How to Make Your French Bulldog Live Longer


With their relatively short lives, at least compared to humans, it can be devastating the family when they lose a dog to old age. A dog that has been part of their lives for many years, taken away too early.

The French Bulldog, with its lifespan of between 10 to 12 years is pretty average for a dog. But is there anything we can do to possibly increase their lifespan without negatively impacting their lives?

Yes, you can make your French Bulldog potentially live longer if you adopt some relatively simple methods, let’s take a look further.

Varied DNA

I put this right at the front because if you’ve already got your French Bulldog then there’s obviously nothing you can about this point now, move along please ๐Ÿ™‚

However, finding a dog that has historically varied DNA as opposed to in-breeding will decrease their chance of genetic problems and other unwanted DNA mutations.

A Healthy Diet

Frenchie licking a lolly

Of course, one of the most important things you can do to help your French Bulldog is to provide it with a perfect diet. This will vary, depending on how old she is.

You won’t get her until she’s about 10 weeks as her mother will be taking care of her up until this point. This is out of your control of course but is an important part of your puppy’s development.

However, there is most certainly something you can do after this point though. Apart from the obvious, which I’m not going to mention here (like not feeding her chocolate and other sugary foods!) the general advice for those all-important first few months is as follows:

  • Ensure enough fat is provided – it may seem a strange thing to suggest, but your puppy needs a good source of fat in her diet. Some good sources of this are Chicken fat, flaxseed, and canola oil. Now, I need to give you some percentages here and I’ll let you decide what to do with them. For instance, for a puppy, they should have around 8% fat in their diet. Really? Not 9%? I mean, how do they know? It just frustrates me when I hear these odd numbers. I mean, have they really got some test-dogs somewhere where they feed some of them with a diet containing 8% fat and some others with 9% and somehow deduce that the doggies on the former are doing better than those on the latter? No, they don’t, of course – so take these numbers with a little pinch of salt. If you’re interested, once they become mature that number should be reduced a bit (to 5% if you’re still with me).
  • Provide them with protein – okay, so I understand this one a bit more and again, chicken is a good example. Not that you need examples of protein but fish, lamb, and beef are very easy to source and typically your French Bulldog will enjoy these. Right then, I promise I’m not going to get cross but when they’re a puppy, try and make sure about 22% of their diet is protein, this goes down to 18% when they’re fully mature. So, forget the numbers, just assume about a fifth of their dinner is meat, easier right?
  • Carbohydrates – just a quick note on this and I promise no silly percentages. The French Bulldog can suffer from diabetes and high carbohydrate levels (any foods including sugars, amongst some others) should be kept low which will help to maintain a healthy blood sugar level.

So, use common sense and yes, obviously treat them occasionally but remember your French Bulldog is more susceptible to diet-related problems than us and they’re perfectly happy with being given what they need, not what they want.

My Cocker Spaniel when I was a kid had a field day when we accidentally left the fridge door open one day. He demolished everything inside it. Included, I remember, a massive lump of butter.

Yuk, the thought of eating all of that still makes me feel a bit ill to this day. Anyway, although he didn’t have the best toilet routine for the next few days, he was absolutely fine.

Not sure what point I was trying to make there, how about – don’t leave your fridge open.

Vaccinations

You may be wondering whether vaccinations for your French Bulldog are really required. Well, yes – they are. If you want your Bully to live the longest, happiest life possible then you need to help them out wherever possible.

By preventing them from getting some diseases in the future, we’re doing just that. If you’re not sure what vaccinations are, then the best summary I can think of is this. Vaccinations contain a weaker version of the real thing.

What this does is force your body to produce antibodies, which fights off the disease and it’s able to do this as it’s a weaker version. If the French Bulldog gets the disease in the future, their body will be able to fight it more efficiently, as it recognizes it. 

