Dogs with Short (pushed in) Faces are referred to as brachycephalic. Most people are not familiar with the term brachycephalic, but if you own a Pug, Boston Terrier, Pekingese, Boxer, Bulldog, Shih Tzu, or any one of the other breeds with pushed in or short faces, you should become familiar with this word. The word comes from Greek roots brachy, meaning short, and cephalic, meaning head. Brachycephalic dogs have been bred so as to possess a normal lower jaw that is in proportion to their body size, and a compressed upper jaw. In producing this cosmetic appearance, we have compromised these animals in many important ways, and you as an owner must be familiar with the needs of your pet.
Brachycephalic breeds make a lot of snorting respiratory sounds as a matter of course simply because of the way their throats and faces are shaped. These sounds are generated from a combination of several anatomic deformities that will be described below. These deformities occur to varying degrees of severity. Most brachycephalic dogs are not hampered by their anatomy on a day-to-day basis but they do have limitations that must be recognized.
Brachycephalic Syndrome. This is common in the English Bulldog and any breed with shorter, stubby noses. The condition occurs when the airways are obstructed and breathing becomes laboured or near impossible, usually during times of extreme heat and/or stress. This is most dangerous in summer as the Bulldog will not be able to regulate its body temperature, causing serious complications to health. Surgery to widen the nostrils and shorten palates can often help to lessen the severity of the condition.