Canine Brachycephalic Syndrome

Canine Brachycephalic Syndrome is a condition that affects dogs with short, or brachycephalic muzzles. This syndrome can cause a variety of health problems due to the anatomical abnormalities associated with having a shortened muzzle. Common signs and symptoms of brachycephalic syndrome include difficulty breathing, snoring, gagging, and exercise intolerance.

The most common breeds affected by this syndrome are Bulldogs, Pugs, Shih Tzus, and Boston Terriers.

The primary cause of brachycephalic syndrome is the shortened muzzle associated with these breeds. This shortening causes their airway to narrow, which can lead to difficulty breathing and other respiratory problems.

Their soft palate might be too long for their shortened muzzle and can obstruct their airway.

Symptoms of Canine Brachycephalic Syndrome

The most common symptoms of Brachycephalic Syndrome include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Snoring
  • Gagging
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Cyanosis (blue-tinged skin due to lack of oxygen)
  • Open-mouth breathing

Stages of Canine Brachycephalic Syndrome

The stages of Brachycephalic Syndrome can be split into three categories: mild, moderate, and severe.

A puppy sleeping with a stethoscope.


Mild cases of Brachycephalic syndrome could be present with only minor signs like snoring or gagging. These dogs might not have any other signs that they’re having difficulty breathing.


Moderate cases will have more obvious signs such as open-mouth breathing and exercise intolerance.


Severe cases of Brachycephalic syndrome will have even more severe signs such as cyanosis and difficulty breathing even at rest. These dogs could need oxygen supplementation or surgery to correct their airway obstruction.

Treating Canine Brachycephalic Syndrome

Treating Brachycephalic Syndrome will depend on the severity of their condition. Mild cases might only need minor lifestyle changes such as avoiding strenuous exercise and keeping them cool in hot weather.

Moderate to severe cases could need surgery to correct their airway obstruction, or oxygen supplementation. 

Medications such as bronchodilators can be prescribed to help open up your dog’s airways and make breathing easier.

Preventing Canine Brachycephalic Syndrome

The best way to prevent Brachycephalic Syndrome is to avoid buying or breeding dogs with short muzzles. It’s important to keep these dogs cool in hot weather and avoid strenuous exercise.

It’s also important to have regular check-ups with your veterinarian to ensure that your dog’s airway remains open and healthy.