Apart from the apparent differences between owning male and female Frenchies, what are the differences in their likelihood of developing health problems?
Most people are familiar with the fact that pure breed dogs, especially French Bulldogs, have a higher likelihood of developing certain health conditions. But is there a difference between male and female French Bulldogs?
Male French Bulldogs have a significantly higher chance of developing certain health conditions compared when compared to females (O’Neill et al. (2018)). Male Frenchies are more prone to developing gastrointestinal, behavioral, and trauma-related conditions. In addition, males had a higher prevalence of symptomatic Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS).
Even though Female French Bulldogs may be more expensive to buy and to have female dogs spayed is more costly, you might end up paying more in vet bills for a male French Bulldog! Below, I will explain why.
The Prevalence Of Health Problems In Female vs. Male French Bulldogs
The table below is adapted from data from a study by O’Neill et al. evaluating 2228 French Bulldogs over a 1-year period (January 1st, 2013 to December 31st, 2013) under veterinary care in the UK. The conditions were broadly classified according to body system affected, but I included examples of the most common conditions affecting French Bulldogs in each category.
The table is handy in that it helps us understand which health conditions French Bulldogs often suffer from and the difference in prevalence between male and female Frenchies.
|Health Condition||Female prevalence %||Male prevalence %||Statistical significance of prevalence difference*|
|Skin Conditions (e.g., allergies and skin fold dermatitis)||16||19.9||No significant difference|
|Gastrointestinal conditions (e.g., vomiting and diarrhea)||14.5||18.9||Males are statistically significantly more prone to gastrointestinal conditions|
|Upper Airway Conditions (mainly Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome, also known as BOAS)||10||15.2||Males are statistically significantly more prone to gastrointestinal conditions|
|Ear Conditions (e.g., otitis external)||16||16.7||No significant difference|
|Eye Conditions (e.g., cherry eye and conjunctivitis)||9.3||11.7||No significant difference|
|Behavior Problems (e.g., aggression and separation anxiety)||1.5||5.1||Males are statistically significantly more prone to gastrointestinal conditions|
|Nail conditions (e.g., fractured or overgrown toenails)||4.2||6.5||Males are statistically significantly more prone to gastrointestinal conditions|
|Musculoskeletal Conditions (e.g., IVDD and patella luxation)||4.2||5.3||No significant difference|
|Anal sac conditions (e.g., impaction or abscessation)||3.9||3.8||No significant difference|
|Traumatic injuries (e.g., broken bones and bite wounds)||2.5||3.6||Males are statistically significantly more prone to gastrointestinal conditions|
|Lower respiratory disease (e.g., bronchitis or pneumonia)||1.7||3||Males are statistically significantly more prone to gastrointestinal conditions|
|Heart Conditions||1.8||2.9||No significant difference|
|Mass lesions (e.g., tumors, including cancer)||2.5||1.5||No significant difference|
|Dental conditions (e.g., periodontal disease)||2||1.9||No significant difference|
Why Are Male French Bulldogs Less Healthy Than Female French Bulldogs?
Male French Bulldogs are more prone to having upper airway conditions such as stenotic nares (see picture below), gastrointestinal disorders, behavioral problems such as aggression, traumatic conditions, and lower respiratory conditions.
That is quite a hefty list against the boys!
However, some of the conditions can be explained simply due to the nature of male animals. For example, behavior such as aggression or boisterousness is associated with higher testosterone.
A boisterous French Bulldog will be more prone to traumatic injuries and be more inclined to eat something weird, leading to vomiting or diarrhea. Since the primary source of testosterone is the testes, neutering may help negate but not eliminate these risk factors.
The significantly higher prevalence of respiratory conditions in male French Bulldogs is something that everyone looking to adopt a Frenchie needs to consider. According to the study by O’Neill et al., stenotic nares and other signs of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) were highly prevalent in Males. This is suspected due to a male sex-linked gene related to BOAS.
