What Are The Health Issues Common To Flat-Faced Dogs?

health issues common to flat-faced dogs

Over the years, flat-faced dogs also known as Brachycephalic dogs have gained popularity almost everywhere. They are known for their cute facial structure and also cool and lovely personalities.

However, these dogs are not very healthy like normal dogs with longer snouts.

In this article, I will reveal all you need to know about flat-faced dogs, their common health issues, and also how you can prevent them.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the main reason for this article.

What is the meaning of Brachycephalic?

The scientific term “Brachycephalic” is the word used to describe flat-faced dogs. This word was derived from two Greek words “Brachy” which means short and “cephalic” which means head.

This means Brachycephalic dogs are dogs with short heads and flat faces. They also have compressed upper jaws and bulging eyes with shallow eye sockets.

What are the most popular Flat-faced dogs?

A pug with white coat

There are a lot of popular flat-faced dogs but the ones you can easily find in most families are:

  • Pugs
  • English Bulldog
  • French Bulldog
  • Shih Tzu
  • Boston Terriers
  • Boxers
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

These dogs are popular all over the world and they are known for their affectionate personalities. They are also prone to having some health issues due to their facial structures.

Keep reading to find out the health issues common to flat-faced dogs.

What are the Health Issues common to Flat-faced dogs?

Flat Face Dogs

Not all flat-faced dogs will suffer from these health issues but after making proper research, I observe that these issues are what these dogs face mostly.

Breathing Difficulties

Most of these dogs suffer from Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS). This is a condition that causes difficulty in breathing in dogs. These are some of the reasons why these dogs are prone to having Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)

  • They have a narrow windpipe; this makes it impossible for the dog to inhale enough oxygen.
  • They have short muzzle bones and a small skull which houses plenty of tissues and muscles. These tissues and muscles can block or impede the passage of enough oxygen.
  • They have a smaller and narrow nostril also called stenotic nares. This makes it impossible for the dog to inhale adequate oxygen at a time.
  • They are usually big dogs; their body makes use of the inhaled oxygen faster. This makes them get hot quickly because the little oxygen they can inhale into their body is being used faster due to their large body size.

How do you know if your Brachycephalic dog is having Breathing Difficulties?

All these are the symptoms of Difficulty in Breathing in your dogs.

  • Noisy breathing: Brachycephalic breeds are prone to snoring, snorting, and other types of noisy breathing. This is due to their shortened nasal passages and flattened face.
  • Panting: Flat-faced dogs may pant more frequently or heavily than other breeds, especially in warm or humid conditions. This is because they have a harder time panting to regulate their body temperature.
  • Difficulty exercising: Brachycephalic breeds may have difficulty exercising due to their breathing issues. They may become tired easily, have difficulty catching their breath, or seem to be struggling to breathe during physical activity.
  • Blue or purple gums: If a dog’s gums are turning blue or purple, it could be a sign that they are not getting enough oxygen. This is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention from a veterinarian.

How to Prevent this

There are several ways we can prevent this issue, but the best thing you should do is to ensure that your dog doesn’t get involved in a rigorous exercise that will make him pant.

Endeavor to take your dog out on exercise only during cool evenings or mornings. Avoid sunny days.


Difficulty in breathing can lead to other life-threatening issues, so the best thing you should do is to talk to your vet. He will give you the necessary medications and also advise you on what to do to help your dog live a healthy life.

Eye Problems

The anatomy of these dogs’ eyes can be disturbing. Their eyeball is always protruding outside due to their shallow eye socket. The eyelid cannot easily cover the cornea fully also and this might expose the cornea to physical injuries.

The eyes are also prone to tear staining. Their tear duct can easily be affected leading to excessive dryness of the eyes. Their eyes are also prone to eyes infection such as ulcers etc.

How do you know if your Brachycephalic dog is having Eye Problems?

These are some of the symptoms you should look out for:

  • Red, irritated, or watery eyes
  • Squinting or rubbing the eyes
  • Cloudiness or discharge
  • Change in eye color.
  • Excessive blinking of their eyes


Eye problems in dogs can be caused by different underlying factors. This is why I will advise you to visit a Vet if you notice any of these symptoms in your dog’s eyes.

The vet will be able to detect the cause of the eye problem and he will also give you the necessary medication. It might just be an antibiotic eye drop or even surgery if the eye problem is severe.

Skin Problems

This dog has a small facial structure but the skin on its face is very much. These facial folds don’t allow proper ventilation on the dog’s face.

The folds of skin on the face of these dogs can trap moisture and bacteria, leading to yeast buildup or skin infections which can easily turn sore or severe.

How do you know if your Brachycephalic dog is having Skin Problems?

These are the symptoms that your dog is having skin problems.

  • Dry, flaky, or itchy skin: These may be signs of dryness or irritation.
  • Redness or inflammation: If you notice redness or swelling on your dog’s skin, it could be a sign of an allergic reaction or infection.
  • Bumps, rashes, or lesions: If you notice any unusual bumps, rashes, or lesions on your dog’s skin, it could be a sign of a skin condition or other problem.
  • Excessive scratching: If your dog is scratching excessively, it could be a sign of an underlying skin issue.

How to Prevent this

You should always bathe your dog carefully and check the skin folds to remove all debris that might cause infection.

These dogs are also prone to overheating, their skin can be easily irritated due to heat. So, you should ensure they are staying in a cold environment to prevent this.


The best thing you should do if you notice any of the symptoms listed above in your dog is to contact your vet. He will be able to help you test some samples of the affected skin to know if it is a fungi or bacterial infection. Surgery might also be needed for severe skin conditions.

Dental Problems

Another Health issue common to Flat-faced dogs is Dental Problems. Flat-faced dogs have a short skull with a compressed jawbone which houses the same number of teeth as dogs with normal long snouts.

Due to the compressed jawbone, there might be overlapping of teeth against each other. This will also facilitate the growth of bacteria in the gums which might in turn lead to tooth decay or other gum problems.

Due to the compressed jaw, their teeth are not always well arranged, and this results in malocclusion.

How to Prevent this

I recommend that you take your flat-faced dog to your vet regularly for proper teeth cleaning. The vet will be able to reach into the difficult areas of the teeth and help to remove trapped food particles.

You should also ask the breeder before adopting the pet whether the pedigrees suffer from any form of dental issues. You can also help the dog’s oral hygiene by buying good dental chews that will help him keep his teeth in the right condition at all times.


If you suspect any deformation in your dog’s teeth or gumline, the best thing you should inform your vet.

The treatment will be based on what the vet has diagnosed. It might just be proper cleaning of the dog’s mouth to remove plaque or tartar buildup. It might be the complete removal of the affected tooth or teeth and it might also require surgery.

Final Thought

Flat-Faced dogs have shortened skulls which expose them to certain health issues such as Breathing difficulties, dental problems, skin problems, and eye problems.

If you are a Brachycephalic dog owner or you are planning to adopt anyone soon, it is your job to always work with a veterinarian to determine the best treatment plan for their dog’s health issues.


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