Vaccinations will help protect your French Bulldog from:

  • Hepatitis – a viral disease that affects the kidneys, liver and eyes, as well as the lining of her blood vessels. It spreads very quickly and can be extremely dangerous. 
  • Canine Distemper – another extremely dangerous viral disease that is highly contagious. It will attack your Frenchie’s lymph nodes before progression to a more serious state when it can impact her nervous system.
  • Parvovirus – highly contagious that will attack initially, the lining of her intestines.  It can be fatal without treatment. 
  • Leptospirosis – a bacterial infection that attacks her organs and nervous systems. In more serious cases it can cause liver failure and kidney damage. 

The vaccinations of your French Bulldog should start when they are still young. They are more vulnerable at an earlier age so don’t delay in taking your vets advice and getting them booked in.

They can actually start getting them from only 8-weeks old, followed by another set up to a month later. This is something you must confirm with the breeder as they will typically be completed by the time the puppies are handed over you.

After that, you’re pretty much done. I say ‘pretty much’ as they will need boosters occasionally, typically every 3 years. Vaccinations are what I call a no-brainer, just get them done at an early age and you don’t have to worry about it for a few years. 

Exercise Routines

Normally the advice for dogs is to get them out a couple of times for a good 40 minutes or so at least. However, we’re talking about the French Bulldog here. The Frenchie is unique in so many ways (this is why we have them, right?) and her requirement for exercise is different from most breeds. 

Their physical construction means that the French Bulldog and exercise are not a particularly good match. They have quite short legs and they have inherent breathing difficulties.

So, on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is a breed that needs loads of exercise I’d say the French Bulldog was about a 1. This is why they make such a good dog for those in apartments. 

Don’t think though that this means they won’t run around much. Anyone who’s spent more than 10 seconds with one of these beautiful dogs will know that they do not stand still for long.

Actually, not entirely true as we also know they love nothing more than to be cuddled up next to you (or on you) on the sofa. However, when they’re excited (which can be often) they’ll be running around all over the place. The French Bulldog gets its exercise via playtime. 

You need to be a bit more careful with this breed though. Due to their inability to regulate their temperature, they can overheat quickly. Watch them, especially when playing with them outside if it’s a warm day.

As soon as you see them breathing harder than usual, stop and get them inside into a controlled environment. What you don’t want to happen is for their temperature to rise too quickly, which will, in turn, put a strain on their little heart.

Common sense people, common sense ๐Ÿ™‚ If you’d like to know what the very best toys are for the French Bulldog then check out the article here!

Training

Wait, so how is this going to make them live longer? Training is a lot more than just getting them to sit on command for a treat. There are a lot of benefits to training your French Bulldog, some of which could most certainly make her live longer. However, there are many benefits to training of course:

  1. Your French Bulldog will become more friendly and more sociable, towards other dogs as well as other people. She will be more relaxed, less anxious and generally happier. I appreciate that’s quite a sweeping statement but the happiness a dog can get out of the interaction between other dogs and children (for example) is priceless.
  2. Your French Bulldog, being more obedient, will be less likely to get her self into any situation where she would get into a fight. A fight where she could potentially get injured and/or catch a disease. 
  3. Your French Bulldog will be less likely to get away from you and run. It is unfortunate that dogs, in general, have little to no road-awareness, why would they? So, although it’s difficult to teach the Frenchie to stop at a side of a road (although not impossible) what you can teach them is to obey your commands. If you see them running off you will be able to issue a command that will make them stop, potentially preventing them from running into a busy road.

Of course, these aren’t the only positives to training your French Bulldog but they are the main points related to this article, increasing her lifespan potentially. 

Yes, you can do a lot of the training yourself but sometimes it helps if a stranger, unknown to the dog performs this. Ideally, a professional who’s been trained of course ๐Ÿ™‚ Once you have the groundwork you can continue with it yourself but if I’m going to give you just one bit of advice, it’s this. Be consistent!

Neutering

Yes, you should neuter your French Bulldog. There are many reasons why but just going back to basics, here are the err basics. If you neuter a male, it’s called castration and if you neuter a female it’s known as spaying. Neutering prevents reproduction. So, assuming you’re not a breeder (as a breeder probably wouldn’t be interested in this article) this is a reason in itself.

Neutering can typically happen from around the six-month mark but can vary – use this just as a guide. Speak to your vet as to the specific timings, although it does vary depending on the breed, the French Bulldog is typically around this time-frame you’ll find. 

