Is Your French Bulldog Making Weird Breathing Noises?

correct answerThe Short Answer is:

Because of their unusual head shape French Bulldogs suffer from many breathing issues which sometimes cause them to make strange sounds. That’s not a cause for concern if they happen infrequently. Snorting gagging wheezing and excessive panting are usually symptoms of Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome which should be discussed with your veterinarian.

In this research you will know the answer to the query “Is Your French Bulldog Making Weird Breathing Noises?“.

This cute and crumpled face is what convinces many people to get a Frenchie in the first place.

There are many respiratory problems facing short-nosed dogs which are not known to many novice pet owners.

Your French Bulldog may suddenly start making strange breathing noises. You need to know that this is normal behavior for the breed.

Here are some of the most common breathing problems Frenchies experience and how serious they are or when they need to be seen by a veterinarian.

The problem with brachycephalic dogs

In the class of brachycephalic dogs which include English Bulldogs Boxers Shi Tzus Pugs and Bull Mastiffs Frenchies are included.

These dogs have been bred over many generations to look adorable but this comes at a price.

The reason behind your pets breathing problems is the fact that despite the bones in the dogs head getting smaller the tissues did not. They look funny on the outside because of their skin folds but on the inside they are anything but funny. Excess tissue stuffed inside your dogs mouth and throat block his airways leading to breathing problems and the odd noises he makes.

In addition French Bulldogs have very short nostrils which means they can not get enough air which explains why your pet appears to be gasping for air after vigorous exercise.

When the dog fights for air it can look like a full-blown breathing attack which can be frightening to watch.

What is the Brachycephalic Airways Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS)

In French Bulldogs the most common respiratory problem is Brachycephalic Airways Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS) caused by the way their upper airways are constructed.

It is typically diagnosed at three years of age when the Frenchie is fully mature and the vet can determine if the nasal passages are too short and narrow or if the soft palate is too long so it seriously impairs the dogs breathing. A veterinarian may suggest corrective surgery for severe cases in order to improve the quality of life for the dog.

However French Bulldogs are often forced to live with breathing problems all their lives.

Those weird noises are caused by this so lets take a closer look at what they mean.

Five weird breathing noises that French Bulldogs might make 

The first time they hear their pet making strange snorting noises many French Bulldog owners are scared. This is not the usual snorting noise dogs make when they go sniffing in a dusty area. Thats completely normal since the snorting helps the dog get rid of dust or allergens that might get into his nostrils.

Reverse Sneezing

In the French Bulldog the sound is best described as a prolonged ‘Horrrk’. The really scary part is that the dog appears to be unable to breathe for a few seconds. Dogs that occasionally make these horrible sounds seem completely unconcerned about them and they do not seem to be in distress. On the other hand the owner becomes very concerned since they think the dog may be ill.

These types of noises are known as reverse sneezes according to experts. Its quite telling that the dog inhales his sneezes as its name implies. Its a bit strange but not life-threatening.

The soft palate in the dogs mouth becomes irritated resulting in reverse or backward sneezing. All dogs can experience it but Frenchies are more likely to experience it due to their elongated soft palates which can extend to the larynx and epiglottis in severe cases.

If you are concerned about your dogs reverse sneezing the easiest way to stop it is to briefly cover his nostrils with your hand forcing him to open his mouth and breath. It is guaranteed that this trick will cure the horrible incident but if it occurs frequently you should see a vet and have him examine your dogs soft palate.


When there is an obstruction to normal airflow most dogs will wheeze. It might seem as if theres something stuck in his airways but thats very rare.

Usually mucus infections or allergies are to blame for the whistling sound the dog makes when trying to breathe. It is not a serious problem to experience the occasional wheeze; it will usually go away on its own.

If you own a French Bulldog constant wheezing may indicate a collapsing trachea which is a common cause of concern in brachycephalic dogs. Additionally if you have a senior pet do not assume that sudden wheezing is due to BAOS. He may have a heart condition as well.

While wheezing can be an indication of heartworms hookworms or roundworms keep in mind that it can also be an indication of heartworms.  


There is occasional panting in all types of dogs and they tend to do it after physical exercise or in hot weather but it happens more often in Frenchies because of the way their heads are shaped.

Panting primarily serves as a cooling mechanism. This cooling effect occurs when brachycephalic dogs open their mouths and the air evaporates the saliva which is quite abundant.

When your Frenchie cannot stop panting he is not able to regulate his body temperature. Be sure to take him somewhere cool and to provide him with a lot of freshwater.


The barking of a dog is quite normal. The French Bulldog however barks more when its overheated. The barking also serves as a cooling mechanism since it helps him get more air in.

Most likely your dog will calm down when he cools off but if he does this frequently and seems to be in respiratory distress you should have him examined by a veterinarian.

Over time the Brachycephalic Airways Obstruction Syndrome may worsen. Excess tissue in his mouth and throat can cover up the larynx causing the collapse of the trachea or damage to his vocal cords.


A common symptom of BAOS is gagging although many dogs tend to gag when gulping down their food. This is because in their fury to polish their bowls they also take in air. French Bulldogs who do that once in a while are not at risk but recurring episodes can indicate something more serious such as a tracheal collapse. Ignoring this condition will only make it worse over time.

Coughing is often accompanied by gagging so it is important to make a note of which occurs first. A dog that coughs and then gags may have a respiratory disorder according to experts. If however he gags then coughs most likely he has a laryngeal problem which is not uncommon among short-nosed dogs such as French Bulldogs.

Four ways to help a French Bulldog with BAOS

Don’t over-exercise your pet

Because Frenchies are unable to breathe properly they get too little oxygen which causes them to tire easily when they run too much. They do need regular exercise but its important to know how much is too much for your pet.

If you take your dog for a walk use a harness rather than a collar to avoid adding more pressure to his airways.

Keep him cool

The French Bulldog does not fare well in hot humid weather. On hot days even if your dog does not have severe BAOS you should keep him inside. Only take him for walks in the early morning or late evening. When you have to take him out during the day try to keep him in the shade as much as possible. You can give the dog some ice chips too to help it cool down and prevent breathing problems.

Watch his diet

It is important not to allow a French Bulldog with breathing problems to become overweight. This can only make things worse for him. You can control your dogs weight by limiting the number of treats offered to him since he cannot exercise as much as other dogs. There should not be food available 24 hours a day as this could lead to overeating. With two meals per day an adult Frenchie is very content.

Corrective surgery

Taking drastic measures like this can be tough on both you and your French Bulldog but sometimes this is the only solution to ease your pets suffering. The majority of BAOS surgeries involve opening up the nostrils so he can get more air or shortening an abnormally long soft palate. A part of the larynx will also have to be removed if the larynx collapses.


Because of their unusual head shape French Bulldogs suffer from many breathing issues which sometimes causes them to make strange sounds. Thats not a cause for concern if they happen infrequently.

Snorting gagging wheezing and excessive panting are usually symptoms of Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome which should be discussed with your veterinarian.

While severe cases of the condition might require surgery to help the dog breathe better for many dogs the condition is entirely treatable.

If you want to read more about dog health tips read here: Dog Health Tips and Tricks.

Is Your French Bulldog Making Weird Breathing Noises? (Watch Video)

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