Because all brachycephalic breeds have varying degrees of predisposing anatomical features of airway obstruction, even if it is sub-clinical, it is appropriate to treat all brachycephalic breeds as having the potential for upper airway obstruction. It is worth remembering that with the shorter face, the less the air will cool before it reaches the lungs.
Predisposing Risk Factors – Heat, humidity, exercise, excitement can all increase panting as the dog attempts to lose heat and cool itself – this excessive panting in turn can produce local swelling (oedema) and further airway narrowing, increasing anxiety and body temperature; creating a vicious cycle.
Treatment – If panting hard, cool the dog all over by hosing the dog down in a bath or wading pool. Pay particular attention to the head, throat and belly. Do not attempt to make the dog swallow – ice packs placed along the belly, under the throat will help cool the dog – keep going for a minimum of 10-15 minutes, until the respiration rate slows down. If the dog is still having problems, get the dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Keep the car air conditioned with the cold air directly in the face of the dog.
Prevention – Be aware of the temperature on a daily basis, weather forecasting generally will give a good idea well ahead of hot weather. Place your dogs on extra electrolytes in their food – this can help them cope with the heat better. Keep your dogs in cool conditions with plenty of through ventilation.
GENERAL - The French Bulldog, is on the whole, a fairly sound dog. Being a brachycephalic breed that is fairly short and compact with a screw tail, the “Frenchie” is prone to the associated problems these conformational characteristics will bring.
BODY – While small in size, the Frenchie is incredible solid for its height and muscle weight ratio is phenomenal when comparing this breed to almost any other. Males ideally should weight around 14kgs, females around 12kg. Despite their small stature, the strength of the Frenchie holds it in very good stead. The strength of bone and generally good ligament strength makes them quite a hardy breed, unlikely to break bones or injure themselves, even though they play fairly hard. Launching off beds and chairs even while quite young, rarely causes any damage – only heart attaches to the owners! The French Bulldog is also incredibly agile on the whole, able to spring up onto sofas, chairs, lounges, beds etc in a single bound – usually without having to back off and take a run at it. In play, they often jump up in midair, turn 180 degrees and come down facing the other direction. Chasing and playing with bigger dogs is no problem. As they are fairly easy going, they don’t generally start fights, but are quite willing to give and opinion on whom they are backing and will line up in support.
When lifting this breed, one should be careful to shift the majority of the lift to just behind the shoulders due to the front-heavy head and chest of the breed. As they trust you totally, they are very good at throwing themselves forward in your arms – be prepared and have them securely held at all times.
TEMPERAMENT – The breed was developed to be a comical and affectionate companion – whether you wish to put affection before the humor is your decision! These are incredibly easy-going dogs and are very easy to live with, once the stubborn little darlings are fully house trained! They are easily spoiled rotten and are good nature enough to deal with this very well, and take it as their due. This should not however, extend to you being unable to hold them for an ear clean or nail cut – some discipline is needed, as you will need to be firm at these times – teach them early or it won’t sink in.
LIFESPAM – The Frenchie is on the whole, a reasonably healthy breed and lives between 12-16 years of age, and usually has a good age with minimal diseases.