Despite its Gallic name, the French Bulldog is a breed of both British and French origin that was first recognised by The Kennel Club in 1906. The French Bulldog has demonstrated recent rapid rises in Kennel Club registrations and is now (2017) the second most commonly registered pedigree breed in the UK. However, the breed has been reported to be predisposed to several disorders including ocular, respiratory, neurological and dermatological problems. The VetCompass™ Programme collates de-identified clinical data from primary-care veterinary practices in the UK for epidemiological research. Using VetCompass™ clinical data, this study aimed to characterise the demography and common disorders of the general population of French Bulldogs under veterinary care in the UK.
French Bulldogs comprised 2228 (0.49%) of 445,557 study dogs under veterinary care during 2013. Annual proportional birth rates showed that the proportional ownership of French Bulldog puppies rose steeply from 0.02% of the annual birth cohort attending VetCompass™ practices in 2003 to 1.46% in 2013. The median age of the French Bulldogs overall was 1.3 years (IQR 0.6–2.5, range 0.0–13.0). The most common colours of French Bulldogs were brindle (solid or main) (32.36%) and fawn (solid or main) (29.9%). Of the 2228 French Bulldogs under veterinary care during 2013, 1612 (72.4%) had at least one disorder recorded. The most prevalent fine-level precision disorders recorded were otitis externa (14.0%, 95% CI: 12.6–15.5), diarrhoea (7.5%, 95% CI: 6.4–8.7), conjunctivitis (3.2%, 95% CI: 2.5–4.0), nails overlong (3.1%, 95% CI% 2.4–3.9) and skin fold dermatitis (3.0%, 95% CI% 2.3–3.8). The most prevalent disorder groups were cutaneous (17.9%, 95% CI: 16.3–19.6), enteropathy (16.7%, 95% CI: 15.2–18.3), aural (16.3%, 95% CI: 14.8–17.9), upper respiratory tract (12.7%, 95% CI: 11.3–14.1) and ophthalmological (10.5%, 95% CI: 9.3–11.9).
Ownership of French Bulldogs in the UK is rising steeply. This means that the disorder profiles reported in this study reflect a current young UK population and are likely to shift as this cohort ages. Otitis externa, diarrhoea and conjunctivitis were the most common disorders in French Bulldogs. Identification of health priorities based on VetCompass™ data can support evidence–based reforms to improve health and welfare within the breed.