What is Luxating Patella French Bulldog?

French bulldogs are highly susceptible to developing some health-related conditions. Patellar luxation is one of those. This is actually a joint condition in canines in which there is significant pain. Sometimes symptoms are not present and you will only discover that your dog has it once it is already severe. But, how do you know if your Frenchie is already suffering from luxating patella French bulldog?

In this blog post, we will define the meaning of luxating patella in French bulldogs. We also have here the causes of this condition and the symptoms that you will have to look for so that you will know if your dog has it. Here are also some tips and appropriate treatment that you may consider doing.

Luxating Patella French Bulldog – Its Definition

Luxating Patella French Bulldog

For us to understand deeper what is luxating patella French bulldog is, let us first define what this condition is all about. Normally, you can find a patella or kneecap at the groove on the tip of either the femur or thighbone. On the other hand, when we speak of luxating, it means dislocated or out of place. With this, once the kneecap tends to be out of its normal place, the dog generally suffers from the luxating patella.

Most of the time, pet owners of small dog breeds like the French bulldog are frequently noticing a small skip over their pooch’s step. This tiny skip is somewhat similar to that of the gait of Charlie Chaplin. Although that cute hop seems funny and entertaining for us, dogs experience the painfulness from this little skip. That skip is actually a great indication of luxating patella French bulldog which may eventually call for surgical treatment.

In professional terms, this dog’s condition is known as patellar luxation. For veterinarians, this is actually a more complex issue compared to the knee bones attached to the thigh bone of the French bulldog. Patella is basically the kneecap of the canine and the moment it luxates in the most complicated part of the knee joint, there will be an occurrence of knee dislocation.

Moreover, one of the functions of the patella is as a pulley providing an elevation to stretch out the knee of the Frenchie as it walks. Experiencing a malfunction on this “pulley system”, the French bulldog may suffer from the devastating symptoms of patellar luxation. The trick knee is the medical term used for these symptoms in Frenchies.  

Symptoms and Clinical Grade of Luxating Patella in French Bulldog

Basically, luxating patella French bulldog involves 4 clinical grades of severity. You will actually notice that each grade shows the same and even distinct symptoms. Frenchies skipping during the step at it runs is one of the most noticeable indications of a luxating patella French bulldog. Aside from that, some owners may observe or feel a pop within the knee joint of their Frenchies as they hold it.

The following are the clinical grades of patellar luxation in canines with their associated signs and symptoms.


French bulldogs who are in Grade 1 of luxating patella do not feel any pain. Usually, there will be a dislocation of the kneecaps from their original place. The good thing is that it is highly manageable and can be placed back into its normal position once the legs of the Frenchies are stretched out.

Most of the time, the veterinarian only tends to find out luxating patella French bulldog in Grade 1 once being incidentally examined. Moreover, the vet may not have a clear result of its clinical symptoms.


You will actually know if the French bulldog has Grade 2 patellar luxation due to its less stable knees. Although the kneecap can be put back into the groove through a massage, yet it will still pop out the moment the knees are flexed manually.

 And as time goes, some Frenchies who have Grade 2 patellar luxation may develop pain and, at the same time, arthritis. The French bulldog may also look lame. There will also be cartilage damage because of the continuous luxation.  


The problems of a luxating patella French bulldog in Grade 3 are more pronounced. There will also be persistent pain or changes in the arthritic condition of the doggo. Most often than not, the kneecap is dislocated on the joint.

Although it can still be placed back in its original place through the implementation of manual pressure, yet luxation immediately begins once the pressure is removed. A symptom of luxation patella that is already in Grade 3 includes more pain and extra lameness.


Luxating Patella French Bulldog

Grade 4 luxating patella French bulldog has kneecaps that do not remain in the grooves even for just a while. Usually, Frenchies suffering from this grade of luxation have a difficult time walking. There will be joint damage and that doggo who already suffer from it for about a couple of years may suffer from pain. They will also have a progression of arthritis and degenerative disease of the joint.

