8 French Bulldog Skin Problems (and How to Help Them)

French Bulldogs are a popular breed, but they are prone to certain skin problems and conditions that require special care.

May 29, 2024·8 min read
8 French Bulldog Skin Problems (and How to Help Them)

French Bulldogs, affectionately known as Frenchies, have become America’s most popular dog breed. They are lovable, friendly, and adorable, making them great family pets. As if that wasn’t enough, these pint-size pups are also playful, don’t bark much, and are low maintenance. 

What’s not to love? Well, there is one thing: skin problems. 

Thanks to genetics and selective breeding, French Bulldogs are prone to various skin problems that can leave them feeling itchy and uncomfortable. 

Proper skin care is essential to keep your Frenchie’s skin healthy. Here’s what you need to know about French Bulldog skin problems and how to treat and manage them. 

French Bulldog Skin and Coat Characteristics 

French Bulldogs have loose and wrinkled skin that creates skin folds in various places on their bodies, like the face, armpits, paws, bottom, and tail. Their facial skin folds create their well-known, adorable appearance. Despite the cuteness of these skin folds, French Bulldogs tend to have sensitive skin, increasing the likelihood of skin problems. 

A French Bulldog’s coat is short and smooth and comes in several colors, including brindle, black, and white. This short coat makes grooming relatively easy. Generally, Frenchies need brushing only occasionally and don’t shed much. 

Brushing your Frenchie’s coat is a great time to check their skin for problems like skin bumps or redness. Even if you’re unsure of the problem, seeing something unusual will alert you that your Frenchie needs medical attention. 

8 Potential French Bulldog Skin Problems 

All dogs can get skin problems, but some skin problems are more common in certain breeds. A few of the French Bulldog skin conditions listed below are due to the breed’s skin folds. 

Skin Fold Pyoderma 

Pyoderma is a bacterial skin infection. Skin folds create pockets of warmth and moisture — the perfect environment for a bacterial infection to take hold. Symptoms of skin fold pyoderma in French Bulldogs include redness, itchiness, dried discharge, and a foul odor.  

Antibiotics are used to treat the infection. An anti-inflammatory medication, such as steroids, would be needed if your veterinarian thinks a skin allergy is the underlying cause. 

Skin Fold Dermatitis 

Dermatitis is skin inflammation. Once again, your Frenchie’s skin folds are the culprits. Not only do they trap heat and moisture, but they can also rub against each other and cause chafing. The combination of heat, moisture, and chafing leads to dermatitis. 

Typical areas of skin fold dermatitis are the armpits, groin, ear folds, between the toes, and on the paw pads. French Bulldog puppies commonly have a corkscrew-shaped tail because of abnormal bone growth, which creates deep skin folds that contribute to skin fold dermatitis. 

Skin fold dermatitis symptoms include redness and pain. 

Treatment for skin fold dermatitis involves steroids to reduce inflammation and antimicrobial medication if there’s an infection (bacteria or yeast). Wipes or soft cloths are recommended to remove moisture. 


Among dog breeds, French Bulldogs are most likely to get acne. 

Acne in French Bulldogs usually occurs around the lips and muzzle and looks like red skin bumps and pimples. Treatment involves drying the skin with ointments containing benzoyl peroxide (a drying agent), steroids to reduce inflammation, and antibiotics if a bacterial infection occurs. 

Although tempting, squeezing or popping the pimples is a bad idea because doing so can spread infection. 

Environmental Allergies 

We aren’t the only ones that experience seasonal/environmental allergies. In French Bulldogs, like all dogs, environmental allergies typically manifest as skin issues. Signs may include constant biting and chewing at the skin, occasional hair thinning, and dry, itchy skin. 

We can’t make the triggers of environmental allergies go away, but we can help support dogs who experience them. Work with your veterinarian to find the best management solutions and try to minimize your Frenchie’s exposure to environmental allergens (probably easier said than done). 

Flea Allergies 

Fleas are notorious for causing intense itching. French Bulldogs already have sensitive skin, so they could have an outsized allergic reaction to flea bites. Symptoms of flea allergies include constant itching and scratching, red and irritated skin, and hair loss. Skin damage due to flea allergies is usually seen at the tail base, inner thighs, and lower back. 

Treatment for flea allergies often includes steroids to reduce inflammation and itching, flea medication to kill adult fleas on contact, and monthly flea and tick prevention. 

Food Allergies 

Food allergies are usually caused by an animal protein source, such as chicken or beef. Symptoms are like those of environmental allergies. Treatment involves identifying the food allergen and feeding a diet that doesn’t contain that allergen. 

