Short nosed breeds of dog, like this gorgeous British Bulldog, are popular companions, but the shape of their head and neck makes them totally unsuitable as running buddies. Some other breeds that fall into this category include Boxers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Pugs and French Bulldogs. They’re known as brachycephalic breeds – “brachy” meaning “shortened” and “cephalic” meaning “head”. There are degrees of brachycephalic-ness, for want of a better word – some Staffies and Boxers have a longer nose than others and may be less adversely affected by the shape of their head but owners still need to take a great deal of care with them.
The problem with the short head is that it has adverse effects on a dog’s respiratory tract. Their nostrils are usually narrower and their soft palate is longer than normal which can block the entrance to their windpipe. There are small pouches in the larynx called laryngeal saccules which, in a brachycephalic dog, are everted which means they stick out into the larynx. This means that there are many obstructions that get in the way of air reaching the windpipe and to top it all off, in these breeds the windpipe is often narrower than normal.