What is the average life expectancy of my French bulldog?

Photo by Mike Tinnion on Unsplash

If you’re looking to adopt a French bulldog or already have one, finding the best way to care for her is the natural thing to do. You’ll also want to know how long you can expect to have her around and how best you can help make her life happy, healthy and as long as possible.  As a French bulldog owner (or aspiring owner), the first thing you should know is that Frenchies are very vibrant and cute small companion dogs. And the second, these little cuties aren’t cheap to care for! Naturally, owning a dog comes it’s fair share of responsibilities and requires years of commitments. But with Frenchies, the bar is set a little higher because this breed has a long list of genetic health problems.  Despite this, Frenchies are still the healthiest bulldog breed out there. And with this guide, you’ll know how long you can expect to have your Frenchie around and how to care for her as she ages.

[1] What is the average life expectancy of a French bulldog?

The average lifespan of dogs in general is between 10 to 15 years, although this varies greatly when comparing dogs of different breeds. Small breed dogs usually have the longest lifespan, and some can have a healthy long life of over 18 years.  French bulldogs are small breed dogs but unfortunately they do not have the longest lifespan, their lifespan is only average when compared to other small breed dogs. According to the American Kennel Club, the average life expectancy of French bulldogs is between 10 to 12 years.  While the UK Kennel Club records the average lifespan of a French bulldog to be about 10 years, and a 25 pound dog can live up to 13 years. So, if you have a Frenchie pup, you can expect it live for about 9 to 12 years, any more years after that is something you should be very thankful for.  These figures in no way suggest that your French bulldogs cannot live for much longer, actually you can help your Frenchie live a healthy and long life. While keeping your expectations in check, you can do a few things to help increase the lifespan of your Frenchie. The first thing you should know about French bulldogs is that they are a small dog breed with short nose and flat face. These features may be cute but unfortunately they come with tonnes of health issues and they’re the major reason why your Frenchie may need special care.  You will have to schedule regular appointments with a vet because your Frenchie definitely needs it. She’ll need regular diagnostic tests, blood panels and flea treatments or as often as the vet recommends. At least one visit to the vet in 3 months is good!   Frenchies are not kennel dogs, they’re very energetic and love to play, so yours will need a lot of room to explore and feel alive. Your Frenchie may be drawn to the pool and will like to splash around but never her alone near water because these dogs cannot swim. Their bodies aren’t built for swimming and they very easily sink and drown. If your Frenchie must swim, make sure she’s wearing a vest and you’re watching.  Due to their flat faces and short noses, these little cuties are prone breathing problems. So you need to watch out for this, learning how to manage an episode breathing problem will help you handle an emergency. You also have to create a healthy lifestyle for your dog. Healthy diet, ideal body weight, enough exercise, will all contribute to a healthier, happier and longer life. 

[2] What do Frenchies usually die from?

On average, French bulldogs can live for about 10 year. But is that always the case? Of course not!  A 2013 study of over 2,200 French bulldogs under veterinary care recorded 98 deaths, and the average age was only 3.6 years. Most Frenchies die at relatively young ages and only a few actually get to live to a ripe old age. This is sad, but very true!  French Bulldogs are prone to many health problem (and some can be life-threatening), this significantly decrease their lifespan. Factors like anxiety and stress also contribute to a shorter life. When compared to other bulldogs, Frenchies come out strong but among other small dog breed, they have a very high probability of health conditions.  A health survey conducted by the UK Kennel Club in 2004 revealed that the most common cause of death in French bulldogs is cancer. This survey recorded a total of 71 French bulldog deaths, and the average age at death was 9 years.  38% of these deaths were caused by cancer, with brain tumor and lymphoma (a type of cancer that affects the immune system) being the most common types of cancer. Only 8.5% died of old age and the oldest was 14 years and 8 months old.

[3] What are their most common health problems?

French bulldogs may be very energetic and cute little companion dogs, but unfortunately, they are very susceptible to many health problems. Most of these health issues are due to their flat face and shorten nose, which comes with some anatomical abnormalities. The most common health problems of Frenchies include:

Ear Infection:

Otitis externa or bulldog ear disease is very common in bulldogs, Frenchies included. This is probably because this breed of dogs have abnormally narrow ear canal and irregular ear wax movement, plus they’re allergic to a ton of things. Normal symptoms of the bulldog ear disease are swelling, redness, strange odor, itching and rubbing, discharge and pain. 

