Top 12 Reasons Why Your Frenchie Might Be Losing Hair

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French bulldog wearing a shirt
Chop, One of my patient

Are you worried about your Frenchie losing more hair than usual? I would be, too, if I had a dog losing more hair than usual. As a veterinarian, I get too many pet parents asking me how to resolve hair loss issues with their dogs. 

Sometimes, the hair loss that people complain about is expected. However, other times, It’s because the canine has contracted an allergy or a disease. French Bulldog hair loss can also increase when we, as pet parents, fail to understand the correct bathing frequencies or grooming methods. 

The reasons can be many, and as responsible pet owners, you should know what can possibly be causing excessive hair loss in your French Bulldogs. 

I have formulated a list of 12 reasons why Frenchies could lose more hair than usual based on my experience. 

I hope this list helps you look in the right direction regarding shedding in your Frenchies.

Double Coat and Seasonal Shedding

At the beginning of winter, I get a lot of complaints about shedding from almost every dog breed owner. 

Over the years, I have realized that pet parents don’t know what seasonal shedding is. 

This season becomes a cause of worry for them. But I am here to tell you that seasonal shedding is normal. Let’s understand why.

French Bulldogs usually have a smooth, short coat, with some brindle breeds sporting a double layer. 

Although considered a low-shedding breed, French Bulldogs still shed twice a year. Once in the summer, they shed to regulate body temperature, and in winter, their thicker coat comes through to keep them warm. This type of shedding occurs in dogs for them to quickly adapt to the changes in weather.

Double-layered Frenchies may shed more hair due to having two coats, but their fine hair is generally easy to manage.

This type of shedding is entirely normal and should not raise health concerns. Your French Bulldog will exhibit regular behavior without any excessive itching, scratching, licking, or skin problems associated with this shedding pattern.

Seasonal Flank Alopecia

Seasonal flank alopecia is a skin condition found in Frenchies, usually manifesting during the winter months. Canines experiencing this condition lose patches of hair without showing any other signs of skin disease. It typically starts in early adulthood and tends to recur yearly throughout Frenchie’s life.

French Bulldogs with this condition experience hair loss in clearly defined regions, usually on the flanks (both sides of the abdomen, just ahead of the rear legs). The hair loss is generally symmetrical, affecting both sides of the body equally. 

Additionally, hair loss might occur in other areas, such as along the sides of the chest, the tail base, or even across the bridge of the nose. As the hair falls out, the visible skin often becomes hyperpigmented, appearing darker than usual.

In most cases, hair loss in Frenchies commences during the fall, and regrowth occurs in the spring. 

This condition is solely cosmetic in nature, which means that treatment is not required. However, if you wish to address it for aesthetic reasons, melatonin is commonly used as a treatment option. 

Your veterinarian can determine the appropriate dosage after ruling out other potential causes. You can expect hair regrowth within 2-3 months with melatonin treatment.

For Frenchies with a history of recurrent seasonal flank alopecia, melatonin may be administered just before the expected time of onset and continued throughout the rest of the season.

Nutrition

Similar to how our own diets impact our skin, hair, and overall health, a dog’s diet significantly affects its skin, coat, and various other factors.

I have observed that my patients who maintain a well-balanced diet tend to have better skin health and a more positive attitude compared to those who are picky eaters.

I am currently working with a Shih Tzu named Nelly who is experiencing bald patches all over her body. It seems that her diet is unbalanced, and she is refusing to take her prescribed medication from her owner.

Despite our best efforts, she has not been cooperative. While genetics may play a role in her condition, her diet is also a significant factor to consider. 

So let me tell you why a well-balanced diet is vital to your dog’s well-being.

Developing healthy skin and haircoat in French Bulldogs requires sufficient protein and energy. When their diet lacks adequate protein or fat, it can lead to areas of hair loss or changes in hair color. 

Additionally, the haircoat can become dry, dull, and brittle if proper nutrition is not provided.

Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are vital in maintaining healthy skin and hair coats in Frenchies. These nutrients must be obtained through the diet as the body cannot produce them independently. 

The skin can become scaly and dry when there is an EFA deficiency. Moreover, dogs with EFA deficiencies are more prone to ear infections. 

The good news is that such deficiencies can be quickly addressed by ensuring proper levels of EFAs in the diet or through supplementation.

Copper

Insufficient copper levels can lead to a dry haircoat with patches of hair loss and a decrease in normal hair pigment, resulting in a faded appearance.

Zinc

Zinc deficiency may cause hair loss, skin ulcers, and thickening and cracking of the skin, particularly over joints and foot pads.

