Dogs with Flat Faces

If you’ve ever hung around dogs with flat faces, then you know that you can often hear them coming before you see them. That’s because their nasal anatomy can make it hard for them to breathe, and they end up sounding like they are snorting or grunting when they breathe. I wouldn’t go as far as say they snort like pigs but they do make an interesting sound.

What are dogs with flat faces called? Well, the technical term is brachycephalic breeds. According to VCA Hospitals, “Brachy means shortened and cephalic means head. Therefore, brachycephalic dogs have skull bones that are shortened in length, giving the face and nose a pushed-in appearance.” AKA dogs with a flat face.

pug dog dressed up in baseball uniform with ball glove
Photo credit: Adobe Photos.

What are flat faced dog breeds?

Here are some of the most common dog breeds with a flat face:

  • Boston Terriers
  • Boxers
  • Bull Mastiffs
  • Chinese Shar-Pei
  • English Bulldogs
  • French Bulldogs
  • Lhasa Apsos
  • Pekingese
  • Pugs
  • Shih Tzus

As you can see, this includes both small dogs and large breeds, with a few medium-sized ones as well. My dog Sadie is a medium-sized dog and is part Shih Tzu. We know this from using the Wisdom Panel DNA test.

Our family always jokes about how she snorts sometimes. Even though she doesn’t have a flat face like a Shih Tzu, I’m guessing it is that DNA that affects her nasal passages that leads her to snort. It’s also probably why she has the cutest little underbite, too.

Health issues with flat-faced dog breeds

Cute underbites aside, there are some health concerns with flat faced dogs. For starters, their pushed in appearance means that they don’t have a lot of room in their upper airways to breathe, unlike long snouted dogs. For that reason you’re not supposed to get the dogs winded or exercise them too hard.

It’s also the reason that some airlines will not allow you to travel with certain brachycephalic breeds. As I explained in this article about airline pet policies, Delta Airlines won’t stop you from bringing your flat faced pup with you in the cabin. However, they absolutely will not allow these kinds of dogs to fly in the cargo hold.

Finally, if you own one of these dog breeds, experts agree that you should always fit this dog with a harness that doesn’t squeeze the neck. These pups already have a hard enough time breathing when they are out for a walk. So, anything that restricts their neck will make breathing that more difficult for them.

Feed bowls for brachycephalic breeds

It’s a good idea to use a food bowl that’s designed for brachycephalic breeds. What does a bowl like this look like? Well, it’s slanted on the inside.

You want this kind of bowl because when a flat-faced dog puts their face in a regular bowl, it’s like they can’t breathe. Well, turns out, they can’t.

Lucky for us, we went to a dog event at our local Lowe’s a few months ago. At that time, they were introducing a new Maytag washer and dryer designed to remove pet hair.

Dogs at Lowes.
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

We came home with branded bowls that are slanted. I’ve been using them for Sadie ever since, and meal time has gone so much better for her. Here’s what one of those bowls looks like.

slanted maytag dog bowl for flat face
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

You can find similar slanted bowls on Amazon, designed for flat faced dogs.

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