Why Do French Bulldogs Snort and Breathe Heavily?

Why Do French Bulldogs Snort and Breathe Heavily?

French bulldogs belong to a group of dogs known as the brachycephalic breeds, which means that they experience difficulty breathing. They can also snort a lot and snore when they are sleeping.

Frenchies are known for their adorable, squashed faces but are unfortunately susceptible to breathing troubles because of their narrow nostrils and short noses that restrict airflow. French bulldogs also snort and snore due to brachycephaly. They are noisy, heavy breathers, and their condition sometimes requires surgery.

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Why Do French Bulldogs Have Trouble Breathing?

Since French bulldogs were created by breeding different dogs with smaller snouts together, like terriers and pugs, it precipitated many health problems for the French bulldog. All flat-faced dogs have at least a certain amount of strenuous breathing. French bulldogs are noisy, heavy breathers, and they find it hard to breathe, as they do not oxygenate their bodies well enough.  

Another trait of French Bulldogs is their inability to cool themselves down after exercising on a hot day, which is why it is recommended that you limit your Frenchie’s physical activity when they are in the heat.

 What Are the Specific Abnormalities of These Dogs?

Brachycephalic breeds are at risk for brachycephalic airway syndrome. There are certain abnormalities that can cause the condition. Brachycephalic dogs may have one or more issues that can be concerning:

  • Stenotic nares occur when the animal has narrow nostrils, causing breathing difficulties, which causes panting.
  • Elongated soft palate occurs with a dog who has a soft palate that is too long for their mouth, blocking the entrance to the trachea.
  • Hypoplastic trachea occurs when there is a growth abnormality involving the trachea that results in breathing difficulties.
  • Everted laryngeal saccules occur when the tissue within the airway positioned in front of the vocal cords is pulled into the trachea.

Stenotic nares also commonly cause the dog to breathe through their mouth. Everted laryngeal saccules are usually triggered by these abnormalities and can cause additional blockage of the airway.

Why Do French Bulldogs Snort?

If you have ever heard your pup snore while they are off in dreamland, you may be wondering if it is normal. Small snouted breeds tend to be more susceptible to snoring and snorting. French bulldogs often snort and snore. There are several common reasons for this:

  • Blockage in the airways
  • Allergic reaction
  • Sleeping position
  • Genetics

Frenchies tend to snort during physical activity or play, which is perfectly normal. The French bulldog also exhibits an unusual type of snort when they reverse sneeze. Reverse sneezing occurs when the dog quickly inhales air instead of exhaling air during a normal sneeze, and it tends to be common in brachycephalic breeds.

What Can I Do to Help My Dog?

French bulldogs are known to have health concerns. However, there are some ways you can help your Frenchie if they are having breathing issues or if they are snoring and snorting. For example, if it is summer and very hot and humid outside, try to keep your pup indoors where it is air-conditioned and safe as much as possible.

Frenchies have difficulty regulating their body temperature and can overheat easily. During the hotter months, try to get them out for a walk in the early morning and evening to decrease the chance of them not getting enough oxygen and becoming ill, as they are prone to heatstroke. 

Too much exercise can put a strain on your Frenchie’s already compromised airway system. Short walks are fine as long as you do not notice any discomfort in your dog. You should also keep your dog at a normal weight. There is a fine line between keeping your pup healthy and not over-exercising them. Keep in mind that if exercise increases the need for oxygen, it should be kept to a minimum.  

How Do I Know if My Dog Needs Surgery?

Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome occurs in all brachycephalic dogs to some degree. It is important to observe your dog for any signs of serious discomfort. If your Frenchie has significant breathing issues, drastic measures may be required to help your dog live the best life possible. Some of the problems a brachycephalic breed may be experiencing:

  • Trouble inhaling
  • Noisy breathing
  • Discomfort in warmer weather
  • Exertion when breathing
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Vomiting or regurgitation
  • Salivating
  • Collapse

If your pup is experiencing severe exercise intolerance or breathing troubles are worsening, consult your veterinarian to get a proper evaluation. One option may be surgery to correct breathing issues can improve the quality of the dog’s life which can be especially helpful to decrease the incidence of laryngeal collapse. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose and treat your pup if needed.

There are a couple of different options for procedures that can be performed. Surgery can widen stenotic nares, which improves airflow that was previously restricted. Staphylectomy will shorten the elongated soft palate that can block airways. Research has shown that pups who have the surgery experience significant improvement in their breathing following surgery. 


French bulldogs have difficulty breathing and can snort a lot due to them being a brachycephalic breed with short snouts and small airways. It is important to keep an eye on your Frenchie to know if their discomfort is severe and talk to your vet about what you can do to help.  

For pet parents in the Manhattan, NY and Brooklyn, NY area, Heart of Chelsea Veterinary Group has four locations conveniently located and ready to serve you. To make an appointment, visit our website today! 


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