A scientific word for a dog who is flatter faced, shorter nosed and whose bottom jaw is longer than the upper making the jaw look like it is sticking out. Over the years, brachycephalic breeds have become increasingly popular with their big eyes and round faces. However, despite this they can sometimes have health problems relating to their unusual face appearance.
• English Bulldog
• French Bulldog
• American Bulldog
• Shar Pei
• Dogue de Bordeaux
• Shih Tzu
• Boston Terrier
• Lhasa Apso
• King Charles Spaniel
• Neapolitan Mastiff
• Brussels Griffon
• Cane Corso
• Japanese Chin
Before purchasing a brachycephalic breed you should be aware of any potential health issues that they can be susceptible to and watch out for any warning signs of ill health and contact your vet immediately. These breeds can suffer with disturbed sleep, heatstroke, skin infections and gain weight quite quickly. Although, not all brachycephalic breeds can suffer with health problems, these are the issues to look out for.
The most common breathing problem in these breeds is Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), also known as Brachycephalic Syndrome, and this affects their ability to breathe normally.
Reasons BOAS Causes Breathing Problems:
- Dogs take in oxygen through their nose and mouth. Some brachycephalic dogs can have narrow nostrils which can make inhaling more difficult.
- Due to their shorter muzzle bones in the skull they have more soft tissue and skin around the mouth, nose and throat - meaning that their airway is narrower or partially blocked as the tissue squeezes into a smaller space.
- Their windpipes can sometimes be deformed and narrowed, meaning less oxygen is taken in with each breath.
- Dogs don’t sweat and regulate body temperature through panting. Unlike longer muzzle dogs, brachycephalic breeds cannot draw in as much air which then causes them to overheat.
If your dog is snorting, grunting or wheezing then your dog may be struggling to breath or there is an obstruction to breathing as these aren’t normal noises.
Signs That They Are Unwell or Struggling to Breathe
If your dog has narrow nostrils or they appear tight – maybe looking like closed slits instead of being round or open, this could be a sign that they are struggling to breathe as no air can pass through their nose. A narrow airway could mean that they have obstructed breathing and may make noises as though they are snoring, coughing or gagging. You should also be wary of exercising your brachycephalic breed in hot weather, as they can overheat quite quickly causing them to be at risk of developing heatstroke. Read more about how to keep your dog safe in the sun here. Also, they are prone to an overlong soft palette which obstructs air getting into the windpipe and can make breathing even more of a struggle - which can cause a snoring, grunting noise. You should always consult your vet if you think your dog has any issues breathing.
Skin and Ear Problems
Due to the shape of their head, brachycephalic breeds can suffer from skin and ear problems as they have deep skin folds around their eyes and narrowed ear canals. These are poorly ventilated areas, which can cause yeast infections and can become very sore if not tended to quickly and correctly. You can try to prevent this developing by cutting out grains from their diet. Over the years, we have found that brachycephalic breeds do better on a grain free diet - and if they have itchy, sore or sensitive skin we would recommend the Salmon and Potato from our sensitive range. If they don’t have any skin issues then, any other grain free product from our ranges should suit just fine!
Some brachycephalic breeds are prone to various eye problems, the main culprit being Cherry Eye. Cherry eye is caused when the tear gland in the third eyelid becomes swollen and red - covering part of their eye. If not treated in the correct way your dog could end up with a severe infection or even losing the affected eye. Read more about Cherry Eye here. The breeds that have very prominent eyes are vulnerable to injury or developing ulcers on the eye - which can also lead to loss of the eye if left untreated. It is vital you keep a check on your dog’s eyes daily and should any problems occur, consult your vet immediately.