Many people do not know the difference between congenital and genetic issues in French Bulldogs. I would say even many breeders out there do not even know the difference between the two words. We want to help you understand the difference. Often having a good set of knowledge will help you better manage your mind if you face either issue.
So what is the difference between the two? Glad you asked. Genetic means it was passed on from the parents. Some things are dominant meaning they only need one copy to display the characteristic. Others are recessive meaning they receive one copy from the mom and one copy from the dad for a total of two copies to display the characteristic. Coat color examples for this are merle coloring. In order to express merle the puppy needs only one copy of the gene to do so. If they are not merle then they do not carry the gene. In order to be blue the pup much carry two copies of the blue gene to express this characteristic. In breeding, when concerned with health, you are mostly concerned with the recessive characteristics that could pop up in your Frenchie puppies. The 5 most common potential health issues tested in Frenchies are:
- Cone-Rod Dystrophy PRA (cord 1): eye disease that can lead to blindness.
- Degenerative Myelopathy: immune mediated destruction of a part of the nerves in the spinal cord.
- Hyperuricosuria: may lead to elevated levels of uric acid in the urine which may form crystals/stones in the urinary tract.
- Multifocal retinopahty CMR1: typically presents between 11-16 weeks old with multiple discrete circular areas of retinal detachment with underlying fluid accumulation. Usually found in both eyes.
- Hereditary Cataract: cloudiness in the lens of the eye. May appear at any age and progress at varying rates.
I like to use Orivet since you can easily download an app, order the swabs you need, and then send them in for a breed specific test. When results are ready you open your app back up and check it out.
That being said we have found in the 20+ years we’ve had Frenchie’s that there are more congenital issues (although still rare) then genetic. Congenital means they were born with it and it wasn’t passed down from the parents. Think about thalidomide and how women experiencing nausea who took this had babies with missing limbs. Missing limbs were not passed down from the parents but there was a transcription error in the formation of the baby. Most congenital issues are caused by abnormal genetic coding when building the body in utero such as single gene defects and chromosomal abnormalities. Other ways they can inherit congenital characteristics is via environmental teratogens (chemical exposure) and micronutrient deficiencies (think cleft palate). Technically, a genetic issue they puppy would be born with but I want for you to just understand that there is a difference. Congenital defects are not passed down from parents and may be detected at different times in a pups life. It may be seen at birth, as a young pup, as an adult, in older age, or may never be detected. Some congenital issues can be seen in the heart, gi tract, urinary tract, etc…
Now you know the difference between genetic and congenital characteristics. DNA testing can help with some of the issues a Frenchie could display but that does not mean your Frenchie will not have a congenital issue that pops up later in life. Loving a Frenchie, a kid, a spouse always comes with a little risk. I’ve always viewed it as at least I had the opportunity to love this person, kiddo, or pet and it is a reminder to love each one just a little more each day because these are things out of our control. Genetics may not be in your control, but there are epigenetic is (ways genes can be turned on and off to encourage optimal health and wellness).
Here are a few things we do for our very own Frenchies that you can do to keep your pups as healthy as possible:
- We give multivitamins to your Frenchie’s to make sure they are not deficient.
- Our dogs eat raw food without fillers in it. You can make it at home or use this one.
- We give our Frenchies these probiotics every day by sprinkling it on their food.
- Our Frenchies get these treats to help with their digestion.
- We use “clean” cleaning products to prevent them from being exposed to chemicals. Remember your Frenchie’s skin is 3 times thinner than yours and they spend most of their time on the floor. I love using BioKleen’s products which I order on Amazon. These are affiliate links.