BOAS causes a significantly reduced quality of life in the dogs suffering from this condition. It is comparable to you breathing through a straw all day – just imagine going on a run while breathing through a straw! The high prevalence of BOAS signs is also what makes male Frenchies more prone to having lower respiratory conditions such as pneumonia.
Do Male or Female French Bulldogs Live Longer?
In general, Female dogs live longer than male dogs (Teng et al., 2022). Sterilization did decrease the life expectancy gap between genders; however, female dogs’ life expectancy remained higher until individuals reached 12 years of age, after which the life expectancy for male and female dogs became similar.
In general, sterilized female French Bulldogs will live longer than male (neutered or not) French Bulldogs. This is in line with the general trend of life expectancy in dogs.
The table below demonstrates the life expectancy at age 0 statistically data determined in a study by Teng et al. The study included 30 563 dogs in the UK between January 1st, 2016, and July 31st, 2020.
Life expectancy can be a complicated concept. Different life stages have various life expectancies, meaning that if a dog survives up to a certain age, we may expect them to live longer. Puppies, for example, have lower life expectancies due to their susceptibility to disease and the fact that genetic conditions that will decrease life expectancy will usually show up in puppyhood.
Frenchies are rising in popularity due to their distinctively cute appearance and warm personalities. However, despite their popularity, numerous data sets show that French Bulldogs are arguably the least healthy dog breed worldwide.
The high prevalence of genetic disorders in French Bulldogs and their resultant low life expectancy is something that I urge everyone looking to get a French Bulldog to consider.
After spending numerous hours reading scientific research papers in preparation to write this article, I not only have concluded that female French Bulldogs are slightly less likely to suffer from the numerous health conditions Frenchies are prone to, but also that from an ethical point of view, French Bulldog breeding should be discouraged.
- Aromaa, M., Lilja-Maula, L. and Rajamäki, M., 2019. Assessment of welfare and brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome signs in young, breeding age French Bulldogs and Pugs, using owner questionnaire, physical examination and walk tests. Animal Welfare, [online] 28(3), pp.287-298. Available at: <https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/310427>.
- Aromaa, M., Rajamäki, M. and Lilja-Maula, L., 2021. A follow-up study of exercise test results and severity of brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome signs in brachycephalic dogs. Animal Welfare, [online] 30(4), pp.441-448. Available at: <https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/340402>.
- Mansour TA, Lucot K, Konopelski SE, Dickinson PJ, Sturges BK, Vernau KL, et al. (2018) Whole genome variant association across 100 dogs identifies a frame shift mutation in DISHEVELLED 2 which contributes to Robinow-like syndrome in Bulldogs and related screw tail dog breeds. PLoS Genet 14(12): e1007850. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1007850
- O’Neill, D., Baral, L., Church, D., Brodbelt, D. and Packer, R., 2018. Demography and disorders of the French Bulldog population under primary veterinary care in the UK in 2013. Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, [online] 5(1). Available at: <https://cgejournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40575-018-0057-9>.
- Packer, R., Hendricks, A. and Burn, C., 2012. Do dog owners perceive the clinical signs related to conformational inherited disorders as ‘normal’ for the breed? A potential constraint to improving canine welfare. Animal Welfare, [online] 21(1), pp.81-93. Available at: <https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/340402>.
- Riggs, J., Liu, N., Sutton, D., Sargan, D. and Ladlow, J., 2019. Validation of exercise testing and laryngeal auscultation for grading brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome in pugs, French bulldogs, and English bulldogs by using whole‐body barometric plethysmography. Veterinary Surgery, [online] 48(4), pp.488-496. Available at: <https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/vsu.13159>.
- Teng, K.Ty., Brodbelt, D.C., Pegram, C. et al. Life tables of annual life expectancy and mortality for companion dogs in the United Kingdom. Sci Rep 12, 6415 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-10341-6