Help! My French Bulldog Is Too Skinny!

Photo by Kabo on Unsplash

Frenchies are adorable creatures, their little cute bodies and energetic personalities make them very entertaining. Besides fun and play, owning a Frenchie also comes with its fair share of concerns and one of the biggest is keeping the dog in top shape and maintaining a healthy weight. 

As dog owners, it’s only natural to be concerned about how our little cuties look and keeping them healthy and happy is always our main concern.

French bulldogs have a streak of stubborness and can be very assertive, this is why it isn’t unusual for them to pick up poor habits. 

Poor feeding habits in Frenchies can be a major cause for concern with some people asking what the average weight of their French Bulldog should be?

Just like we humans, if they eat too little they become skinny and underweight and if they eat too much they become overweight.  This can lead to serious health problems.

But besides food, what else can affect the weight and health of your little companion dog. What is the ideal weight for French bulldogs? What makes them so skinny and what feeding mistakes should I avoid? In a few short minutes you’ll find answers to these questions and more, keep scrolling …

4 reasons that your French bulldog is too skinny

During different periods in their lives, dogs will either gain or loss weight and most times this is perfectly normal. But sometimes it isn’t! Which is why you need to observe your dog to know when she’s losing or gaining weight and when the weight loss isn’t right. 

French bulldogs are not actually prone to weight problems, however, if you notice that your Frenchie suddenly lost about 10% of her normal body weight then you know that she’s probably malnourished and underweight. You can tell a very skinny dog simply by looking at the rib cage, if you can clearly see the ribs then that dog is definitely too skinny and underweight. Another sign of underweight is low energy levels.

Frenchies are known to be very energetic and playful, and if you notice that yours tires and pants heavily after a few short run, then something really isn’t right.

Panting after a short run could be another sign that
your Frenchie needs to be bulked up! ²

[1] Poor nutrition

Your dog may be lacking adequate food supply and you need to review his meals to make sure they meet his nutritional needs.

[2] Illness

But food isn’t the only cause of weight loss in dogs. If you notice that your dog is losing weight despite eating health meals and even behaving normally, then it may be due to an illness

Dogs suffer from a number of very serious health problems like diabetes, cancer, liver problems, heart disease, kidney problems, etc.

[3] Worms

A common health issue in dogs that usually result in sudden weight loss is worms. If a dog’s intestines are infested with parasites like tapeworms which constantly feed on all the dog’s food and nutrients, this causes rapid weight loss and low energy levels.  Anxious dogs also suffer from weight loss.

[4] Anxiety

In dogs, anxiety causes lack of appetite, if a dog is anxious and feels unsafe he’ll hardly eat. Unfinished food bowls and lack of appetite can also be a sign of an underlying illness. Weight loss can also be age related, dogs naturally lose weight as they grow old. If your French bulldog is very skinny and won’t fill up despite your efforts in feeding him well, talk to your veterinarian, your Frenchie may need a comprehensive checkup.

What is the ideal French Bulldog weight? (6mths / 12 mths / 2 years old)

Knowing the ideal weight for French bulldogs at different points in their lives will help you determine if yours is healthy and you’ll be better able to detect when there’s a problem.  The ideal weight of Frenchies is determined by a number of other factors like; genetics, body shape, diet, activity level and sex. Male French bulldogs slightly weigh more than the females.  At 6 months, male Frenchies generally weigh between 15.5 and 23.6 pounds. 12 months old male Frenchies weigh between 19.8 and 30.4 pounds.  The average weight of 6 months old female Frenchies is from 13.8 to 22.1 pounds. At 12 months, female Frenchie will weigh between 17.6 and 28.4 pounds.  Adult (about 2 years) male Frenchies generally weigh between 20 – 28 pounds, while adult female Frenchies weigh from 18 – 26 pounds.

4 causes of underweight French Bulldogs

Give your Frenchie lots of little meals ³

There are four main reasons why your French Bulldog might be underweight .

[1] Serious illness

One reason is that your Frenchie has a serious underlying health condition which is causing them to lose weight. These include parasites, kidney disease cancer or a dental disease.

If this is something that has happened over weeks and not days and you have tried to feed your French Bulldog more without any success, booking an appointment with your vet is essential.

[2] Poor nutrition

The second reason that your dog might be too skinny is that the food that they are eating is poor quality and doesn’t contain enough nutrition for them to maintain a healthy weight.

It is really important that you buy the best quality food that you can afford and here is a guide to help you.

