Brachycephalic Dog Breeds Respiratory Problems in Dogs

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Brachycephalic Dog Breeds
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Brachycephalic dog breeds can be quite a challenge to care for. It doesn't stop most of them from being some of the most popular breeds around, though. Learn what Brachycephalic syndrome is and how you can take care of a breed with this health problem.

Flat-faced dogs, like Boxers, Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers can be cute, but their short noses also cause breathing problems. These brachycephalic dog breeds can suffer from snoring and snorting. These may  seem like harmless ailments, but these common issues of shortnosed dogs mean the dog's airway is partially obstructed, and this can become worse over time if left untreated.

Which Breeds are Brachycephalic?

Brachycephalic means "shortened head" and refers to the short nose and flat face of dogs like Pugs, Shih Tzus, and Chihuahuas. Other brachycephalic breeds include Chow Chows, Pekingese, Lhasa Apso, Bull Mastiffs, and English Toy Spaniels. Because the flat face is so popular, these dogs have been bred for their looks, but many suffer from airway issues as a result. The flat face is the result of a smaller upper jaw, in which the tissues inside are bigger than the jaw can allow. All of the airway issues that can result from this overcrowding are collectively referred to as "brachycephalic airway syndrome."

What is Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome?

All brachycephalic dogs suffer from some form of mild brachycephalic airway syndrome and are also vulnerable to more dangerous conditions that may require surgery. Symptoms of airway obstruction include snoring, snorting, noisy breathing, and tiring or fainting during exercise. Because these conditions become worse over time, and can cause permanent damage, it's important to monitor closely and work with your vet to determine if and when surgery may be needed.

The following are brachycephalic airway syndrome symptoms that can cause serious health concerns.

โ€ข Elongated soft palate: Almost every brachycephalic dog has an extra-long soft palate (tissue between mouth and nose cavities) which covers the throat more than it should. In many dogs, this may only cause snoring and some difficulties panting in hot weather, but other dogs may need surgery to shorten the palate.

โ€ข Stenotic Nares: Another common problem is narrowed or collapsed nostrils, which make it hard for dogs to breathe through their noses. This usually leads to a lot of mouth breathing and makes exercise difficult. Sometimes puppies can grow out of this problem, but a surgical procedure may be needed to open up the nostrils.

โ€ข Tracheal Stenosis: In some dogs the trachea, or wind-pipe, is dangerously narrow. This narrowing makes panting difficult and use of anesthesia very dangerous.

โ€ข Everted Laryngeal Saccules: Difficult breathing can inflame saccules (pouches) in the layrnx, and even flip them inside out (hence the term "everted"). This significantly obstructs the airway, so surgical removal of the saccules is common. In severe cases, oxygen therapy may be needed until surgery can be performed.

โ€ข Heat Stroke: Since dogs use panting to cool down, brachycephalic dogs struggle in hot weather because they cannot draw in enough air to cool their body. Vomiting, glazed eyes, and seizures can all be signs of heat stroke.

What Other Problems do Brachycephalic Dogs Have?

โ€ข Eyes and Eyelids: Brachycephalic dogs' eyes tend to stick out of their skull a little more than others. Sometimes it's difficult for eyelids to close over their eyes (even while sleeping). They are also more vulnerable to vision issues if hit on the head.

โ€ข Teeth: Brachycephalic dogs have the same number of teeth as other dogs, but less space to fit them all, which can lead to peridontal disease.

How Can You Protect Your Brachycephalic Dog?

If you have a brachycephalic dog, there are some precautions you can take to reduce the risk of airway or other health problems.

โ€ข Use a harness instead of a collar leash: Collars can pull on the layrnx, making breathing more difficult, and also put strain on the face and eyes.

โ€ข Don't let your dog over-exercise or overheat: Even brachycephalics who do not need surgery will struggle with breathing if they are exercising or out in hot and humid weather. Keep your dog inside during high temperatures and limit their exercise.

โ€ข Keep weight in a healthy range: Obesity can make brachycephalic problems worse.

โ€ข Keep track of normal snorting and snoring: You'll learn what sounds are normal for your dog, so when you hear new snorting or labored breathing, it's time to check with the vet. Many of these conditions worsen over time.

โ€ข Work with your vet to determine which, if any, conditions may require surgery: Not all dogs will need surgery but many will benefit from a palate shortening or other corrective procedure.

