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Breed All About It: Facing Smashed-in Faces

By Robin Rhea, PetSafe Brand Manager Buckley shows off her petite profile.

Buckley shows off her petite profile.

I love the sound of a snoring and sorting Frenchie in the morning, forehead to chin with Buckley while the rest of her is partially on my head. With brachycephalic dogs, my experience is people either love them, hate them or just haven’t meet my dogs or some other four-legged smashed in, and often very noisy, face. Regardless of which side of the “face” you fall on, many brachycephalic dogs are within the most common breeds of adopted pets today.  From Shih tzu to Boston Terriers, smashed in faces are popping up and snorting everywhere, making awareness of how to care for these pups more critical.  

The rise in popularity of these short snouts may seem like a near miracle if you ever crossed paths with an excited bulldog in July. Their breathing is labored and they are prone to overheating. Their snouts are simply not long enough to cool air as it enters the brain. It can also be difficult to take in oxygen due to narrow nostrils and trachea which tend to be “accessories” that come with a smashed-in face.  Heat stroke can cause brain damage and even be fatal and your dog can easily be at risk when the heat is on. Don’t make taking a deep breath any more challenging for your brachy breed by keeping them cool at all times.

Having a trim body to go with that smashed-in face is critical to the health, longevity and comfort of the dog.  Reduced body fat helps ensure that air ways are not impacted and that your dog’s lungs and heart don’t have to work extra hard to support key functions. However, keeping a brachy dog slim is best done through a low calorie diet since intense activity is going to challenge their breathing. A boxer would tell if you himself if he could that lite food plus lite exercise equals lighter breathing.  

Anesthesia is also not a friend of the face that’s smashed in and the process for administering anesthesia to dogs can be a risky situation for these dogs. In talking to Patrick Mahaney, DVM, recently, he suggests seeking out an animal clinic which offers anesthesia-free teeth cleaning. This may not be possible for super excited or anxious dogs. Regardless, it’s best to keep your dog as healthy as possible so the frequency that your brachy dog goes under anesthesia is minimal.

If you find yourself face-to-face with a smashed in face, remember to treat it with care especially in hot weather. But also consider making a one of these faces part of your family. It may just be the face that only you, as their mom (or dad), can love.

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Very informative and interesting post.It is really a big help. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

I was told the same thing by my vet when I talked to him about neutering my 1 yr old english bulldog.  Although I was concerned about her age, I ended up spaying my 10 yr old basset hound and she had no problems.  Now I’m faced with Gunny (the bulldog, now 3) sneaking away to find a girlfriend!  He has been picked up several times and ‘turned in’ to the Vet, who call me to come get him.  Thankfully I live in a great community and he has a microchip in his ear, so he always finds his way home.  I have a Petsafe containment system, but the 65 lb. meathead breaks through the barrier. What should I do about his urges to go on the prowl?!?

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