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French Bulldog Breathing Problems

Do French Bulldogs have breathing problems?

Yes, unfortunately French Bulldogs are known for having breathing problems — the severity of their breathing issues will vary Frenchie-to-Frenchie but as with any flat-faced breed, you can expect them to have some degree of breathing problems.

French Bulldogs are what is known as a brachycephalic breed.

This is a fancy term for “flat-faced” breed.

And they’ve certainly gained notoriety for their breathing issues.

You might have even heard…

Some airlines have outright banned Frenchies on their flights!

And if you do decide to fly with your Frenchie, you’ll certainly have to take special precautions

Why it matters

Sometimes their flat-face-ness can cause a condition known as Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (BAS).

Healthy breathing is essential for life… a compromised airway can lead to many other health conditions down the line such as:

What causes breathing problems for Frenchies

  1. Allergies: just like how we get stuffed up & sneeze when having allergies
  2. Stenotic nares: pinched or narrow nostrils
  3. Elongated Soft Palate: the soft palate is too big & partially blocks the throat
  4. Tracheal Collapse: weakening of the trachea over time eventually leading to collapse
  5. Having a very flat face: all Frenchies have flat-faces, but some are flatter than others

Poor breathing can cause these issues

There are a few signs that your Frenchie’s breathing is sub-optimal…

  • Loud breathing — especially if they’re breathing very loud not exerting themselves
  • Exercise intolerance — are they struggling to keep up with just a few minutes of playing ball inside? This could be another sign.
  • Heat intolerance & cold intolerance — Frenchies aren’t the best at regulating their body temperatures, but breathing issues can make this even worse.
  • Choking — what you think is choking might actually be reverse sneezing
  • Snoring & sleep apnea — but this could be caused by other reasons such as being overweight or older

Fortunately, there are many surgical treatments available that can help your Frenchie breathe much better.

Common French Bulldog Breathing Problems

1. Stenotic Nares

It’s a condition in which the dog has pinched or narrow nostrils.

Many short-nosed dogs suffer from this disorder, and it can result in difficulty breathing through the nose, snorting, and snoring.

A French Bulldog with stenotic nares (narrow pinched nostrils)
A French Bulldog with Stenotic Nares

There are varying degrees of severity of stenotic nares, with some nostrils being nearly closed, and some only slightly narrower than usual.

This disorder can seriously reduce the quality of life for your Frenchie, making it harder for them to exercise, tolerate heat, and breathe.

Stenotic Nares is treatable

Fortunately, stenotic nares is easily correctible through a surgery to widen the nostrils. This is usually done when they’re younger and your veterinarian would likely suggest the surgery if they believe your Frenchie has stenotic nares.

2. Tracheal Collapse

Tracheal collapse in French Bulldogs is a chronic, progressive disease of the trachea or “windpipe”.

It is often caused by a chronic respiratory disease, Cushing’s disease, or heart disease.

It can be present at birth or develop over time.

Symptoms of tracheal collapse are primarily

  • Honking cough
  • Labored breathing
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Bluish tinge to the gums

Tracheal Collapse Treatment

What treatment options are available for a dog affected by tracheal collapse? Initially, your veterinarian will most likely start by prescribing medications such as:

  • Cough suppressants
  • Weight loss if overweight
    • Obesity can make breathing much more difficult for dogs.
  • Corticosteroids to control inflammation
  • Bronchodilators to make breathing easier
  • Antibiotics if there are secondary infections

Medication is pretty effective

In 71% of cases, these medications are able to successfully manage the symptoms of tracheal collapse.

These medications include: antibiotics, cough suppressants, corticosteroids, and bronchodilators.

But surgery is an option if medication doesn’t work work

If medication is not a successful treatment option for your Frenchie, there are surgical procedures that have shown a 75% to 85% success rate in dogs under the age of six.

These procedures consist of applying prosthetic rings to the outside of the trachea to support it.

Surgery is expensive though

Note: these surgeries are pretty pricey and can range anywhere from $3,500 to $6,500.

This is just one of the reasons that Frenchies are known for being one of the most expensive dogs in the world.

3. Laryngeal Collapse

Laryngeal collapse is a condition that happens when there is a loss of rigidity and support for the laryngeal cartilage, causing the larynx to collapse.

The larynx protects the lungs for aspiration while swallowing, allows for barking & growling, and serves as a passage for airflow to the lungs.

It is also called the “voice box”.

Mild cases of laryngeal collapse may be treated with less-invasive procedures.

These procedures include: shortening the elongated soft palate, enlarging the nostrils (stenotic nares), and removing excessive, obstructive tissues within the throat.

More severe cases might require more invasive surgery such as partial cartilage removal or trachestomy.

There’s a whole lot to learn about Laryngeal Collapse in Frenchies… if you want to learn more, click the button below for our page dedicated to Laryngeal Collapse.

French Bulldog Breathing Surgery

There are a few surgeries available for a Frenchie that is having issues breathing.

A comprehensive surgical plan to address all your Frenchie’s breathing issues can cost up to $2,500.

Surgeries to correct breathing issues

  • Stenotic nares surgery: The cost of stenotic nares surgery for French Bulldogs can range from $500 to $1,500.
  • Soft palate surgery: The cost of soft palate surgery for French Bulldogs can range from $1,000 to $3,000.
  • Laryngeal saccule resection: The cost of laryngeal saccule resection for French Bulldogs can range from $1,500 to $3,000.
  • Tracheal stent placement: The cost of tracheal stent placement for French Bulldogs can range from $2,000 to $4,000.

Why you should consider surgery

Surgery can greatly improve your Frenchie’s quality of life, especially for those with moderate-severe breathing issues.

These surgeries are typically done when your Frenchie is still a puppy, but they can be performed in adults as well.

There are many reasons to consider surgery to improve your Frenchie’s breathing… there are tons of benefits to a healthy airway:

Benefits of Healthy Breathing

  • More energy
  • Better exercise tolerance
  • Restful, uninterrupted sleep
  • Reduced snoring (Frenchies can snore loud!)
  • Able to regulate their body temperature better
  • Reduced risk of developing health issues such as heart disease

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all French Bulldogs have breathing problems?

Yes, all Frenchies will suffer from some degree of breathing issues — although the severity can vary greatly. You can bet on a Frenchie to be snorting & snoring though.

This is the case with all flat-faced dogs.

The flatter their face, the worse their breathing problems usually are.

Some Frenchies don’t have as flat of a face, and hence, have milder breathing issues. Frenchies like this might have mild exercise intolerance, snort a bit, and snore in certain positions.

But some have severe breathing issues that greatly impact their quality of life. They might even require surgery to improve their breathing. Frenchies like this might have severe exercise intolerance, snort a ton, and always snore when they sleep.