Jay Duve is a holistic animal expert and has several animal companions, including a Maine Coon cat and a French bulldog puppy.
The Soaring Popularity of Frenchies
French bulldogs have skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years. In 2013, they were the 11th most popular dog breed in the United States, according to the American Kennel Club. A short three years later, they'd jumped to the #6 position.
With their soaring popularity, more and more people are adopting Frenchies to be a part of their family. Unfortunately, many people don't know about the French bulldog's specialized dietary needs. They think that wheezing, snorting, coughing and sneezing are just cute little breed characteristics, when they may be warning signs that you're feeding your bulldog the wrong type of food.
Keep reading to explore what French bulldogs need in their diet, the optimal dog food ingredients for a healthy Frenchie and a nice coat, and what ingredients you should definitely avoid if you want a happy bulldog.
Does Your Frenchie Eat Too Fast?
With a cute snort and a loud sniff, French bulldogs are notorious for inhaling their food. These gluttonous little puppies are infamous for being treat-motivated and eating anything they can. If your French bulldog eats too quickly or too much you may be promoting obesity and you can also be increasing her risks of puppy bloat. Bloat is dangerous and kills many Frenchies every year! Slow down how quickly your Frenchie eats to help manage his weight and protect against dog bloat.
Feeding Your Frenchie Wrong Could Be Lethal
Depending on their parents, the typical French bulldog is about a foot tall and weight 16-24 pounds (for girl dogs) and 20-28 pounds (for boy dogs). While a fat, chubby Frenchie may look cute, all that overfeeding is actually lethal.
"A healthy Frenchie is not overweight," warns the French Bulldog Club of America. "Too many pounds can damage their physical structure and shorten their lifespan." That's because the more obese the French bulldog, the more at risk he or she is of experiencing the many health issues this breed can experience.
Follow the label on your Frenchie puppy's food. Every food is different, whether it's canned, raw or dried kibble. Because the calorie density differs from food to food, measure accurately and don't overfeed your Frenchie with snacks or treats. You may feel like you're giving him some extra loving, but you're actually hurting his ability to live a long and happy life!
Common Dog Food Preservatives
For a healthy and allergy-free French bulldog, watch for these common dog food preservatives:
- Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
- Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
These ingredients are VERY common in mass-produced dry kibble. Additionally, common supermarket or grocery store brands (Purina, Iams, Pedigree, Alpo, etc.) contain not only French bulldog-unfriendly preservatives, but also often contain wheat and corn!
What to Avoid (Tip: Most Commercial Dog Food)
"Use consideration to feed a French Bulldog properly," warns the French Bulldog Club of America (FBCA). According to the club, Frenchies need to steer clear of:
- Any foods with artificial preservatives. According to the Whole Dog Journal, many mass-produced commercial dog foods have artificial preservatives in them but find ways to avoid putting those ingredients on the label!
- Excessive protein
- Wheat and corn. "Food allergies are not uncommon in Frenchies," warns the FBCA. Wheat can make your French bulldog gassy and fart a lot. If you want to avoid stinky French bulldog farts, skip the wheat. Additionally, Frenchies are allergic to corn. This ingredient is used in many commercial dog foods as a filler, and it can make your Frenchie break out in skin rashes, skin irritation or even hives!
The Best Foods for French Bulldogs
Now you know what to avoid feeding a French bulldog. But what's the best, optimal diet?
- Check the ingredients label. You want one or more whole meats as the first ingredients on the pet food. French bulldogs love whole meats like lamb, fish (salmon is common in Frenchie diets), beef or chicken. Some premium dog foods, like this grain-free kibble made by Fromm, is made with wild gamebird. Note how duck, peas, and turkey are the first three ingredients. The ingredients listed first on your puppy's feed are the most prominent ingredients in the meal.
- Plant-based proteins. Instead of using cheap fillers, look for premium plant proteins to round out the protein list. Examples that don't provoke an allergy in your dog include vegan sources of protein like lentils and peas. These are hypoallergenic vegetarian proteins that a French bulldog's sensitive digestive system can easily break down and digest. For example, Nulo's grain-free food for Frenchies has plant proteins from whole peas, sweet potato, chickpeas, lentils and dried fruit.
- Healthy fats. Omega-3s keep your Frenchie's coat and skin glossy and healthy. Examples include fish oil and coconut oil. If you're feeding a French bulldog puppy, your vet may recommend a food containing an essential fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). While I've used all of the above foods, my current choice is Taste of the Wild's salmon food. Its first two ingredients are salmon and ocean fish, which are both rich in essential fatty acids to keep my puppy healthy, with a gleaming, soft fawn coat.
Can a Bulldog Eat a Raw Diet? (Other Food Types to Consider)
Canned dog food for Frenchies has very similar ingredients when compared to dry food, but typically costs more and is also higher in water. Some people feel this helps to keep their bulldog puppy better hydrated.
Raw food diets are gaining in popularity but are much more work intensive and require lots of freezer and fridge space, plus some prep time. When feeding a Frenchie a raw food diet, watch for the same allergens and ingredients that are problematic in dry kibble. Often, a raw Frenchie diet includes some bones, plus raw meats like liver, kidney, beef or chicken. Some people also mix in plant-based foods like apples or sweet potatoes.
French Bulldog Raw Diet Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups raw chopped meat
- 1/2 cup vegetable/fruit blend (use a blender to break them down and make it easier for your Frenchie to digest)
- 2 teaspoons fish oil
- Vitamin/mineral supplement, as directed on the product
- Mix the above ingredients together.
- Store in your freezer until you're ready to feed your bulldog.
