Flat Face Dog Breeds – Special Concerns

Dogs that have flat or squished faces are known as brachycephalic breeds. They have a round and short head, very short snout, and their face shape allows for minimal space for palate, sinuses, nostrils, and eye sockets. Many of these dogs have been purpose bred over centuries to be tiny and to affect this “cute” look.


Image: bcod.org

Brachycephalic breeds include Pugs, French Bulldogs, Pekingese, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Chihuahua, Boxer, Shih Tzu, and Boston Terriers, among others.

These breeds might be very cute but their breeding has resulted in some very specific health issues and special care needs to be given.

Brachycephalic Syndrome is a common issue of the upper airways in these dog breeds. With their short muzzles and compact skulls, the airways are narrow and the systems for breathing are compressed. These dogs tend to have weaknesses in their throats, elongated soft palates, and very short airways with tight nostrils. All of these factors lead to a respiratory system that is not as efficient as that of other dogs.

Consequences of this include:

  • Snoring
  • Rapid breathing
  • Snorting
  • Reverse-sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Gagging and Coughing
  • Overheating

When these dogs pant to cool down, they can’t do so efficiently, and they are very prone to overheating and heatstroke, which can be very dangerous.

How to Care for these Dogs:

  • Provide plenty of cool water and shade
  • In hot weather, allow your dog to come inside where it is cooler
  • Never walk your dog in the heat
  • Allow for shorter walks with plenty of rest
  • Know that panting is a warning sign.
  • Don’t allow your dog to become overweight or obese
  • Treat allergies in your dog

In dogs that have been diagnosed with brachycephalic syndrome, surgery is an option to widen nostrils and shorten an elongated palate to help open up the airways.

Follow the above recommendations and seek advice from your vet as to how best care for your dog.

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