Hot Spots 

Hot spots are areas of red, irritated skin. Also called acute moist dermatitis, hot spots usually develop when it’s warm outside. 

Hot spots develop rapidly and can be pretty painful. Other than pain, hot spot symptoms in French Bulldogs include oozing discharge, swelling, and hair loss. 

Steroids are prescribed to reduce itching and inflammation. Antibiotics are needed if a bacterial infection is present. An antiseptic wash may be prescribed to clean the hot spot and kill bacteria. Your veterinarian will give your Frenchie a head cone if the hot spot is an area they can easily reach with their mouth. 

Dry Skin 

Although a French Bulldog’s skin folds are moisture traps, this breed can get dry skin. Dry skin in French Bulldogs can be caused by hormonal imbalances that develop later in life, sometimes due to problems with the thyroid or adrenal glands. The dry skin can also be scaly and patchy. 

Treating dry skin involves treating the underlying hormonal imbalance. 

When to See Your Vet About French Bulldog Skin Problems 

Skin problems are more than itchy and uncomfortable. If not treated early and effectively, they can lead to more severe (and expensive) skin infections. 

Contact your vet if you notice anything strange about your Frenchie’s skin. Many skin problems have the same symptoms, so your vet will want to examine your dog’s skin to determine the problem and how best to treat it. 

Hot spots can worsen quickly, so it is especially important to see your vet promptly if your dog has developed one. 

During the appointment, your vet will closely examine your dog’s skin and perform diagnostic tests. For example, your vet may take a skin scrape and scan it using a microscope to look for bacteria, yeast, and inflammatory cells. 

Tell your vet what symptoms you noticed and how long you’ve noticed them. Also, let your vet know if your dog has any allergies. 

When your vet identifies the underlying cause of your French Bulldog skin problems, they will recommend a treatment plan. Be aware that treatment and management may be long-term, depending on the type of skin problem. 

How to Care for Your French Bulldog’s Skin 

Taking good care of your French Bulldog’s skin is essential. Fortunately, proper skin care isn’t time-consuming or expensive. Here’s what you can do to help prevent French Bulldog skin problems: 

Wipe the skin folds daily and keep them dry. Gently wiping the skin folds helps remove moisture that attracts bacteria and yeast. Rather than using a paper towel, which can be too dry and irritate the skin, use a clean, soft cloth. 

Wipe the feet and fur after going outside. If your French Bulldog has environmental allergies, wiping the feet and fur can physically remove those allergens and minimize the chances of an allergy flare-up. 

Do not overbathe. Dogs generally don’t need frequent baths. Overbathing strips the skin of essential oils, drying it out and causing irritation. Bathe your Frenchie only if they’re smelly and dirty. Use a gentle, fragrance-free dog shampoo that contains skin-soothing ingredients like oatmeal and aloe. 

Use a monthly flea and tick preventative. Year-round, monthly flea and tick prevention is critical to preventing flea allergy dermatitis. Prescription preventatives are the most effective form of flea and tick prevention. 

Maintain your Frenchie at a healthy weight. Extra weight can make a Frenchie’s skin folds more prominent, increasing the risk of skin fold-related problems. Feed your Frenchie the type and amount of food appropriate for their life stage and make sure they get daily exercise. Keeping your French Bulldog at a healthy weight can even potentially extend their lifespan.  

Take your dog for regular vet visits. Regular vet visits will help your vet detect skin problems early and develop a treatment and management plan. The sooner the issues are detected, the better. 

Better Skin. Better Life. 

French Bulldogs make great pets and companions. Their skin problems come with the territory of the breed, but they are treatable and manageable. Work with your vet to take good care of your Frenchie’s skin.

JoAnna Pendergrass, DVMJ

JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM, is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer. As the founder and owner of JPen Communications, JoAnna is passionate about educating pet parents and empowering them to make informed health decisions for their pets. Since 2016, she has written hundreds of articles on a variety of topics in pet care, including behavior, wellness, and nutrition. In her free time, JoAnna enjoys playing the viola, baking, and seeing the world through the eyes of her fearless toddler.

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The information contained within this site is not intended as a substitute for professional medical or veterinary advice. PetLab Co. is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If your pet has, or you suspect your pet has any medical condition, you are urged to consult your veterinarian. Medical conditions can only be diagnosed by a licensed veterinarian. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Results May Vary. Not intended for human consumption. Please consult your veterinarian regarding any change in treatment or supplementation.
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