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French bulldogs puppies prone to elbow fractures 

Breed’s risk of front limb injury in first year of life may be linked to common bone fissures, scans suggest. 

French bulldog puppies are at risk of a front limb fracture in their first year of life, research shows. 

A study of elbow breaks, or humeral condylar fractures, in the breed has confirmed that French bulldogs are susceptible to injuries of this type as their bones develop.  

Their elevated risk may be linked to a spontaneously occurring hairline crack in the joint, which is common in the breed. 

Researchers at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, who carried out the study, suggest that vets and owners of French bulldog puppies should be aware of their risk of elbow fractures, and owners should aim to limit the risk of injury. 

Injury comparison 

The team looked for common factors in cases of French bulldogs treated for front leg breaks at the Dick Vet’s Hospital for Small Animals, by comparing the anatomy in broken limbs with the opposite, unbroken front leg in each dog. 

They also compared CT scans from French bulldogs with those of spaniel breeds, which are known to be susceptible to a similar injury, to understand whether the fractures might have similar causes. 

French bulldogs were found to be at above average risk of elbow fractures while young, compared with spaniels, which are predisposed to the injury in adulthood. 

Both breeds commonly had naturally occurring small hairline cracks in their elbow joint, known as intracondylar fissures, which may predispose them to fractures in the bone.  

Both breeds also commonly had scarring, or sclerosis, in the affected bone. 

Researchers suggest that the variation in risk as each breed ages indicates that the cause of injury may differ between them. 

Their study was published in Veterinary Radiology and Ultrasound.   

This type of fracture is prevalent in both breeds, and the injuries look the same, but their development is different – so perhaps the biological mechanism varies.   

Our findings reinforce previous reports that French bulldog puppies are predisposed to these types of elbow breaks, which are known to be common in spaniels. Vets and owners should be aware and discuss how best to mitigate the risk in French bulldog puppies.

Sumari DancerLecturer in Diagnostic Imaging

Humeral intracondylar fissures predispose dogs to catastrophic fractures of the elbow which can be difficult and expensive to treat, often requiring referral to a specialist surgeon. This is particularly true in the French bulldog breed, due to their size and conformation.

Professor Dylan ClementsChair of Small Animal Orthopaedics

Related links 

Scientific publication 

Image credit: Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash


About the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is a one-of-a-kind centre of excellence in clinical activity, teaching and research. Our purpose-built campus, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Pentland Hills Regional Park, is home to more than 800 staff and almost 1400 students, all of whom contribute to our exceptional community ethos.

The School comprises:

The Roslin Institute

The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

The Roslin Innovation Centre

The Hospital for Small Animals

Equine Veterinary Services

Farm Animal Services

Easter Bush Pathology

The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education

We represent the largest concentration of animal science-related expertise in Europe, impacting local, regional, national and international communities in terms of economic growth, the provision of clinical services and the advancement of scientific knowledge.