[3] Growth spurt

The third reason that your Frenchie might be underweight is that they are a young dog, who are not fully grown and they have had a growth spurt. Just increase the amount of food that you are giving them by about 20% and in a few weeks their weight should be back to normal.

[4] Rescue Dog

And the fourth and final reason that your Frenchie is too thin is that they are a rescue dog. Many rescue dogs of all breeds are underweight (a survey in 2019 found that 47% of rescue dogs were too skinny.) However, in the case of a French Bulldog, it is more likely that they were rescued because owners couldn’t afford the costs of surgery rather than because they had been neglected.

Tips on feeding a French Bulldog who is losing weight

Hopefully after a trip to the vets you have discovered that your dog doesn’t have any underlying condition that is causing weight loss.

Now, you just need to put that weight back on!

Below I provide some quick tips on how you can feed your underweight French Bulldog.

Firstly, this is a process that will take weeks not days so it is important to be patient.

Secondly, use this calculator based on target weight and how active your dog is to find out how much to feed them everyday.

Thirdly, divide that figure by three or four and feed them three or four times a day.

Feeding them little and often will help their stomachs digest the food more easily.

And finally, stand next to them as they feed and take the food away when they stop eating. Don’t allow dogs who need to put on weight to “graze”, with access to food all day.

[4] What are some common feeding mistakes?

A healthy Frenchie is neither too thin or too chubby! Being either underweight or overweight makes these cuties susceptible to a number of serious health problems, which can shorten their lifespan, not to mention the damage it can cause to their physical structure. So how do you avoid this?  It’s simple! Feed him right. The body size and weight of your Frenchie largely depends on what you feed her. And when you feed her wrongly, the results will definitely be unhealthy for her. To keep your French bulldog in shape, avoid the following five most common feeding mistakes;

Not getting a special feeding bowl for your Frenchie:

Like humans, dogs are also creatures of habit and will always do things out of habit. Feeding your Frenchie from a special feeding bowl will prevent her from eating from any other way.

Alternatively, if your let your Frenchie eat from the ground, she’ll form the habit of eating from the ground and will be at risk of picking up and eating unhealthy items in the yard, pack or anywhere. 

The only place to eat from is a bowl! ⁴

Not considering the right portion of food:

The size, age and activity level of your Frenchie will determine her nutritional requirements and how much food she needs to maintain a healthy weight. Just like how dogs can become underweight when they eat too little food, giving her much more than she needs will put her at risk of excessive weight gain and obesity. 

Not taking the age and lifestyle of your pet into account

Younger and very active dogs need more food that fully grown and less active dogs. Puppies and dogs less than 8 months can be fed as often as 4 to 6 times daily because they need more nutrients for healthy growth while less active adult dogs will need to eat only twice daily.

Sharing your food with your Frenchie

Sharing some of your food with your Frenchie may seem harmless, but it is because your pet will form the habit of always expecting to join you during meals. Besides never peacefully enjoying your meals, your Frenchies may refuse to eat from his bowl alone. Human food also contains things like salt, sugar and artificial colorants which aren’t healthy for dogs. 

Giving your Frenchie too many treats

Rewarding your Frenchie for good behaviour with fun treats is great for positive reinforcement but giving her too many treats for every little thing may be unhealthy because of the extra calories. Treats also shouldn’t replace real pet food because they don not contain the nutrients your dog requires. 

Underweight French Bulldog Puppy

A French Bulldog puppy that is underweight looks very vulnerable indeed. There are some general guides as to how much your Frenchie should weigh as it grows up and here are some key markers.

Age Weight
4 weeks2- 4 lbs
8 weeks 5- 7 lbs
12 weeks6- 9 lbs
16 weeks9- 12 lbs
A chart showing typical weight ranges of French Bulldog puppies

The reasons that a French Bulldog puppy might be underweight are the same reasons that we discussed earlier for adult dogs.

To recap, the two main reasons were:

  • underlying health condition
  • poor quality food

The first will require a trip to your vets and the second will probably require a change of food

[5] What are some of the health risks for skinny French bulldogs?

Overweight and obese dogs are actually more prone to serious health issues like liver and heart diseases. But underweight and skinny French bulldogs are also susceptible to a number of diseases like diabetes, kidney disease and gastrointestinal disease. Underweight dogs lack some important nutrients and have very low immune system which makes them vulnerable to different diseases, parasites and worms. 

Photo Credits

¹ Photo by college.library

² Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

³ Photo by michael schaffler on Unsplash

⁴ Photo by Carlos Varela