Study: No Way To Predict Potential Breathing Problems in Brachycephali

Around half of all dogs with flatter faces such as bulldogs and pugs develop breathing difficulties. Despite research into this, scientists say there is no way to tell in advance which dogs will be affected.

Everyone has gone pug crazy lately. This breed, and other Brachycephalic breeds, have risen in popularity over the last few years. It’s no surprise really, they certainly have a particular charm about them! But while they look adorable, these types of dog are prone to breathing problems. The condition is called Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) and it’s incredibly common in dogs with this type of head shape.

This syndrome can affect dogs in a variety of ways. It may cause them to snore; it could make exercising hard for them; and it affects their breathing when it’s hot. While more than half of all pugs, french bulldogs, and bulldogs develop this condition in their lifetime, it’s usually later in life when symptoms first appear.

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This makes BOAS hard to breed out of these dogs, as they are already of breeding age when they are diagnosed with the condition. A study in 2015 found that dogs with smaller muzzle to cranium ratios, and thicker necks were most at risk. However, more recent research has now discovered that this simply cannot be used as a reliable indicator.

In fact, scientists have now gone so far as to state that there are no visible signals that will fully determine whether or not a particular dog will develop BOAS. We can only look at these as risk factors., and perhaps take caution when it comes to breeding this type of dog.

Breeders may be able to help

The author of the study, Dr Nai-Chieh Liu, states that breeders should avoid using the dogs that have wide faces with small muzzles and thick necks. The best dogs to use for breeding are those with the most open nostrils, giving the dogs more nasal capacity to breathe.

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What can dog owners do?

If you’re a pug or bulldog owner, you can’t really tell if your pup is going to grow up to have breathing problems in later life — it’s important to keep an eye on him to look out for signs. Additionally, take your dog for regular check ups, and ensure he gets plenty of exercise. An overweight dog will be more at risk of further health complications should he go on to develop BOAS.

Emily Hutchinson
Emily Hutchinson

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