Brachycephalic Syndrome in the French Bulldog

Brachycephalic Syndrome

Many owners of dogs of brachycephalic breeds observed in their pets such features as frequent sneezing, shortness of breath during active games and in hot weather, snoring during sleep, and some others that cause affection. However, cute features such as these can be a sign of a serious health problem – brachycephalic syndrome, which is common in dogs with short snouts.


The owner should be concerned about the condition of the dog if:

• the dog’s sleep is accompanied by snoring;

• the pet has difficulty breathing (inspiratory dyspnea);

• fatigue and shortness of breath appear, not only with serious physical exertion but also with little activity or even from a little excitement;

• the dog is prone to hyperthermia – that is, it quickly overheats and this happens often;

• when feeding, the dog often begins to spit up foamy contents;

• often, when feeding, there is a reverse ejection of food from the esophagus without tension, that is, without signs of vomiting (regurgitation);

• the animal has wheezing (stridor);

• its mucous membranes are bluish;

• the pet has fainted more than once for no apparent reason or from suffocation (syncope).

Often these symptoms of the brachycephalic syndrome appear during vigorous physical activity, dog experiences, excitement, but they can also arise from a little overexcitement or activity, as well as in hot weather or a stuffy room. But they can also arise for no apparent reason due to the peculiarity of the structure of the head of French Bulldogs.

It is interesting! The years of selection contributed to the selection for assignment to this breed of precisely short-faced individuals that do not have long nasal passages, as in dogs with a dolichocephalic structure of the skull.

Hence, breathing problems arose, since a genetically shortened head, due to a decrease in bone and cartilaginous formations, did not at all affect the number of soft tissues of the skull.

In other words, with a reduced number of skull bones, the same amount of soft tissues remained, that is, an excess of them was formed, which was the cause of breathing difficulties, for example:

• stenosis of the dog’s nostrils (narrowing of the nasal passages);

• hyperplasia of the soft palate (excess tissue);

• hypoplasia of the trachea.

These reasons can aggravate the situation and lead to:

• eversion of laryngeal sacs;

• collapse of the larynx.


Stenosis of the nostrils can be identified by visual examination, in which the specialist can distinguish the displacement of the lateral cartilage of the nose. Unfortunately, it is impossible to see the real picture of the state of the respiratory tract by the method of a conventional examination due to the excessive mobility of dogs of this breed during examinations, therefore such an examination is carried out under general anesthesia of the animal.

The course of treatment should be prescribed by a veterinarian after passing examinations

Bearing in mind the serious risks of the “Frenchie” in the use of anesthesia, it is advisable to carry out such an examination at the time of the surgical intervention for another reason, if, of course, there was such a need.

It is interesting! To do this, the owner of the French Bulldog must ask the doctor operating, at the same time, to assess the condition of the dog’s respiratory tract to establish the true picture.

So, for example, with a cesarean section, often used in the delivery of French Bulldogs, it is possible to ask the doctor to examine the bitch to establish brachycephalic syndrome. Hyperplasia of the soft palate, when an enlarged palate leads to obstruction (obstruction) of the pharynx (glottis) and makes breathing difficult, can be detected with a laryngoscope on examination of the oropharynx or with lateral x-rays. Hypoplasia of the trachea (its underdevelopment), and then its partial destruction, can occur due to excessive efforts of the dog during breathing, stress, or overheating.

Long-term hyperplasia of the soft tissues of the larynx leads to eversion of the laryngeal sacs, it is diagnosed by visual examination, is less common, and is a secondary disease. A laryngeal collapse is a severe form of obstruction that only surgery can help. Difficulties in diagnosis are associated with infectious and allergic diseases of the larynx and trachea, which can lead to their stenosis.


The main method for correcting visible anatomical abnormalities is surgical intervention. Stenosis of the nostrils is corrected with a vertical wedge-shaped alloplasty, when a piece of soft nasal tissue is cut out, which increases (widens) the nasal passage, making it easier to inhale air through the nostrils.

Important! The hypertrophied soft palate is shortened by resection to the required level.

Also, with the help of resection, the inverted laryngeal sacs are treated. Laryngeal collapse can only be treated surgically: resection of the arytenoid cartilage and/or permanent tracheostomy.


Since it is impossible to prevent the brachycephalic syndrome, since it is a consequence of gene selection and an unspoken sign of the French Bulldog, but the owner can and should detect its presence in time, because forewarned means armed.

In the heat, with intense physical exertion and stress, owners should carefully monitor their pets – “Frenchies” to notice the symptoms of the brachycephalic syndrome in time, since when dogs under two years of age seek treatment, the prognosis of recovery is higher than in a later period, when secondary formations are not excluded up to the collapse of the larynx. Death is not excluded in such cases.

Important! When detecting or suspecting that a dog has this syndrome, the first thing that breeders should do is seek the advice of a specialist – a surgeon. After all, a timely diagnosed disease is the first step towards a successful outcome for a pet.

To prevent the onset of negative consequences, owners of French Bulldogs with the brachycephalic syndrome can:

• exercise without overheating the dog; for these purposes, it is also necessary to maintain a comfortable temperature in the room where the animal is kept;

• refrain from active games with your pet and situations where it will be exposed to stress and (or) strong feelings, including even positive ones;

• feed such a dog with coarse food, in small portions, observe the process;

• use a special harness instead of a collar that does not exert pressure on the neck and body areas where the airways are located;

• Relax the dog’s muscles to avoid airway stenosis by simply scratching the dog’s throat;

• in case of infectious diseases, seek help from specialists since such diseases can aggravate the condition, carefully monitor the course of the disease;

• for those wishing to have puppies from pets with this syndrome – choose a pair that does not have one – increasing the chance of a healthier offspring (without an elongated soft palate or hypertrophied soft tissues of the larynx);

• in case of suffocation – try to provide emergency assistance yourself (it is worth undergoing appropriate training from specialists) and immediately contact the nearest clinic for assistance, for which it would not hurt to know a couple of such places working around the clock.

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