โ€ข Spay or neuter your dog: Since brachycephalic airway syndrome is inherited, it is best to avoid breeding a brachycephalic dog which had to undergo surgery (so that their puppies won't have the same severe problems). Giving birth is also very hard on female brachycephalic dogs, so it is best left to professional breeders.

List of Dog Breeds and Their Common Health Concerns

Dogs run the gamut in terms of size, temperament, skills, and pretty much every other defining characteristic -- it's kind of hard to believe that Chihuahuas and Rottweilers are related at all! With all these inherent differences, it comes as no surprise that each breed has to be on the lookout for different health concerns.

To get a better idea of what your dog might have waiting for them down the line, take a look at this list of dog breedsโ€™ predisposed conditions. Click through for information about these health concerns, and learn how to watch for symptoms, prevent problems, and start treatment.

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Breed

Health Concerns

Affenpinscher

Patellar Luxation

Afghan Hound

Cataracts

African Boerboels

None Reported

Airedale Terrier

Hip DysplasiaGastric Torsion (Bloat)

Akbash

Hip Dysplasia; Osteochondritis Dissecans

Akita

Hip Dysplasia; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); Elbow Dysplasia; Pemphigus; Gastric Torsion (Bloat)

Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldogs

Hip DysplasiaDeafness; Blindness; Skin Disorders

Alaskan Klee Kai

Patellar Luxation

Alaskan Malamute

Hip DysplasiaCataracts; Chondrodysplasia

American Bulldog

Hip DysplasiaEntropion

American Eskimo Dog

Patellar Luxation; Hip Dysplasia; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

American Foxhound

Blood Platelet Abnormality

American Staffordshire Terrier

Hip Dysplasia; Cerebellar Ataxia; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

American Water Spaniel

Heart ProblemsHip Dysplasia

Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Hip DysplasiaEntropion

Australian Cattle Dog

Hip Dysplasia; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); Deafness; Elbow Dysplasia

Australian Kelpie

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Australian Shepherd

CataractsCollie Eye AnomalyHip Dysplasia; Nasal Solar Dermatitis; Pelger-Huet Syndrome; Ivermectin Sensitivity

Australian Silky Terrier

Cryptorchidism

Australian Terrier

Patellar Luxation; Diabetes

Basenji

Fanconi Syndrome; Basenji Enteropathy; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Basset Hound

Elbow Dysplasia; Ear Problems; Eyelid Problems; GlaucomaGastric Torsion (Bloat)Hip DysplasiaVon Willebrand Disease

Beagle

Intervertebral Disk Disease; Hip Dysplasia

Bearded Collie

Hip DysplasiaEpilepsy; Colonic Disease; Pemphigus

Beauceron

Hip DysplasiaGastric Torsion (Bloat)

Bedlington Terrier

Copper Toxicosis; Retinal Dysplasia; Renal Cortical Hypoplasia

Belgian Malinois

Hip Dysplasia; Elbow Dysplasia

Belgian Shepherd Dog

SeizuresAllergies

Belgian Tervuren

SeizuresHip Dysplasia; Elbow Dysplasia; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Bernese Mountain Dog

Hip Dysplasia; Elbow Dysplasia; Mast Cell TumorGastric Torsion (Bloat)

Bichon Frise

Patellar Luxation; AllergiesCataractsHip Dysplasia

Black and Tan Coonhound

Hip Dysplasia; Ectropion

Black Russian Terrier

Hip Dysplasia; Elbow Dysplasia

Bloodhound

Eyelid Problems; Gastric Torsion (Bloat)Ear Problems; Skin-Fold Dermatitis; Hip Dysplasia; Elbow Dysplasia

Border Collie

Hip Dysplasia; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); Lens Luxation; Collie Eye Anomaly; Seizures; Heart Defects; Ivermectin Sensitivity

Border Terrier

Patellar Luxation

Borzoi

Gastric Torsion (Bloat)Heart Problems

Boston Terrier

Patellar Luxation; Brachycephalic Syndrome

Bouvier des Flandres

Hip Dysplasia; Elbow Dysplasia; Heart Defects; Glaucoma

Boxer

Heart ProblemsHip DysplasiaGastric Torsion (Bloat); Tumors

Briard

Hip DysplasiaGastric Torsion (Bloat)

