French Bulldog Bad Breath – How You Can Revert and Prevent

French Bulldog Bad Breath

If you’re like most French Bulldog parents, you love when your silly Frenchie snuffles and licks you as he cuddles up to watch a movie. However, this can grind to a halt if your French Bulldog has bad breath. Take a look below at understanding both the causes of bad breath and how to treat it so that you can get back to bonding moments with your pooch.

At its core concept, a French Bulldog has bad breath because something in his body is out of order and the bad breath is more of a symptom. There are many reasons why your French Bulldog can have bad breath. Some of the most popular causes of bad breath in your Frenchie include tracking in something from outside, living on a poor diet, having poor dental health, and having blocked anal glands. Not sure which you are dealing with or how to deal with it?  Everything you need to know about getting to the bottom of your dog’s bad breath is waiting for you.

Common causes of French Bulldog bad breath

If you notice a foul odor to your breath, you will want to take a bit of time and put in some investigation to figure out what’s going on behind the scenes. Let’s take a look at the most common causes that could be stinking up your pooch.

He tracked something in from outside

Dogs explore everything with their face. So, if your pooch is outside and exploring, he often will bring home some of that scent and you may end up smelling it on his breath. Common examples include pee and poop (I know), grass, dirt and more. In this case, it’s just that some of those scents got into his mouth and he’s panting them out! 

This is also the case if you feel that he, in general, stinks as well as his breath. Check his feet and his body to see if he’s covered in some sort of mess that he licked off of himself while bathing. Gross, maybe, but it’s about to get a whole lot grosser…

He has an unbalanced diet

If a pooch eats garbage, he’s going to smell like it. While this could refer to literal garbage (such as in the above point), it also takes his diet into consideration. If he is eating dog food that is high in fat or has too much protein, and just is generally the dog version of junk food, he’ll have foul breath. A balanced diet with proper exercise and, as a result, generally good health, means there is less chance of foul breath. When his insides are happy, his breath is happy!  Or, something like that.

His dental hygiene needs some attention

Another very common cause of bad breath in your Frenchie is that he needs a good tooth brushing!  Just like humans, tartar and plaque build up with Frenchies — particularly as their teeth are pretty close together — and it creates lots of potential for their buildup. From regular teeth brushing to proper chew toys, regular attention to their dental hygiene is important. If his mouth is clean and healthy, you shouldn’t notice bad breath.

His anal glands are blocked

Remember, you were warned: this will be gross!  A particular issue with Frenchies is that their anal glands are blocked!  This can result in a Frenchie’s breath being particularly stinky. But how, you ask? Think about it for a moment…yup, you’re right, he’s licking his tush. Gross!  If his glands are blocked, he’ll often be licking them to try and relieve them himself, as blocked glands can be painful for your Frenchie. More on this below.

Name that smell

Another not-so-fun detail with a Frenchie’s breath is that there are quite a few different…fragrances that it can take on. Identifying that scent is going to be crucial for making sure that you get to the bottom of the issues sooner rather than later. 


If your Frenchie has a distinct fish scent, there could be a few causes. Firstly, does he have access to fish anywhere?  Is he perhaps eating or sniffing fish around a pond, or eating a type of food that is heavy in fish oil?  If so, this scent can linger surprisingly long and give him that fish odor.

Another cause of a fish scent, which is often more likely, is that his anal glands are blocked!  For reasons that mystify humans and their understanding of smell, blocked anal glands mean a fishy scent. If you’ve eliminated access to fish oil through any other form, it’s probably those pesky glands. This is especially so if you notice him picking at his tush or scooting across the carpet. 


If your French Bulldog has breath that smells like metal such as iron, or perhaps a blood smell (depending on your own palette), this is often due to a diet that is heavy in protein and meats. When your pooch has too much protein it will come back out of his mouth on his breath (similar to how a hungover person can often smell like alcohol). In this case, it often means that he is overloaded in his meat intake and you should take a look at his diet (more on that in the next section). 

Fruit or Sugar

If there is a sweet and almost pleasant sugar smell to your pooch’s breath, it’s a sure sign that he is dealing with diabetes. Since the body is unable to process the insulin and sugars, ketones come out in his breath instead of being digested as they are supposed to be. While it seems pleasant, this is a serious symptom that should not be ignored. 

