What Owners Need to Understand About Brachycephalic Dogs

What Owners Need to Understand About Brachycephalic Dogs
January 5, 2019

Brachycephalic dogs come in many shapes and sizes, yet they all have the same shortened head. Although many owners may have chosen the breed of their dog based on how adorable they look with their shortened heads, caring for a Brachycephalic dog can be expensive, difficult and heart-breaking. 

Despite the warnings from vets, the genetic problems which the Brachycephalic dog breeds face haven’t hurt their popularity. Yet, more and more vets are urging owners to opt for pets which will have a healthier and longer lifespan. There’s no disputing that Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boston Terriers are cute dogs, yet there are plenty of dog breeds out there which are cute and come without the breathing problems. Breathing problems are likely to extend beyond cute snoring and snorting. Yet, even these ailments can quickly become serious for a dog. Any sign of snoring or snorting when breathing means that the dog’s airways are partially obstructed, which can often get worse over time if left untreated – and treatment certainly doesn’t come cheap. 

In this article, we will cover which dog breeds are Brachycephalic, the implications of owning a Brachycephalic dog breed and how to take care of the breed which has Brachycephalic syndrome.

Brachycephalic Dog Breed List 

  • Pugs 
  • Chihuahuas 
  • Chow Chows 
  • Bull Mastiffs 
  • Boxers 
  • English Toy Spaniels 
  • Shih Tzus 
  • Chow Chows 
  • Lhasa Apso 
  • Pekingese 

Every short nose and flat-faced breed that you see is Brachycephalic, this is due to the short length of the upper jaw which is smaller than the lower jaw. This means that there is an excessive amount of tissue in the upper jaw for the airways to work efficiently and Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome can occur. 

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome Explained 

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome or BAS for short may seem like a lot to get your head around before you adopt or buy a Brachycephalic dog. Yet, it is the responsibility of the owner to educate themselves prior to purchase or adoption to ensure that they are able to fully meet the needs of the certain breed. 

By bringing a Brachycephalic dog into your home will mean introducing a dog which is vulnerable to a variety of different conditions into your family. Many instances of BAS result in surgery. Yet, the symptoms of the condition will start to manifest from the following symptoms: 

  • Snoring 
  • Noisy breathing 
  • Snorting 
  • Quickly becoming fatigued through exercise 
  • Fainting during exercise

These conditions will gradually get worse over time; therefore, it is important to consult with your vet from the first sign of the syndrome. Your vet will monitor your pet to see when surgery will be required. 

Serious Secondary Symptoms to Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome include: 

Elongated Soft Palate – surgery may be required to shorten the palate and it is likely that the dog will have difficulty breathing in hot weather. 

Stenotic Nares/Collapsed Nostrils – this condition will also make it harder for a Brachycephalic dog to breathe through their nose. Whilst mouth breathing is an option for a Brachycephalic dog, this can also make it harder for the dog to get the right amount of exercise. Surgery may be required to open up the nostrils, however, puppies may be able to grow out of this problem. 

Tracheal Stenosis – with Brachycephalic dog breeds the windpipe can become very narrow which is a massive cause for concern. Panting becomes especially difficult whilst exercising and it can make the use of anaesthetic during an operation deadly. Given the amount of surgery a Brachycephalic dog requires, this symptom commonly results in fatalities. 

Inflamed Larynx Pouches – this symptom is yet another way in which the airways can become obstructed. In the presence of inflamed saccules or pouches, surgery or oxygen therapy may be required.
Heat Stroke – As mentioned earlier, 
Brachycephalic dogs can have a lot of trouble panting. Panting is the fastest way for a dog to cool down, so if a Brachycephalic dog is unable to do so in hot weather, this can quickly lead to heat stroke as they are not physically able to draw in enough air to cool down their body. Typical signs of heat stroke include vomiting, dizziness, glazed eyes and fainting. 

Yet, not all 
Brachycephalic health issues are respiratory. Brachycephalic dogs can also experience health issues in relation to their eyes and teeth. Brachycephalic dogs’ usually stick out of the skull more than with other dog breeds, this can lead to a range of problems, such as the dog being able to close their eyes fully with sleeping and being more vulnerable to issues with their vision if they receive any form of trauma to the head. The dental issues are due to the fact that Brachycephalic dogs have the same number of teeth as other dog breeds, yet due to their shortened jaws, they often suffer from gum diseases such as periodontal disease. 

How to Care for Your Brachycephalic Dog

Caring for a Brachycephalic dog is no walk in the park but learning some of the best precautions to take will ensure your pet has the best chance of living a long and happy life in the absence of health problems. 

  1. Don’t use collar leashes – always opt for a harness instead to avoid additional pressure on the larynx, face and eyes.  

  2. Never exercise your Brachycephalic dog in hot weather – overheating can be deadly due to their lack of ability to cool themselves down by panting. Always limit exercise and make sure they are kept as cool and comfortable as possible. 

  3. Keep them a healthy weight – no pet should ever be allowed to get overweight. Yet, with Brachycephalic dogs, it is even more dangerous. Any additional strain to the body can make Brachycephalic problems worse.

  4. Make a note to any changes with your dogs’ breathing – learn what sounds are normal for your dog to make, anything out of the ordinary will need to be reported to your vet. Many symptoms will worsen over time, never leave it too late for your vet to assess the condition of your dogs’ breathing.  

  5. Never allow your Brachycephalic dog to breed – If your dog suffers from Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome, it is best that this condition isn’t inherited. While many people are keen to breed their pets, especially if they are pedigree, it simply isn’t worth it for the suffering of the puppies. The act of giving birth is also very difficult for Brachycephalic dogs, it certainly shouldn’t be attempted by someone who is inexperienced with dog breeding.