What Does “Brachycephalic” Mean?

Brachycephalic means to have a short, broad head with a flat face.

This is a common anatomical feature in many dogs, and is a characteristic of many breeds including bulldogs, boxers, shih tzus, chihuahuas and pugs.

The brachycephalic head shape inevitably affects the anatomy of the upper airway. This means that an extreme brachycephalic morphology can affect normal healthy breathing for some dogs. The syndrome known as Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome relates to obstruction of the upper airway due to narrowed nostrils, a long soft palate or a small windpipe.

Although many people know that some dogs need special care and consideration due to having a short and broad head, it is important to know what kind of care is needed in regards to exercise, hot weather, and when researching your breed and breeder before making your choice.

Exercise for brachycephalic dogs

Here are some tips on how you can improve the quality and enjoyment of exercise for your type of dog.

A consistent routine of frequent, short walks is a good way to ensure regular healthy exercise, and it is a good idea to give your dog a break during the walk (a shaded area is highly recommended if it’s hot).

Bring along a travel bowl and a bottle of cold water so that you can offer your dog hydration when it appears thirsty. Also, use a harness instead of a collar as this will relieve the pressure usually felt on the neck by a lead and collar and distribute it across the back, shoulders and chest instead.

If you have any concerns, talk to your veterinarian.

The right temperature

As dogs tend to regulate their body temperature through panting, brachycephalic dogs, or those with breathing problems, have the potential to overheat quickly, so the best home temperature would be between 20 to 24°C. Use an air conditioner in summer months and be careful when turning the heating up during winter.

During periods of hot weather it is especially important to avoid exercising in the middle of the day, keep dogs cool by wetting the coat and ensuring there is constant opportunity for rest in the shade.

Before getting your brachycephalic dog

Choose a responsible breeder who always prioritises the health of their dogs above all else. This will give yourself the best chance of owning a healthy dog – and your new brachycephalic companion the best chance of happiness.

Make sure you do your research on your breeder’s experience and history with the type of breeds you are looking for before you commit to a breeder.

Ask them plenty of questions, the right breeder will be patient and happy to answer any queries – they should have plenty of knowledge regarding brachycephalic breed information, the most suitable households and the best nutritional diet.

Remember to also speak to your vet about particular care requirements for your new breed.

The right breed for you

Finally, you should research different types of breeds to find out which type of dog is ideal for you and your home before making your decision. For example the number of adequate opportunities you would have to provide your dog with exercise, grooming time, training and attention.

A suitable place to find this kind of information is our ROYAL CANIN® Royal Family Breed Hub.

Here, you can find out more information about specific breeds to help you make a well-informed breed choice, and you can even find your “perfect match” based on your favourite types of dogs, your preferred dog characteristics and the type of home you have.

Want to know more?

We hope this article helped to answer your questions about what Brachycephalic means and what to consider when choosing a Brachycephalic breed. If you have any other questions about breeds, then we’d like to help.

Submit your question here for the chance to win 2x tickets to Crufts 2017.

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