Twenty years ago, french bulldogs ranked #76 in popularity in the U.S. Today they are #4. The baby-like features that result from the forward-facing eyes on their flatter faces are irresistible. Additionally, they are low-energy with makes them easy to own.
French bulldogs are bred for smaller stature and shorter muzzles. Sadly, that flattening (called “brachycephaly,” or ‘short skull’) is responsible for many extra health issues of this affectionate, intelligent, and comical little companion.
What Types of Health Issues Do French Bulldogs Face?
French bulldogs (or ‘Frenchies’) live an average of 11-13 years. To lead the healthiest lives, they should regularly be monitored by your vet to halt, or even prevent, any breed-specific issues, such as:
Frenchies’ eyes protrude, leaving them unprotected and prone to infection and eye ulcers. Entropion (rolled eyelids), cataracts, and cherry eye are also more prevalent than in other breeds.
‘Short-skull’ dogs with smaller mouths have more trouble controlling their internal temperature. That’s why frenchies don’t do well outdoors in the heat and on long walks. At first, they’ll feel discomfort, but the extreme could be heat stroke.
Their shortened jaw doesn’t mean french bulldogs’ teeth are smaller or fewer. The resulting overcrowding leads to pain and, without routine dental cleaning, to dental decay. Untreated, decay and periodontal disease can also bring on all the complications of inflammation.
Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome, or BOAS
The soft palate in the mouth is not smaller just because the skull is shorter, and it can obstruct a french bulldogs’s airway. Compressed nostrils can compound lower airflow. The result is difficulty breathing.
Intervertebral Disk Syndrome, or IVDD
Short-legged, dwarf-size dogs like french bulldogs can have abnormal vertebrae and premature aging of intervertebral disks. Hip dysplasia and patellar luxation can also be issues.
A note of caution: Any surgery means anesthesia, and anesthesia is riskier in dogs with breathing issues.
What Are the Costs of Treating Health Issues for French Bulldogs?
Nationwide Insurance lists the average cost to treat a french bulldog’s most common health concerns:
- Cherry eye (medium risk): $490-$1,050
- Entropion (high risk): $305-$1,490
- Heat stroke (medium risk): $205-$2,315
- Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome, or BOAS (high risk): $200-$1,500
- Intervertebral disk syndrome, or IVDD (high risk): $2,500-$7,000
Anecdotally, in late 2017 a french bulldog owner reported the surgery to repair a herniated disk in her dog’s neck cost $9,000. Her Nationwide Whole Pet with Wellness plan reimbursed 90% of the costs (after the $250 deductible).
How Might Pet Insurance Be Able to Cover Some of These Costs?
Any pet insurance plan for your french bulldog must cover hereditary conditions. Some don’t, and you don’t want your claim denied because you overlooked that detail.
Also, dog insurance companies do not cover pre-existing conditions. You may want to insure as young as possible (at 6-8 weeks with some companies), before any problems have surfaced, so your insurance claim will not be denied as a pre-existing condition.
Does it Make Sense for French Bulldog Owners to Have Pet Insurance?
Some pet parents might quibble over the wisdom of pet insurance for low-maintenance pets. However, with french bulldogs, the shortened skull and dwarf size can make it almost imperative to have good coverage, unless you have ample financial resources. Sadly, too many are found in rescue operations because owners couldn’t cover the escalating vet costs.
As of this publishing, Embrace's website has example quotes for pet insurance for french bulldogs at $49-$59 (maybe more depending on your location and chosen deductible).
Your french bulldog may never develop any of these health issues. But if it does, you want to know you can afford to provide full care, regardless of cost.