Over the last few years we have seen a rise in the popularity of breeds such as the French Bulldog, English Bulldog, Pugs, Boston Terriers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and the Shih Tzu. These puppies are undeniably cute with their little puppy rolls, lovely colouring and tiny faces it is easy to see the demand for their breeds.
What some potential owners don't expect is the lifelong potential for wheezing, sleep apnoea and heat exhaustion due to their short snout and overheating during the summer months. These dogs are referred to as Brachycephalic - Shortened head, flat face and short nose. The health problems that arise from these features include:
Eye Problems - Due to shallow eye sockets the eye balls protrude and can create dry eye, ulceration and vision problems, this is referred to as Brachycephalic Occular Syndrome.
Temperature Control - Short nosed dogs don't have the surface area required within the muzzle to reduce their body heat through panting so in turn can suffer from heat stroke very quickly.
Obstructive Airway - As facial tissue is not in proportion with the short bony structure of the face there can be an obstruction of the airway by the soft palate hanging down which is potentially very dangerous and affects the dogs ability to breath.
Narrowed Nostrils - Known as Stenotic Nares and found in most Brachycephalic dogs and limits the ability of the dog being able to draw in air and may be so narrow that the dog is forced to breath through his mouth.
Dental Problems - the teeth in these dogs grow at the same rate and to the same size of a normal dog however their faces have miniaturised and so teeth crowding occurs. It is essential that these dogs get their teeth cleaned on a daily basis to help prevent dental disease.
Overall... These are beautiful dogs who need extra care throughout their lifetime. They need to be kept out of the heat, be kept relatively calm with no excessive exercise routine. Keeping them in a healthy weight range and avoiding obesity, cleaning their teeth and if advised by your vet treatment for their airway can improve their quality of life.