Bulldog And French Bulldog ACL Injury Tips And Warnings

By: Dr. Roy Kraemer |
DVM, Bulldog Specialist Veterinarian

Cruciate ligament injuries pose a significant concern for bulldogs and French bulldogs.

Bulldog ACL Injury: PAIN & LIMPING

The primary symptom of an ACL injury in these breeds is characterized by sudden or gradual limping that may worsen with activity.

  • RAISING: Difficulty getting up from recumbency
  • WALKING: Difficulty waking or limping
  • JUMPING: struggle with jumping due to pain and instability in the knee joint.
  • SWELLING: a swollen knee visible on radiographs or palpable inflammation around the knee joint.

ACL injuries are usually manifested by acute hind leg limping and pain


  • Degenerative joint disease (DJD)/ ARTHERITIS: untreated ACL tears result in knee joint instability, leading to abnormal cartilage wear and tear. This progressive condition, known as arthritis, can cause chronic pain and stiffness. 
  • Meniscus injuries: ACL tears often strain the menisci, crescent-shaped cartilage pads that cushion the knee joint, increasing instability and pain
  • Muscle atrophy: Disuse of the injured leg can lead to muscle wasting and weakness.
  • Compensation: Bulldogs experiencing ACL tears undergo a reduction in range of motion and shift the weight-bearing load away from the injured knee. This transferred burden is often borne by the elbows and the opposite knee.
  • Overweight: Pain and reduced activity may make it challenging for dogs to maintain a healthy weight, exacerbating joint problems.

Overweight will also increase the workload on the heart, lungs, and other joints.



Timely identification and treatment of ACL injuries are paramount to preventing serious complications. If you suspect an ACL injury in your Bulldog or French Bulldog, prompt consultation with a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan is essential.

  • Orthopedic exam: to help rule the degree of the ACL injury (partial tear vs rapture) and other orthopedic injuries such as Back problems, Hip problems, MPL, and Meniscus injuries
  • Radiographs: the gold standard, usually manifested with joint effusion. Rapture ACL will often have an abnormal axis of the tibial slope consistent with a draw (rapture)

ACL bulldog normal vs abnormal


  • Weight management
  • Controlled activity and conditioning 
  • Quality Diet
  • Stem Cell Therapy
  • Bully Therapeutics


Bulldog Total Joints Essential Bundle -59


Your pet’s knee is not like yours. While a human knee is nearly flat, your dog’s knees are “naturally loaded” and positioned at a steep angle due to a wide slope degree between the femur and tibia plateau.

Human Knee: is nearly flat with the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone) converging at a relatively shallow angle, creating a stable joint.

Bulldogs Knee: The femur and tibia in a dog’s knee meet at a much steeper angle, approximately 120 degrees, resulting in an inherently less stable joint compared to humans, heightening the susceptibility of dog knees to injuries, particularly cruciate ligament tears.


A non-repaired torn ACL is not a life-threatening condition but rather a painful and debilitating one that, over time, will affect your dog’s quality of life.

The initial acute limping resulting from an ACL tear typically diminishes over time. However, this transition from early acute pain can lead to the development of chronic pain associated with arthritis Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD).

The good news is that we now have excellent surgical options for ACL tears, and when done on time, you can expect your bulldog and French bulldog puppies to return to normal function shortly after the procedure.


The tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) stands out as a frequently preferred surgical procedure for addressing cruciate ligament tears in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs.

Bulldog TPLO surgery for ACL Ter


TPLO is a dynamic osteotomy surgery that modifies the biomechanics of the knee joint to establish stability without relying on the torn cruciate ligament. The procedure involves:

  1. Curved incision: A curved cut is made through the top portion of the tibia (shin bone).
  2. Tibial plateau rotation: The upper part of the tibia is rotated backward, altering the angle between the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia. 
  3. Bone fixation: A metal plate and screws are utilized to secure the tibia in its new position, facilitating healing in the corrected alignment.


  1. Biomechanical stability: TPLO addresses the root cause of instability by modifying joint mechanics, eliminating the need for torn ligaments, and providing lasting stability.
  2. Improved range of motion: TPLO typically preserves a more natural range of motion in the knee joint compared to other techniques, promoting better post-surgical function.
  3. Reduced risk of complications: TPLO carries a lower risk of complications compared to some alternative surgical approaches.

Overall, TPLO is a valuable surgical option for bulldog’s ACL tears, offering enhanced joint stability, function, and accelerated recovery.

It’s crucial to recognize that TPLO is a major surgery demanding a skilled veterinary surgeon and proper aftercare for optimal outcomes. 

Once my ACL is better, I can start my ballet lessons …

Dr. Kraemer is a Tufts Veterinary School 1991 graduate (Boston, MA).

He is a member of the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) and the SCVMA (Southern California Veterinary Medical Association) and has been practicing veterinary medicine and surgery in Orange County, California, for over 20 years.

Dr. Kraemer has a special interest in Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, and other Brachycephalic breeds and their unique medical and surgical needs, such as

breathing and airway conditions

joint pain, ligament, and tendon injuries

ear canal disease

skin and allergy problems

eyes and eyelid abnormalities

As well as other medical conditions related to the breed.

Dr. Kraemer is also a leading provider of in-house same-day stem cell therapy and cryobanking for dogs and cats.

Dr. Kraemer has a long-lasting relationship with Bulldog Rescue; he provides shelter, medical, and surgical services to their bulldogs.

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The information provided on this platform is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian regarding any medical condition. It's important to always consider professional medical advice promptly and not to delay seeking it based on information you've read on this platform. Any reliance on the information provided here is entirely at your discretion.

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