can sing like songbirds, snort like pigs and purr like cats. If you were blindfolded listening to a Frenchie work their way through their typical range of sounds, you might be forgiven for not realizing they are coming from a dog!
French Bulldogs do bark, by the way. But it is not their preferred method of vocal communication.
Listen to the Sound of a French Bulldog Snorting
In this short YouTube video, you can hear the classic French Bulldog snorting sound that so many Frenchie owners listen to every day.
What do you think? Cute? Or….not so cute?
Why Do French Bulldogs Snort So Much?
The main reason why French Bulldogs snort so frequently is because of how their face is shaped.
If you are just learning about Frenchies, you may have first noticed the breed because of their adorable scrunched-up faces. This is one of three main muzzle shapes that dogs can have: long, medium, and short.
Not surprisingly, Frenchies have a short muzzle shape.
But this muzzle shape is much shorter than it used to be in the early days of the breed. The shorter a dog's muzzle gets, the more compressed and crowded all the structures inside the face and jaw become.
Inside a French Bulldog's face, the respiratory passages, teeth, jaw, tongue, nose, eyes and other important structures are all competing for space. There just isn't enough space to fit it all inside comfortably.
This causes the breathing problems this breed is known for. Frenchies have what are called "stenotic nares." The term translates to mean "narrow nostrils." Most accurately, stenotic nares mean "short, narrow nostrils."
The nostrils are shortened and pinched together, limiting how much air can flow through in either direction at any one time. It is this abnormality in the structure of the nostrils that can cause the snorting sound.
Should You Be Worried When Your French Bulldog Snorts?
As one French Bulldog breeder points out, different activities can cause your Frenchie to make a range of different sounds.
Frenchies tend to snort when they are playing or exercising. They will also snort when they are trying to clear out their nares, or nostrils. So in a way, snorting for a French Bulldog is like you blowing your nose.
Experienced French Bulldog breeders and owners say that some amount of snorting is normal given this dog breed's shortened face shape and respiratory passages.
But there is another type of snort that often scares new Frenchie owners, as the posts in this French Bulldog forum point out.
This type of snort is called the "reverse sneeze." The reverse sneeze is another common French Bulldog sound that is also caused by the short muzzle shape.
But with a reverse sneeze, the snort is extended. It sounds a lot like the sound people make when they are trying to breathe in deeply to clear their nostrils, as this YouTube video made by a French bulldog owner shows.
It can be a pretty scary sound to hear when you've never heard it before, especially since your dog may do it over and over again. But in most cases, your dog will stop on their own after a few rounds.
When to See Your Veterinarian About French Bulldog Snorting
French Bulldogs, like other short muzzle dog breeds, can suffer from a condition called BOAS. BOAS is short for Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome.
As the University of Cambridge Department of Veterinary Medicine explains, there is a range of symptoms that veterinarians look for when diagnosing the condition.
These are the most commonly reported symptoms of BOAS in canines:
- Noisy breathing.
- Respiratory distress.
- Narrowed nostrils.
- Sleep apnea.
- Cyanosis (a bluish tinge to gums and skin from lack of oxygen).
- Overheating even with minimal exertion.
- Gastrointestinal problems.
Veterinarians using a standard "Grading System" to diagnose BOAS. There are four grades: 0, 1, 2, 3. At zero, the dog is healthy. At three, the dog needs urgent care.
You can listen to this YouTube video to hear the kind of snorting sound that indicates severe respiratory distress.
How You Can Help Your Snorting French Bulldog
In the beginning, listening to your Frenchie snort may sound kind of funny. When it is mild, it actually can be kind of funny to listen to.
But if you notice your dog is making the snorting sound more often or it gets louder and turns into sounds of distress, this is when you know your dog needs your help.
There are a few things you can do on your own to help your French Bulldog stop snorting so much.
Be very mindful of the temperature
Unlike people, dogs can't sweat through their skin. Your Frenchie sweats only through their paws and by panting.
This is why French Bulldogs are particularly prone to overheating even when temperatures can seem mild to you.
Be sure to keep your dog in a comfortable and cool setting and don't go out for walks during the hottest part of the day. This will minimize snorting that happens because your dog is trying to gasp for air or pant to cool down.
Easing "reverse sneeze" snorting
Experienced French Bulldog owners recommend gently covering both of your dog's nostrils with your fingers to stop a snorting episode that has developed into reverse sneezing.
This forces your dog to open its mouth and gulp in larger amounts of air. It will end the reverse sneezing.
Talk with your dog's veterinarian for treatment
When snorting turns into reverse sneezing and becomes more regular and severe, it is time to bring your dog in for a visit with your veterinarian.
As the United Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) explains, BOAS has unfortunately become a major health issue for many brachycephalic breeds, including the French Bulldog.
BOAS can be life-limiting at best and fatal at worst. It is definitely not a health issue you want to ignore because it won't resolve on its own.
But there are many treatments that can help your French Bulldog breathe easier – literally. These treatments range from mild behavioral therapy such as alteration of sleep position to major surgery.
The good news here is that 81 percent of surgical interventions done to correct canine BOAS deliver excellent results. The bad news is that surgery is stressful, invasive, and can be very expensive.
Because many breeders breed specifically for a drastically shortened muzzle due to owner demand, BOAS in French Bulldogs is increasing. It is a major reason why many owners have to relinquish their Frenchies because treatment is so expensive.
It is never easy to learn about serious health conditions like BOAS. But just because BOAS is common in French Bulldogs doesn't mean your Frenchie has the condition. Sometimes snorting is also just snorting!
Always talk with your dog's veterinarian to get the best guidance for your French Bulldog's health.
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.