French Bulldog Head Tremors – What Is It And Should I Be Worried?

French bulldog head tremors can be scary if you are not familiar with them. If you notice your Bulldog shaking its head, go to your veterinarian, as it could be the sign of a serious illness.

Head tremors affect all dog breeds and are characterized by a dog moving its head or up and down and side to side without having any control. Why a dog does this has not been established. It is therefore often called Idiopathic Head tremor.

Veterinarians are still studying why Bulldogs have head tremors. What they do know is that the condition is linked to several conditions like calcium deficiency, cerebellum damage, toxins, canine distemper, hypoglycemia, and kidney issues. Some initial research also blames stress as a factor contributing to this disease.

How Long Is A Typical Tremor?

A usual episode of head tremors should not last longer than 3 – 4 minutes. Unfortunately, seizure medicines do not work, so a dog owner is left with distracting the attention of the pet with a treat or toy.

There are two types of shaking observable in your Bulldog. Tremors are characterized by a quick jerky, bobbing, and smaller tremor movement. Shaking on the other hand involves a bigger head movement that is more obvious. At times the whole body moves along.

French Bulldog Head Tremor Causes

Here are some known reasons why French bulldogs shake their head

Your French Bulldog Has Water in the Ear

Bulldogs can easily get water trapped in their ears. Their erect ears are a water magnet. If you just gave it a bath, there is a good probability that it is shaking its head to get rid of any excess water. Knowing this, try not to get water in their ears as they could be shake their head to get it out.

Do not make the mistake of pouring water directly onto your dog’s head during a bath.  Just wash from the neck downward, and wiping the head area with a wet cloth will do.

A French Bulldog Head Tremor Could Be Due To Ear infection

This dog breed is very susceptible to ear infections. Their pointy ears attract all kinds of unwanted debris. It is therefore vital you clean them regularly. An initial symptom of an ear infection will usually be scratching of their ears. Following that will be the head shaking.

A Foreign Object Is In the Ear

Although not a common situation, foreign objects can get stuck in your Frenchie’s ear canal. I have seen a neighbor’s French Bulldog start head-shaking quite violently, with no obvious reason. They rushed the poor dog to the animal clinic. Once there, they found a little piece of plastic inside the ear. Apparently, the plastic item was placed inside by some mischievous kid.

An emergency home thing to do in this case is to use a flashlight to look in the dog’s ear. See if you can spot anything trapped in there. If your dog’s head shakes, it could be anything lodged inside, maybe even an insect-like a fly or ladybug.

Other Causes

Ear infections can arise quickly. The other identified causes are:

Hot Weather

Reactions products

Unclean ears

Ear allergies

Skin allergies

Common ear mites and fleas

The majority of French Bulldogs will jerk their heads because their ears are annoying them. Besides scratching, it is their other way of coping and attempting to remove whatever is causing the issue. Keep in mind that head shaking in itself, is normal, so long as it does not follow an unusual pattern or is prolonged.

There are a few kinds of ear infections that lead to head shaking. These include otitis, ear vasculitis, and ear hematomas.

Tremors Due To Underlying Conditions

Luckily, ear infections or objects in the ear, or simply water stuck are all easily treated. Unfortunately, there are more serious circumstances that could result in head tremors. As mentioned earlier in this post, the more common cases of head tremors in bulldogs have no known causes. This is referred to as being Idiopathic. Nevertheless, other types of head tremors exist and are thought to be caused by the following:

A disease of the Central Nervous system

Head trauma or injury on the head

Calcium deficiency


Plants or chemical toxins

Swelling of the Brain

Kidney problems

Low blood sugar

Hereditary or genetic issues

Imbalances of electrolytes

Bulldog owners identified some idiopathic head tremor causes that are highly suspicious. They are the following:

Post tick treatment

Females Bulldogs undergoing heat cycle

Post heartworm medication routine

Triggered by food

Excessive stress

When Tremors Become Worrisome

The majority of French Bulldogs will shake their head occasionally to dislodge a thing out of their ear. They will also do it to satisfy an urge to scratch. If you have observed your dog shake his head when playing, you will notice a similar vigorousness when they have an itchy ear. As you see the shaking begins, try and distract it. If you are successful, it is a good sign that there is nothing too serious.

Head shaking only becomes a problem when it becomes involuntary. If you see recurring head shaking that does not go away, time to see the veterinarian.

French Bulldog Head Tremors Are Very Manageable

French Bulldog Head Tremors and Shaking

Head tremors are entirely different from mere head shaking. This can point towards a serious health condition; hence, it is vital to understand the difference between a tremor and a harmless shake. A lot of the time there is no known cause for head tremors, and as the medical experts say, it could be totally idiopathic.

This involuntary head tremor is likened to human’s suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. It has also been noted that it is more common in middle-aged to older Bulldogs. While little is known, head tremors are due to many reasons. The best thing to do is to get the dog examined to rule out a bigger health issue.

More Head Tremor Facts

Head tremors typically last a few minutes. The dog will look like it is bobbing its head up and down or side to side in quick, jerky motions. It should not last longer than 3 minutes if it is a benign shake.

Unfortunately, head tremors are more prevalent in bulldog breeds. In fact, studies have shown that idiopathic head tremors were observed in 38% of bulldogs.  It is likewise believed that these head tremors are not a cause of discomfort. 

It may appear very disturbing to look at, but head tremors of the idiopathic kind are devoid of pain. The only distress possible is the shaking could keep your Bulldog awake. It could also be prudent to move the dog to a safer place where it cannot harm itself in case it accidentally bangs its head on something.

