What is Brachycephaly ? Who? What? How?

What is Brachycephalic?

Brachycephalic - pronounced 'brack-ee-siff-a-lick' put simply means "short head", it's a scary looking word which took me days to pronounce it. Hopefully i'm not alone when i admit the first time i saw this word i thought it was some kind of alien mutation? Fear not ! Brachycephaly is simply the unique traits found in some breeds of cats, dogs or rabbits, such as "snub-nose" or " snorty" sounding.

However, Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome is something to be scared of and its severity depends on the dog and breed itself. To try put it as simple as possible it is a range of abnormalities inside the upper airways which cause a range of issues with breathing. More information can be found in our Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome blog.

You will certainly have seen some of these brachycephalic breeds such as these below.


List of Brachycephalic Dogs

  • Affenpinscher 
  • American Bulldog
  • American Cocker Spaniel
  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Bulldog
  • Bullmastiff
  • Cane Corso
  • King Charles Spaniel
  • Chihuahua (apple headed)
  • Chow Chow
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Dogue de Bordeaux
  • English Toy Spaniel
  • French Bulldog
  • Japenese Chin
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Neopolitan Mastiff
  • Newfoundland
  • Pekingese
  • Pug
  • Shar-Pei
  • Shih Tzu
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Tibetan Spaniel

List of Brachycephalic Cats

  • British Shorthair
  • Eoxtic Shofthair
  • Himalayan
  • Persian
  • Burmese
  • Scottish Fold

List of Brachycephalic Rabbits

  • Jersey Wooly
  • Lionhead Rabbit
  • Lop Rabbit

Signs and symptoms 

Each breed mentioned above has its own severity of brachycephalic signs and symptoms ranging from severe to very mild cases. In warm weather these symptoms become worse.The more abnormalities the dog has, the more severe the symptoms.

Affected dogs can show multiple signs mentioned below:

-Narrowed nostrils aka Stenotic Nares





-Harsh sounding / struggle with breathing

-Increased inspiratory effort

-Bluish discolouration of skin and mucous membranes 


- Vomitting during or after excercise 

- Excercise intolerance 

- Sudden collapse 

These signs and symptoms are usually displayed early age however in some animals their signs won't become apparent until middle age, some breeds until they reach 3-4 yrs old, so don't count yourself lucky too early. 

Dogs with increased risk..

These breeds have an even higher risk at developing Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome and really need your education and attention. 


-English/French Bulldogs

-Boston Terriers

-King Charles Spaniels



-Shih Tzus

Pugs and Boston Terriers in particular are also prone to developing laryngeal collapse because of  their flexible laryngeal cartilage.

Remember, obesity and humid weather will aggravate these symptoms so really monitor your pet. Contact your vet if you feel your dog is suffering any of these symptoms above. 



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