French Bulldogs are often described as loyal, intelligent, robust, friendly, joyful and excellent family dogs with tons of attitude. We love them for all these reasons as well as for their characteristic looks: bat ears; broad, short skulls; sturdy, stocky builds; and often curly tails.
Unfortunately, a lot of these physical characteristics, when so exaggerated, lead to physical health issues. In this 2-part series, we will be discussing health considerations resulting from 2 characteristics: Brachycephalia and Corkscrew Tails.
In the second part of our “Breeding for What?” series, we take an in-depth look at Brachycephalia. Brachycephalic dogs have broad, short skulls, with the breadth of the skull measuring 80% or more than its length. What are the associated health considerations?
The nasal passages and upper airway are contained in the long part of the skull. When this skull is shortened, all these structures are pushed, buckled and crammed into a smaller space.
The result is a narrowed and obstructed airway leading to increased breathing effort, a disease called Brachycephalic Obstruction Airway Syndrome (BOAS).
In typical BOAS, the nasal openings are often extremely narrowed and the soft palate cannot fit into the space provided – often getting trapped in the throat.
This causes snoring or even life-threatening choking. Many dogs need surgery to resect the tissue causing obstruction and to remove nasal tissue to open the nasal cavity.
Try breathing through just a very narrow straw. You will need to breathe each breath with great effort.
In Brachycephalics, this increased effort causes massive negative pressures in their throat, neck and chest. This leads to tracheal, lung, oesophageal and gastric disease.
Many of these patients regurgitate or vomit frequently. Some dogs need surgery to prevent hiatal herniation, by suturing the stomach to the body wall.
Shortening the skull causes the skin to fold in on itself, as it has nowhere else to go. The skin forming these folds get infected and inflamed easily, causing facial fold dermatitis.
Frenchies are particularly prone to facial fold dermatitis and are more at risk for development of Demodecosis, a mite infection, than other Brachycephalics. Many of these patients need to have these skin folds resected.
Brachycephalics, particularly French Bulldogs, are at risk for corneal ulcer development. The eyes protrude from the flattened orbital sockets and hair from the facial folds often contact the surface of the eyes, causing corneal ulceration.
If you have a Brachycephalic breed and are concerned that your pet may be suffering from one or more of these health issues, book a consult with us here. We are committed to supporting the health of Brachycephalic breeds and early preventative treatment.