French Bulldog Allergies: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

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The French Bulldog has officially become “the” dog to have in the 21st century. Frenchies, with their old-world charm and new-world portability, are quite simply popping up everywhere.

But in the world of modern selective dog breeding, being super-popular isn’t always such a good thing. Often, the demand for puppies generated by such public recognition can lead to questionable dog breeding practices and thus a rise inheritable health issues such as allergies.

Unfortunately, the modern French Bulldog has definitely suffered this way in the breed’s rise to global dominance. For example, French Bulldogs have a known tendency to inherit skin allergies, food allergies, environmental allergies and immune system dysfunction, among other allergen-related health issues.

In this article, we delve into details about the types of allergies common to the French Bulldog breed. By the time you finish reading, you will understand what causes French Bulldog allergies, how to spot the symptoms and what treatments are available.

Are French Bulldogs highly allergenic?

French Bulldogs are particularly prone to being highly allergenic. In particularly, the Frenchie breed isprone to two types of allergies: environmental and food. 

Frenchies can also suffer from autoimmune-based allergies.

And French Bulldogs that have one type of allergy are also more prone to developing other types of allergies as well. We will review the causes of all three major categories of French Bulldog allergies in this section.

1.     Environmental allergies

Environmental allergies are on the rise in both people and pups today. Some researchers believe there is a link to the increasingly urbanized lives that modern dogs and their pawrents lead.

In addition to so-called “natural” allergens such as seasonal pollens, urban living increases exposure to humanmade toxins from cleaning products, fossil fuels and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), processed or genetically modified foods, dust, dander and more.

Intriguingly, research to date has also uncovered another parallel. It seems that allergic dogs are more likely to have allergic pawrents. The data also revealed that the specific allergy symptoms tend to be shared as well.

This is viewed as even stronger confirmation of the link to urban living, since rural pups and pawrents don’t show the same strong correlation.

However, there is also a known genetic (heritable) component to the French Bulldog breed’s susceptibility to environmental allergies. 

As French Bulldogs become ever more popular, breeders must breed more and more puppies to keep up with demand. This can reduce both genetic quality and genetic diversity within the breed, leading to a corresponding rise in genetically linked allergies within the breed.

2.     Food allergies

What foods cause allergies in French Bulldogs?

There are three main categories of canine food allergens: livestock, fish and plant. 

a.     Livestock allergens

By far the most common livestock allergen is egg yolk (poultry type not specified), followed by turkey, pork and beef. Interestingly, while both egg white and chicken are commonly blamed for Frenchie food allergies, neither protein source made it into the top four in this category.

b.     Fish allergens

In the fish allergen category, capelin (smelt) heads up the list, followed by cod and salmon. Catfish comes in at a distant fourth.

c.     Plant allergens

Finally, by far the most triggering plant-based allergen comes from soybeans. Corn, wheat and potato are also common irritants, followed distantly by rice (type not specified).

Researchers are a bit puzzled by why soy triggers canine atopic dermatitis more than other common plant allergens. 

However, since soy is known to have cross-reactive properties, it is thought that dogs that have a sensitivity to similar wild plant allergens (such as birch pollen) may also be sensitive to soy.

3.     Autoimmune

Autoimmune canine allergies are caused by an immune system gone rogue.

Basically, your French Bulldog’s immune system can’t tell the difference between friend and foe. So it begins to attack friendly cells within the dog’s own body. 

There are many types of autoimmune allergies in dogs. Frenchies in particular seem especially prone to inheriting a category of skin allergies called canine atopic dermatitis, of which there are several types.

Symptoms Of French Bulldog Allergies

French Bulldog Allergies - Skin Allergy Symptom

French Bulldog allergy symptoms can make it challenging to determine exactly what is causing the symptoms. To further complicate diagnosis, many allergy symptoms remain the same or similar even if the allergen triggers change.

For example, an allergy to a food ingredient and an allergy to an environmental toxin may both produce similar symptoms that manifest on your Frenchie’s skin.

Because of this overlap, you will probably need your canine veterinarian’s help to correctly identify the allergen responsible for your dog’s symptoms.

What you can do in the interim is familiarize yourself with this list of symptoms of allergies in French Bulldogs. 

This way, when you see your dog showing signs of any of these symptoms, you know it is time to schedule a visit to the vet for a diagnosis and treatment plan.

·       Itching, licking, rubbing or scratching at ears, paws, body or hindquarters

·       Recurrent ear infections

·       Skin redness or swelling

·       Hot spots or lesions that may ooze or weep and scab

·       Loss of fur

·       Gas, noisy tummy, abdominal pain or bloating

·       Lack of appetite

·       Reflux or vomiting

·       Diarrhea or loose stools

·       Bloody stools or straining to poop

·       Itchy, watering or red eyes

·       Sneezing, coughing or wheezing

Most Common Types Of French Bulldog Allergies

One landmark study discovered that 72 percent of all French Bulldogs will develop at least one of the many known health issues that plague the breed.

With this worrisome statistic in mind, let’s turn our attention to the most common types of allergies that can show up in the French Bulldog breed. We know that Frenchie allergies tend to fall into one of three umbrella categories: environmental, food or autoimmune.

In this section we will break down each allergy type further so you have a deeper understanding of what may be up ahead for your dog.

