[2023] Brachycephalic Dogs Problems: What You Need to Know

More photos and videos of Australian Shepherd babies on our facebook page “bbbergeraustralien”

Brachycephalic dogs, with their adorable snub noses and unique appearance, have gained popularity among dog lovers. However, it's important to be aware of the potential health problems that can affect these breeds. In this article, our team at Snubby Puppy™ will provide you with a comprehensive guide to the problems faced by brachycephalic dogs, including the Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), ocular issues, difficulty giving birth, spinal and tail malformations, ear infections, skin disease, dental disease, and more. We will also address common questions and provide expert advice to help you understand the challenges faced by these lovable pups.

Table of Contents

Quick Answer

Brachycephalic dogs, such as Bulldogs, Pugs, and French Bulldogs, are prone to several health problems due to their unique facial structure. These problems include Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), ocular issues, difficulty giving birth, spinal and tail malformations, ear infections, skin disease, and dental disease. While these dogs can lead happy lives with proper care, it's essential to understand and address their specific needs.

Quick Tips and Facts

Before we dive into the details, here are some quick tips and facts about brachycephalic dogs:

  • Brachycephalic breeds have a flattened skull shape, resulting in a shorter muzzle and compressed airways.
  • These dogs are prone to overheating and may struggle to regulate their body temperature.
  • They are also more susceptible to respiratory issues, which can lead to breathing difficulties.
  • Brachycephalic dogs require special care and attention to ensure their well-being and quality of life.

Now, let's explore the specific problems faced by brachycephalic dogs in more detail.

Features of Brachycephalic Animals

Brachycephalic dogs have distinct physical characteristics that set them apart from other breeds. These features include:

  1. Flat Face: Brachycephalic dogs have a short and flat face, giving them their adorable snub-nosed appearance.
  2. Bulging Eyes: Their eyes are often large and bulging, which can make them more susceptible to ocular issues.
  3. Shorter Muzzle: The shortened muzzle can lead to breathing difficulties and other respiratory problems.
  4. Compressed Airways: Brachycephalic dogs have narrower airways, making it harder for them to breathe normally.

While these features contribute to their unique charm, they also increase the risk of health issues.

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)

One of the most significant health concerns for brachycephalic dogs is Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). This condition occurs due to the structural abnormalities in their airways, which can lead to breathing difficulties. The symptoms of BOAS include:

  • Loud Snoring: Brachycephalic dogs often snore loudly due to the restricted airflow in their airways.
  • Labored Breathing: They may struggle to breathe properly, especially during physical activity or in hot weather.
  • Gagging or Choking: Some dogs with BOAS may experience gagging or choking episodes.
  • Exercise Intolerance: Due to their compromised respiratory system, brachycephalic dogs may tire easily during exercise.

It's crucial to monitor brachycephalic dogs closely for signs of respiratory distress and seek veterinary care if necessary. While BOAS cannot be cured, there are management strategies that can improve the dog's quality of life.

Brachycephalic Ocular Syndrome

Brachycephalic dogs are prone to a condition known as Brachycephalic Ocular Syndrome. This syndrome encompasses several eye-related problems that can affect these breeds. Some common ocular issues seen in brachycephalic dogs include:

  • Proptosis: Proptosis occurs when the eyeball protrudes from the socket, leaving it vulnerable to injury or infection.
  • Corneal Ulcers: The cornea, the transparent outer layer of the eye, can develop ulcers due to the eyes not being adequately protected by the eyelids.
  • Cherry Eye: This condition involves the prolapse of the third eyelid gland, resulting in a red, cherry-like mass in the corner of the eye.
  • Entropion: Entropion is a condition where the eyelid rolls inward, causing the eyelashes to rub against the cornea, leading to irritation and potential damage.
  • Dry Eye: Brachycephalic dogs may have reduced tear production, resulting in dry eyes and potential discomfort.

Regular eye examinations by a veterinarian are essential for early detection and treatment of ocular issues in brachycephalic dogs.

Difficulty Giving Birth

Due to their unique anatomy, brachycephalic dogs often face challenges when it comes to giving birth. The combination of a large head and a narrow birth canal can make the birthing process difficult and even life-threatening for both the mother and the puppies. Some issues that can arise during whelping include:

  • Dystocia: Dystocia refers to difficult or prolonged labor, which can put the mother and puppies at risk.
  • Cesarean Section: Many brachycephalic dogs require a cesarean section to safely deliver their puppies.

If you own a brachycephalic dog and plan to breed them, it's crucial to work closely with a veterinarian experienced in assisting with brachycephalic births.

Spinal and Tail Malformations

Brachycephalic dogs may also be prone to spinal and tail malformations, which can cause discomfort and affect their quality of life. Some common issues include:

  • Hemivertebrae: Hemivertebrae are wedge-shaped vertebrae that can lead to spinal deformities and neurological problems.
  • Screw Tail: The screw tail is a genetic condition where the tail is tightly curled, potentially causing pain and skin issues.

