The RVC has a specialist clinic for brachycephalic dog breeds, also known as short-muzzled or short-nosed dogs. Brachycephalic dogs can suffer from long-term health problems that affect their breathing, eyes, bones and gait, heart, skin and ears.
Brachycephalic breeds include pugs, English and French bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles spaniels and Pekingese.
Brachycephalic dogs have a compressed skull at the front and back, which results in the soft tissues being crammed within and around the skull. In severe cases, it can appear that the dog has no nose at all. This means the animals are at especially high risk of developing respiratory problems such as brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS). The clinical signs include breathing difficulties, noises during respiration, overheating, gagging and choking.
The short skull also results in the dog’s skin folding over the front of the face, creating deep crevices which are a warm and moist environment that encourages growth of bacteria and yeasts. These bacteria can then attack the skin, causing infection.
The flattening of the skull also causes the eye sockets to become shallow, meaning the eyeball protrudes significantly. Therefore the cornea is more exposed than usual, making it more likely to become dry, leading to ulceration or direct trauma. Other health issues can include heart problems, ear and hearing issues and complications with the dog’s bones and gait.
A multidisciplinary approach
If a dog was brought to a veterinary clinic with this complex set of clinical signs it may have to see several different specialists at different times. At the RVC we take a transdisciplinary approach to caring for brachycephalic dogs. This means bringing all clinical services together to ensure the dogs get the best holistic and individualised patient care.
The RVC is a world-leader among research centres that investigate brachycephalic health and welfare. Read more about the work we are doing to generate new knowledge that ultimately improves animal welfare.