Are Stairs Bad for French Bulldogs? Risks, Training, and Life-Saving Tips

Most of the time, we laugh when a friend falls over even before they get themselves together to get back up again, but we panic when our kids, and in this case, our dogs, fall over. And anyone who has French Bulldogs knows that stairs are a danger in the house.

Frenchies are small and not very flexible dogs, which makes them fall risk, and with all the health problems French Bulldogs have, falling off the stairs is a very dangerous thing for them.

So, are Stairs bad for French Bulldogs? Stairs are bad for French Bulldogs and it is very dangerous for French Bulldogs to climb up or down the stairs at almost any age. French Bulldogs have short legs, broad shoulders, and stocky bodies which makes them more prone to falling while going up and downstairs.

Stairs are just bad news for Bulldogs in general, but especially so for French Bulldogs.

Not only are do their short legs make it very difficult for them to climb up or down the stairs, but their stocky bodies also make it very easy for them to topple over, making it very difficult for your French Bulldog to keep balance while going up or down the stairs.

To understand the dangers of stairs on your Frenchies, what you need to do about it, and how you can mitigate these risks and keep your Frenchie safe at all ages, keep on reading…

Stairs Problems and Dangers for French Bulldogs

frenchie standing on stair to show why are stairs bad for french bulldogs

Yes, stairs can indeed be dangerous to French Bulldogs – puppies and adults alike. That’s because it has nothing to do with the dog’s age, the stairs, or the height, it has to do with the breed itself and their build.

Falling off the stairs is not the only stairs-related injury that can happen to your French Bulldog, unfortunately. Climbing up or down the stairs is quite difficult on your French Bulldog and it puts a lot of strain on their small bodies, which can result in all kinds of problems in itself.

The body of the French Bulldog is ill-equipped to handle stairs well. Going up and down stairs requires a certain kind of balance that the bodies of French Bulldogs find very difficult to achieve. To understand more, I need to explain what happens when they move.

Why French Bulldogs Have Terrible Balance

French Bulldogs have short legs with small travel distances, this makes their steps small and not enough to give them the required balance to shift their weights from one step to another. This is unlike us, humans, who have long legs that give us comfortable travel distances and allow us to shift our weight swiftly from one step to the next.

French Bulldogs also have broad shoulders, which means their center of gravity is relatively high compared to their bodies, which makes them more prone to toppling over.

Basically, when you are moving, the center of your body’s weight is called the center of gravity, and it moves around with each movement you make. However, to keep balance while moving in any direction, the imaginary vertical line you draw from your center of gravity to the ground should fall between your feet.

If it doesn’t, you are more likely to lose balance quickly since your body’s weight is no longer evenly distributed on your legs. This is why French Bulldogs are more prone to falling off while climbing down the stairs or even running. Their upper body is wider and heavier than their legs can support during such movements.

Health and Joint Issues in French Bulldogs

French Bulldogs are more prone to bone and joint issues such as arthritis and hip dysplasia, and they become more prone to them as they get older.

French Bulldogs with these problems will also find it hard to run or simply get around the house without assistance, and climbing up surfaces or simply walking on slippery surfaces can cause them great pain.

For Young Puppies, climbing the stairs can be a difficult exercise that puts strain on their bodies. Unfortunately, if this training is done earlier than it should or in the wrong way, it can lead the dog to develop going and hip deformities that may be permanent and impossible to heal later in their lives.

French Bulldog Puppies should be introduced to stairs, though, and we’ll discuss how to do that later in the article.

For Senior Frenchies, they will also start losing their vision and hearing, which means they are going to stumble and fall over more. So, even if your French Bulldog has been able to climb the stairs all their lives, there will come a moment when you will find out they can no longer do it just as easily as before.

IVDD in French Bulldogs

Walking up or down stairs is an intense exercise for French Bulldogs, and it can lead to serious accidents if they do it too roughly or if they fall over. one of these risks is developing IVDD, and french Bulldogs that put more strain on their bodies climbing up or down stairs that are not designed for small dogs can make them more prone to IVDD.

French Bulldogs are especially prone to developing intervertebral disk disease, referred to as IVDD.

