Experts are discouraging would-be pet owners from buying French Bulldogs after a new study revealed they are at a much higher risk of health problems.
Researchers discovered the flat-faced – also known as brachycephalic – breed is more likely to suffer from conditions linked with its defining features including a shortened muzzle, large head, skin folds, and shortened spine and tail.
Experts said that while social media influencers and celebrities have “propelled the popularity” of French Bulldogs, would-be pet owners should “stop and think” before buying or adopting them.
Lead author of the paper Dr Dan O’Neill, senior lecturer in companion animal epidemiology at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), said: “There is no doubting that many humans love the feeling of owning their special French Bulldog. But sadly, this study helps us to grasp the full extent of the serious health issues affecting these dogs.
We urge would-be owners and breeders to think carefully about any breeding or buying decisions when it comes to French Bulldogs, and make use of health testing, evidence-based resources and expert adviceBill Lambert, The Kennel Club
“Especially in the lead-up to Christmas, we should give dogs a special present by putting the needs of the dog before the desires of the human. Stop and think before buying a flat-face dog.”
The study compared the health of random samples of 2,781 French Bulldogs and 21,850 non-French Bulldogs.
Compiling a list of the 43 most common disorders across both groups of dogs, the findings revealed many of the differences in health between the two groups were closely associated with the extreme body shape that defines French Bulldogs.
The findings showed that French Bulldogs had a higher risk of 20 out of 43 (46.5%) common disorders.
However, they had a lower risk of 11 of the 43 (25.6%) disorders.
Narrowed nostrils, also called stenotic nares, was the disorder with highest risk in French Bulldogs, with the breed more than 42 times more likely to have the condition, helping explain the high frequency of breathing problems they experience.
Other conditions with the highest risk in French Bulldogs included brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome, ear discharge, skin fold dermatitis and difficulty giving birth.
Bill Lambert, from The Kennel Club, said: “We, alongside vets, welfare organisations and breed clubs, continue to work collaboratively to educate the general public, many of whom simply don’t seem to be aware of the potential health and welfare issues that some of these dogs face.
“We urge would-be owners and breeders to think carefully about any breeding or buying decisions when it comes to French Bulldogs, and make use of health testing, evidence-based resources and expert advice.”
Justine Shotton, British Veterinary Association (BVA) president, said: “Social media and celebrity influence have really propelled the popularity of French Bulldogs in recent years, but sadly their ‘cute’ features can mask a whole host of health issues, which can require costly treatment.
“There’s growing concern across the veterinary profession that many owners aren’t aware of these problems when they decide to bring a Frenchie into the family.”