A recent study reveals that over 12,000 dogs are now bred for the British market annually. Among the most popular breeds is our dear French Bulldog, which has so become popular the U.K. pet parents that the infamous Labrador Retrievers now ranks behind French Bulldogs in popularity. This is indeed, a glamorous development, but how has the Frenchies themselves fared in the midst of the society's embrace? Not quite appealing, health-wise. Hence, according to Dr. Karen Shaw Becker, "There's little reason to celebrate."
THE U.K. RESEARCH FINDINGS ON FRENCH BULLDOG HEALTH CHALLENGES
You can argue that Frenchies are naturally prone to health challenges, but this reality has been worsened in a way. In 2018, a U.K. study examined the many health challenges French Bulldogs face. In a research published in the journal, Canine Epigenetics, and Epidemiology, researchers at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) studied 2,200 French Bulldogs of about 1+ years from over 300 Veterinary clinics. It was found that 72.4% of the sample had at least one recorded disorder, including conjunctivitis, diarrhea, and ear infections. Again Frenchies are not spared from some health conditions common among all brachycephalic breeds such as skin-fold dermatitis, cherry eye, and brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome.
In the words of the lead researcher and author, Dr. Dan O'Neill, "One of the interesting findings or our research is that male French Bulldogs appear to be less healthy than females. Males were more likely to get 8 out of the 26 most common health problems while there were no issues that females were more likely to get than males."
Many of these health problems are the results of low quality breeding practices which are typical of irresponsible breeders in puppy farms. Because they are only interested in making money, they produce a large number of puppies without adequate attention to their health, temperament or welfare.
However, there research finding has an alarming limitation in the sense that it may have only represented a great minority of the French Bulldogs in the U.K. market, 2,200 Frenchies that has visited a little above 300 Veterinary clinics across the United Kingdom. Chances are there are more Frenchies similarly affected but haven't been to the Veterinarian. Again, the dogs studied were all less than 2 years old, and at such an early stage, dogs are not yet showing much potential health problems until they have reached the age of maturity, thus, the discoveries made might not be all there is to be found. Those notwithstanding, it is beyond argument that their research is generally true and largely unassailable.
THE MANY HEALTH CHALLENGES FRENCH BULLDOGS FACE ARE NO BIG DEAL
It has been observed that some of the distinctive characteristics which make Frenchies prone to some health challenges may also be the same characteristics which make them unique and in high-demand, like their short muzzles and wide, prominent eyes.
Royal Veterinary College Dr. O'Neill reveals that "the public's insatiable demand for French Bulldog puppies is fuelling a hugely profitable market for unscrupulous dealers and breeder. Many Puppies are farmed in very low welfare conditions, often outside the UK, and then passed off as healthy happy UK-bred puppies..."
So, apparently, the many health challenges of French Bulldogs are no big deals for lovers of French Bulldogs but the high-demand and popularity of the French Bulldog in the U.K. is fuelling the breeding and business of unhealthy Frenchies which, in turn, increase the risk of health problems. It has become a typical case of "Buyers' Beware!" On the other hand, wise counsel could help. If you are intent on purchasing a Frenchie puppy in the United Kingdom, ensure that you double check the Puppy's background properly, or better still deal with members of the Kennel Club's Assured Breeder Scheme because they subscribe to and promote good breeding practice and aim to work together with breeders and buyers too, to eradicate reckless and non-reputable breeders out of business.
The fight to eradicate irresponsible breeders is not going to be an easy one because the cartel has grown to become a crime syndicate in the United Kingdom, due to the fact that the business of French Bulldog is so lucrative that some previous drug smugglers have switched to illegally smuggling French Bulldogs in the UK Frenchie market. The record has it that about 200 french bulldogs are illegally smuggled into the United Kingdom on a daily basis. They are buying these puppies as cheap as £40 ($50) and sell it as high as £2,000 (over $2,500), because there's a readily available market for them in the U.K.