Short Nosed Dogs


Brachycephalic syndrome is of current interest in the veterinary world and press due to the soaring popularity of the extreme brachycephalic (literally ‘short-headed’) dog breeds, such as pugs, French bulldogs, bulldogs worldwide, and concerns about the welfare of these dogs.

Brachycephalic ‘Flat-Faced’ Syndrome

Kennel Club registrations of French bulldog puppies in 2015 were more than 14,000, compared with 9,670 in 2014, which puts them in the third place for breed numbers registered - pugs are in fourth place.

Many people like these breeds for their ‘cute’ appearance, with their prominent eyes, domed foreheads and short muzzles, resembling human babies. They are also renowned for their friendly and engaging personalities.

However this human-like appearance comes at a cost, with many of the extreme brachycephalic dogs suffering from conformation-related diseases. The life expectancy of brachycephalic breeds is about 2-5 years shorter than others of matched body weight (Kennel Club, 2014). Whilst the most obvious problem is often the constriction of the upper airway (brachycephalic obstructive airway disease/ BOAS), the extreme conformation can also cause problems with reproduction, eyes, the nervous system, locomotor system and the skin. There are also breathing difficulties reported in flat-faced Persian cats.

Use the activities to learn more about the airway diseases associated with these breeds’ conformation and what the veterinary profession is doing to raise awareness of these diseases.

Video Resource

Video Resource

Resource activities

What is the Definition of Brachycephaly?

Many dogs are by definition brachycephalic but not all breeds are affected in the same way. Learn more about the research behind identifying the prevalence of brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome in each breed.


What Causes Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome?

Discover what causes this problem in short-nosed dogs.


Measuring and Improving

How do we measure respiratory function in dogs and how can we improve it?


Reflective questions

To answer and record these questions you will need to have an account and be logged in.

Task 1

What are the key arguments, concepts, points contained within it?

Task 2

What are you struggling to understand?

What could you do to improve your understanding of these concepts/terminology etc.?

Task 3

What further questions has this resource raised for you?

What else are you keen to discover about this topic and how could you go about learning more?

Can you make any links between this topic and your prior knowledge or school studies?

Help us evaluate this resource

Your feedback is very important to us. Please complete a short questionnaire.


Discover more subjects

Further reading

  • Cambridge BOAS Research Group

    The Cambridge BOAS Research Group consists of clinical researchers, specialist soft tissue surgeons, a specialist nurse and biological scientists investigating respiratory disorders in brachycephalic canine breeds over the last 10 years. Our research aims to improve breed health long-term and optimise current treatment options for upper airway obstructions with evidence-based medicine.

  • Brachycephalic dogs on BVA

    This page outlines the British Veterinary Association's view on brachycephalic dogs.