Diarrhea:

Frenchies are also prone to food allergies and will often have episodes of diarrhea and IBS. Diarrhea in Frenchies is usually due to some food allergy but sometimes, it can be due to some parasite or a gastrointestinal disease, especially chronic diarrhea.

Conjunctivitis and Cherry Eyes:

conjunctivitis (also known as Pinkeye) is a swollen red eye due to the inflammation of the front eyeball tissue, it can be caused by either an allergen or bacterial infection. Cherry eye is seen as a protruding third eyelid. This is caused by air allergen and can lead to a very serious eye infection, if left untreated. 

Skin Dermatitis:

This is an inflammation of the skin caused by parasites like ticks, mites, fleas, etc. Symptoms of French bulldog dermatitis include redness, itching, crusts, hot spot, sores.

Respiratory Problems:

Because of their flat faces and short noses, French Bulldogs usually struggle with breathing problems like snoring, sleep apnea, Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), etc. And some of them can be life-threatening.   French bulldogs are also prone to mast cell cancer, as are all brachycephalic dogs like Boston Terriers, Pugs, Boxers and Shar-Pei — they are referred to as “brachycephalic dogs” because of their short nose and flat face.

[4] What is the oldest Frenchie to ever live?

Average life expectancy of a French bulldog is 10-12 years, but do we know the oldest Frenchie that ever lived?  Denise Richards, an American actress, owned a French bulldog named Hank. Hank lived for 13 years and is currently one of the first documented longest-living French bulldogs.  Also, from a 2004 health survey conducted by the UK Kennel Club, the oldest Frenchie was reported to have lived for 14 years and 8 months.  Recently, there has been claims by some French bulldog owners that their Frenchies have lived for 15-16 years, some are still living. One Frenchie owner reported that her French bulldog lived for 17 years and 4 months, though these claims are unverified, they may not be untrue. 

[5] Is the life expectancy of a Bulldog or Boston terrier any longer?

No, Bulldogs and Boston terriers don’t live longer than Frenchies. The average lifespan of English bulldogs is between 10 to 11 years, which is lower than that of French bulldogs.  Boston terriers also live no longer than French bulldogs. On average, Frenchies live for about 10 to 13 years while Boston terriers have life expectancy of 11 to 13 years.  

[6] Special tips for caring for an elderly French Bulldog

If you have a French bulldog who is older than 10 years, you should very thankful for her/his life. Naturally, as Frenchies age, they become less active and more frail. You should expect her to lose some that boisterous energy and sharpness.  Her sense of smell, hearing and sight will also dim, but this shouldn’t prevent your from helping her enjoy a happy, healthy and ripe old age.

Here are a few tips to help you better care for your senior Frenchies;

Your old Frenchie needs a high quality diet:

One of the easiest ways to keep your Frenchie healthy is by making sure her meals cover all her nutritional needs. You should also know that the nutritional needs of an old French bulldogs differs from those of pups and young adults. And to the determine the appropriate diet for your bulldog, get professional advice from your Vet.   

Your old Frenchie needs regular veterinarian visits:

Don’t assume your Frenchie is fine because she looks healthy. Even if she look great, your Frenchies still needs to be thoroughly examined at least once a year or every six months because age makes dogs susceptible all kind of diseases. Regular health check will help to detect any diseases and infections as they spring up. 

Your old Frenchie needs to maintain a healthy body weight:

It’s easy to lose sight of this and let your Frenchie gain more weight than is healthy. To keep your buddy’s weight in check, it helps to always remember that the overall health of your dog can depend on her weight. And being overweight tremendously increases her chances of getting some serious and life-threatening disease like cancer, heart disease or diabetes. 

Your old Frenchie needs regular exercise:

Your old Frenchie still needs to stay active and this can be achieved by regular exercise. Regular exercise will also help her stay trim and maintain a healthy weight, not to mention keeping her joints and muscles healthy. Go for walks and engage in fun activities with other pets in the neighbourhood.

[7] Closing Thoughts

Despite that factors like gene, lifestyle and diet are the major determinants of life expectancy in dogs, your Frenchie can live a long and happy live, with your help of course! And what she needs is all the love she can get, luckily this isn’t difficult because that’s exactly why you adopted her in the first place. As very playful companion dogs, Frenchies delight in attention and care. And she’s more than ready to return the gesture, in fact that’s what she lives for. To make you happy!