Flat-faced Dog Breeds

Expert Care for Pugs, Bulldogs, Boxers, and other short-snout breeds

Flat-faced (or squishy-faced) dogs are more popular than ever, and it’s easy to see why. These irresistibly cute breeds bring joy to families and passers-by all over Australia. It’s important to know that these breeds may require special care and attention to ensure they enjoy a happy and healthy life.

The team at Swan Street Vet have a special interest in the care of these short-snout breeds, and can help treat and manage some of the unique challenges they may face.

For even more information about Brachycephalic breeds, read our blog post here.

How Swan Street Vet Helps Flat-Faced Breeds

  • Assessing breathing difficulty.
  • Soft tissue surgery to improve air flow.
  • Joint and spine assessments.
  • Orthopaedic surgery for joint and spine conditions.
  • Assessment and treatment for hereditary skin conditions.
  • Diet and weight recommendations.
  • Advanced dentistry procedures to address tooth decay, overlap, and dental disease.

Affected Breeds

  • Pugs
  • English Bulldogs
  • French Bulldogs
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Boston Terriers
  • Shih Tzu’s
  • Pekinese
  • Chihuahuas
  • Bull Mastiffs

What are the health risks for flat-faced dogs?

  • Breathing difficulty.
    Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) is the name given to the type of breathing difficulty experienced by short-snouted dogs. If your dog is displaying difficult or laboured breathing it’s important to speak to a vet.
  • Hereditary Spine Conditions
    Short-snout breeds have a genetic pre-disposition toward spinal deformity. This puts pressure on the spinal cord and can lead to loss of limb function and incontinence.
  • Genetic Joint Problems
    Squishy-faced breeds are predisposed to developing hip dysplasia and arthritis. 
  • Overheating.
    Dogs need to pant in order to regulate their body temperature. Squishy-faced dog breeds face difficulty bringing in sufficient air to cool off, which puts them at risk of over-heating. This is particularly dangerous for older and overweight dogs.
  • Heart Problems.
    A constricted airway impacts your dog’s ability to get oxygen into it’s blood stream, which can place additional strain on it’s heart.
  • Dental Problems
    Dogs with shorter snouts have the same number of teeth as long-snout dogs, but much less space for them to fit. Due to this lack of space teeth can often overlap, which can lead to complications like gum disease or tooth decay.
  • Exercise Intolerance.
    Brachycephalic breeds often have a reduced capacity for exercise, as a result of breathing and overheating issues. This can lead to weight gain, which may exacerbate these issues.
  • Snoring
    A snoring dog is likely to be experiencing airway constriction. Just like with people, snoring can lead to sleep apnea (breathing stopping during sleep) which has a range of negative health effects.
  • Gagging, Choking, Vomiting, or Wheezing.
    If you own a short-snout dog you will quickly adapt to hearing a wide range of interesting noises. Some of these sounds are a clear sign that your pet is in distress. The narrow airway possessed by squishy-faced dogs can easily become blocked, so it’s important for pet owners to pay attention to changes in breathing patterns.
  • Eye Problems
    A common feature of short-snouted breeds are prominent (or bulging eyes). This increases the risk of injury, inflammation (such as Cherry Eye) and ulcers.
  • Breeding Difficulty
    Due to the unique head shape of flat-faced puppies, it can be difficult for birthing to occur naturally. In many cases veterinary intervention is needed to ensure a safe birth for the puppies and mother.

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