Brittany

Hip Dysplasia; Epilepsy

Brussels Griffon

None Reported

Bull Terrier

Deafness (in Whites); Kidney ProblemsHeart Problems; Patellar Luxation

Bullmastiff

Gastric Torsion (Bloat)Hip Dysplasia; Elbow Dysplasia

Cairn Terrier

Liver Shunt; Glaucoma; Jaw Problems

Canaan Dog

None Reported

Cane Corso

Hip DysplasiaEntropion; Ectropion; Mange; Gastric Torsion (Bloat)

Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Hip DysplasiaDegenerative Myelopathy

Carolina Dog

None Reported

Catahoula Leopard Dogs

Hip dysplasia; Glass Eye; Deafness

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Heart ProblemsHip Dysplasia; Syringomyelia; Patellar Luxation

Central Asian Ovtcharkas

Hip Dysplasia; Elbow Dysplasia

Cesky Terrier

Scottie Cramp

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Hip DysplasiaGastric Torsion (Bloat); Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Chihuahua

Heart Problems; Hydrocephalus; Patellar Luxation

Chinese Crested

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); Glaucoma; Lens Luxation; Patellar Luxation

Chinese Foo

None Reported

Chinese Shar-Pei

Eyelid Problems; Hip Dysplasia; Patellar Luxation; Ear ProblemsAllergies

Chipoo

GlaucomaCataracts; Gum Problems; Ear Infections; Heart Defects

Chow Chow

Eyelid Problems; Hip Dysplasia; Patellar Luxation; Gastric Torsion (Bloat); Elbow Dysplasia

Clumber Spaniel

Intervertebral Disk Disease; Entropion

Collie

Collie Eye Anomaly; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); Gastric Torsion (Bloat); Dermatomyositis; Ivermectin Sensitivity

Coton De Tulears

Cherry Eye; Prolapsed Nictitans Gland; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); Patellar Luxation

Curly-Coated Retriever

Hip Dysplasia

Dachshund

Intervertebral Disk Disease; Dry Eye

Dalmatian

Deafness;Urinary StonesAllergies

Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Intervertebral Disk Disease; Glaucoma

Doberman Pinscher

Wobblerโ€™s Syndrome; Cardiomyopathy; Von Willebrandโ€™s Disease; Gastric Torsion (Bloat)Hip Dysplasia

Dogue de Bordeaux

Gastric Torsion (Bloat)Heart Problems; Lymphoma; Kidney ProblemsHip Dysplasia; Elbow Hygroma; ArthritisEpilepsyEntropion; Osteosarcoma

English Bulldogs

Brachycephalic SyndromeHeart ProblemsHip DysplasiaDry Eye; Eyelid Problems; Internalized Tail; Shoulder Luxation

English Cocker Spaniels

Ear Problems; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); Cataracts; Patellar Luxation; Hip Dysplasia; Deafness (in Particolors)

English Foxhound

None Reported

English Setter

Deafness; Hip Dysplasia; Elbow Dysplasia

English Shepherd

Hip DysplasiaIvermectin Sensitivity

English Springer Spaniel

Hip DysplasiaEar Problems; Elbow Dysplasia; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

English Toy Spaniel

Patellar Luxation

Estrela Mountain Dogs

Hip Dysplasia; Osteochondritis Dissecans

Field Spaniel

Hip DysplasiaEar Problems

Fila Brasileiros

Hip Dysplasia; Lameness; Elbow Dysplasia

Finnish Spitz

None Reported

Flat-Coated Retriever

Hip Dysplasia; Cancers; Gastric Torsion (Bloat)Glaucoma

Fox Terrier (Smooth)

Lens Luxation; Cataracts; Legg-Perthes

Fox Terrier (Wire)

Lens Luxation; Cataracts; Legg-Perthes

French Bulldog

Brachycephalic Syndrome; Intervertebral Disc Disease; Hip DysplasiaAllergies; Patellar Luxation

German Pinscher

None Reported

German Shepherd

Hip Dysplasia; Elbow Dysplasia; Panosteitis; Von Willebrandโ€™s Disease; Degenerative Myelopathy; Skin Problems; Dermatitis; Hemangiosarcoma; Pannus; CataractsGastric Torsion (Bloat); Perianal Fistulas

German Shorthaired Pointer

Lymphedema; Hip DysplasiaEntropionGastric Torsion (Bloat); Von Willebrandโ€™s Disease

German Wirehaired Pointer

Hip Dysplasia

Giant Schnauzer

Hip DysplasiaGastric Torsion (Bloat)