There are several reasons why you should get your French Bulldog neutered. There are benefits for both the male and female, for instance.

Males

You will find that the male French Bulldog is a lot less likely to roam (and therefore potentially get lost). You may also find that an unneutered dog will actually try and ‘escape’ the confines of your property (to try and seek a mate).

Finally, a neutered Frenchie will be less aggressive in general. Not that they are an aggressive breed anyway but if they are known to be a bit ‘nippy’ then this will most definitely calm them down. All of these factors help to keep your dog from becoming stressed and anxious. 

Females

For the female French Bulldog, getting them neutered will reduce the risk of them getting certain types of cancer, thus potentially increasing their lifespan. Another reason is perhaps an obvious one but giving birth is not without its risk and although small, there is a mortality risk when delivering. 

Neutering is a very common process these days and will cost you around $100, or thereabouts. 

Mental Stimulation

Don’t allow your French Bulldog to become bored! I’ve never really understood this. How can anyone ever neglect those little things? The French Bulldog is unlike many dog breeds, in so many ways.

Most dogs don’t like being left alone but with the Frenchie, it’s a big no-no. The French Bulldog should not be left alone. You’ve seen how they follow you from room to room.

You know how they jump up on your lap when you’re on the sofa. They just want to be with you, all the time. After only about an hour or so, your Frenchie will start suffering from separation anxiety, it really doesn’t take long.

Once the anxiety starts then they may well become destructive and this usually manifests in chewing. Whether it’s your carpet, table, slippers or remote control – if you have it lying around it’s at risk of being chewed! This behavior isn’t good for you and it certainly isn’t good for your dog’s health.

So, you know what not to do. How about what you should do. Well, you spend time with them. They don’t ask for a lot really do they? They just want to be fed, played with and spend as much time with you as possible. Give them these three things and you’ll be doing just fine.

Regular Vet Check-Ups

On the list of things you really ought to be doing to keep your French Bulldog health, this is right up there. Your vet will take measurements and compare against previous to see if there are any issues with their weight for instance.

It’s also the time where they can top up vaccinations and also treat her for fleas and worms. The frequency of the visits will change though, depending on their age and I recommend something like the below:

Up to 4 months โ€“ Your French Bulldog should see your vet about every month initially to make sure she is growing at the correct rate and also to ensure all the correct vaccinations have been administered.

From 4 months to 12 months โ€“ It will depend on the health of your dog and any further vaccination requirements. Although it can vary you may only have to see your vet once during this time. This may be at around the half-year point – when they should also be neutered.

12 months to 7 years โ€“ A visit once a year will most likely be sufficient from this time. Your vet will check for fleas and worms as well as a blood test, amongst other checks such as weight and measurements.

Older Age โ€“  Health problems in a French Bulldog are more common as they age so youโ€™ll find a lot of people have a visit twice a year, although many still opt for yearly. Their kidney and liver will be checked, amongst the usual measurements.

Don’t Forget Their Teeth

I wouldn’t blame you if you did as they are easy to forget. Also, with other commitments such as a family and a job to take care of, cleaning your French Bulldog’s teeth everything can be down on the priority list!

We all know how much pain tooth problems can bring to us so you can imagine the frustration and pain a dog must be in when they have it and they aren’t able to either communicate it to you or go to a dentist.

Here’s a figure from you, apparently about 85% of dogs over 4 years old are affected by periodontal disease. This is inflammation of the area surrounding the teeth. If you’re interested in the source of the information, it can be found here.

One of the earliest symptoms of this is bad breath, so if you notice this then do investigate further, never ignore it. Daily brushing can prevent this (and other dental problems) but if you haven’t started when your French Bulldog was a puppy, this might not be easy.

Perseverance and patience is the key here. Keep at it and make a fuss of her once you’ve finished. Eventually, the whole process will take you no longer than it takes you to clean yours, it’s just going to take a little longer initially ๐Ÿ™‚

A Stress-Free Life

They say a stress-free life is a long life. Well, when I say ‘they’, I mean me, as I literally just made that saying up. However, sounds about right to me. The French Bulldog can suffer from separation anxiety as we already know. 

