Dogs with a flat, wide-shaped head are said to be brachycephalic (‘brachy’ meaning short, and ‘cephalic’, meaning head). The soft tissue in the nose and throat of some brachycephalic dogs may be excessive for the airways, partially obstructing the airway and making it difficult for them to breathe normally (causing heavy panting or noisy breathing). This condition is known as Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrom (BOAS) and is a progressive disorder that can impair a dog’s ability to exercise, play, eat and sleep.
Of all the brachycephalic breeds, some are considered “extreme brachycephalics”. This group includes French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, and Pugs. These breeds are extremely popular. As of 2023, the French Bulldog has become the most popular breed in the U.S. This is driving a surge in breeding and a surge in purchases. While they are extremely attractive dogs that have a fun personality, this popularity drives an increase in price and therefore an increase in irresponsible breeding programs that can perpetuate some of the genetic issues with these breeds.
These issues include respiratory disease such as infectious tragal bronchitis to pneumonia. Extreme brachycephalic dogs compared to non-brachycephalic purebred dogs are five times more likely to submit a claim for respiratory disease. They are also five times more likely to submit an insurance claim for Brachycephalic Ocular Disease due to their eyes being pushed forward out of their skulls. French Bulldogs in particular are 17 times more likely to submit a claim for Brachial Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) than other brachycephalic breeds. Frenchies with BOAS are also five times more likely than non-BOAS Frenchies to submit a claim for respiratory disease. Frenchies with BOAS are also twice as likely to submit a claim for spinal disease, which is on par with Dachsunds which are typically the most likely to submit a claim for Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD).
The good news is we can help with some of these issues. Brachycephalic breeds are usually good candidates for resection of extended soft palates (the thing that makes these dogs breathe like a snoring warthog) and stenotic nares (tiny nostrils). We can perform procedures to reduce the size of soft palates and open nostrils with a minimum amount of bleeding and faster healing times due to the use of a surgical laser. Nasal and soft palate tissue is very vascular and the surgical procedures can be bloody, but our laser cauterizes tissue as it cuts minimizing bleeding.
When purchasing these breeds, it is best to confirm they were bred responsibly to minimize the incidence of the known genetic issues with the breed. It is also a good idea to purchase pet insurance early in the life of these breeds due to the known issues. This can help owners save a considerable amount of money over the life of their pets.
Text or Call Our Veterinary Team in Omaha for an Appointment
If you are worried about the health of your short-nosed furry family member, let us know! We will examine your pet and provide the appropriate treatment plan. Call our team at Lone Tree Animal Care Center today at (402) 389-3356 or request an appointment through our website or mobile app .