What you should know about brachycephalic dogs

Brachycephalic or flat-nosed dogs are becoming increasingly popular. However, if you plan to adopt this type of pet, you should learn more about its characteristics and specific needs. In order to ensure you can give your pooch a good home, the Chico team has created an overview of what you need to know about these fascinating dogs.

Their history

Over the course of centuries, dog breeders have favoured breeds with specific esthetic and behavioural characteristics. However, adopting a purebred dog can be risky. This is becuase selective breeding can actually increase an animal’s vulnerability to various health problems.

For years, extreme facial features such as protruding eyes and shorter, flatter skulls were considered desirable. The breeder’s goal was to create irresistibly cute dogs with child-like faces.

Some of the most famous brachycephalic breeds include:

  • English bulldogs
  • French bulldogs
  • Boxers
  • Bullmastiffs
  • Pugs
  • Cavalier King Charles spaniels
  • Lhasa Apsos
  • Pekingese
  • Shar-Peis
  • Shih Tzus
  • Boston terriers

What’s brachycephalic syndrome?

Dogs with short, flat noses are adorable. However, that cuteness comes with a price. The truth is that all short-snouted dogs suffer from brachycephalic syndrome to some degree.

Brachycephalic dogs have short, wide skulls and disproportionately large soft tissues. This means that their airways, trachea and nostrils are flat and narrow, while their tongue and soft palate are enlarged. These features significantly impede airflow and can have a major impact on digestion, which in turn can shorten their life expectancy and cause them a variety of health problems.

Brachycephalic breeds often experience the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Snoring
  • Blue tongue and gums
  • Nausea
  • Coughing
  • Fainting spells

How can you help your brachycephalic dog?

To help alleviate the symptoms of brachycephalic syndrome, it’s important to closely monitor your dog. Since short-snouted breeds don’t do well in hot weather and can easily become short of breath, you should limit your dog’s outdoor activities, especially in summer.

Because these types of dogs often have swallowing and digestive problems, they must eat a veterinarian-approved diet to stay healthy.

Furthermore, your dog mustn’t overeat. Being overweight can increase your dog’s body temperature and worsen its respiratory problems.

In addition, extreme stress or heat exhaustion can cause brachycephalic breeds to develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). If this condition isn’t immediately treated by a veterinarian, the dog could die of asphyxiation.

Lastly, your veterinarian may prescribe medication, nostril enlarging surgery or a procedure to reduce the size of your dog’s soft palate to help improve its quality of life. Regular visits to the veterinarian — and lots of love — will help keep your dog healthy for years to come.

Is it safe to fly with a brachycephalic dog?

Since they’re sensitive to stress and temperature changes, brachycephalic breeds are often at risk during air travel. At Chico, we discourage pet owners from taking vulnerable animals on airplanes. Furthermore, many airlines will refuse to fly brachycephalic breeds because of the risks involved. If you absolutely must take your dog with you on an airplane, speak with your veterinarian for advice.

What should you consider before adopting?

Before welcoming a brachycephalic breed into your home, make sure your lifestyle aligns with the dog’s characteristics and needs. For example, if you want a pooch you can take with you on runs, you should probably consider another breed. The same is true if you have a poorly ventilated home that gets warm easily, or if you want a dog you can take with you on trips.

Are you set on getting a brachycephalic breed? If so, once you’ve adopted your puppy or dog from a reputable breeder or shelter, you should have it examined by a veterinarian.

Chico carries everything you need to spoil your dog

If you need food, treats, toys or accessories for your dog, visit your local Chico store. If you have a heat-sensitive brachycephalic breed, we carry cooling scarves and rugs to keep it comfortable all summer long. We look forward to seeing you.