Brachycephalic Dogs: The challenges of snorters and snorers

French Bulldog

Short nosed, flat faced, snorting, snoring, sniffling: the brachycephalic (short nose, broad head) dogs have their own unique charms. I’ve lived with a few variations on this theme.


The looks and charms of these breeds attract a number of people but these breeds also come with a few challenges that their longer nosed canine kin do not. Today we’ll touch on a few of the main points to keep in mind when considering adding a short nosed dog to your life.

Shi Tzu

One of the most notable characteristics of these breeds is in fact the noise they make when breathing. These breeds have shorter airways which can be prone to congestion.These breeds can also be born with “brachycephalic airway syndrome” which usually includes narrow airway passages and an elongated palate.Basically, it is harder for the dog to breath.

Boston Terrier

Whether or not a dog has the syndrome, short nosed dogs generally breath harder in hot weather as they try to cool themselves off through panting; of course, all dogs cool themselves through panting but a shorter nosed dog who already is a hard breather can become a distressed breather in hot weather.

Lazy Dog

People need to be mindful of keeping these breeds from overheating. Too much exercise in heat, for example, is a real no-no.

English Bulldog

Short nosed dogs can also be vulnerable to colds, sneezes, and sniffles. Stress weakens our immune systems and it weakens a dog’s immune system; a stressed out short nosed dog is basically an upper respiratory infection waiting to happen.

Douge de Bordeaux or French Mastiff

Once these breeds develop a bad cold or infection it can be harder for them to get over it — you want to be certain that at the first signs of sickness you take your short nosed dog to the vet. Your pup may well need medication to recover.


You also want to keep an anti-histamine on hand with these breeds. I once had a frightening experience with my boxer, Keeper, when she had a sudden allergic reaction, possibly to a bee sting. Her short face immediately started to balloon in reaction and within five minutes she was struggling to breath at all.


Fortunately, at that time I was living about three minutes from my vet and as Keeper reached the point that her sides were heaving with the stress and effort of trying to draw in enough air to keep her heart beating, the vet was able to get an air tube in her, and then the needed medications to start countering the swelling.


 I’ve been in personal near death experiences but nothing ever freaked me out the way that afternoon and watching my poor girl almost smother to death in front of me did. Trust me, you want an anti-histamine on hand with a brachycephalic dog.


These are also breeds that as a general rule really love their people, which is why despite the shortcomings of a snub nose they continue to be popular. The shorter snout gives them the appearance of smiling at us with an almost human face (okay, maybe I just know some really interesting looking people.)

Bull mastiff

It is important to remember though, avoid extremes of heat or cold, over-exertion, and stress. Hmm, I guess if I add, eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, and exercise I could be speaking to the needs of people and canines here….

Chinese Shar Pei

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