What do French bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, and Shih Tzus have in common? It is not just that they consistently rank among the American Kennel Club’s most popular breeds. These dog breeds are brachycephalic, which means “short-headed” in Greek. Brachycephalic dog breeds (also called flat-faced or snub-nosed dogs) have buggy eyes, squished faces, and scrunched-up noses.
With their baby-like features and small size, Brachycephalic dog breeds are incredibly cute. The problem is, breeding dogs to have miniature muzzles and shorter skulls can cause many health problems.
Want to add a brachycephalic dog breed to your family? Once your beautiful four-legged friend arrives, you will need to take special precautions to keep your snub-nosed dog happy and healthy. In this DJANGO Dog Blog article, we discuss everything you need to know about taking care of flat-faced dogs.
French bulldogs and bulldogs have ranked in the AKC’s top 5 most popular breeds for the last four years. As of writing in mid 2021, frenchies are considered the second most popular dog in the United States! Seven snub-nosed breeds were also listed in the top 35 most popular dog breeds in 2020. These popular dog breeds include:
A 2020 study by the Royal Veterinary College found that first-time pet parents preferred brachycephalic dog breeds because they are low maintenance and require less exercise. Flat-faced dogs are also popular family companions and apartment dwellers.
While brachycephalic dog breeds have a shortened nose and upper jaw, they still have the same amount of tissue as dogs with longer snouts. The extra tissue gets squeezed into a shorter space, so there is no room for air to move around. This causes brachycephalic airway syndrome.
Brachycephalic airway syndrome is an umbrella term that describes four upper airway conditions. A brachycephalic dog usually has 3-4 of these conditions at the same time. They are:
Most brachycephalic dog breeds are at risk of developing brachycephalic airway syndrome, but English bulldogs, pugs, and Boston terriers are the most vulnerable. According to a 2015 study, the majority of dogs are diagnosed with brachycephalic airway syndrome by 12 months of age. The clinical signs and symptoms of brachycephalic airway syndrome are:
“I THINK MY DOG HAS BRACHYCEPHALIC AIRWAY SYNDROME. WHAT SHOULD I DO?”
Visit your regular veterinarian as soon as possible. If your dog has mild or intermittent brachycephalic airway syndrome, your veterinarian will most likely recommend a weight loss program and ways to avoid heat, humidity, and stress.
If your dog has severe brachycephalic airway syndrome, he may need a stenotic nares resection. This can cost anywhere from $200-$1,000 and involved your veterinarian widening your dog’s nostrils. Your dog may also need a soft palate resection that costs between $500 and $1,500. During this procedure, your veterinarian will remove extra tissue at the back of your dog’s throat.
If your dog is gasping for air or has a bluish tongue, immediately rush him to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic.
Here are some simple tips to help you reduce the symptoms of brachycephalic airway syndrome and protect your dog's health.
"CAN BRACHYCEPHALIC SYNDROME BE PREVENTED?"
There is no "cure" for brachycephalic airway syndrome since causes are attributed to physical traits: miniature muzzles and shorter skull. With that said, the above tips can significantly enhance your brachycephalic dog's health and reduce symptoms of the syndrome.
If you have any specific questions about your brachycephalic dog's health and wellbeing or think he or she may be suffering from brachycephalic airway syndrome, please visit or speak with your licensed veterinarian.
We hope you found this DJANGO Dog Blog article useful! Do you have a brachycephalic dog breed? Has your dog had any health issues? Don't hesitate to leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you!
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We (Mike and Steph) started Django Dog Blog in 2016 to make it easier for other loving dog parents to travel and adventure with their four-legged family. Since then, our blog content has expanded to address important dog health topics and highlight high-quality and modern pet products we love.
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