Regular veterinary check-ups can help detect these malformations early and provide appropriate management strategies.

Ear Infections

The unique ear structure of brachycephalic dogs, particularly those with folded or pendulous ears, can make them more prone to ear infections. The restricted airflow and increased moisture in the ear can create an ideal environment for bacteria and yeast to thrive. Symptoms of ear infections in brachycephalic dogs may include:

  • Ear Scratching: Dogs may scratch their ears excessively, trying to alleviate the discomfort.
  • Head Shaking: Frequent head shaking is another sign of potential ear infections.
  • Odor or Discharge: Ear infections can cause a foul odor or discharge from the ears.

Regular ear cleaning and veterinary care can help prevent and manage ear infections in brachycephalic dogs.

Skin Disease

Brachycephalic breeds are also more susceptible to certain skin conditions. The folds and wrinkles on their faces can trap moisture and debris, leading to skin infections. Additionally, excessive skin folds can create friction and irritation, resulting in dermatitis. Common skin issues in brachycephalic dogs include:

  • Pyoderma: Pyoderma is a bacterial skin infection that can cause redness, itching, and pustules.
  • Interdigital Cysts: Interdigital cysts are painful fluid-filled swellings that can occur between the toes.
  • Fold Dermatitis: Fold dermatitis refers to inflammation and infection in the skin folds, commonly seen in the facial folds of brachycephalic dogs.

Proper hygiene, regular cleaning of skin folds, and veterinary guidance can help prevent and manage skin disease in these breeds.

Dental Disease

Dental health is a significant concern for brachycephalic dogs. The shortened muzzle and crowded teeth make them more susceptible to dental issues. Some common dental problems in brachycephalic dogs include:

  • Malocclusion: Malocclusion refers to misalignment of the teeth, which can lead to difficulty eating and increased risk of dental disease.
  • Gingivitis: The buildup of plaque and tartar can cause inflammation of the gums, resulting in gingivitis.
  • Tooth Decay: Brachycephalic dogs may experience tooth decay due to the challenges of proper dental hygiene.

Regular dental care, including brushing their teeth and providing appropriate dental chews, can help maintain good oral health in these breeds.

Inability to Engage in Normal Behaviours and Daily Activities

Brachycephalic dogs may face limitations in their ability to engage in normal behaviors and daily activities due to the constraints imposed by BOAS and other physical limitations. These limitations can include:

  • Exercise Intolerance: Brachycephalic dogs may struggle with physical exertion due to their compromised respiratory system.
  • Heat Sensitivity: Their shortened airways make it harder for them to cool down, putting them at higher risk of heatstroke.
  • Difficulty Eating: Some brachycephalic dogs may find it challenging to eat certain foods or chew on toys due to their unique jaw structure.

Understanding these limitations and providing appropriate care and accommodations can help ensure a good quality of life for brachycephalic dogs.

More Information

For more information about brachycephalic dogs and their specific needs, consult with your veterinarian or consider reaching out to breed-specific organizations and support groups. They can provide valuable insights and guidance to help you navigate the challenges associated with these breeds.


Puppy in the Grass

What issues do brachycephalic dogs have?

Brachycephalic dogs face several health issues due to their unique facial structure. Some common problems include Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), ocular issues, difficulty giving birth, spinal and tail malformations, ear infections, skin disease, and dental disease.

Are brachycephalic dogs suffering?

While brachycephalic dogs can experience health challenges, it's important to note that not all of them suffer. With proper care, attention, and management of their specific needs, brachycephalic dogs can lead happy and fulfilling lives.

What is the life expectancy of a brachycephalic dog?

The life expectancy of a brachycephalic dog can vary depending on various factors, including their overall health, breed, and individual circumstances. On average, brachycephalic dogs have a slightly shorter lifespan compared to non-brachycephalic breeds.

Do brachycephalic dogs have quality of life?

Brachycephalic dogs can have a good quality of life with proper care and attention to their specific needs. It's crucial to provide them with a suitable environment, regular veterinary care, and accommodations to ensure their well-being and happiness.

Are brachycephalic dogs good pets?

Brachycephalic dogs can make wonderful pets for the right owners who are willing to provide them with the care and attention they require. It's important to understand their unique needs and be prepared for the potential health challenges associated with these breeds.


Brachycephalic dogs bring joy and laughter to many households, but it's essential to be aware of the potential health problems they may face. From Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) to ocular issues, difficulty giving birth, and more, these breeds require special care and attention. By understanding their specific needs and working closely with a veterinarian, you can ensure that your brachycephalic dog leads a happy and healthy life.

Remember, if you're considering adding a brachycephalic dog to your family, be prepared to provide the extra care and attention they need. With the right love and care, these adorable snub-nosed pups can thrive and bring endless joy to your life.

the new family member / El nuevo integrante en la familia
Velásquez Ramos

My black pug Toshi sleeping on his newly acquired Casper mattress bed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.