Fortunately, any skin-related signs of mineral deficiency can be quickly resolved by ensuring appropriate levels of these minerals in the dog’s diet. A well-balanced diet can be beneficial in preventing alopecia in French Bulldogs.

Grooming Habits

Frenchie taking a bath

Neglecting proper grooming in French Bulldogs can lead to various health and hygiene issues. Regular grooming is essential for maintaining a clean and healthy coat, skin, and overall well-being. 

When grooming is neglected, Frenchies may trap dirt, debris, and moisture in their hair, creating an ideal environment for bacteria and parasites to thrive, potentially leading to skin infections and infestations.

Regular brushing is beneficial as it helps remove loose hairs and dead skin cells and keeps the coat free from dirt, debris, and external parasites. It also distributes natural skin oils along the hair shafts. 

Frenchies usually require less frequent brushing than other breeds, but if they shed, daily brushing can significantly reduce loose hair and dog dander in the home. Overall, regular brushing is a crucial aspect of maintaining a healthy and tidy coat for all canines.

It is also essential to inspect your Frenchie’s coat daily. Regular coat and skin checks increase the likelihood of detecting any unusual lumps or bumps, identifying parasites like fleas and ticks, or recognizing areas of sensitivity on your dog’s body. 

Brushes with short bristles or flexible grooming gloves are ideal for smooth-coated dogs like our dear Frenchies. 

Bathing Frequency 

Recently, I treated a pug with extremely inflamed and dry skin, and the owners couldn’t understand why. According to them, they were doing everything right. I WAS SHOCKED when I asked about her shampoo and bathing frequency. She was getting a bath every day with a human shampoo! Their pH values differ, so they need dog-specific shampoos and don’t need to bathe daily. 

The pug’s problems were resolved in less than two months. All I had to do was change her bathing frequency and shampoo. No medications, none at all!

The bathing frequency required for most dogs varies depending on specific factors. Occasional baths are necessary when their coat becomes dirty or develops a noticeable odor. 

Low-shedding breeds like Frenchies without health issues need bathing every six to eight weeks. 

The ideal bathing frequency depends on your Frenchie’s age, lifestyle, hair coat type, and overall health. For instance, young puppies undergoing house training may need an immediate bath when they soil themselves accidentally. 

Dogs that enjoy playing in water or puddles may require a bath after getting muddy or dirty. Some dogs have a penchant for rolling in unpleasant substances or debris in the park, necessitating a bath before they can re-enter the house.

Additionally, if your French Bulldog has allergies, your veterinarian may recommend frequent bathing as part of their treatment plan. 

Overall, the bathing routine for your dog should be tailored to their individual needs to ensure they remain clean, comfortable, and in good health.

Allergies 

If your dog is experiencing hair loss, constant scratching, and discomfort in its skin, it might indicate a possible allergy. Allergies can be of different types like food, environmental, contact, etc. 

To diagnose allergies, your veterinarian may conduct a series of tests. These include elimination diets, blood tests, skin scrapings, allergy tests, etc. Once the cause of the allergy is determined, your vet will devise a suitable treatment plan. 

Treatment for allergies (except food allergies) in dogs commonly involves using antihistamines and cortisone. Also, a product called Apoquel, which has been shown to be transformative for dogs suffering from year-round allergies, is available in the market

To treat food allergies, most vets will suggest a change in diet. One may start with different hypoallergenic dog foods:

  1. Veterinary Hydrolyzed protein diet
  2. Veterinary Novel Protein Diet 
  3. Home-prepared Novel Protein Diet 

In my professional experience, hydrolyzed protein diets work the best. 

Parasites

Parasites infection French Bulldog
Chop had issues with parasites

Flea allergy dermatitis(FAD) is a common issue faced by French Bulldogs. The signs of FAD encompass patches of missing fur, red and inflamed skin, hot spots, or infected sores. 

You may also notice flea droppings (black specks) or fleas themselves on your dog, especially around the legs, hindquarters, and tail. Even if your dog isn’t allergic to fleas, these parasites can still provoke skin irritation, leading to hair loss due to excessive scratching, rubbing, or biting.

Apart from fleas, mites and lice can also contribute to hair loss in Frenchies. It’s important to note that the species of lice found on dogs differ from those on humans. 

Dog lice are transmitted from infected dogs, crowded living conditions, contaminated grooming tools, or inadequate sanitation. Signs of lice on dogs, in addition to hair loss, include itchiness, redness, and flaky skin and coat. 