Basically, your dog’s back is similar to humans. They have vertebrae that are protected by the spinal cord that transmits information between the dog’s legs and brain.

In between each pair of vertebrae is an intervertebral disc that is kind of looks like a jelly donut.  The disc has an inner soft jelly-like part and an outer donut-like part.  Intervertebral discs serve as spacers and cushions between your dog’s back and neck bones.

In French Bulldogs. this jelly-like inside part can come out of the donut-like part at high speed and hits the spinal cord, which causes bruising, swelling, and compresses the spinal cord. This can make the dog unable to walk completely.

Since IVDD is so common in Frenchies, every French Bulldog owner needs to know what the symptoms are, as with any disease, early diagnosis can make it much easier to treat it and reverse its effects.


Here are the symptoms of a slipped disk in your dog’s back include:

  • Holding the head low
  • Crying out
  • Not wating to look up or lift the head
  • Excessive panting
  • Spasming of the neck muscles
  • Unable to walk normally, and walking wobbly or drunk in all legs.
  • Stumbling and falling consistently
  • Unable to walk completely, unable to move legs at all.

Symptoms of a slipped disk in the back include:

  • Crying out, especially when picked up
  • Reluctant or refusal to jump
  • Back pain
  • Tense belly
  • Walking wobbly or drunk in the rear limbs
  • They may scuff their toes or criss-corss their limbs
  • Unable to move rear limbs, dragging them around as they move.

How Vets Diagnose IVDD

The best way to diagnose IVDD in dogs is through an MRI as the symptoms can also be caused by a number of other causes including spinal tumors, infections, and malformations. X-rays can not diagnose IVDD alone, but they can help your vet look for other causes such as bony tumors or broken bones.


There are two ways in which IVDD is treated.

First Treatment: Rest and Medication

Crate rests and medication is the first and easier way in which IVDD is treated, and it is recommended for dogs with mild signs or dogs that are on the scale of 1 to 3 on the IVDD scale.

Here, the dog should be confined to a small crate where they can have a bed, food, and some toys that they can’t play too roughly with. The idea is to limit their movements and stop any sudden movements.

The dog can get outside the crate for 5-10 minutes for short walks on a leash and harness. Make sure to check out what leashes can and can’t be used with French Bulldogs here to ensure the leash you use isn’t causing them more harm.

Along with rest, the vet will recommend anti-inflammatory meds, muscle relaxants, pain meds, and other medications as they see necessary for your dog’s situation.

Second IVDD treatment: Surgery

The second treatment is surgery, which is reserved for dogs higher up on the IVDD scale. It is used for dogs that have more difficulty walking, unable to walk completely, or those in severe pain. It can also be used in case the dog doesn’t show improvements or their case deteriorates with medication and rest.

How successful are the treatments for IVDD in French Bulldogs?

Successful treatment is actually possible for most French Bulldogs with IVDD, but of course, there are many factors that can determine the likelihood of success in your Frenchie’s case. Some of these factors include early diagnosis, the severity of the symptoms, and the treatment option selected.

Here is a direct quote fromSevneurogoly that explains it perfectly:

Dogs that are painful, walking wobbly, or even unable to walk but still able to FEEL the limbs have about a 55-60% chance of getting better with crate rest and medications.  Those same dogs have about a 95% chance of getting better with surgery. However, dogs that are unable to FEEL the limbs have only a 5% chance of getting better with rest and medications and only a 50% chance of getting better with surgery.

And here is a great infographic showing the stats of the IVDD outcomes with different treatments:

Feel free to check out the sources section for the links to their website and other sources on IVDD.

To conclude on a more hopeful note, here is a Story of a French Bulldog that was diagnosed with IVDD and was able to walk again: (beware, there are some scenes from the surgical operation itself, which some can find difficult)

How amazing was it that despite that his case was considered severe that he was not only walking by the end of the video, but he was actually playing around and jumping?

Preventing IVDD in French Bulldogs

As a French Bulldog owner, there are some things you can do to minimize the risk of your Frenchie developing all IVDD.

