4 min read (Articles narrated by Mabel)
As most of you probably know, I’m a Shih Tzu. That means that my snout is much shorter than most other dog breeds. Shih Tzus fall under the category of “brachycephalic” dogs, which means dogs that have a relatively broad, short skull.
Even though I have been very healthy throughout my life, there are actually lots of problems that can occur with brachycephalic dogs. In fact, many breeders continue breeding them knowing that there is a good chance they’ll have breathing problems. So, what issues might arise if you have a dog with a flat face?
Which Breeds Are Brachycephalic?
There are actually a lot of breeds that fall under this category, and they’re all adorable just like me. Some have shorter snouts than others, but they can all have similar problems. Here are some of the common brachycephalic breeds:
- Boston Terrier
- Chow Chow
- French Bulldog
- Lhasa Apso
- Shih Tzu
Of course, any dog that is mixed with one or more of these breeds could be prone to these issues as well.
What Health Concerns Are Common For These Dogs?
Because of the way our bodies are shaped, there are lots of health concerns that are much more common for brachycephalic dogs.
Obviously, a shorter snout will make breathing much more difficult. Because of this, you might notice your dog snoring, snorting, choking, or wheezing more often. If you notice these symptoms happening more than usual, this could be a sign of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome, making it harder for them to breathe.
These breeds also can overheat more easily. So, if you walk them in hot weather, be sure to provide them with plenty of water, and don’t keep them out in the sun too long to avoid breathing issues.
The way that Brachycephalic dog faces are structured, they are also prone to eye issues. A common eye issue is corneal ulcers, which is when deep layers of their cornea are lost. If you notice a change in how often your dog produces tears (either more or less frequently), then this could be a sign of a corneal ulcer.
Sometimes, the bone structure for brachycephalic dogs is different than usual, which can cause an abnormally shaped vertebrae or painful joints. Also, they often have crooked teeth since their mouths are often not big enough to fit all these teeth. This could cause decay or gum disease over time.
Many of these breeds have extra wrinkles or skin folds that could be more difficult to inspect on a regular basis. So, it is easy for infections to appear in these areas.
Can These Health Concerns Be Prevented?
A lot of these health concerns can’t be prevented altogether, but if you pay extra close attention to your dog’s health, you can catch issues early on. Pay attention to what their breathing normally sounds like so that you will be able to tell if it suddenly changes. Check your dog from head to toe at least once a month to make sure that they have no abnormalities on their body.
Of course, all dogs need exercise on a regular basis, but make sure your brachycephalic dog doesn’t overexert themselves. You might need to take them for multiple short walks throughout the day instead of one longer walk, especially when it’s hot out. Don’t put your dog in a situation that could cause them to have breathing issues.
Why Should Brachycephalic Dogs Not Be Bred Together?
There are many different theories as to why brachycephalic dogs were initially bred, but the main reason that they’re still popular today is because they’re cute. People continuously breed them because of their appearance, and many dog parents don’t even realize the serious health concerns that these dogs can have.
Plus, many breeders know that the dogs they breed are likely doomed to have some sort of major health problem, but sadly, many of them don’t seem to care.
There are even mixes between two different brachycephalic dog breeds now. While these might be extra cute, they are even more likely to suffer from the health issues that brachycephalic dogs have.
Sadly, it is also difficult for many of these dogs to breed naturally. Many of these dogs are delivered by a C-section, which is not fair for any dog to have to go through, especially not when it’s just for a popular trend.
So, while it is clear that breeds like me are adorable, we shouldn’t be bred only for a popular demand. Who knows how many brachycephalic dogs have been hurt just because the breeding demand is so high?
If you have one of these breeds, make sure to keep a close eye on their health and always take great care of them. And if you really want one of these breeds, please look for one at a shelter or a rescue instead of breeding more of these poor dogs.
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