Brachycephalic dogs, what to look for
By Emily Roach, Paws in Work guest blogger.
What is a Brachycephalic dog?
Brachycephalic in simple terms means ‘flat-faced’, giving a dog an appearance as if its muzzle has been squashed or flattened slightly. Examples of flat-faced breeds are boxers, bulldogs, shih tzus pugs and more!
Breeds such as pugs and English and French bulldogs have always been popular in the UK, and they continue to increase in popularity. French bulldogs particularly are desired as a ‘designer’ dog breed. Therefore, it’s important to have all the knowledge you need if you are contemplating welcoming a brachycephalic breed of dog into your life.
Are these breeds ethical?
There’s some controversy on whether it is ethical to continue breeding flat-faced dog breeds as they are commonly recognised for having health problems that develop in the future, such as breathing difficulties (which can lead to further complications). Not all breeders, however, produce litters that carry health problems, even though it is common in a lot of these breeds, so it’s important to choose your breeder wisely.
It’s crucial that you find a breeder that makes you feel 100% comfortable and certain that you are making the correct decision; you can check out our tips on finding an ethical breeder here. If you are looking to rehome a rescue dog, it’s important to try and gather as much information on their medical history as possible to offer the best care for them once you take them home to avoid having to potentially return them back to the shelter if you are unable to facilitate their medical or behavioural needs.
Things to consider
Taking any dog or puppy home is a huge responsibility, even more so if the breed is recognised to develop potential health problems. As previously highlighted, brachycephalic breeds can suffer from breathing problems and complications in regulating their temperature, (you’ll need to be extra cautious of this during the summer months), or stressful situations such as labour. This is why brachycephalic dogs who are due to give birth are usually booked in for a planned c-section to ensure the birth is as safe as possible for both mum and her pups. Take a look at our guide on how best to help your dog give birth for further information.
There are other problems that these breeds are more prone to which can affect their heart, teeth, ears, and skin. Here are the key terms to look out for regarding health conditions in brachycephalic dogs:
Shallow eye sockets, imperfect eyelids, nasal folds
BOAS (brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome)
Wrinkles and skin folds (leading to skin problems)
Spinal chord deformity / disease
Dystoica ( during labour)
By becoming well-versed in conditions that can affect these breeds, you will be knowledgeable of what can cause these problems, the warning signs and how to keep them under control. You’ll also need to consider the financial aspect of caring for a dog which may develop multiple health conditions in the future.
You can make full use of resources such as The Kennel Club website which offers extensive information on all purebreds and their unique characteristics, so you can familiarise yourself with the breeds in question as much as possible.
Is this the right breed for me?
Think you’re ready to bring a brachycephalic dog home? Let’s review a quick checklist to make sure you feel confident with your decision!
Have you conducted in-depth research into the potential health problems that can occur with these breeds?
Have you looked into the best insurance policy based on the breed you’re considering?
Are you mindful of situations that can impact their breathing more than other types of dogs, e.g. temperature, exercise, labour?
Are you able to dedicate enough time to your dog, especially if you live on your own?
Does this breed suit your lifestyle?
Do you feel that you can keep up with the potential amount of surgical procedures that may be needed to rectify any health conditions in the future?
Do you know what to look for in a breeder, or what information you need if you are rehoming a dog?
If you have answered ‘yes’ to all the bullet points above, then exciting times lie ahead, you’re already one step closer to finding your perfect new family member!
If you are seriously considering looking for a new furry friend to welcome to your home and don't know where to begin, we have a breeder match service 'Find a Pup'. By filling in your details, we will then put you in touch with an ethical breeder in our network; the checks have already been completed so you know your potential new companion is coming from an ethical home!
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