How to prevent bad breath in my French Bulldog

Now that you are a bad breath connoisseur, you can consider yourself experienced enough to solve the problem of your French Bulldog’s bad breath once and for all. Here are some of the most helpful (and surprisingly easy) ways to get your pooch back to his normal self.

Proper dental hygiene

First and foremost, cut the potential for bad health right at the source by making sure that he has good dental health. You’ll want to keep his teeth clean and free from build-up as much as possible to prevent any kind of bad breath from dental decay or infections building up. There are many different foods and treats that you can use to help you with this. 

You’ll also want to get familiar with doggy toothbrushes and toothpaste, too, so that you can make brushing his teeth a daily or at least weekly habit as well. 

Access to lots of chew toys

Not only can chew toys help keep him busy when you are away from your home or trying to focus on cooking dinner, but they’re also a crucial piece when it comes to dental health. Chew toys are designed to be for gnawing and crunching. This is specifically going to help remove plaque and dirt from between those teeth as well as in the back of the mouth where you may not be able to comfortably reach during your teeth brushing situations. 

Regular vet checkups and assessments

Proper attention and time spent at the vet will help keep his breath as clean and pleasant as possible. A vet can check for missed spots while brushing, as well as recommend technique, and they can recommend foods for better dental (and physical) health as well. If your pooch has any warning signs of dental decay or even blocked glands, they’ll also be able to help deal with both of them and make sure that you are equipped with the right knowledge to manage it at home, too. 

Similarly, if your pooch does have diabetes or something really serious for his bad breath (such as an infection in his mouth), a vet has the expertise to deal with that smoothly and efficiently to prevent discomfort and emotional disruption on both your end as well as that of your dog. 

A refined diet

As briefly mentioned before, making sure that your pooch is healthy in his diet is going to be crucial. His diet should consist of proper hydration, of course, but also natural-based, high-quality dog food (wet or dry) that is going to really make sure that he is getting the proper amounts of nutrients and minerals. 

While cheaper foods often load up on protein (which doggos love to taste), this is not good for their sensitive guts. They need to have a truly refined and balanced diet that will put them in their best health.

If your pooch is dealing with blocked anal glands, this is a fine example. Typically, blocked anal glands are due to a dog who is not getting enough fibre in his diet. If he’s dealing with a shortage, you’ll notice his poop will be watery and loose. His anal glands aren’t able to release as they normally would, and this creates blocked glands if it continues. 

Blocked glands can be caused by a lack of exercise, too, which is another problem relating to proper diet and lifestyle. He needs to be in tip-top shape to be at his best for his health, including that telltale bad breath!

Strength is important

One thing to remember when it comes to bad breath and your pooch is that bad breath doesn’t mean that anything is necessarily wrong or that you are a bad pet parent!  Bad breath is just a symptom of something needing attention and it happens to all dogs, everywhere. The thing to remember with bad breath is that its strength is very important.

If your pooch just has a mild scent to his breath, it’s often something in passing. Maybe he picked up some trash outside or he is licking some pee off his feet and it’s coming through on his breath. Maybe he had one too many treats and was overloaded with meat temporarily. Or maybe you’ve missed a spot while brushing and he’s got some buildup. Just keep an eye on how long it lasts and take a look at your pooch’s diet as well as all of the other factors to see if something has slipped. 

If you notice it is a severe scent that seems to be getting stronger or won’t go away no matter how much you take care of him through all of the treatment ideas above, you should schedule him in with his vet so that they can see if something more serious is possibly going on. You’ll also want to contact your vet immediately if you notice that he’s got a fruity scent, as this is almost always linked to diabetes (unless you know he’s had a lick of frosting or something like that).


Most Frenchie parents are surprised to find out that bad breath can be linked to so many issues. In humans, it’s so mundane and normal that we don’t think about it. That’s why a proper understanding of bad breath and your doggo is going to help make sure that everyone stays healthy, happy and fresh. All the more snuggle time for you and your French Bulldog!

Photo of author
Sara Santos

Writer, Editor and member of the Council, I am a dog person and I thrive to get the answers that will help you provide the best care a dog can have. You can also find me on my personal blog here.