- Over the weeks, alternate the types of meat you use. For example, one week you might use chicken, and another week you might use lamb.
- It's also important to use a vitamin and mineral supplement to fill any nutritional gaps in your raw ingredients. Look for one that contains a wide range of whole foods-based ingredients that provide a spectrum of nutrients. For example, the Better in the Raw for Dogs food supplement derives its minerals from beef liver, kelp (a great source of magnesium) and parsley (high in vitamin K).
What to Know About Raw Foods and Bulldogs
Vote on the Best Frenchie Puppy Food!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2017 Jay Duve
Amy on June 06, 2020:
Hey, I love this article, Currently, I feed my Frenchie tinned dog food and kibble but I'm not sure its enough variation, Do you think I should add different foods into my dog's diet? I've also read that you can introduce Fruit and vegetables into a dog's diet here https://frenchbulldogio.com/what-can-french-bulldo... but I'm trying to keep cost down, not too sure I have to add all these extra ingredients.
Johnny on July 28, 2019:
Great! Your cooking for your frenchie. If you are not however cooking a complete and balanced diet that includes muscle meat, organ, bone, and specific Veggies and fatty acids you are hurting your dogs future. There are plenty of complete and balanced companies that make cooked, frozen food for dogs. Some of these are small batch and all provide.
Ally on July 11, 2019:
How many times a day should you feed a frenchie if they are on a raw diet?
Tracey from Dublin on March 30, 2019:
Hi our frenchie is 4 month old and Hoover’s her food down .
We have her on raw food but I think I’m over feeding her . She’s piling on d weight
Leah on March 26, 2019:
My six month old Frenchie is on raw turkey. Used to throw up with chicken. Had horrible gas with kibble so we gave raw a shot. I also feed in a slow feeder bowl. This has helped. Pumpkin helps as well. She seems to suffer from bouts of colitis. Working on getting a handle on that now with the vet. Such sensitive tummies.
Judy on December 29, 2018:
I have a 3 year old Frenchie and she was doing well on the royal canin for about 6 months. She then began throwing up white foamy stuff over 20 times a day. We worked with the vet, changed her food several times, started prescription food and nothing worked. We couldn't watch her go through this anymore so we started her on a diet of boiled chicken thighs (for the DHA) and salt free green beans. She eats so fast, but we feed her on a paper plate and spread it around, 6 small meals. The vomiting stopped after about two weeks. She also gets fish oil pill liquid once a day and a nurtra vet vitamin. We have tried, one at a time adding different foods, boiled salmon, potato, sweet potato, egg, brown rice and in a week she is right back to throwing up. We have stayed on this food for about a year and a half and she is holding a healthy weight and doing well. She does sometimes burp and a little food comes out.
Gloria on December 23, 2018:
I adopted a 9month male Frenchie two months ago I feed him small breed Nature Recpie grain free .He doing fine with this one but after eating ,he burps and some of the food comes up!!!!
Donna on November 01, 2018:
Ive just got a 5 month old frenish we put him on raw he was sick a bit then went ok now hes got me up at 2 oclock crying he had been sick all over hes bed it look like bone all over what do i do 2 days hes done this
Alexia McRae on October 06, 2018:
raw food not good
Lea cummings on September 29, 2018:
Has anyone tried the Zignature brand food? What do they think?
Butch Lane on September 02, 2018:
Andrea, my Frenchie often reacted in a very similar way.
You might want to try a food bowl designed specifically for flat-faced, or brachycephalic dog breeds. I always imagine for French bulldogs eating from a regular bowl might be similar to a human trying to do the same thing, humans would have as difficult a time to eat from a regular bowl as well. My dog's diagnosis was she was taking in a lot of air while she was eating. Immediately after eating, she would walk to a location of the kitchen, it was as if it became a routine for her.
Feeling unwell should never become a routine. But as soon as she was in a position to eat and not take in the air the problem ended immediately.
Mixing pure pumpkin in with dog's food also helps Frenchies digest their food more easily. Canned pure pumpkin can be found at most grocery stores, but avoid purchasing pumpkin pie filling, which contains sugar, spices and ingredients that could be harmful.
Pumpkin is great for a dog’s digestive health, it is high in fibre and more fibre helps your dog feel fuller, sooner, meaning it could also aid in a dog's weight control. Canned pumpkin is the perfect cure-all for your dog’s digestive needs, helping with diarrhea and constipation. For small dogs just add two teaspoons of canned pumpkin to their normal food, adjusting the amount up to two tablespoons for large dogs.
Kinlam on May 14, 2018:
I have an 8 mo old Frenchie who is the fastest eater on earth. The slow eating bowls I had found wouldn't allow her flat snout to get to the food. I finally found one! It's @ www.gundogsupply.com I use the stainless steel one.
Tayla on April 19, 2018:
Try an anti-gulp bowl
Andrea on April 19, 2018:
This is all very good info. Thanks! I have a Frenchie. He is just over 1 year old. He eats Fromms grain free, and typically buy a different protein source each time I buy- the fish, or the surf and turf, or the lamb, or the duck. He does't seem to do well on chicken. The quality of this food is great. And Louie loves it. The problem is that he INHALES his food. It doesn't happen every time, but often enough he does this choking/intense breathing thing, where he makes deep throaty noises either during his meal or right after. I talk him through it, massage his throat, often he gags, and then seems fine. I'm sure this is because he literally eats his food in less than a minute. But the choking scares me a lot. Do you have any suggestions for how to slow him down?? I read that maybe bigger kibble can do this...is there a premium- good for Frenchies larger kibble out there? Thanks! And if anyone else has this issue, please share. Especially what you do for it!