Is the French Bulldog the Dog for You?

Is the French Bulldog the Dog for You?

There are few things cuter than a French Bulldog. Between the wrinkly puppies and their clown-like personality, it’s hard not to be smitten as soon as you see one. No surprise, they are a popular breed here in Australia and very sought after. But as we all know, looks are not everything and the dog you choose needs to be a right fit as it is a lifelong commitment. The French Bulldog definitely has its pluses and minuses when it comes to ownership. Check out this information to see if the French Bulldog is the dog for you.

Breed History

The French Bulldog has a romantic history – having first been “discovered” by lace makers during the industrial revolution (mid-1800s) in England. This group of artisans favoured their dogs, and when the trade moved to France, they took their little bulldogs with them. It is believed they were originally just small English bulldogs, but in France they were most likely mixed with a few other breeds, such as the Pug and maybe a terrier or two. It was also in France where the breed “took off” attracting the attention of those living in the city and getting an official name “Bouledogue Francais” – French Bulldog.

The breed quickly spread in popularity throughout Europe (except in England where the English Bulldog was still the favourite) and to America, where those large bat ears became the standard for the breed. Today, the French Bulldog is one of the most popular breeds in the world and just like in Paris in the 1800s, it’s a favourite among urbanites. Today’s Frenchie is around 27 – 33cm tall, weighs under 15 kg and lives to be roughly 12 years old.

Temperament

One of the best qualities of the French Bulldog is their temperament. These happy clowns brighten up any room they enter and are always the center of attention. They love human interaction, especially messages and scratches. They also love to play, making them a great all-around companion for a family. They are not big barkers, which is one of the reasons they are so well liked in urban housing, such as apartments and condos.

They do have another side to their personality, however. Having a Napoleon complex, the French Bulldog does not know they are small and are usually fearless – this includes not backing down if a big dog comes at them. This means care should be taken if you want a Frenchie to live with another dog. Interesting, they usually get along best with other Frenchies, or dogs of similar size, according to the French Bulldogs Australia group. They often guard both their human as well as anything they see as theirs, including food, toys and treats, which can be a problem with other dogs, but also children who may try to grab things from the Frenchie.

Energy Level

Frenchies do have energy and like to play, but it’s not never-ending. A nice brisk walk or a short game of fetch should satisfy your French Bulldog’s activity needs for the day. Remember that since they are a brachycephalic (short nosed) dog breed, they often have trouble breathing and can get over exhausted or overheat quicker than other breeds. Activity should be kept low key in the heat – opt for early morning or late-night walks and keep them shorter during the hot summer months.

Space Needed

French Bulldogs do not need a lot of space – just a spot on your couch, bed or lap! You don’t have to have a yard to keep a French Bulldog happy. In fact, they do not want to be an outdoor dog. They want to be in with you, doing whatever you are doing – and making you laugh with their antics. They are great for small homes, doing fine in apartments and condos as long as they get a brisk walk or a game of fetch at a quiet off-leash area. (Remember they don’t always play well with others, so off leash dog parks are not recommended for most Frenchies).

Common Health Problems

Unfortunately, the French Bulldog has quite a few health issues. The joke with veterinarians’ is that French and English Bulldog owners pay for their vacation homes. This does not mean you cannot have a French Bulldog live a long life. It just means to you need to be extra careful about where your Frenchie comes from – a respectable breeder is a must – and you need to take some precautions when it comes to activities that can cause harm.

Like many breeds, your Frenchie’s breeder should check for hip and eye issues that are hereditary in the breed, which includes cataracts and hip dysplasia. Another disease that is hereditary and should be checked for is degenerative myelopathy. Like hip and eye issues, DM is found in many breeds (at least 135), so the Frenchie is not alone. It’s just a good thing to check for as it’s a debilitating disease that affects the spinal cord and results in euthanasia when the dog can no longer stand.

Due to the breeds short nose, they are at risk any time they are put under anesthesia, so it’s good to make sure your vet it used to working with brachycephalic dogs. Some anesthesia drugs are better for these breeds than others, so do your research and ask your vet lots of questions before putting them under. For routine procedures, such as dentals, it’s better to do non-anesthesia when possible. And remember, those short noses mean they over heat easily, so watch them in hot weather.

Their solid body mass means they are not swimmers, so watch them by pools, bathtubs, lakes, rivers, etc. as they can easily drown. Also, due to their lack of tail (developed from a mutation), they often can have back and spine issues. It is recommended to watch your Frenchie and avoid allowing them to jump up or down off anything too high. Many French Bulldogs end up with slipped or herniated discs that require surgery to correct.

Finally, French Bulldogs often have environmental and food allergies. Again, breeders should be testing their breeding stock for allergies, which are often inherited. Thankfully, if your dog does develop allergies, a simple change to their lifestyle and possible medication from the vet can help your Frenchie live comfortably. Other skin issues include problems with their wrinkles if they are not kept clean and dry and aural hematomas, which is a collection of blood outside blood vessels that appear most often on the ears.

All around, it’s a good idea to take in consideration whether you can afford some fairly hefty vet bills before adding a French Bulldog to your home, so you are prepared.

Training

French Bulldogs are smart and can be trained to do almost anything – from agility to scent work and obedience. However, this does not mean they are always easy to train! French Bulldogs have a personality that some label as “stubborn.” What that really means is that they often find other things more interesting than whatever it is you are trying to train them. For example, chasing a rabbit (remember they have terrier in them!) or getting their behind scratched by you, rather than perfecting a sit-stay.

Since they tend to be guarders of food, toys and even people, it is important to work on behaviours like “drop it” and “leave it” regardless of whether your French Bulldog is going to be competing in obedience or just the family pet.

