French Bulldog Skin Allergies: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

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Caring for your little Frenchie can come with more than a few anxious moments, especially when it comes to dealing with possible French Bulldog skin allergies.

So how can you tell when your French Bulldog is suffering with skin allergies? What causes skin allergies in Frenchies? What are the signs and symptoms to look for? What treatment options do you have to help your dog feel better fast? You will find the answers you need here.

What Causes Skin Allergies In French Bulldogs

There are three main causes for skin allergies in the French Bulldog breed. As you are about to learn, two out of the three of these causes are well within your control. And all three causes can benefit from the knowledge you will gain from reading this article.

Genetic Causes of Skin Allergies in French Bulldogs

The first and most distressing cause of skin allergies in Frenchies is poor genetics. What does this mean exactly? The truth is, these little dogs have become so popular that constant demand for puppies has led to increasingly questionable breeding practices.

One side effect, as French Bulldog Club of America explains, is a rise in the Frenchie’s genetic predisposition towards atopic skin disease, skin fold dermatitis and related skin conditions.

Environmental Causes of Skin Allergies in French Bulldogs

The French Bulldog’s short, neat coat may give these dogs a clean and dapper appearance, but it doesn’t do much to protect them from contact with environmental toxins. 

Frenchie skin allergies like otitis externa are often triggered by environmental pathogens like viruses, bacteria and fungal spores. 

Other examples of French Bulldog environmental skin allergies include common pollens, landscape pesticides and herbicides, toxins and poisons, foreign bodies and exposure to heat and humidity.

Food Causes of Skin Allergies in French Bulldogs

Finally, French Bulldogs, with their notoriously sensitive tummies, are more apt than most other purebred dog breeds to suffer from skin allergies related to dietary intolerances or allergies.

Symptoms Of French Bulldog Skin Allergies

Irritated Skin - Symptom of French Bulldog Skin Allergy
A potential symptom of French Bulldog skin allergies

In the introduction to this article, we mentioned how it can often be tricky to spot French Bulldog skin allergies. 

Here, what you need is a cheat sheet of common Frenchie skin allergy symptoms. The following list isn’t meant to replace the guidance of your canine veterinarian. However, it will help you spot early warning signs of Frenchie skin allergies!

Common symptoms of French Bulldog skin allergies include but are not limited to the following warning signs:

  • Pruritis (itching)
  • Erythema (redness)
  • Skin pimples, blisters, pustules
  • Inflammation and swelling
  • Seborrhea (dandruff)
  • Crusts or scabs or scaly appearance/feel on the skin surface
  • Alopecia (patchy coat or hair loss)
  • Skin discoloration or coat staining
  • “Scooting” (rubbing the hindquarters on the ground)
  • Shaking the head or rubbing or pawing at the ears
  • Chewing on the skin or paws
  • Odor coming from the paws, ears or hindquarters
  • Symptoms of pain including whining, dislike of being touched or petted
  • Pyotraumatic dermatitis (sores or hot spots)
  • Other symptoms include respiratory distress, vomiting, diarrhea, depression/anxiety

Most Common Types Of French Bulldog Skin Allergies

Diagnosing French Bulldog skin allergies isn’t always a straightforward process. Why is this? The main reason is that Frenchies may also have an inherited genetic sensitivity to certain allergens. 

For instance, French Bulldogs are predisposed to inherit autoimmune disorders, which can trigger the immune system to over-react to contact with allergens.

And because Frenchies are bred to develop deeper skin folds in certain areas on their body, the heat and humidity in these areas may exacerbate the allergic response still further.

Unfortunately, recent research indicates all of these well-documented and common types of Frenchie skin allergies are increasing throughout the breed, so it is wise to familiarize yourself with each.

Otitis externa in French Bulldogs

Otitis externa in French Bulldogs
Source: Research Gate – Antonio Ramis

Researchers now know that up to half of French Bulldogs suffering from food-related allergies may also develop otitis externa. Otitis externa is an inflammation of the external canal of the ears. 

As with many French Bulldog skin allergies, researchers now know that an acute case of otitis externa may over time turn chronic due to how the disease changes the skin of the external ear canal. 

Atopic dermatitis in French Bulldogs

Atopic dermatitis in French Bulldogs

Atopic dermatitis, or canine allergic skin disease, is often one of the first allergic responses to affect a Frenchie’s skin. It is caused by a hyper-sensitive immune system response.

If you’ve ever had a sensitivity to household allergens like dust mites, you know all too well the level of misery an outbreak of atopic dermatitis can cause your dog. 

Skin fold dermatitis in French Bulldogs

Skin fold dermatitis in French Bulldogs

French Bulldogs genetics can cause the skin to fold more deeply in some areas such as the face, tail, lips, arm pits and private areas. These deeper areas of skin folding, with their retained body heat and humidity, can then act like magnets for skin infection.