  • Use a harness instead of a collar. A padded, soft-mesh harness like this one (amazon link) will not put the stress a collar can on their neck or back.
  • Control their diet. Obesity can put a lot of strain on your dog’s muscles and bones and make them more prone to devloping issues like IVDD. Control their diet and never give them tablescraps. Keep an eye on their weight as well and check with your vet if needed.
  • Stop them from Jumping. French Bulldogs LOVE to jump on their owners, but this is quite bad for their health. Train your Frenchie to stop jumping to avoid the stress.
  • Use ramps and stairs made for French Bulldogs. They will minimize the strain on your dog’s body. More on that later in the article.
  • Do not spay or neuter until they’re fully grown. Early spaying or neutering can have health benefits, but if done too early, it can stunt their growth and put them at risk of bone cancer, hip dysplasia, and IVDD.

Stairs Made for French Bulldogs

I highly recommend getting a ramp or stairs that are made specifically for French Bulldogs. We’ll discuss ramps later, but for stairs, I’ve tested a few of them, and if you are like me, and you Frenchie loves to cuddle with you on the bed or even sleep with you in the same bed, then you should absolutely get them specialized stairs.

There are plenty of affordable options on Amazon, and frankly, most of them are good enough, but the one I’ve been using the most and my Frenchie seems to love so much that I even bought another one for the couch downstairs and it looks like I may be buying one for every room soon enough is the one from PetSafe.

The steps are an easy height for my Frenchies to go up and down those stairs, the surfaces are non-slippers and very grippy, and the stairs are lightweight so I can move them around when I want very easily yet they are surprisingly stable.

I have tested a few options, but the best one by far to be used inside the house is the one from PetSafe.

The incline is just perfect for my bulldogs to go up and down the ramp easily, its quite grippy so they almost never slip on it, and it stays clean. It’s really well-made and the styling is actually quite elegant and nice.

I have tested a few options, but the best one by far to be used inside the house is the one from PetSafe.

The incline is just perfect for my bulldogs to go up and down the ramp easily, its quite grippy so they almost never slip on it, and it stays clean. It’s really well-made and the styling is actually quite elegant and nice.

Can French Bulldogs Go Up and Down Stairs?

French Bulldogs can go up and down the stain if trained properly when young. Going downstairs for your Frenchie is trickier as it requires more control and balance. Introducing your French Bulldog to stairs at a younger age and training them correctly can help them a lot in handling stairs better.

When Can French Bulldogs Go up and Down Stairs?

French Bulldog puppies can be introduced to stairs when they’re 12 weeks old. Introduce your French Bulldog to stairs gradually and slowly so you never put a strain on their bones or muscles. Always supervise your Frenchie when they’re trying to climb up and downstairs and be ready to intervene to stop them from falling over or slipping.

Do French Bulldogs Need Ramps?

French Bulldogs need ramps as they have almost no impact on their bones and will basically eliminate the health risks associated with going up or downstairs. Ramps are easier for your Frenchie to climb up or down and they make it less likely to fall or slip than stairs.

How to train your French Bulldog to climb stairs

Here is an easy way to train your French Bulldog to go up and down the stairs easily:

  1. Start with steps that have the least height
  2. Make sure the steps are grippy and obstacle-free
  3. Use positive reinforcement – Give them treats when they go up and down successfully
  4. Be very close at the beginning to catch them if they slip or fall
  5. As they get better at it, start to get further and further away
  6. Teach them to pace themselves. Stop them if they get too excited and don’t give treats. You don’t want them jumping up or down the stairs and falling over.
  7. Be patient, consistent, and don’t get discouraged easily.
  8. Make their training a life-long process. Repeat the training process every 6 months to a year to keep it fresh in their minds.

Dog Breeds that Can Handle Stairs Easily

Here are some dog breeds that can handle your house’s stairs much more easily than French Bulldogs.

  1. Cavalier King Charles spaniel 
  2. Pug
  3. Japanese chin 
  4. Shih Tzu 
  5. Pekingese 
  6. Shiba Inu 
  7. Chihuahua 
  8. whippet
  9. Beagle 

So, if you have a house that has stairs everywhere and you are not 1000% committed to getting a French Bulldog, you should choose from these breeds as they will have an easier time moving around the house with no problem.

