French Bulldog Reverse Sneezing – What You Should Know

French Bulldog Reverse sneezing

There are so many loveable features about a French Bulldog that will make you smile, laugh, and chronicle his every move. That being said, one of the “not so loveable features” is the dreaded reverse sneeze. If you’re a new Frenchie owner or you want to know about this quirky Frenchie trait, take a look here at what reverse sneezing is, what you should know about it, and how to get it to stop happening in your Frenchie.

As far as what you should know about reverse sneezing in French Bulldogs, there are a few details. Reverse sneezing is a common issue with the French Bulldog breed and it can vary as far as how often it happens, how long it happens, and its causes.

Reverse sneezing doesn’t have an exact known cause but this is a common issue in Frenchies because of the shortened snouts and their status as a brachycephalic breed (just a fancy term that means they have a short head). You’ll want to make time to know its role in your Frenchie’s health and to understand the triggers and the solutions, too!

What is reverse sneezing in French Bulldogs?

As strange as it seems when we think about sneezing in humans, reverse sneezing is exactly what it sounds like: a sneeze that operates in reverse. A sneeze, normally, is when you push air (and particles) out of your nasal passages and out into the room. A reverse sneeze is when you, instead, suck in air (and particles). It’s literally a sneeze in reverse!

French Bulldogs commonly have a problem with reverse sneezing. Since Frenchies are a brachycephalic dog breed, meaning they have a short head, they are more at risk of reverse sneezing. While the exact cause of reverse sneezing isn’t known, many specialists think that it has something to do with the elongated soft palate. Since there is less space in their head shape with their scrunched up nose (squee!), Frenchies will occasionally suck in their soft palate and start reverse sneezing. 

Technically, any doggo out there can reverse sneeze, but it’s most common in those pups that have a scrunched face!

Why do French Bulldogs reverse sneeze?

Puzzling and strange to hear, especially if you’re new the world of being a French Bulldog parent, there are a few reasons why your Frenchie might be reverse sneezing occasionally or fairly often. 

Dust or irritants from a carpet, blanket, etc

The most likely cause for reverse sneezing is that there are dust or other air-based irritants that are entering your Frenchie’s small, limited space and sensitive nasal cavity. Those dust particles will inflame their nose and cause them to go into a few fits of reverse sneezes. This is much like when humans sneeze after spending time in a dusty room.


As you may already know, French Bulldogs are fairly susceptible as a dog breed to having allergies. This could be dust, pollen, etc. Being around their allergen triggers can certainly cause a few rounds of reverse sneezing. This is most likely the case if you doggo starts up his sneezing in the spring when most pups (and humans) start to have an issue with allergies. 


You know better than anyone that Frenchies are oh so very excited about everything!  If your adorable Frenchie gets overexcited from visitors or playing or a walk, he’ll most likely accidentally suck in his palette and start himself into a fit of reverse sneezing. Since he’s running around and enjoying himself, he’s breathing harder and that can often create the perfect environment for reverse sneezing, too.

Fluctuating temperatures

Another cause of reverse sneezing in Frenchies could be a change in temperature. This could be as simple as going from an air-conditioned house to a warm backyard, or vice versa. This one can often be hard to separate from the other causes, but it’s something to think about, especially if your home has different temperatures within it!

Nasal mites

Frenchies can pick up nasal mites from dust, outdoor contaminants, and more. Since their noses and nasal passages are thought to be pretty sensitive to begin with, having those hanging around in his snuffly nose will make him more likely to reverse sneeze.

Is reverse sneezing dangerous for my French Bulldog?

You’ll be relieved to know that, as terrifying as it may be for us humans, and as uncomfortable and confused as your doggo may, it’s harmless!  Reverse sneezing is no different from regular sneezing in that respect. You can expect reverse sneezing to be a normal issue with your French Bulldog. There are a few things to keep in mind, though, as to when reverse sneezing may be an indication of a bigger problem! 