Benign head tremors can be stopped with creative distraction strategies. Many pet owners have shared that their Bulldogs snapped out of a tremor episode quicker when distracted. Yell their name, flash a toy, or give a dog treat and hopefully, they might snap out of the shaking.

Most veterinarians tell owners not to panic. Reacting adversely could lead to your Bulldog feeling even more stressed out. Remember that dogs are very sensitive to our feelings. They will already have a degree of anxiety, as they are well aware of what is going on. Just remain under control and hopefully, your sensitive dog will mirror your calm composure.

Diagnosis of French Bulldog Head Tremors

A seasoned veterinarian will perform a proper and accurate diagnosis if certain symptoms are observed in your Bulldog. He or she will also have to discern if these symptoms are not pointing to other diseases that share common signs. Many similar symptoms could occur in other illnesses like brain tumors, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders.

This makes the evaluation very tricky, if not delicate. Try your best to fully trust your dog health care expert. You must entrust the issue to their hands, as their experience will ensure no misdiagnosis. Also, expect the possibility that a vet could keep your French bulldog on maintenance medications for the rest of its life.

Finally, you could be of great assistance as the owner by sharing what you have observed. Try to help in the diagnosis process if you made observations like how long the tremors last, or share videos of the episodes if you took some.

Treatment of French Bulldog Head Tremors

There is no treatment for head tremors if it is Idiopathic in nature. This is good news since the shaking does not risk the life of your Bulldog. The episodes will usually taper off with age. The best thing to do is to be guided by the advice provided in this post.

Whilst, on the other hand, other kinds of head tremors with known causes are treatable. The management will depend on the cause suspected or diagnosed by your veterinarian. The treatment may vary, from a surgical procedure or medical cocktails, perhaps even lifetime medication.

Medical Treatment of French Dog Head Tremors

A medical treatment approach involves the prescription of drugs. It will be the remedy in cases such as cerebellum conditions. This is fortunately treatable with drugs like Potassium bromide, diazepam, phenobarbital, or immunosuppressive doses of corticosteroids.

Furthermore, if the French bulldog’s head tremor is due to ingestion of toxins or poison, the veterinarian will quickly give an emetic to induce flushing. An antidote will also be administered. IV fluids to prevent dehydration will likewise form part of the treatment. Kidney disorders are also treatable by medication.

Surgical Treatment of French Dog Head tremors

A doctor will resort to surgical procedures when the Bulldog has cerebellum damage or CNS condition. Certain kidney condition will also necessitate going under the knife.

Dog Medical Insurance

Just like all dog breeds, your French bulldog is predisposed to its fair share of medical risks. It is thus wise and prudent to have medical insurance for your dog. This will save you a lot of anxiety, not to mention money. Let us face it. Caring for a dog is not cheap.

Health issues always happen quickly and unexpectedly, creating more stress. You certainly do not want to break your wallet, or worse, have to get funds meant for other purposes.

What Else Can You Do?

Besides your veterinarian’s valiant efforts to treat your dog, there are many things you can do during these episodes to put it at ease.  Make sure your dog’s safety is guaranteed by removing objects near it that can cause harm. Also, as mentioned earlier, make sure it sleeps in a place where it cannot fall.

Always remember that during a head tremor attack, your beloved French bulldog is not in pain. A good thing to do is try to document the shaking with your smartphone in case you have to show it to your veterinarian.

How to Stop Head Tremors in Bulldogs

Once again, here are some gentle reminders on how to mitigate the head tremors. Simply distract the dog with a toy or treat. The point is to attract their attention. You could also start obedience training sessions. Shifting their focus helps the dogs regain control of their head movements. Ask the bulldog to sit and reward its obedience with a treat.

Be patient and keep your Bulldog’s attention on other things with commands and rewards until the tremor halts. Remember, be calm and composed during an episode. That smart French bulldog will sense your anxiety and mirror you. This will not be helpful at all.

Also, try some touch therapy by massaging the dog’s head and back. This approach seems to work for many bulldogs. Likewise, try supplementing with calcium to your dog’s diet, as this can help.

Other Things to Know in French Bulldog Head Tremors

At present, the employment of seizure medications is a controversial medical issue. Some vets resort to this when Bulldog has shaking episodes. These seizures are not related to the symptoms of Idiopathic head tremors. Some doctors formerly manage tremors with these medications. They stopped it as a treatment option due to the ongoing debate for its use.

It must be reiterated that there is no known treatment. It is so important to underscore this fact. There are only treatments for idiopathic head tremors triggered by other causes. If the symptoms do not deteriorate, there is no reason to be worried. However, if you observe “a whole lotta shakin’ going on” (sorry for the joke, some humor helps when the subject is serious) perhaps it is time for a vet visit.  Solicit your doctor’s advice and assistance and take it from there.

No Need To Panic Over French Bulldog Head Tremors

In Conclusion

Head tremors by themselves should not cause you to worry. As discussed earlier, it could be an entirely benign occurrence. Unfortunately, we all cannot stop our bulldog’s head from shaking for no reason. Luckily, your bulldog ultimately gets out of these episodes. Whenever this happens just give your lovable pet some TLC.


  • Brad

    Hi I'm Brad, the founder of Having been a vet of 6 years I work alongside our team to provide valuable insight into your dog's health. I have a frenchie myself named Senzu who is my pride and joy!

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