Elbow Dysplasia In Bulldogs And French Bulldogs

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

Elbow dysplasia is common to the breed due to their large size relative to their leg length as well as their higher-than-average body weight percentage over the front legs vs. the hind.

elbow dysplasia in bulldogs

Elbow Dysplasia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs / CAUSE:

Elbow dysplasia in bulldog puppies arises from improper development of the elbow joint during their growth phase. Initially, what appears to be a single long bone in newborn bulldogs is composed of multiple bone segments encased in cartilage.

As the bulldog puppy matures, this cartilage transforms into bone, and these segments, along with adjacent bone fragments, merge to form a single, seamless bone.

bulldog elbow joint anatomy

If this fusion process is disrupted or fails to occur correctly, elbow dysplasia can develop. This condition leads to a misaligned elbow joint, causing chronic discomfort, inflammation, limping, and eventually arthritis.

ELOBW DYSPLASIA is the most common bulldog and French bulldog front legs limping


Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) is an abnormality of the humeral condyle cartilage and formation of the bone underneath, which can be extremely painful for your dog.

Fragmentation Defects where the bone begins to break up into smaller pieces and degenerate, can also be a factor.

  • Ununited Anconeal Process (UAP)

Is a developmental defect whereby the anconeal process should have fused with the ulna, but instead does not properly attach and floats nearby, causing the joint to be unstable and preventing proper interaction of the humerus and ulna bones.

  • Fragmented Coronoid Process (FCP)

Is a developmental defect of the ulnar coronoid processes. The coronids are two small areas on the articulation part of the ulna within the elbow joint. If this area does not fuse with the rest of the ulna, it will once again lead to pain and joint instability.

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Elbow Dysplasia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs PREVENTION:


Keep your bulldog puppy’s weight under control and don’t overdo the caloric, protein, and calcium content.



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Dr. Kraemer’s Elbow Dysplasia RULE OF THUMB:

Elbow dysplasia in bulldog puppies, and most dog breeds, happens during the growing period of the bones (5–11 months) and usually manifests as a limp in their front legs.

Elbow Dysplasia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs TIPS & WARNINGS:

Bulldog Elbow Dysplasia Tip #1 GATE:

If you notice a problem with your bulldog puppy’s gait or the favoring of a leg over a protracted period, you should take your dog to your veterinarian and ask for x-rays to be taken.

Bulldog Elbow Dysplasia Tip #3 RX:

In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend medications for pain and inflammation, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Bulldog Elbow Dysplasia Tip#4 ALTERNATIVES:


Bulldog Elbow Dysplasia Warning #1 SURGERY:

Elbow dysplasia in bulldog puppies, and pets in general, can be extremely debilitating. Unfortunately, there is no satisfactory surgical procedure that can significantly alter the progression of the disorder, or cure it.

Bulldog Elbow Dysplasia Warning #2 GENETICS & BREEDING:

The cause of elbow dysplasia in bulldog puppies is multifactorial, including genetics, growth rate, and nutrition, as well as trauma. Therefore, when buying a bulldog puppy, it helps to know whether the parents had evidence of elbow dysplasia.

Responsible breeding will reduce the incidence of the disease.

Bulldog painful elbow dysplasia

Elbow Dysplasia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs Warning #3 DIET:

High protein, high calcium, and high-calorie diets have been cited as possible reasons for elbow dysplasia in bulldog puppies.

Not all puppies on such diets get elbow problems. If your bulldog puppy seems to be growing too fast, it may be advisable to change the diet after consultation with your veterinarian.

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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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