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Brachycephalic dog, explanations, breeds concerned, health

Brachycephaly is an aspect of the morphology obtained through crossbreeding and other manipulations in order to reach a hypertype. Let's discover the main characteristics of the brachycephalic dog, the breeds concerned, and what the aesthetic deviations desired by the amateurs of the kind have as consequences on the health of these pets.

Characteristics of the brachycephalic dog


Brachycephaly in dogs is characterized by :
  • A short skull, that is, wider than long,
  • A flat face
  • Bulging eyes.
These physical aspects are not natural. They have been obtained through genetic selection. To meet the expectations of many people seeking to welcome in their home a dog with an original physique, we did not hesitate to accentuate its anatomical characteristics. The hypertype is so pronounced today, that dogs of brachycephalic breeds are very exposed to health problems.

Brachycephaly: what are the health risks for dogs?


Brachycephalic syndrome is due to the anatomical malformations that these genetic selections have caused. The dogs are victims of :
  • Tracheal obstruction due to eversion of the ventricles of the larynx,
  • Edema of the larynx, or even its paralysis,
  • Hypoplasia of the trachea,
  • Respiratory problems due to a narrowing of the nasal cavity or stenosis of the nostrils,
  • An overdevelopment of the soft palate or hypertrophy of the soft palate,
  • Esophagitis, a chronic inflammation of the esophageal wall,
  • Gastritis, a chronic inflammation of the stomach wall.
The consequences on the health of the brachycephalic dog are the following:
  • Intolerance to effort,
  • Frequent regurgitation,
  • Vomiting,
  • Snoring,
  • Breathing difficulties.
As soon as environmental temperatures rise, these symptoms become more pronounced.

The heart of a brachycephalic dog is put to the test because of the constant breathing difficulties it has to compensate for in order to supply the organs with oxygen. For this reason, breeds affected by brachycephaly frequently develop secondary heart failure. As a result, the life expectancy of these canines is greatly shortened.

A brachycephalic dog with one or more of the symptoms described above should be followed by a veterinarian. In order to make a diagnosis, the animal health professional must perform different examinations, such as
  • An endoscopy to examine the larynx,
  • A thoracic X-ray to measure the extent of the damage to the heart, lungs and trachea.
To try to relieve these animals, veterinarians can opt for surgical interventions to open the nostrils (rhinoplasty) or to reduce the soft palate (palatoplasty). These operations can be performed on puppies and adult dogs. Sometimes, instead of surgery, the specialist opts for a laser intervention. This solution is necessary for an older dog, for example, because it causes less bleeding and limits the risk of post-operative inflammation.

Dog breeds affected by brachycephaly


The breeds of dogs with brachycephaly are the following:
  • The French Bulldog,
  • The English Bulldog,
  • The Boxer,
  • The Pug,
  • The Staffordshire Bull Terrier,
  • The Shih tzu,
  • The Boston Terrier,
  • The Shar pei,
  • The Pekingese,
  • The Cavalier King Charles spaniel,
  • The Lhasa apso.

Alerting public opinion to the dangers of brachycephaly


It is high time to alert public opinion on the dangers to which brachycephalic dogs are exposed because few of their owners are aware of the risks incurred by their little companions. But it is clear that some are in total denial. A general awareness could reduce the popularity of these dogs with flat faces and bulging eyes: unnatural characteristics that please their owners so much but make the animals suffer. Clearly, by burying their heads in the sand, they are unlikely to investigate why their dogs are at such serious health risk.

If fewer brachycephalic dogs were sold, there would be a better chance of eliminating the problem and eventually stopping the abuse. Let's not forget that there are more and more uncertified breeders who make a lot of money selling brachycephalic dogs.