Bulldogs And French Bulldogs Breathing and Respirtory Problems

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

Bulldogs and French Bulldogs Breathing problems are one of the top medical challenges of the breed. Other common health problems are

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Cherry eye 
  • Skinfold Moist Dermatitis
  • Itch and allergies
  • Skin Dermatitis
  • Elongated Soft Palate
  • Stenotic Nares
  • Others

Bulldogs And French Bulldogs Breathing Problems/OVERHEATING

Bulldogs and French Bulldogs are prone to overheating and potentially life-threatening hyperthermia, especially in high-temperature and humid conditions. This susceptibility is increased in individuals with BOAS (brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome) and other associated airway diseases.

  • Elongated Soft Palate: This excess tissue hangs down behind the throat and can obstruct airflow, making breathing difficult, especially during exercise, excitement, and hot weather.
  • Stenotic Pinched Nose: Narrow pinched nostrils restrict air intake, further compounding the breathing problems caused by the elongated soft palate.
  • Everted Laryngeal Palate: This condition involves the laryngeal cartilage blowing up inward, further narrowing the airway, and causing noisy breathing.
  • Hypoplastic Trachea: A smaller-than-normal trachea further limits air intake and makes breathing even more challenging.

Those anatomical characteristics make them highly prone to overheating and heatstroke. Their challenge in panting efficiently, a usual method for dogs to cool down, exacerbates this susceptibility.

Moreover, some factors can further worsen breathing issues, amplifying the risk of heatstroke. Example are:

  • Excessive exercise
  • Stress
  • Obesity
  • Excitement

Bulldogs And French Bulldogs Breathing Problems CAUSE & SYMTOMS

The primary cause of breathing problems in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs is the result of selective inbreeding to achieve the distinctive flat-face features characteristic of the breed. The focus on exaggerated physical traits like short noses and squished faces has prioritized aesthetics over function, leading to narrowed airways and compromised breathing.

For those familiar with bulldogs experiencing breathing difficulties, the following signs are often observed, especially during moments of excitement and activity:

  • Purple-blue tongue 
  • Retching
  • Hypersalivation
  • Frequent hacking
  • Snorting
  • Snoring

The stridor and stertor sound of harsh breathing becomes amplified during excitement or/or exercise.

Respiratory problems in brachycephalic breeds are frequently severe and have the potential to be fatal if not promptly addressed. Early intervention is crucial, and seeking veterinary consultation along with implementing management strategies are essential steps to enhance a bulldog’s quality of life and prevent complications.


The soft palate holds a critical role in both anatomy and breathing, particularly for breeds like bulldogs.

Bulldogs often exhibit an elongated and floppy soft palate. This surplus tissue can partially obstruct the airway, particularly during periods of excitement or exercise when there is an increased demand for breathing.

Surgical trimming of the palate is required to improve breathing

To learn more, click HERE

Bulldog elongated soft palate surgeon view close up



Stenotic nares are defined as narrowed, pinched nostrils. This narrowing causes a restriction in the amount of air that can flow into the nostrils.

Surgical widening of the nostrils will improve breathing

To learn more, click HERE

French bulldog pinched stenotic nares



Everted laryngeal saccules are a result of abnormal negative pressure during inspiration, which occurs due to brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS).

In this condition, the small sacs within the larynx are forced to turn outward (evert) into the airway, leading to swelling and adenomatous changes. This exacerbates the breathing difficulties in bulldogs with BOAS by further obstructing the already narrowed airway.

To improve breathing the everted swollen edematous saccules are often surgically removeed

To learn more, click HERE



Secondary airway obstructive conditions include

  • hypoplastic trachea,
  • overly enlarged, protruding tonsils
  • laryngeal collapse
  • swollen tongue 

Your bulldog may be affected by a combination of one or more of these abnormalities.

To learn more, click HERE

Bulldogs And French Bulldogs Breathing Problems PREVENT & TREAT

To improve your bulldog’s quality of life and mitigate potential breathing, respiratory, overheating, and other airway complications, early intervention is crucial.

Consider the following measures:

  1. Weight Management: Maintain a healthy weight to reduce the strain on the respiratory system.

  2. Cool Environment: Avoid exposing the bulldog to excessive heat and humidity, as this minimizes stress on breathing.

  3. Special Harnesses and Collars: Use specially designed harnesses and collars that prevent pressure on the trachea, thereby easing breathing.

  4. Surgery: In severe cases, surgical procedures such as palate shortening or nostril widening can be considered to improve airflow and alleviate breathing difficulties.

  5. Ethical Breeding Practices: Support and promote responsible breeding practices that prioritize healthy traits. Avoid breeding bulldogs with exaggerated features known to contribute to health problems.

  6. Awareness and Education: Familiarize yourself with the health risks associated with brachycephalic breeds. 


  1. BULLY THERAPEUTIC: Implement therapeutic interventions to help:

    1. Reduce Inflammation
      • V4B Bully Fish Oil EFA
    2. Boost Immunity:
      • V4B Bully Immune Support
    3. Reduce Stress:
      • V4B Bully StressLess Formula
      • V4B Bully HEMP Calm & Relax

Dr. R. J. Kraemer:  With a specialization in Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, and other Brachycephalic breeds, Dr. Kraemer has dedicated his career to educating the bulldog community about the unique medical and surgical requirements of the breed. These encompass preventive care and wellness, customized anesthesia, and employing a multimodal approach to address their unique medical conditions.

Some of the breed-specific medical issues he focuses on include

Airway obstructive disease

Orthopedics tailored for bulldogs

Ear canal disease preventive care

Skin and allergy management

Skinfold Dermatitis

Eyes and eyelid abnormalities

Pain and stress control

As a leading provider of cutting-edge regenerative and alternative medicine, Dr. Kraemer offers services such as stem cell therapy, laser treatments, and PRP. Additionally, he maintains a longstanding relationship with Bulldog Rescue, contributing funds and providing shelter, medical, and surgical services for 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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