1.     Canine atopic dermatitis

Canine atopic dermatitis is the most common of all the known allergy-related health conditions that can affect French Bulldogs.

Although this allergy may present within the first two years of life, and often does, it can also show up at any time in your dog’s life.

Atopic dermatitis is a skin disease triggered by environmental or other allergens. The dog’s immune system is hyper-sensitive to a variety of allergens present in the daily environment and reacts with a range of health symptoms.

2.     Skinfold dermatitis

French Bulldog Allergies - Skin Fold Dermatitis
French Bulldog Allergies – Skin Fold Dermatitis

Skin fold dermatitis is more common in flat-faced dog breeds, which makes the French Bulldog a prime candidate.

This condition, which can be triggered by contact exposure to environmental allergens or toxins, can also arise simply because the skin folds on the dog’s face and other areas get warm, humid and abraded as the dog moves. 

This in turn creates the right environment for infection to set in.

3.     French Bulldog IBD (inflammatory bowel disease)

French Bulldog IBD is considered to be a more serious secondary symptom of Frenchie autoimmune-based allergies.

IBD forms when the lining of the intestinal tract becomes inflamed. 

This in turn causes reduced nutrient absorption and an overall decline in health. Diagnosis and treatment can be a complicated process once Frenchie allergies reach this stage.

4.     Pemphigus (various)

Pemphigus is another autoimmune-related allergic condition that French Bulldogs are particularly prone to developing.

In fact, as many as 33 percent of all allergen-triggered dermatologic diseases in French Bulldogs are pemphigus-related. Pemphigus can affect many areas on the dog’s body and produce a wide variety of symptoms.

5.     Ear infections

Ear infections can be triggered by a number of different environmental allergens, including bacteria, viruses and yeast. Ear infections can also develop as a secondary complication resulting from food or environmental allergies.

How can I help my French Bulldog with allergies?

French Bulldog Allergies - Treatments

While the list of French Bulldog allergies you just read through may have caused your heart to fill with worry on your dog’s behalf, it is important to know that effective french bulldog allergy treatments do exist. 

While not all types of French Bulldog allergies can be cured, your dog’s symptoms can definitely be eased and controlled once your veterinarian has made a definitive diagnosis and you know what you are working with.

1.     Remove or limit exposure to allergen

The ideal french bulldog allergy treatment, of course, is to identify and remove the trigger. Alternatively, you at least want to limit your dog’s exposure to the same.

Unfortunately, this can be easier said than done, especially if the trigger is a common component of the environment your dog lives in, such as dust mites or ragweed.

2.     Natural remedies

Natural remedies have a lot to offer whether you use them as a standalone remedy or as part of a greater comprehensive veterinary protocol for treating your dog’s allergies.

a.     Hygiene

In some cases, your veterinarian may want you to use a prescription medicated soap or shampoo. Not all dogs tolerate these shampoos well.

You may find your Frenchie has an easier time with an organic, sulfate-free, hypoallergenic shampoo formulated for canine skin pH.

b.     Natural supplements

Probiotics aim to feed and support the “good” gut bacteria in your dog’s stomach and intestinal tract. Probiotics can be particularly beneficial for guarding against or treating French Bulldog IBD.

An allergy supplement can also help your dog’s immune system cope with the constant onslaught of potential allergens and seasonal shifts in allergen levels.

c.     Diet

Your canine veterinarian may advise following a limited ingredient diet (L.I.D.) for a number of reasons. 

The L.I.D. is also a common diagnostic step if the allergen trigger has not yet been identified. This type of controlled diet can be a way to limit exposure to or remove a known food trigger.

Veterinary Treatments For French Bulldog Allergies

In this section, we take a closer look at the variety of veterinary treatments that exist to help ease your French Bulldog’s allergy symptoms and potentially resolve allergen-related health issues.

1.     Tests

All veterinary treatment begins with testing. Tests are typically required for a decisive diagnosis. Once your canine veterinarian has a firm diagnosis in hand, it becomes much quicker and easier to outline an appropriate treatment plan.

Allergy tests for dogs can be surprisingly similar to allergy tests for people. Blood, saliva, skin and hair tests can be used to test for a variety of possible allergen triggers. At home tests are also an option.

2.     Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are a standard veterinary protocol in treating French Bulldog allergies. In fact, many corticosteroids used for people are also used for dogs.

These medications act to suppress immune system response, essentially ending or at least greatly reducing symptoms like sneezing, itching, swelling and redness. 

3.     Antihistamines

Antihistamines are another common class of drugs designed to suppress immune system histamine response (hence, anti-histamine). 

Here again, many of the same antihistamine medications people use are also used with dogs. This holds true for both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications.


You now have a big-picture overview of what canine research has learned so far about French Bulldog allergies, causes, symptoms, and treatments. While allergies represent a big problem in the French Bulldog breed today, the more you know, the more you can do to help your dog.

As an informed French Bulldog pawrent, you are now equipped to spot any emerging warning signs right away so you can initiate veterinary diagnostic testing and treatment. This type of proactive approach will help your Frenchie enjoy the longest, healthiest possible life with you.

Dr. Majid Tanveer

Veterinary advice reviewed by Dr. Majid Tanveer (Licensed Veterinarian & Doctor of Veterinary Medicine)

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