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Should You Worry About Ear and Skin Problems in Your French Bulldog?


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French Bulldogs in NZ are a popular breed – and it’s easy to see why. Those huge, pointy ears and adorable big eyes make them super cute to look at. But we can promise you those big ears are still selective in what they hear. The food bowl shaking from a kilometre away? Sure. You calling them to come for a bath? Not a chance.

And although we love the tall, fox-like ears, they can also be problematic. Our top ten claims for 2021 featured otitis, which is a term for infection or inflammation of the ear (middle, inner or outer). And this is a common problem in French Bulldogs in NZ. They’re also known to suffer from skin issues.

So if you’re thinking of adding a French Bulldog to your family, here’s what you should know beforehand.

Ear infections in your French Bulldog

Why is the French Bulldog breed so prone to ear infections? It’s not down to one specific reason, but a few of them:

  • Ear shape: Their bat-shaped ears are more likely to get dust, dirt, hair, and other debris stuck.
  • Compressed head: The shape of a French Bulldog’s skull means they have a narrow ear canal, which provides the ideal environment for bacteria and yeast to grow.
  • Allergies: Food and environmental allergies are common in lots of purebred dogs, especially Bulldogs. French Bulldogs in NZ are prone to all kinds of allergies, which can make them more likely to develop ear infections or inflammation, especially if they scratch their ears a lot.
  • Endocrine system problems: For some Frenchies, endocrine disorders like hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease can cause secondary ear infections.

Common skin problems in French Bulldogs

When you’re looking at French Bulldogs in NZ to buy or adopt, below are the skin conditions you should know about.

Because plenty of purebred dogs struggle with allergies, resulting skin conditions are common. This doesn’t apply only to French Bulldogs, or Bulldogs in general. Skin allergies are also particularly common in breeds such as the Beagle, Labrador, Golden Retriever, Poodle and Spaniel.

A dog DNA test can help you look through your dog’s genetic background and get an idea of whether they might be prone to skin issues or other health problems.

The wrinkly skin and fine hair you find in Frenchies presents an ideal opportunity for quite a few skin conditions to develop, unfortunately. Your dog might not suffer from any of them, but they do tend to be prone to:

  • Atopic dermatitis: allergic reaction on the skin that can be brought on by grass, food, dust, and other allergens. This is one of the most common causes of skin irritation in dogs and we recently saw a member claim for $3,503 in vet bills needed to treat this condition.
  • Lip-fold, nasal fold, and tail fold pyoderma: skin irritation that occurs in the folds of the lip, nose, and under the tail due to excess moisture.
  • Hives, which may develop in relation to food allergies.
  • Parasites such as mites or fleas.
  • Hot spots
  • Skin cancer

Remember, these aren’t mutually exclusive. Often a dog could have atopic dermatitis in conjunction with mites, for example. Want to know more about dermatitis and other skin concerns? Read all about it in our in-depth article on dog skin conditions.

black and white french bulldog close up

Dealing with skin and ear problems in your French Bulldog

If your lovely New Zealand based French Bulldog develops skin or ear problems, it’s best to manage them in conjunction with your vet. They might suggest surgery for ear problems, or could prescribe medications such as antibiotics, antifungal treatments, or antihistamines.

That said, you can also take some steps to help decrease their chances of developing these issues and to limit symptoms if they do run into issues. You might:

  • Feed a good quality food designed for allergies and food sensitivities.
  • Chat to your vet about supplementing this with pre or probiotics and immune boosters.
  • Try to limit moisture in the ears, nose, mouth, and other skin folds (e.g. dry these areas thoroughly after a bath or swim).
  • Use medicated shampoos when you do bath your dog.
  • Consider using barrier balms and topical treatments if your dog develops skin problems.
  • Stick to regular flea treatments to limit problems with parasites.
  • Clean your dog’s ears regularly.

And one last point: choose your breeder carefully.

The importance of a good breeder

When it comes to purebred dogs, finding a reputable breeder is of the utmost importance. There are several reasons for this.

Firstly, supporting ethical and reputable breeders helps secure a better future for purebred dogs. Puppy mills and puppy scams are rife in New Zealand, and not doing your due diligence means that these unethical mills receive financial support from unsuspecting buyers, which allows them to continue operating.

Choosing a reputable and ethical breeder is important for the sake of your puppy too. When breeding dogs, an ethical breeder will make sure to breed with healthy parents who are less likely to pass on hereditary disorders or health issues to their offspring. An ethical breeder will also ensure puppies receive proper care during their first few weeks, which gives them a better chance of living a healthy life.

Want to add a French Bulldog from NZ to your family? Start by checking out the NZ Kennel Club’s list of registered breeders. Then, look into taking out pet insurance – it’ll help to protect you against financial hardship if your beloved pup does develop any of these ear or skin conditions afterwards. Just ask all our happy members who have claimed for ear infections!

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