If you can avoid this by spending every second of your life then great! However, it doesn’t work like that, does it? ๐Ÿ™‚ There are going to be times where she’ll have to fend for herself for a while and the best you can do is keep it to a minimum.

If things change in your life to an extent where you need to spend more time out of the house then consider getting her a dog-sitter if possible. Someone she likes, someone who likes her and someone she trusts would be nice. Failing that, consider getting her another dog-friend?

It’s very simple keeping your French Bulldog happy really and stress-free. Love her, play with her and stay with her and you won’t go far wrong. 

Keep Her Clean

French Bulldog Face

I know some people who don’t have (and have never have) a single problem with the cleanliness of their French Bulldog. However, others have to clean them every day, why is that? The answer is simply luck of the draw, really.

The first sign you’ll get that something isn’t quite wrong is the smell. It’s most likely coming from their facial folds which can get all kinds of stuff built up in them but could also be their paws or their backside of course.

If you’re wondering why your French Bulldog smells, check out my article here which will help you find the source.

Why do we need to keep her clean though, I mean what’s the problem with a little dirt? There’s no problem with a bit of dirt at all, the problem is that the smell can be the first sign of an infection or even something worse.

Getting to the root cause of the smell quickly can save your Frenchie a lot of suffering (and you a lot of money) potentially. If not dealt with promptly, those areas can become infected and you’ll soon be requiring a course of antibiotics to resolve – if you’re lucky.

Keeping her clean prevents any risk of these types of infections and the more dangerous problems that can occur related to that. Most owners will bathe their French Bulldog frequently but there’s really no need for that. The Frenchie’s coat acts a protective layer and by constantly bathing, you’re washing that off. No more often than once a month is sufficient.

Keep Her Away From Water

I don’t mean to never bathe her! I’m talking about any body of water where she can access. If that water is deeper than her, she can, and will, drown in it if left unsupervised. The French Bulldog was not designed to swim.

Yes, she may be able to get a few feet unaided but then she shall sink, every time, without fail. The best way to look at this is to treat her as you would a baby. Would you let a baby near a swimming pool unsupervised? Of course not.

There are doggy-lifejackets you can buy which are a good idea but they shouldn’t be relied on. Always supervise her when she’s in the water. The Frenchie will, unfortunately, lose their life quickly if submerged underwater, it can only take a few seconds and you won’t be able to bring them back. It’s simply not worth the risk.

Watch Their Breathing

Particularly on a hot day when they’re playing outside and especially when they’re running around. I mentioned previously that the French Bulldog can’t regulate its temperature well at all.

This goes mainly unnoticed until they start running around and getting hot. Unable to cool down their body temperature will rise and rise. If you keep insisting on them playing with you they will want to make you happy and continue to do so, despite the discomfort they must be in. 

If their breathing, at any time, appears labored then they need to slow down and go somewhere cooler. Ideally, inside where the temperature is controlled (and cooler). Make sure they have fresh water and somewhere cool (preferably a cool floor to help dissipate the heat from their bodies) and just let them recover.

Use Filtered Drinking Water

Talking of water (if you read the last point) – a number of people will only provide their French Bulldog with filtered drinking water. It depends where you live but even in the US, some tap water has been known to contain high levels of bacteria.

Filtered water means the water has been passed through some kind of filter which removes the impurities. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing this and can do your Frenchie no harm but is it necessary and will it potentially mean she is less likely to succumb to health issues? I don’t know, maybe.

It makes sense when you think about it but just on my own experience, I’ve never done this and have not had any problems. Maybe I should give it a try. 

Jane

I'm Jane Pettitt, co-owner of Pets Knowledge Base with my husband, Matt. I have a grand total of 50 yearsโ€™ experience as a pet owner. It all started with a guinea pig called Percy when I was 5 years old and since then Iโ€™ve lived with two more guinea pigs, a hamster, mice, a rabbit, a tortoise, a dog and 11 cats. Iโ€™ve learned so much about pet care during this time and many of my articles are based on my personal experiences and those of my family and friends .

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