Skin fold infections are often triggered by Frenchie allergies to certain types of yeast, bacteria or food ingredients. The presence of the deeper skin folds then makes the allergic reaction worse and the symptoms more severe for French Bulldogs than for many other dog breeds.

Pemphigus in French Bulldogs

In other words, inherited autoimmune hypersensitivity leads to chronic allergic response triggered by contact with everything from pollen to human skin dander to pesticides and food ingredients.

Pemphigus is one of several French Bulldog skin conditions that is linked to this breed’s genome.

For Frenchies, pemphigus is most likely to manifest is pemphigus foliaceous, where lesions show up on the dog’s face, then ears, then paws, then body and finally the private areas.

Treatments For French Bulldog Skin Allergies

Once you have a confirmed diagnosis of French Bulldog skin allergies in hand, you have several options for pursuing treatment

Natural Remedies For French Bulldog Skin Allergies

If you are brand new to dealing with French Bulldog skin allergies, you may quite naturally be drawn to prevention as the best medicine. This is a great strategy when it works! 

However, dogs will be dogs, and so it is also good to have a working knowledge of natural remedies for French Bulldog skin allergies in your pawrent toolkit. 

You may also want to consider taking a naturopathic approach by consulting a holistic veterinary practitioner who works with herbs, essential oils, mushrooms, homeopathy, household staples like white vinegar and baking soda and bodywork such as chiropractic and acupuncture/acupressure.

Basic canine hygiene with appropriate shampoo and skin care products.

One thing many first-time dog carers do not know is that canine skin pH is quite different from human skin pH. This is why you should not use human shampoos or skin care products on your dog. Even products formulated for human babies may be irritating to your Frenchie’s skin.

Your best approach is likely to come from finding an organic, sulfate-free, hypoallergenic shampoo made specifically for the canine skin pH.

Natural supplements for French Bulldog health

Probiotics are basically food for the good gut bacteria that help your dog’s stomach break down, metabolize and make use of their food.

Probiotics may or may not be able to prevent French Bulldog food-related skin allergies, but they can definitely boost overall health and give your dog’s immune system an edge in fighting off allergy symptoms.

Allergy supplements for French Bulldogs

French Bulldog allergy supplements often make sense on multiple levels, especially because it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify whether the allergy symptoms are arising from food or environmental triggers

Change of French Bulldog diet

Because French Bulldog skin allergies are often linked to known breed food intolerances or outright food allergies, you may find that treating your Frenchie’s allergies requires adjusting your dog’s diet.

Dietary adjustment can be a major component of successfully treating French Bulldog skin allergies. Switching to a fresh or raw food diet or using hybrid reconstituted complete and balanced dog food mixed together with fresh food can help limit exposure to food allergens.

This may include adding back nutrients in the form of vitamin and mineral supplements, herbs or other ingredients, changing the food you serve entirely or some combination thereof.

Veterinary treatments For French Bulldogs With Skin Allergies

It is always smart to begin your dog’s healing journey by visiting your canine veterinarian. 

The reason being, without an accurate diagnosis of what is triggering your French Bulldog’s skin allergies, it will be an uphill battle to identify the most beneficial treatment!

From the point of diagnosis, western veterinary medicine typically treats skin allergies with medications such as steroids, antihistamines, prescription kibble food, medicated shampoos and topical medicines.

Whether you turn to veterinary treatment for Frenchie skin allergies first or regard it as your last resort, this is the process you are likely to experience. 

Diagnostic tests

Before your canine veterinarian can prescribe a medication, they will need to perform diagnostic tests to determine the source of your dog’s allergic response.

Diagnostic testing may require skin scraping, blood work, skin allergy tests, limited ingredient diet trials and other standard protocols.


Corticosteroids are medications that reduce inflammation by mediating the body’s own response to the presence of allergens. 

Your veterinarian may prescribe topical corticosteroids in the form of medicated shampoos or rinses or oral medications to be taken with food.


You will probably already be quite familiar with the antihistamines most commonly used for French Bulldog skin allergies. Why? Because these medicines are also used for people. 

Anti-histamines basically block the histamines your dog’s immune system produces to fight off a recognized threat. Since histamines cause allergy symptoms, these medications block the symptoms by blocking the production of histamines.

Resolving French Bulldog Skin Allergies (in summary)

You now have the information you need to spot the early warning signs of developing skin allergies in your French Bulldog. You also have a big-picture overview of different treatment options. 

With this information in your pawrent toolkit, you can feel empowered to take proactive control of your Frenchie’s diet, environment and overall skin health.

Dr. Majid Tanveer

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

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