They respond really well to positive reinforcement training, where they are getting something for their work. Using their kibble as a reward is a great way to train your dog to have a work ethic (he has to work to be fed!) and to train without your French Bulldog gaining extra weight, which is a strain on his back as well as his already laboured breathing.

Feeding Recommendation

We recommend you feed your French Bulldog puppy Stay Loyal’s Salmon, Turkey, &Pork formula. Switch to adult portions at approximately 8 months of age.

If you think the French Bulldog is the dog for you, be sure to do your research and get a puppy from a responsible breeder and don’t over pay just for colour! The French Bulldogs Australia website is a good place to start. Then, keep in mind their health issues and needs and you are sure to have a happy, healthy French Bulldog.

Tips for Feeding a Dog with Cushing’s

Tips for Feeding a Dog with Cushing’s

Cushing’s disease is a terrible disease that effects older dogs. There are three main causes: tumor in the adrenal gland, tumor in the pituitary gland and excessive steroid use. The last one happens if steroids are given to dogs for a long span, usually for treating allergies or cancer.

A fourth cause, has also been suggested by some. At the 2015 CVC San Diego convention, Davide Bruyett, DVM, medical director of VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital, presented a study by Galac S, Kars VJ, Voorhout G, et al., titled “ACTH-independent hyperadrenocorticism due to food-dependent hypercortisolemia in a dog: a case report.” This cause is usually found in young dogs with Cushing’s-like symptoms. It’s caused by a congenital defect. When the dog eats, they abnormally release cortisol in their adrenal gland. These dogs can often test negative for Cushing’s, as their cortisol levels spike and dip – meaning you would have to test them soon after eating to get a high result.

All of these causes equate to the same thing – the over-production of body cortisol by the adrenal gland.

Too much cortisol is never good, whether you are a human or a canine. It is a stress hormone. Too much of this hormone, and a vicious cycle ensues – dog eats more because it always acts hungry, they urinate more and then they drink more, which causes them to have to urinate even more. Dogs with Cushing’s gain weight right around the belly (just like stressed out humans!) and may also have thinner skin, thinning coat/hair loss, loss of muscle and an enlarged liver due to excess sugar storage.

Depending on which of the causes listed above is the cause of your dog developing the disease, your veterinarian will tell you the best route for treatment. There are several medicines and surgery may even be suggested depending on your dog’s specific condition.

Can Diet Help?

Since Cushing’s effects your dog’s appetite and thirst, as well as weight, diet definitely plays an important role. While you can’t cure your Cushing’s dog by changing his diet, you can help even out the symptoms so they are more comfortable and decrease the amount of weight gain.

High protein diets are recommended, as carbohydrates will worsen the effect excess cortisol has on the body. Too many carbohydrates (often used as fillers in low-quality dog foods) should also be avoided, as they can turn into sugars as well.

High protein diets are recommended, then, because protein is easily burned by the body with a lower risk of adding to weight gain. Fresh vegetables are also good especially carrots and green beans, and can be a great appetite filler, helping to make your Cushing’s dog feel full longer.

Having a dog with Cushing’s is no fun, and can sometimes be tough, but feeding a good diet can really help your dog feel more comfortable and reduce the symptoms of the disease, which will make your dog happier.

What is Fly Snapping Syndrome in Dogs?

What is Fly Snapping Syndrome in Dogs?

Does your dog seem fine one moment, and the next she is snapping at flies in a very determined way…except there are no flies? Many dogs may also lick their front paws, but the dogs seem neither upset or disorientated during the episodes. Some dogs will seek their owner afterward or during the occurrence. So, what exactly is going on?

This strange behavior is still not 100% explained by veterinarians. While they are currently working on what may be the cause, the main thought is that it is a type of complex partial seizure, according to Dr. Dennis O’Brien DVM, PhD, Diplomate ACVIM, at the University of Missouri, U.S.A. O’Brien is a specialist in neurology and is researching canine epilepsy.

Humans who have epilepsy often see hallucinations, and so it is thought by vets that fly-biter dogs (as they are sometimes called) may be hallucinating as part of a seizure. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to map out one of these episodes using an EEG, and so definitive proof is hard to come by.

Instead, most veterinarians will put the dog on an epilepsy drug, such as phenobarbital, and see if the episodes lessen. If they do, the dog most likely has epilepsy. However, if the dog was already having very infrequent episodes, it can be hard to tell if the medicine is helping or not. Some dogs exhibiting fly biting end up having grand-mal seizures, which of course makes the epilepsy diagnosis much more probable as well.

Other Possible Causes?

There are other causes for the behavior that veterinarians at the University of Missouri, U.S.A, say are much less likely, but could still be a possibility. One theory is that the dog has a chunk of debris in the fluid of the eye, which the dog sees as a fly and tries to snap at it. However, of all the dogs they have examined with fly-biter syndrome, not one of them has ended up having something in their eye, so this theory is probably not sound.

Another theory is that the dog is having a hallucination from migraines (just as some people with migraine headaches say they experience before getting one). However, since the dogs do not seem to be in pain during an episode, they think this is not likely either. Since our dogs cannot tell us if they are pain, this is a hard one to prove or disprove.

Should I worry if my dog exhibits fly biter behavior?

Dr. O’Brien recommends watching your dog. If the episodes are infrequent, their may not be anything to worry about. But, if the episodes become more frequent or are accompanied by a grand-mal seizure, it’s time to see a vet.

The group of vets at the University of Missouri and Minnesota are working with the American Kennel Club and the Canine Health Foundation to try and better understand and document canine epilepsy, especially if it’s hereditary or more common in certain breeds. They are asking everyone to participate in their research.

There is also the International Veterinary Epilepsy Task Force. They have a set of guidelines for epilepsy research that the Australian Veterinary Association is using to try and find out more information about seizures in dogs, which may help to unravel the mystery of fly snapping syndrome.