FLAT FACED/ BRACHYCEPHALIC DOG BREEDS
Must-know health issues
Pugs and French Bulldogs, and to a lesser degree English Bulldogs, have become incredibly popular in recent years. These dogs appeal to many people because of their looks and great character. Whenever a breed becomes very popular, it also presents an opportunity for money making and unscrupulous breeding. Buyer-beware, definitely applies to these dogs.
If you have a brachycephalic dog, or you or anyone you know is thinking of getting one, you need to be very aware of the significant health problems these breeds are affected by. This article will give you a concise summary of the possible issues suffered by these dogs.
“Brachy" means “shortened" and "cephalic" means "head". The skull bones including the jaw bones of brachycephalic dogs are shortened in length, giving the face and nose a pushed in flat appearance. This flat faced feature is something that has been produced by purposeful breeding resulting in the exaggerated features we now see in the following breeds: Pugs, French and English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, the Pekinese and Shih-Tzus. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Boxers, can also be affected, although less commonly.
The shortened jaw bones and compacted skeleton in these breeds cause a number of malformations especially in their nasal cavities, mouth, and throat but also in the spine and tail. The throat and breathing passages in these dogs are undersized due to the very short jawbones. However, they have normal amounts of skin and soft tissue. Their soft tissue is therefore excessive for their skeleton, giving rise to the obvious skin folds these dogs have on their faces. The problem is, that that similar folds and excessive soft tissues are also present inside, leading to a number of obstructions affecting their airways. The tongue which would be of appropriate size for a longer face is also too big for their shortened mouth and obstructs the throat further. These dogs suffer, to a varying extent, from Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). This condition impacts on all aspects of a brachycephalic dog’s life. (A study in 2015 found that 88% of Pugs suffer from BOAS with French Bulldogs coming in a close second, and surveys have found that approx. 63% of bulldogs and 18-50-% of Boxers suffer from BOAS).
Signs and symptoms brachycephalic dog owners should recognise.
Other conditions seen in flat faced breeds:
What can owners do to help their dogs and prevent unnecessary suffering?
This is unfortunately rather grim reading. But, unless potential buyers are aware, and breeding practices of these dogs are quickly changed to gradually lengthen their jaw bones and reduce the excessive flat faced characteristics seen in these breeds, they will continue to suffer significant health problems as well as causing distress to their owners and a financial burden. I am sure true lovers of these breeds would like to see the health issues taken seriously and reduced by responsible breeding. These lovely dogs have every right to lead a healthy life free from unnecessary suffering.
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