Special problems of flatter-faced dogs
Flatter-faced dogs are becoming increasingly popular, with the Kennel Club reporting a 2,747 per cent rise in the number of French bulldogs registered since 2004.
Unfortunately, a survey by the Royal Veterinary College found that 58 per cent of short-nosed dog owners did not recognise the signs that their brachycephalic dog was struggling to breathe.
Popular flat-faced breeds in the UK include French bulldogs, English bulldogs, Boston terriers, pugs, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, shih tzus and boxers.
Not all dogs that are short-nosed will suffer from health problems relating to breeding, but too many do.
Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) – also known as brachycephalic syndrome – is common in flat-faced dogs. The ability to breathe normally is commonly a struggle for dogs with this syndrome.
Shortened and narrowed airways result in laboured breathing meaning that these dogs constantly struggle to cope with a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream.
This puts a strain on the dog’s heart and makes them more susceptible to secondary heart problems.
Dog breeds have been selectively bred over many generations to meet certain characteristics, and those bred to have a shortened upper jaw still have the same number of teeth as those of their species with longer snouts (adult dogs have 42 teeth).
Because they have to fit these teeth into a much smaller area, their teeth can overlap, increasing the risk of decay and gum disease.
Skin and ear problems
The shape of their heads means that these dogs often have deep skin folds around their eyes and narrowed ear canals.
Many of these dogs have prominent eyes so their tear film doesn’t spread properly and they are very vulnerable to injury.
They easily develop ulcers on the eye which can easily result in loss of an eye if untreated.