You will see Frenchies walking with crouching stances and stand up with a knock-knee in which the toes are pointed inward. Lameness, impaired mobility, and decreased function of the limb are the symptoms associated with Grade 4 luxating patella French bulldog.


French bulldogs may likely develop this condition at the early stage of their life especially the Grade 3 and Grade 4 luxation. However, it will not yet be diagnosed by a veterinarian until the Frenchies reach middle age. Usually, veterinarians just diagnosed luxating patella French bulldog during their age of about 6 months and above. Unfortunately, serious defects are already noticeable as early as 8 to 10 weeks.

How does this Condition Occur in Frenchies?

The occurrence of luxating patella primarily involves the role of genetics. If you will notice, smaller dog breeds including the French bulldogs are the ones highly susceptible to this joint problem compared to others. In some particular dog breeds in which short legs are extreme, patellar luxation generally occurs secondary to the shape abnormality of the tibia and femur.

Moreover, according to some veterinary surgeons, 7 percent of puppies are having luxating patella due to traumatic injury of the dog’s knee. In addition to that, particular knee abnormalities may result in the development of luxating patella. And these are the following:

  • Extended lateral patellar ligament

This is actually the most common abnormality of the French bulldog’s knee that may cause luxation. Normally, this issue is a natural-born problem of the Frenchie pup. Just a single knee may appear affected most of the time, yet both knees of the French bulldog share some level of problem.

  • Too shallow trochlear groove

The normal function of the kneecap so that it will not come out of its tract is that there should be a deep groove to manage the kneecap. Usually, kneecap or patella management is done once it moves in an upward and downward motion within the groove. Unfortunately, some Frenchies are born having an abnormally deep groove of the trochlear.

  • Attachment of the lower portion of the kneecap is farther than that of the inner part of the tibia

Usually, this is commonly seen on dog breeds with extremely short legs like the Dachshunds. The development of luxating patella before the maturity of the tibia makes it possible for the point of attachment to move inward. This will eventually create misalignment.

Diagnosing French Bulldog with Patellar Luxation

Initially, consulting the veterinarian is the first step to take if your French bulldog is suffering from the luxating patella. This is most likely applicable when your Frenchie is already showing signs of luxation:

  • Popping sounds on the knee area
  • Skipping
  • Yelling in pain as it runs

At the veterinarian’s clinic, he will take a look and examine the body of your Frenchie. There will be an application of gentle pressure to the French bulldog’s kneecap. This will be conducted through the pressing of two thumbs as the dog’s knee is still stretched out.

Afterward, the veterinarian will have to identify the degree of severity of the luxating patella in your French bully. Along with it, the vet will also try to determine if there is an occurrence of arthritic changes.

To fully come up with the appropriate diagnosis, the veterinarian may also perform more tests on your French bulldog. X-rays may also be requested by the vet. Moreover, the following tests may also be conducted so that the vet may be able to recommend the most appropriate treatment.

  • Assessment of ligament damage by knee palpation which is under sedation
  • Evaluation of the shape of the bones on the closer leg by performing radiographs of the dog’s knee, pelvis, and even tibias, if needed
  • Ruling out the issue of hip dysplasia
  • Plan a surgery once an image of the rear legs skeleton is already provided with the help of 3D Computed Tomography
  • Take precautions before anesthesia by checking the blood chemistry profile and urine analysis of the French bulldog

Possible Treatments for Luxating Patella

Well, the treatment of luxating patella in French bulldogs highly depends on the clinical grade of this condition as mentioned earlier. The methods of treatment usually cover a conservative medical approach up to the most comprehensive surgical process.

