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Published on July 17, 2023

Bringing a Brachycephalic Dog Friend to Your House? Know Their Breed and Related Health Conditions

In recent times, the popularity of flat-faced dogs has risen, and dog lovers are keener on welcoming them as new members of their households. Dogs with flat faces are called brachycephalic because all the canines that fall under this group are characterized by their short heads. Under this group, we have breeds like:

  • Pug
  • Chow Chow
  • Boxer
  • Bull Dog
  • Shih Tzu
  • Boston Terrier
  • French Bulldog
  • Pekingese
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Affenpinschers
  • Lhasa Apsos
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

They look adorable with their distinct facial features with wrinkled muzzles. Anyone would be tempted to have one. But there are a few things you need to know about brachycephalic dogs. 

The connection between their physical feature and health issues

Due to genetic mutation, these dogs have pushed-in faces and flattened skulls. The skull bones are not formed the way they should have. As a result, they have a wide, short skull shape. These features are responsible for the various health conditions these dog breeds face. Some of them are

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

It’s a term used collectively for the different respiratory problems that are faced by brachycephalic dogs. Because of their skull structure, they have narrow nostrils, a smaller windpipe, and an elongated soft palate. These anomalies can cause respiratory distress, breathing difficulty, snoring, and snorting. 

Heat intolerance

These dogs have a hard time regulating their body temperature due to the presence of restricted airways. The situation worsens during hot and humid weather. As a result, you will find them panting more than the non-brachycephalic dogs. They are even more susceptible to fatal heat strokes.

Eye issues

The enlarged bulging eyes of these canines are exposed to various eye problems like eye infections, cherry eye, corneal ulcers, and dry eye. 

Dental problems

Because of their shortened snouts, they are more prone to dental disorders like gum disease, tooth decay, and chewing difficulty. 

Skin issues

These canines have excessive skin folds, particularly around their faces and tail area. These skin folds can entrap moisture and cause skin irritation and infections. 

Reproductive difficulties

The females of brachycephalic dogs have birthing problems. Their pelvis is narrow, so they often have difficulty birthing naturally. C-section delivery is the best option chosen to deliver their puppies.

Spinal problems

Some of these dogs (particularly those having very small, coiled, or no tails) are predisposed to abnormally formed and incorrectly aligned vertebrae, which can result in spinal deformity, including scoliosis. The spinal column may become unstable, and the nerves emerging from it have the chance of getting damaged. 

Gastrointestinal issues

Some dog breeds, like the French bulldog, may have gastrointestinal issues (regurgitation, flatulence, sensitive stomach) because of their unusual anatomy and sensitivity toward diet.  

It’s not that all brachycephalic dogs will experience all the health conditions listed above. But if you want to buy one, you must be aware of these problems and be vigilant always for any sign of ill health so that you can promptly seek the advice of a veterinarian.

Brachycephalic Dogs and their workout regime

These dogs can never be your running buddy because their breathing function is compromised as they possess short snouts. So, the option of rigorous exercise in hot and humid weather is out of the question. This type of weather raises their body temperature and their chances of having a heatstroke become high. The lack of a proper exercise regime increases their tendency to gain weight, which again is harmful as it may shorten their lifespan. 

But your canine friends do need exercise to keep them healthy and to control their weight. So, what can you do? 

Outdoor activities

  1. Slow short walks are best for these dogs. 
  2. When the weather is warm, take them for a walk in the early hours of the morn or in the evening.
  3. Start with small distance walks. You can gradually increase the distance as their endurance power will also grow with practice.
  4. You can try a fetching game.
  5. Supervised swimming can also be a good alternative.

Indoor activities

  1. Treat dispensing toys can keep your dog agile and engaged.
  2. You can use an air-conditioned hallway as your canine friend’s personal gym, where you can make it work out. 
  3. Canine puzzles provide a quiet but enjoyable way for dogs to utilize their noses and paws without much physical effort.
  4. You can prevent your dog from being bored by using a snuffle mat. It is an excellent way to make your dog hunt for food in a safe and controlled setting. But if your dog is an aggressive chewer, this option may not be for you.
  5. A doggy play-date may be a good idea if you can make the arrangements and have someone supervise the dogs. 

Safety tips for brachycephalic dog owners

As brachycephalic dogs have problems with body temperature and get overheated easily, the owners of these dogs must be aware of how to prevent such situations. It’s important because if you delay in taking action, it might lead to their death and that too within an hour.   

  • If you are outdoors, see to it your dog always has access to cool fresh water.
  • You can sometimes give them icy treats.
  • Never ever leave them inside a locked and closed car.
  • Before walking your dog, feel the pavement. If it’s too hot, it might hurt your dog’s paw. 
  • Take short breaks if you intend to take your dog out for a long period. It’s always good if you take short periods to walk your dog throughout the day rather than one long walk. 
  • Early morning hours and late evening are the appropriate time to go outdoors with your canine friends.

Signs to look out for in case of a heat stroke

Even if you take precautions, health issues like heatstroke may arise. You must know something is wrong with your dog if you notice that it is

  • panting excessively
  • drooling continuously
  • having breathing problems
  • experiencing an increased heartbeat rate
  • vomiting or having bloody diarrhea
  • staggering and has become weak


If your dog shows any of these signs, immediately take it to your veterinarian.

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