As already mentioned, a French Bulldog commonly will have a few allergens. If you notice a lot of sneezing centred around a certain time of year, combined with a runny nose, it could be an allergy. If you suspect it is, you’ll want to take him to a vet to get tested!

A cold or infection

A runny nose combined with reverse sneezing and lethargy is a sure sign that your doggo is under the weather with a cold or maybe even an infection. It’s a great idea to keep an eye on his food and bathroom habits and to take him to his vet (read: doctor) if you aren’t sure!

Cleft palate

A cleft palate can leave your doggo having more likelihood of infections as well as eating problems long-term. Excessive reverse sneezing with a runny nose, particularly when eating or drinking, could be a sign that your doggo has an undiagnosed cleft palette. 

When talking about a runny nose with your Frenchie, this is only referring to clear discharge. If the discharge has a color to it (green or yellow) or it’s streaked blood, it’s always something to take seriously!  Head to a vet when you can to make sure your furry friend is a-okay. 

How to stop my French Bulldog from reverse sneezing

Whether it wakes you up at night or you just don’t like to see your Frenchie struggle with the confusion and frustration of reverse sneezing, there are a few things that you can consider to help keep the reverse sneezing to a minimum. 

Keep the heat as even as possible

Since temperature can impact a Frenchie’s sensitive nose, try to keep the temperature as even as possible. If you can keep all rooms more or less the same temperature so that there are no sudden changes as he moves around the house from room to room. 

Regularly change and clean your dog’s bedding and keep the house clean

Since dust and other airborne contaminants are also some of the most likely causes of reverse sneezing, especially at night, make sure that you regularly wash and change his bedding. Also, do the same with your bedding (if he sleeps in your bed) and try to keep the house clean and dust-free. I know, I know: the things we do for our dogs!

Consider changing sleeping spots

If your French Bulldog does sleep in his bed at night and you’re changing the bedding normally, but still having an issue, it might be a good idea to consider changing his actual sleeping spot. Maybe there’s something in the room that’s causing a problem. For example, an air conditioner, heater or fan could each be causing just enough of a problem to give him discomfort. Even if you want him to sleep with you, remember that he hates being woken up by reverse sneezing as much as you!  Changing his spot could help make sure that everyone gets a good night’s rest. 

What do I do when my French Bulldog is reverse sneezing?

The moment comes where your Frenchie starts snorting. You look at him in panic, and he looks at you in panic. What do you do in the heat of the moment!?  There are a few things to help both of you get through these frightening little noises. 

Cover his nose

For just a few seconds, cover your doggo’s nostrils. Since the contaminants in his nasal tubes are often what cause the problem, blocking nose can force him to open his mouth instead and swallow down the contaminants. This means that he’ll have to be comfortable with you handling his snuffly nose, though!

Gently press on you Frenchie’s tongue

If that doesn’t help, take one finger and gently press it on your pooches tongue. This, too, forces him to swallow and can help stop a reverse sneeze in its tracks. Alternatively, consider swishing your finger across the top of his mouth if you don’t like to poke his tongue!

Massage your pooch’s throat

If you aren’t comfortable with a hand in his mouth, you can gently massage or rub his throat to encourage him to swallow and stop reverse sneezing. This can be done at any point in the sneezing process, just make sure you keep the pressure light. You can even tickle and scratch if you want to!

Encourage your Frenchie to take a chill pill

Regardless of the cause of the reverse sneezing, make sure that you get your Frenchie to calm down. Pet him slowly and gently and use a calm quiet voice to help him take his panic and/or excitement down a few notches. 

Keep yourself calm and reassuring

Just like you want to keep your pooch calm, you’ll also want to do the same thing. Doggos pick up on our energy remarkably well and they will panic and fret if we, as their parents, are panicking and fretting. Even if you feel trembly and terrified, push it aside and focus on keeping yourself still and calm.


If you’ve got a Frenchie in your household, reverse sneezing is something that you will more than likely have to deal with a few times. While it can be an indicator of something more serious, especially when combined with other symptoms, more often than not is just a characteristic of Frenchie’s life that you’ll all be able to laugh about when it’s over. 

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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.