Regular monitoring and prompt treatment are essential to address these issues and maintain your dog’s skin and coat health.

Environmental Factors

French bulldog in a field

Environmental factors can play a role in hair loss among French Bulldogs. Like all breeds, Frenchies can experience shedding as a natural process to replace old or damaged hair with new growth. 

However, certain environmental conditions can exacerbate this shedding. For instance, living in climates with extreme temperatures or frequent weather changes may influence their hair loss patterns. 

Exposure to environmental allergens can also cause skin irritation, leading to increased shedding. Additionally, excessive exposure to sunlight without proper protection can contribute to dry skin and hair loss in French Bulldogs. 

To mitigate the impact of environmental factors on their hair coat, regular grooming, maintaining a healthy diet, and ensuring proper protection from harsh weather conditions can all contribute to promoting a healthier and more lustrous coat for French Bulldogs.

Stress or Anxiety

Unexplained Frenchie hair loss may indicate stress as a potential underlying cause. Significant life changes, such as moving or being separated from their human companions or adding a new dog to the family, can trigger stress in your pet.

To self-soothe, your Frenchie may resort to excessive scratching and licking of paws or tail. Unfortunately, this constant behavior can lead to bald patches in the areas affected by their grooming.

To address stress-related hair loss, you can consider using pheromone sprays or collars like ADAPTIL to help your dog feel more relaxed. 

Suppose you suspect your dog is experiencing an unhealthy level of stress. In that case, you must seek guidance from your veterinarian or a qualified dog behaviorist for expert advice and support.

Hormonal Changes

Frenchie hair loss can occur during hormonal changes, such as during pregnancy, lactation, puberty, or after spaying or neutering. Additionally, hair loss can be attributed to diminishing hormone levels as they age. 

Fortunately, in most cases, hormonal-related hair loss in dogs tends to resolve independently and typically does not necessitate any specific intervention. This does not include diseases that result in hormonal changes like hypothyroidism, Addison’s disease, Cushing’s syndrome, etc. 

Genetics

Genetics can influence shedding in French Bulldogs, just like in other dog breeds. The amount and frequency of shedding are determined, to a significant extent, by the dog’s genetic makeup. 

Suppose a French Bulldog‘s lineage includes parents or ancestors with heavy shedding tendencies. In that case, the offspring will likely exhibit similar shedding patterns. 

Conversely, if the dog comes from a line of low-shedding Frenchies, it is more probable that they will shed less.

Genetics also play a role in determining the type of coat a French Bulldog will have, whether it’s a single-layer coat or a double-layer coat. 

Due to an additional undercoat, double-coated French Bulldogs may shed more hair than their single-coated counterparts. However, the hair of French Bulldogs, regardless of their coat type, is typically short and fine, making it easier to manage.

While genetics can influence the shedding tendencies of French Bulldogs, it’s essential to remember that shedding is a natural process for all dogs. 

Proper grooming, a balanced diet, and regular veterinary care can help manage shedding and promote your beloved French Bulldog’s overall health and well-being.

Color Dilution Alopecia

Color Dilution Alopecia example
Color Dilution Alopecia Source: Vetlexicon

Color dilution alopecia (CDA) is an inherited genetic condition where hair thinning or loss occurs in patches, often accompanied by flaky and itchy skin. 

This condition is linked to Frenchies with a “dilute” coloration and is commonly observed in different dog breeds with a blue or fawn coat. Not all dogs with this coat color will have CDA but every dog with CDA will have this coat color. 

Initially, these puppies have a normal-looking hair coat, but clinical signs of CDA may start to appear at six months of age or later. Since this condition is genetic, the issues are seen throughout the dog’s life.

Although CDA cannot be cured, it can be effectively managed with the guidance of your veterinarian. The management plan usually includes using shampoos, rinses, and ointments to address dry skin, scaling, or mild infections. 

In more severe cases, oral antibiotics may be prescribed to treat significant skin infections. Your veterinarian may also provide nutritional recommendations to optimize skin health while treating CDA. 

The Bottom Line

Frenchie losing Hair
It’s not very visible but Chop was losing some patches of hair due to a parasite infection

I hope this article clarifies your doubts about why your Frenchie could be losing hair. Please contact your veterinarian for a detailed treatment course if your Frenchie suffers from unusual hair loss.

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AUTHOR

Chinar is a passionate veterinarian and book enthusiast. Her subjects of interest include veterinary medicine, anesthesiology, and critical care. She also enjoys writing about a wide range of topics related to pet care, health & well-being being her primary interest.