What are Brachycephalic Breeds and why are they becoming a huge issue?
Brachycephalic refers to the short noses and flat faces of certain breeds of dog, such as Pugs, French Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers. This has recently become a controversial issue, due to all the health issues these dogs face, as a result of their compacted skeleton.
While at first glance these dogs seem cute and smiley, behind this many of them suffer from health complications. Many of the previously mentioned breeds are prone to Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) which can lead to major surgery to open up their airways and nostrils to help them breath.
Why are these breeds prone to such issues?
Dogs with shorter noses have a smaller skeleton but have normal amounts of skin and tissue. In comparison to their stubbed snout these dogs have excessive amounts of skin, which presents itself in rolls and folds on their faces and bodies. While these wrinkles can make the dog seem extremely cute, cuddly and even child-like, they can also result in skin issues such as Skin Fold Dermatitis (skin infections) which may have to be surgically resected (moved back) as they can cause infection and irritation in the folds.
These folds are not just external but can also form inside a dog as well. The build-up of tissue causes a number of obstructions in their airways. As their skeleton is small and short, it makes it especially difficult for these dogs to breathe as they have compressed nasal passages. At the back of dogs' throat, the soft palate (the soft part of the roof of your mouth) can be too long and therefore obstruct their airway, causing laboured breathing and loud "snorting" noises.
The main problem these dogs face are respiratory (breathing) issues. These dogs have shorter muzzles with excess soft tissue. It can cause their tracheas (windpipe) to become deformed and narrowed, and so less oxygen can be taken in. The nostrils are often compromised due to a narrowed shape also known as ‘stenotic nares’.
These breathing issues affect the regulation of temperature. Brachycephalic dogs cannot sweat so control their body temperature largely through panting. Breeds with a longer muzzle cool themselves down faster by drawing in air over the large surface area of the tongue; shorter nosed dogs cannot do this as efficiently. As a result of this, brachycephalic dog breeds are more likely to overheat which can be fatal.
Pugs are one of the top 10 most popular dog breeds in the UK. The continuation of their selective breeding has become a huge ethical issue. The British Veterinary Association's #breedtobreathe campaign raises awareness about the issues brachycephalic dogs face as a direct result of their breeding. The BVA are spreading the message of how the severe selective breeding process has caused many difficulties for brachycephalic breeds, ensuring that people understand the consequences when deciding to own one.
What do you think the general public can do to raise more awareness about these breeds? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
Written by: Saskia Chelliah
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Check out the below resources to find out more about brachycephalic breeds, selective breeding and the British Veterinary Association!
Brachycephalic Breed Links:
Selective Breeding Links: