Dog Wellness for Flat-Nose Breeds

Pug nose puppy running.

Flat-nose dog breeds, like the English bulldog, French bulldog, pug, and Boston terrier have become very popular over the last few years. They fall under the category called brachycephalic, or simply put, short-headed.  

There are some health complexities to these lovable breeds. Before owning one, be aware that these boop-able noses require some extra dog wellness care


Not all brachycephalic breeds will suffer from the very specific breathing issue found in this breed called brachycephalic airway syndrome. Unfortunately, many will have this condition due to their narrow nostrils, surplus tissue in the larynx, a longer soft palate, and a narrow trachea (windpipe). 

They may present symptoms of brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome. Look for these signs:

  • Wheezing
  • Labored breathing
  • Excessive snoring
  • Excessive coughing
  • Excessive gagging
  • Heat intolerance
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Discolored gums
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Hard time swallowing

If you’re concerned, talk to us about brachycephalic airway surgery and we can discuss what’s best for your dog’s wellness plan.

Eye Issues

Brachycephalic face shaped dogs tend to have eyes that protrude from the socket more than other breeds. Those lovable, bulgy eyes can be problematic. 

Not only is it difficult to tell if they are surprised or not, the sockets are shallow and leave them at risk for dry eyes and infection. They are even vulnerable to displacement from the socket. Also, between the squishy face flaps and face structure, their eyes are prone to irritation from fur. 

Dog Wellness Dental Problems

Flat-nose breeds have a smaller jaw structure. Their teeth tend to overlap and have an underbite. Overlapping teeth can lead to periodontal disease. They will need extra care and attention to their teeth to ensure their wellness. 

You can maintain their dental health at home by using dog toothpaste and toothbrush. You can also purchase a child’s toothbrush to use on your dog. The bristles are soft and gentle enough to get the job done. 

Make sure to label it or keep it away from the rest, however.

Woof—that would be quite the mix-up!

Skin Health

Again,those troublesome flaps and skin folds present challenges with dirt and moisture. Dirt can get trapped between the folds. Moisture can also collect, leaving these breeds vulnerable to yeast infections. 

Talk to your veterinarian about the best ways to maintian the health of this skin. 

Do not use anything unless it has been either recommended or prescribed by your veterinarian. If you have concerns, please contact us to schedule an appointment or ask for suggestions!

Brachycephalic Dog Problem Prevention

While some of these conditions are only remedied with surgery, there are some things owners can do to improve the life, health, and wellness of brachycephalic breeds: 

  • Monitor diet—being overweight can exacerbate respiratory issues 
  • Exercise—Make sure your pet gets exercise, but monitor for overheating or breathing difficulty. Be mindful of the weather and avoid extreme temperatures.  

If you have questions or concerns about brachycephalic dog breeds, please give us a call at (615) 646-7387. Our team at Harpeth Hills Animal Hospital is here to help you!