Common Issues in Brachycephalic (Squished Face) Dogs

They have become incredibly popular – the “squished face” dogs – Pugs, Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus and Pekingese amongst others. All of these breeds are known as brachycephalic (break-ee-cef-alec) meaning that they have very short, broad skulls. Many owners seek out these breeds for their looks but are unaware of the long list of health problems that accompany such traits.

Though respiratory issues are among the greatest concerns in these breeds, they often suffer from a variety of other non-airway related issues. Some of these include:

  • Inflammation/infection in skin folds (called pyometra)
  • Dental crowding and misalignment of teeth – more frequent and invasive dental care is often needed
  • Abnormal protrusion of the eye – these breeds are more prone to “proptosis” which is when the eye is dislocated from the orbit usually resulting in surgical removal of the eye
  • Fur or abnormally placed eyelashes rubbing on the eye
  • Allergies
  • Breeding/Birthing complications

These dogs can be a challenge to care for due to myriad health concerns resulting from their body and skull type. Owners of these breeds should expect to have a close relationship with their veterinarian to ensure that their dog remains healthy. Prospective owners should consider the potential time and financial investment involved in caring for these breeds before bringing one home.