Brachycephalic hub: Finding out about flat-faced dogs

Some brachycephalic dogs and flat-faced breeds may be more at risk of certain health problems, syndromes and symptoms that can lead to suffering, frequent trips to the vet or expensive surgery. Find out all you need to know about buying, breeding and owning a brachycephalic dog and how to make their health and welfare a priority.
Brachycephalic health
Dogs with a flat, wide-shaped head are said to be brachycephalic (brachy, meaning short and cephalic, meaning head). These flat-faced dogs are popular worldwide, but despite their popularity, many of them are affected by health issues that are linked to the shape of their head, such as breathing difficulties or problems with their eyes, skin or teeth.

Some of these issues are seen as ‘normal’ for these types of dogs, but we believe that suffering should never be normal for any dog. We have created this information hub to help breeders breed healthier dogs, puppy buyers to make informed choices and owners to find out more about health issues that could affect their dogs.
Brachycephalic health issues
Brachycephalic breeds

Flat-faced or brachycephalic dogs, like French Bulldogs and Bulldogs, are increasingly popular pets. However some of these dogs, especially those who have been bred quickly and carelessly to fill demand, can face health problems that are linked to their body shape, including affecting their breathing, eyes and skin. Learn more about the collaborative measures needed from the puppy buying public, breeders, vets, Government and The Kennel Club to protect and improve the health of current and future generations. 

For further information, click below to read The Kennel Club's report: 'Play your Part: Breeding, buying and bringing up brachycephalic dogs better'.

The Kennel Club’s report

Buying and breeding

Before buying or breeding a flat-faced dog, it’s important you do your research. Find out more about breed-specific health issues, how to find a healthy puppy and how breeders can use health schemes to reduce the risks to future puppies.

Buying a flat-faced dog

If you’re thinking of buying a flat-faced dog, then it’s important to do your research first and find out about the issues that may affect them and how to spot a good breeder.

Find out more
Boston Terrier running through the fields

Find out about a breed

Whether you want to buy a puppy, or breed from your dog, use our Breeds A-Z to learn about each breeds health risks and what breeders should do to avoid them.

Find out more

Our health scheme to assess breathing

The respiratory function grading scheme assesses Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and Pugs for problems with their breathing.

Find out more

Health issues

The health problems detailed below may affect some brachycephalic dogs more than others, depending on their breed/breed type, body shape and structure.

Breathing problems

Some flat-faced dogs can develop a progressive, lifelong breathing problem (known as BOAS) that can impair their ability to exercise, play, eat and sleep.

Find out more

Eye issues

Due to the head shape of some flat-faced dogs, their eyes may be more at risk of injury, reduced tear production or ulcers on the surface of their eye.

Find out more

Skin problems

Some dogs with excessive wrinkling and skin folds may be more at risk of an overgrowth of bacteria and yeast, causing chronic skin irritation and infection.

Find out more
Dog walking through flowers

Spinal problems

Some flat-faced dogs, specifically those with coiled, very short or absent tails, are at an increased risk of problems with their spines, causing it to curve or twist.

Find out more

Heat stroke

Some flat-faced dogs are more at risk of overheating on hot days, and are more than twice as likely to develop heatstroke compared to other types of dogs.

Find out more

Birthing problems

Birthing difficulties occur in some extremely flat-faced dogs due to the size the puppy’s head being too large to pass through the relatively narrow pelvis of the mother.

Find out more

Improving brachycephalic health

Find out about what we’re doing about health issues in brachycephalic health, what research is being carried out and how we’re working with other organisations and groups to improve the health of flat-faced dogs.

What we do for brachy health

We work with breeders, breed club, vets and researchers to raise awareness of brachycephalic health issues and provide resources to help breeders produce healthier and happier puppies.

Find out more
Boston Terrier walking in the sea

Latest research into breathing problems

The Kennel Club Charitable Trust has provided funding into groundbreaking research at the University of Cambridge, helping us to understand more about brachycephalic breathing problems.

Find out more

Brachycephalic Working Group

We are part of a group made up of representatives from breed clubs, academic bodies, veterinary and animal welfare organisations working together to improve brachycephalic dog health.

Find out more