Cleft Palate in French Bulldogs

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What is Cleft Palate

Cleft palates in French Bulldogs is a genetic disorder that is commonly seen in brachycephalic breeds.

It is characterized by an abnormal opening in the roof of the mouth.

During embryonic development, the two sides of the palate (roof of the mouth) fail to come together and fuse. This results in an opening between the nasal passages and the mouth.

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Symptoms of a French Bulldog with a Cleft Palate

  • A runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Aspiration pneumonia (pneumonia caused by milk and food contents entering the cleft and infecting the lungs)
  • Breathing problems (usually caused by aspiration pneumonia)
  • Difficulty sucking and nursing (for puppies)
  • Slow growth
  • Weight loss from difficulty eating
  • Lack of appetite

What Causes Cleft Palate?

Currently, the exact cause of cleft palate isn’t known, however, veterinarian researchers have a few theories.

Exposure to certain chemicals during pregnancy

Genetics

Some breeds are at higher risk

Cleft palate is more common in brachycephalic dogs (flat-faced) such as Frenchies.

Some other breeds that are at higher risk include:

  • German Shepherds
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Dachshunds
  • Beagles
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Schnauzers
  • Shetland Sheepdogs

How is Cleft Palate Treated?

Surgery to correct a cleft palate can be performed when puppies are 3-4 months old.

It usually requires more than one operation to completely close the opening.

It’s important to note that cleft palate surgery is very expensive and requires a highly-skilled surgeon to be successful.
Long-term complications are not uncommon, however, a Frenchie with a successfully-treated cleft palate can still live a long, happy life.