Glen of Imaal Terrier

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); Hip Dysplasia

Golden Retriever

Hip Dysplasia; Elbow Dysplasia; Skin Problems; Heart Problems; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); Mast Cell Tumor

Goldendoodle

None Reported

Gordon Setter

Hip Dysplasia;Gastric Torsion (Bloat)

Great Dane

Gastric Torsion (Bloat)Hip Dysplasia; Cardiomyopathy; Elbow Dysplasia; Bone Cancer

Great Pyrenees

Hip Dysplasia; Patellar Luxation; Entropion; Bone Cancer

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Hip DysplasiaGastric Torsion (Bloat)Seizures

Greyhound

Gastric Torsion (Bloat); Bone Cancer

Harrier

Hip Dysplasia

Havanese

Patellar Luxation

Hungarian Vizsla

EpilepsyHip Dysplasia; Lymphosarcoma

Ibizan Hound

Allergies

Irish Setter

Hip DysplasiaGastric Torsion (Bloat); Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Irish Terrier

Urinary Stones

Irish Water Spaniel

Hip DysplasiaEar Problems

Irish Wolfhound

Gastric Torsion (Bloat); Elbow Dysplasia; Hip Dysplasia; Heart Problem; Bone Cancer

Italian Greyhound

Periodontal Disease; Epilepsy; Leg Fractures; Patellar Luxation; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Jack Russell Terrier

Lens Luxation, Patellar Luxation

Japanese Chin

Patellar Luxation; Dry EyeEntropionCataracts

Keeshond

Hip DysplasiaEpilepsy; Patellar Luxation

Kerry Blue Terrier

Cerebellar Abiotrophy; Cataracts; Spiculosis; Hair Follicle Tumors; Eyelid Problems; Hip Dysplasia

Komondor

Hip DysplasiaGastric Torsion (Bloat)Ear Problems

Kooikerhondje

CataractsEpilepsy

Kuvasz

Hip Dysplasia

Labradoodle

Obesity

Labrador Retriever

Hip Dysplasia; Elbow Dysplasia; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); Obesity

Laekenois

Obesity

Lakeland Terrier

Lens Luxation

Lancashire Heeler

Patellar Luxation

Lhasa Apso

Patellar Luxation; Eyelid Problems; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); Renal Cortical Hypoplasia

Lรถwchen

Patellar Luxation

Maltese

Patellar Luxation; Hydrocephalus; Liver Shunt; Dental Problems; Eyelid Problems

Maltipoo

None Reported

Manchester Terrier

Cardiomyopathy; Von Willebrandโ€™s Disease

Maremma Sheepdog

Hip DysplasiaGastric Torsion (Bloat)

Mastiff

Hip DysplasiaGastric Torsion (Bloat); Elbow Dysplasia; Bone Cancer

Miniature Bull Terrier

Deafness (whites); Glaucoma; Lens Luxation

Miniature Pinscher

Legg-Perthes; Patellar Luxation; Heart Defects; Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS)

Miniature Poodle

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); Deafness; Diabetes; Heart Defects

Miniature Schnauzer

Urinary Stones; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); Schnauzer Comedo Syndrome; Von Willebrandโ€™s Syndrome

Neapolitan Mastiff

Hip Dysplasia; Cardiomyopathy; Demodicosis; Elbow Dysplasia

Newfoundland

Heart Problems; Elbow Dysplasia; Hip DysplasiaGastric Torsion (Bloat)

Norfolk Terrier

Hip DysplasiaAllergies

Norwegian Buhunds

Cataracts

Norwegian Elkhound

Hip Dysplasia; Hot Spots; Kidney Problems

Norwich Terrier

Hip DysplasiaAllergiesSeizures

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Hip Dysplasia; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Old English Sheepdog

Hip DysplasiaGastric Torsion (Bloat)Ear Infections; Retinal Detachment; Cataracts; Progressive Retinal Atrophy; Cerebellar Ataxia

Otterhound

Hip DysplasiaGastric Torsion (Bloat); Elbow Dysplasia; Blood Platelet Abnormality

Papillon

Patellar Luxation; Seizures; Dental Problems

Parson Russell Terrier

Lens Luxation; Patellar Luxation

Peekapoo

None Reported

Pekingese

Brachycephalic SyndromeDry Eye; Patellar Luxation

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Intervertebral Disc Disease; Hip DysplasiaEpilepsyDegenerative Myelopathy

Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen

Ear Problems

Pharaoh Hound

None Reported

Pit Bull

Hip Dysplasia; Cerebellar Ataxia; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Plott

None Reported

Pointer

EntropionHip Dysplasia

Polish Lowland Sheepdog

None Reported

Pomapoo

None Reported

Pomeranian

Patellar Luxation; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Poodle

Eyelid Problems; Legg-Perthes; Patellar Luxation; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); Epilepsy; Sebaceous Adenitis

Portuguese Water Dog

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); Hip Dysplasia; Glycogen Storage Disease

Pug

Brachycephalic Syndrome; Pug Dog Encephalitis; Hip Dysplasia; Patellar Luxation; Legg-Perthes; Entropion

Puli

Hip Dysplasia

Rat Terrier

Patellar Luxation

Redbone Coonhound

None Reported

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Hip Dysplasia; Elbow Dysplasia; Dermoid Sinus

Rottweiler

Hip Dysplasia; Elbow Dysplasia; Heart Problems; Bone Cancer; Gastric Torsion (Bloat); Von Willebrandโ€™s Disease

Saint Bernard

Hip DysplasiaGastric Torsion (Bloat); Eyelid Problems; Elbow Dysplasia; Bone Cancer; Heart ProblemsDiabetes

Saluki

Hemangiosarcoma; Heart Problems

Samoyed

Hip DysplasiaGastric Torsion (Bloat)

Schipperke

Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS); Legg-Perthes; Epilepsy

Schnoodle

None Reported

Scottish Deerhound

Gastric Torsion (Bloat)Heart Problems; Bone Cancer

Scottish Terrier

Von Willebrandโ€™s Disease; Jaw Problems; Scotty Cramp; Patellar Luxation; Cerebellar Abiotrophy

Sealyham Terrier

Retinal Dysplasia; Lens Luxation

Shetland Sheepdog

Dermatomyositis; Collie Eye Anomaly; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); CataractsHip Dysplasia; Legg-Perthes; Patellar Luxation; Ivermectin Sensitivity

Shiba Inu

Patellar Luxation; AllergiesCataracts

Shih Tzu

Hip Dysplasia; Renal Dysplasia; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); Dry Eye; Liver Shunt; Patellar Luxation

Siberian Husky

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); Cataracts; Corneal Opacities

Silky Terrier

Patellar Luxation; Legg-Perthes

Skye Terrier

Premature Closure of Distal Radius

Snorkie

None Reported

Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier

Protein-Losing Diseases; Renal Dysplasia

Spinone Italiano

Hip DysplasiaGastric Torsion (Bloat)Ear Problems

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Hip Dysplasia; Cerebellar Ataxia; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Standard Schnauzer

Hip Dysplasia; Follicular Dermatitis

Sussex Spaniel

Hip Dysplasia; Intervertebral Disk Disease; Ear ProblemsHeart Problems

Swedish Vallhund

None Reported

Thai Ridgeback

Hip Dysplasia; Dermoid Sinus

Tibetan Mastiff

Hip Dysplasia

Tibetan Spaniel

Patellar Luxation; Cataract

Tibetan Terrier

Patellar Luxation; Epilepsy

Toy Fox Terrier

Patellar Luxation; Legg-Perthes

Toy Manchester Terrier

Von Willebrandโ€™s Disease; Cardiomyopathy

Toy Poodle

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); Patellar Luxation; Legg-Perthes; Epilepsy; Eyelid Problems

Treeing Walker Coonhound

None Reported

Vizsla

EpilepsyHip Dysplasia; Lymphosarcoma

Weimaraner

Gastric Torsion (Bloat)Hip Dysplasia

Welsh Springer Spaniel

Hip DysplasiaEar ProblemsGlaucomaEpilepsy

Welsh Terrier

Lens Luxation; Glaucoma

West Highland White Terrier

Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy; Legg-Perthes; Jaw Problems; Copper Toxicosis; Cataracts; Patellar Luxation

Whippet

None Reported

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Hip DysplasiaEar Problems

Xoloitzcuintle

Acne (on Hairless)

Yorkie-Poo

Patellar Luxation; Hypothyroidism; Hypoglycemia; Mitral Valve Insufficiency (MVI); Urolithiasis

Yorkshire Terrier

Patellar Luxation

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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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