What Is Pigeon Chest On A French Bulldog?

French Bulldogs are adorable and lovable pets, but they can sometimes face health challenges. One such condition is pigeon chest, known as Pectus carinatum in medical terms. This article will explore what pigeon chest is, its causes, how it looks, and what can be done to help your furry friend.

The Peculiar Chest Disfigurement

Pigeon chest is a condition that affects the chest and ribcage of a dog, causing a pointed appearance at the sternum instead of the normal curve. While it can occur in any dog, male French Bulldogs are at a higher risk of developing this disfigurement. In more severe cases, heart and lung functions can be compromised, leading to breathing difficulties and digestive problems. Other observable issues include disfigured legs, reduced stamina during exercise, and walking struggles. However, it’s essential to note that the majority of pigeon-chested dogs live perfectly normal and happy lives.

What Causes Pigeon Chest On A French Bulldog?

Meet Pepper and Ginger, two French Bulldogs in the spotlight. Their bones grew abnormally in the womb, resulting in the development of pigeon chest. French Bulldogs are among the breeds with a higher risk of this deformity, along with Shih Tzu, Pug, Maltese, Boston Terrier, and Pekingese. Often, when Pepper or Ginger has this condition, other dogs in their family line may have it as well.

Types of Pectus Carinatum

There are two types of pigeon chest, both present at birth. Pepper may have the more complex type called Chondromanubrial prominence, where the breastbone looks like a Z shape with the top pushing outward. On the other hand, Ginger may have Chrondrogladiolar prominence, the more common type where the lower breastbone pushes outward.

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What Does Pigeon Chest Look Like?

Pigeon chest in dogs is a disfigurement of the ribcage, causing the chest to bow outward instead of having a normal curve. The front of the breastbone, known as the manubrium, comes to a point. Veterinarians can easily feel this bone even when the dog is young. Fortunately, female French Bulldogs like Ginger have a lower likelihood of developing this problem. Pigeon-chested dogs may also have other physical abnormalities, such as short ribs and a thin waist due to a lack of structural support.

Can Pigeon Chest in Dogs Be Fixed?

The good news is that Pepper and Ginger may not require treatment if their heart and lung functions are not affected by the chest deformity. Regular monitoring by you and your veterinarian will ensure things stay stable as they grow. In cases where the condition is more pronounced, your vet may suggest physical therapy or guide you on gently compressing Pepper’s chest to reshape it into a more convex form.

What About Surgery?

Surgery is only recommended in severe cases where the deformity significantly impacts breathing. In Ginger’s case, the affected bone can be replaced with a fiberglass cast. Just like in humans, dogs can be rebuilt to improve their health and well-being. Following surgery, Ginger will need a quiet place to recover, away from activity. Painkillers and antibiotics may be prescribed during her recovery period.

Is Pigeon Chest Genetic?

Yes, Pepper and Ginger inherited their condition through their family’s DNA. Inbreeding can worsen the risk factors associated with pigeon chest. It’s critical to discuss this problem with your vet and explore recommended treatments to ensure your furry friends lead comfortable and full lives. Additionally, responsible breeders should conduct health checks on puppies before they are taken home. If the condition is discovered later, it is important to inform the breeder, as breeding dogs with pigeon chest should be avoided. Communication with the breeder about why this happened and the steps being taken to rectify the situation is essential. If you decide to keep the pup, there may be options for some kind of refund, considering the significant expense of bringing home a purebred Frenchie.

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How Common Is Pigeon Chest In French Bulldogs?

Among breeds with a higher risk of pigeon chest, French Bulldogs rank at 18%, with Pugs having the highest incidence at 41%. Brachycephalic dogs, which have flat faces, seem to have a general correlation with pectus carinatum. This group includes French Bulldogs, Pugs, Japanese Chins, Lhasa Apsos, Boxers, Bulldogs, Mastiffs, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

Does Pigeon Chest Get Worse With Age?

Pepper and Ginger reach maturity between 6-8 months, and their condition at that time will remain throughout their lives. As dogs age, they may develop other health conditions that, when combined with pigeon chest, can affect their quality of life.


If you have the pleasure of adopting a dog with pigeon chest, rest assured that Pepper and Ginger will lead fulfilling lives as long as their limitations are taken into account. Unlike other French Bulldogs, they may not be able to go on long walks. Adjust their exercise accordingly, shorten the walks, and stop when they seem tired. If needed, give Ginger a lift and carry her home—she’ll love the ride!

Although pigeon chest is rare in French Bulldogs, it’s important to be vigilant and consult your vet if any potential problems arise. Shower them with love and care, just like any new fur baby in your home. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions for helping your Frenchie, and don’t hesitate to reach out to them if you have any concerns or questions. Remember, your peace of mind is valuable.

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