French bulldogs are so severely ill that they cannot be considered a “typical” dog from a medical standpoint.

This is the stark warning of researchers from the Royal Veterinary College, who analysed the health records of 24,631 canines — including 2,781 French bulldogs.

They found that the flat-faced breed is at a significantly higher risk from 20 common disorders — including narrowed nostrils and obstructive airways syndrome.

According to the researchers, these findings highlight the necessity to change the breed to more moderate traits to lower the chance of developing breathing problems.

French bulldogs (pictured) face such severe health problems that the breed can no longer be considered as a 'typical dog' from a medical perspective. This is the stark warning of experts from the Royal Veterinary College, who analysed the health records of 24,631 canines

French bulldogs (pictured below) are so sick that they can’t be called ‘typical dogs’. Experts from Royal Veterinary College have warned that this is what they found when they examined the records of 24631 dogs.


Researchers found that many health problems experienced more frequently by French bulldogs can be attributed to their body’s extreme shape.

This manifests as a grossly shortened muzzle, large head, big eyes, skin folds and both a shortened spine and tail.

Unfortunately, some of these features have become popular among dog owners, being seen as ‘cute’ and ‘desirable’ — normalising them despite the breathing problems and sore eyes that are common as a consequence.

‘Achieving meaningful changes to the typical look of French Bulldogs over time requires buy in from breeders and kennel clubs who publish breeding standards,’ said paper author Dan O’Neill of the Royal Veterinary College.

It is the owners’ greatest responsibility to demand moderate-sized dogs.

The companion animal epidemiologist stated that the Kennel Club has recently revised the French Bulldog breed standard to remove elements of extreme conformation and evidence of health-ill-effects.

“This positive move to prioritize the health of dogs rather than human desires about how they look is very encouraging. It’s now time for us to continue the evolution of our breed towards more moderate conformation.

In their study, Dr O’Neill and colleagues analysed the medical histories — as recorded by UK veterinary practices from 2016 onwards in the VetCompass database — of 2,781 French bulldogs and 21,850 canines from other breeds.

The researchers specifically compared 43 disorders diagnosed between French bulldogs with other breeds. 

The team found that French bulldogs are at a significantly greater risk from 20 of the  disorders studied.

These included the narrowed nostrils that can cause breathing difficulties (42 times higher), obstructive airways syndrome (31 times), ear discharge (14 times), skin fold dermatitis (11 times) and difficulty giving birth (9 times).

It is clear that French Bulldog owners are passionate about their French Bulldog. However, Dr O’Neill said that this research helps to understand the severity of these serious health problems.

‘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 team found that French bulldogs (pictured) are at a significantly greater risk from 20 disorders — including narrowed nostrils (42 times higher), obstructive airways syndrome (31 times), ear discharge (14 times) and dermatitis (11 times)

The team found that French bulldogs (pictured) are at a significantly greater risk from 20 disorders — including narrowed nostrils (42 times higher), obstructive airways syndrome (31 times), ear discharge (14 times) and dermatitis (11 times)

The study team found that more French bulldogs had one or multiple disorders than any other dog breed, with 63 per cent versus 66 percent.

This could indicate that French bulldogs have slightly lower odds of being diagnosed with a disorder in general, they explained — or it could be that owners are better at identifying health issues when they arise in other breeds. 

Although they were at greater risk of 20 disorders, French bulldogs showed lower chances than other dogs to develop 11 common disorders. This includes lameness and obesity.

They said this shows how the breed can still move toward a healthier profile. This is possible by selecting to eliminate high-risk features such as shorter muzzles or skin folds that could be associated with health issues. 

Researchers cautioned that their results are dependent on reports from veterinarian practices and may not reflect the severity of a disorder or how long dogs have been suffering. 

Furthermore, the fact that snoring in French bulldogs can be indicative of a breathing disorder is often overlooked by dog owners, meaning that this condition may potentially be under-represented in the study dataset. 

‘Social media and celebrity influence have really propelled the popularity of French Bulldogs,’ said British Veterinary Association president Justine Shotton.

“But their “cute” appearances may mask serious medical issues that could require expensive treatment.

“There is growing concern that Frenchie owners may not be aware of the problems.

“We encourage potential owners to conduct extensive research before deciding to adopt a pet. This includes considering whether cross-breeds or breeds are more susceptible to specific conditions and requiring health testing. 

‘Vets are happy to offer tailored advice ahead of buying or rescuing a dog, so that people have peace of mind that they’re getting a happy, healthy pet and know how to best cater to its needs.’

Full results of this study have been published in Canine Medicine and Genetics.

Because flat-faced dogs, such as Chihuahuas and Pugs, can’t naturally breed or give birth naturally, fashion for them is increasing. 

Unlicensed vets are operating in the UK and running shady ‘canine fertility clinics’ for specialist species like Chihuahuas, Pugs and Shih Tzus that struggle to breed.

Experts last year found 37 clinics which are not run by vets or had no vet on site — despite many offering such services as taking bloods and performing caesarean sections.

An identical investigation was conducted in 2015, but only one clinic was found to be unlicensed. 

Two of the clinics had even been advertising a type of canine artificial insemination that requires surgery to complete — a procedure that was banned in 2019.

These clinics are experiencing a rapid increase in their number, as well as an increase in artificial insemination methods used to produce puppies.

Unlicensed vets are operating in the UK and running shady fertility clinics for specialist species like Chihuahuas, Pugs and Shih Tzus that struggle to breed (stock image)

UK-licensed veterinarians run shady fertility clinics in order to help specialist breeders like Chihuahuas Pugs, Shih Tzus, and Chihuahuas (stock image).

According to UK canine welfare organisation the Kennel Club, there were more births by canine artificial insemination — via the non-surgical route — in the last three years than there were in the six years before that from 1998 to 2015.

This trend appears to be linked to the rising popularity of so-called brachycephalic breeds — those dogs with short noses and flat faces, such as Chihuahuas, Pugs and Shih Tzus — which can experience difficulty mating on their own.

Many of the clinics identified by the researchers were mobile businesses, advertised via rudimentary websites, offering vet services for dogs at cheap prices.

Some of these clinics appeared to advocate ‘self-whelping’ — in which dogs are not taken to the vet in order to give birth, even when this might be advisable — as well as raw feeding which can lead to infections.

Of the clinics identified, 20 offered a stud dog service for breeds that require a caesarean section 80 per cent of the time in order to give birth — such as English and French bulldogs — despite many of these not appearing having a vet on site. 

‘Artificial insemination is, of itself, ethically permissible in many situations,’ said Madeleine Campbell, an animal welfare specialist at the Royal Veterinary College.

It can have beneficial welfare effects such as eliminating the need to move animals long distances, or international to breed.

She said that the procedure can help to maintain genetic diversity and facilitate crosses between animals living in different locations.

“But, artificial insemination used for pregnancies is not allowed in animals who, because of heritable anatomical factors, cannot breed or give birth naturally. That has negative welfare implications. It is an ethical problem.

‘Furthermore, if the investigations imply that non-vets may be undertaking acts of veterinary surgery such as Caesarean sections, then that is obviously worrying, and would be illegal,’ Dr Campbell added.

‘Concerns about non-vets undertaking acts of veterinary surgery should be reported to trading standards — and the police.’

‘Perhaps it’s time the UK created its own laws to better regulate the burgeoning canine fertility and reproduction industry?,’ said Vet Record’s Josh Loeb

“At a minimum, the profession needs to pay greater attention to how clinics operate and whether they are considered to be ‘pseudo-veterinary’ clinics in certain cases.

Vet Record has published all findings.