13 puppy training mistakes 7

Brachycephalic dog health issues

On a quick trip to Seattle this past weekend we saw no less than a half of a dozen French Bulldogs. No doubt because they are America’s most popular dog breed this past year. But it comes at a cost. 

When we were flying out of Anchorage we saw a young Frenchie walking through the airport and visibly struggling to walk and breathe. You could hear the dog from quite a distance and it was waddling like it was struggling to keep up.  

This is what prompted this blog post: 

What is a brachycephalic dog?

Brachycephalic dogs have short muzzles and flattened faces caused by genetic mutations that change the way the bones in the skull grow, resulting in a shorter, wider skull shape.

The brachycephalic spectrum

Brachycephaly occurs across a spectrum, from breeds with almost entirely flat faces (sometimes termed ‘extreme brachycephaly’), such as the Pug and Japanese Chin, through to less exaggerated brachycephalic breeds such as the Boxer and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Which commonly known breeds are brachycephalic?

The term brachycephalic is used to describe a variety of breeds that vary in muzzle length, with muzzle length varying even amongst the same breed, including:

  • Pugs
  • French Bulldogs
  • Bulldogs
  • Boston Terriers
  • Shih Tzus
  • Pekingeses
  • Affenpinschers
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Lhasa Apsos
  • Griffon Bruxellois

Brachycephaly is not restricted to pedigree dogs, and crosses that include these breeds can also exhibit this face shape.

Is there a link between head shape and health issues?

Many people are attracted to this face shape, with baby-like features including large, round, wide-set eyes and flat, rounded faces. Brachycephalic dogs are increasingly popular pets worldwide, particularly breeds such as the Pug and French Bulldog. Despite their popularity, many brachycephalic dogs are affected by health problems that are linked with their body shape.

The health problems detailed below may affect some brachycephalic dogs more than others depending on body shape and structure.

Buying a dog? Do your research before you buy

Because of this, all potential puppy buyers of brachycephalic dogs should be aware of these health issues before purchasing a puppy, and all current owners of brachycephalic dogs should be vigilant for signs of ill health, so they can seek prompt veterinary advice.

The health problems detailed below may affect some brachycephalic dogs more than others depending on body shape and structure.

What is brachycephalic obstruction airway syndrome?

In the film below, BOAS experts Drs. Sargan, Liu and Ladlow from the University of Cambridge will ensure viewers are provided with information as to what Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome is, how it affects brachycephalic breeds (short-nosed dogs e.g. Pugs, Bulldogs, French Bulldogs) and the signs and symptoms owners/potential owners should be aware of.


We offer a FREE Discovery Call.

Click on the graphic to learn more