Treatment of Grade 1 and Grade 2 Patellar Luxation

  • Administration of pain and anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Weight management
  • Restriction of exercise
  • Physical rehabilitation therapy – aids in rebuilding the dog’s muscular strength and return into normal activities
  • Surgery – usually for Grade 2 degree of severity associated with relative pain due to cartilage damage

Moreover, here are the most common surgical procedures conducted for the treatment of luxating patella:

  • Deepening of the groove within the femur wherein the kneecap stays
  • Placing the joint attachment in a lateral position into the shinbone
  • Reinforcing the structures of the soft tissue of the knee joints

Wearing of soft bandage or brace is highly recommendable so that healing takes place appropriately. Covering of the surgically treated area should last for about 3 to 5 days. Restriction of exercise should also be observed for around 4 to 8 weeks after surgery. Within this time, the French bulldog should walk in a limitedly short time on a leash.

Although Grade 2 luxation can also be managed even without surgery, an appropriate surgery is still necessary for some time. That can actually keep the luxation from developing further. Moreover, if the surgery is not successful, the French bulldog will still suffer from pain within its leg.

Treatment of Grade 3 and Grade 4 Patellar Luxation

Generally, these degrees of severity also call for surgery. However, it is important to clear out any joint problems that may also be a contributing factor to the French bulldog’s pain. Keep in mind that surgical attention is actually crucial at this point in Frenchie’s life. Because if left untreated, this condition may worsen and may make it hard for the dog to walk.

Surgeries under these two degrees of severity of luxation are divided into three categories:

1-Lateral Imbrication or Lateral Reinforcement

Once the kneecap removes out from the groove, there will be stretching out of the joint capsule. This surgical method of imbrication basically entails the removing of a tuck within the said joint capsule. The moment the joint capsule is being tightened, it will not permit any slipping motion of the kneecap. Along with that, the kneecap is already maintained into its correct groove.

2-Trochlear Modification

Usually, the patella joins inside a groove on the base part of the femur. In the French bulldogs, this said groove is actually shallow which permits the slipping of the patella. Once the groove is deep enough, the patella remains in its position. Moreover, hyaline cartilage is slippery lubricated cartilage that surrounds the normal femur groove.

For this surgical method, peeling or cutting away of the cartilage is crucial. With that, the bone below it is cut out from the groove that is deeper which will then give way for the replacement of the cartilage.

3-Tibial Crest Transposition

Generally, the rotation of tibias will occur once the knock-knee conformation started to take place. With this, there will be an inward migration of the crest on the tibia. So, to deal with it, removal of the crest and pinning it back to its location is recommendable. The objective for this is to straighten out the leg of the Frenchie.

More complicated rotation of the tibias requires cutting within the entire bone and rotating it back into its original position. After surgery, the Frenchie will have to follow some time of recovery. The following are helpful tips that you need to follow if your Frenchie undergoes this kind of surgical procedure:

  • Restriction of exercise
  • Use a leash for walking outdoors
  • Giving tranquilizers if the Frenchie is hard to tame provided that it the vet recommends it
  • Wearing of Elizabethan collar to prevent the French bulldog from chewing over the stitches
  • Antibiotic medications to combat infection

Frequently Asked Questions


A: Basically, the answer is yes. Puppies can generally grow out of this joint condition in canines. This is just a kneecap that slides in and there are instances that it can be pop back.


A: Usually, dogs suffering from luxating patella may cry out due to severe or extreme pain. As time goes, this dislocation of the kneecap may become arthritic alterations within the knee, absence of motion, and pain.


A: Dogs suffering from luxating patella generally have an abnormality in the movement of the hindlimb. There is also lameness and the dog may feel discomfort.

Final Words

Smaller dog breeds including the French bulldog may suffer from the luxating patella. This is a condition in which there is kneecap dislocation. Usually, the symptoms of this dog joint condition depend on the degree of severity. In the milder form, patellar luxation may not involve any symptoms at all. However, once it gets more severe, more pain is present and surgical treatment is highly necessary.

Do your French bulldog already suffered from luxating patella? What are the appropriate approach and treatments that you implement to help him rule out this condition? Your thoughts are highly welcome here!