10 Essential Stair Safety Tips for French Bulldogs

Here are some safety tips that can make stairs, and your house in general, much safer for your French Bulldog:

  1. Install Dog Ramps – They’re the only non-impact surfaces for your Frenchie and they will basically eliminate the risks
  2. Put grip surfaces on your stairs (and floors) – Use carpets, rubbized runners, and other grippy materials on your stairs and floors to stop them from falling over or slipping
  3. Use French Bulldog Carriers – they’re like backpacks for your Frenchies, and you can use them while shopping or travelling to keep your Frenchie safe. Check my recommendation after the tips.
  4. Always keep an eye on their weight. A healthy diet can prevent obesity, but obesity can be caused by other health issues. Keep an eye on their weight and keep track of it so you and your vet can identify problems early on.
  5. Train them to stop jumping early on.
  6. Use harnesses instead of collars and leashes . They’re easier on their bones.
  7. Make sure all stairs are well-lit. Visiibility can significantly minimize the risks of falling.
  8. Limit the need for moving up and downstairs. Keep all your dogs’ stuff like their bed and feeding area downstairs and try to spend more time there so they don’t need to go upstairs in the first place.
  9. Use gates. French Bulldogs can be a bit stubborn and a bit clingy. They may want to follow you upstairs despite their training and your warnings. In this case, you can simply use a kid or dog gate to prevent them from following you. Find recommendations later.
  10. Carry your dog. If your dog must go up or down stairs, the safest solution is to just carry them. You should also carry them in shopping malls or public spaces where it’s much more difficult for them to climb up or down on their own. Dogs on meds or that have recently had surgery should also be carried.

As for the carrier, you can find plenty of them on Amazon, and I’ve tested a couple of them, but the best one I’ve tried by far, and the one I’m currently using is the one from Hankelion. It’s Airline-approved, it’s very easy to use, it gives your dog access to fresh air all the time, and it’s easy to cushion more to make it more comfortable for your Frenchie.

You can learn more about it by clicking on the image below or by using the button under it:

For the stair gates, I always have one installed when I have a new puppy or when I’m training them on something, or when there are simply too many kids upstairs.

My favorite lately has been the Tokkidas gate for babies and kids, it’s high enough to stop them from even trying to jump (because I have other dogs as well that love to jump), and it’s really well made, so it’s easy to install and easy to open and close. You can find it by clicking on the image below or the button under it.


Stairs and French Bulldogs don’t go well together, and stairs pose quite a lot of risks to your Frenchie that it’s definitely worth spending time and effort training your dog and changing things around the house to make it easier for them whether that’s by installing ramps or gates.

The more effort you spend on making it easier for your French Bulldog to go around and minimize the risk of them slipping or falling, the better your dog’s chances will be in living a healthy and issue-free life.

Related Questions

Is it bad for French Bulldogs to Jump?

It is bad for French Bulldogs to jump as it puts a lot of strain on their bones and make them prone to issues like IVDD, soft tissue injuries, and hip dysplasia. Young Frenchies’ jumping can also lead to deformities that may be very difficult to treat later in life. You should train your French Bulldog to stop jumping early in their life to minimize these risks.

Is it bad for Frenchies to go up and down stairs?

It is bad for Frenchies to go up and down stairs that were not made specifically for French Bulldogs. Stairs can be difficult for all French Bulldogs and potentially dangerous as well. Going downstairs is often more difficult for French Bulldogs and Frenchies are more likely to lose balance and fall when going downstairs.

How common is IVDD in French Bulldogs?

A 2017 Study found that IVDD affects 2% of all dogs, with some scientists estimating that around 10% of French Bulldogs get IVDD as Frenchies are much more likely to get it in comparison to other dog breeds. This number may even be conservative as the study conducted on 533 Frenchies found that 45.5% of them had IVDS (Hansen Type I Intervertebral disk herniation).

Helpful Resources

Canine chondrodystrophic intervertebral disc disease (Hansen type I disc disease)

Five Things Every French Bulldog Owner Needs to Know about IVDD

Stair Safety Tips for Dogs

Dog Breeds that can handle stairs

Does your dog need stairs or a ramp?

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