Call for participants for University of Cambridge BOAS Research Group

The Kennel Club and the Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) Research Group at the University of Cambridge are calling for dog owners to participate in a study to identify the risk of respiratory disease in different brachycephalic breeds, and improve the health and welfare of future generations.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge, funded by The Kennel Club, have been investigating brachycephalic health for the last ten years, and now owners of Affenpinschers, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Chihuahuas, Dogue de Bordeaux, Griffon Bruxellois, Japanese Chins, King Charles Spaniels, Maltese, Pekingese, Pomeranians and Shih Tzus are invited to take part in the study to investigate the extent different breeds may be affected by breathing problems, and to identify any risk factors involved.

The researchers will clinically examine each participant, taking conformational measurements and DNA swabs for future genetic studies, and performing breathing assessments, which may include using whole-body barometric plethysmography (WBBP), a non-invasive technique used to measure respiratory function. Dogs must be aged 12 months or over to participate.

There will also be a quick and non-invasive exercise tolerance test to assess a dog’s respiratory function. This is an element of the existing Kennel Club/University of Cambridge Respiratory Function Grading (RFG) scheme currently available for the Bulldog, French Bulldog and Pug, and developed based on research from the University of Cambridge. More information about the existing scheme is available on The Kennel Club website.

The data collected in this new study will be used by The Kennel Club and University of Cambridge to develop respiratory function grading for more breeds if and as required. Find out more about the study.

Dr Jane Ladlow, European and Royal College Specialist in Small Animal Surgery and BOAS researcher leading the project, said “Brachycephalic dogs are very popular pets so it’s crucial that we better understand the complex and wide ranging factors that lead to some of these dogs being affected by BOAS or other health issues. Those owners who participate will play their part in helping us to understand more about the relationship between respiratory issues and neurological problems, and how these issues relate to the structure of affected dogs.

“Our previous research has shown that the solution to these health problems isn’t always simple and that breathing issues in these dogs can vary dramatically, not only between breeds, but within them as well. Our investigations have led to screening schemes that help breeders reduce the risk of producing dogs affected by breathing problems, and we hope that the next steps of our research will help more breeds to do the same, and urge owners to be part of this.”

The University of Cambridge’s BOAS Research Group is also investigating the internal anatomy of different brachycephalic breeds. To participate, dogs must be four years or older, require dental treatment, and must not have previously had airway surgery. For this study, the researchers are offering free dental treatment, including scale/polish and extractions, for dogs admitted to the Queen's Veterinary School Hospital in Cambridge. Whilst under sedation, the researchers will take a computerised tomography (CT) scan image. Find out more about the study.

If you own any of the following breeds and wish to participate in either study, please contact the researchers directly via Brachy Study (University of Cambridge)

  • Affenpinscher
  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Chihuahua
  • Dogue de Bordeaux
  • Griffon Bruxellois
  • Japanese Chin
  • King Charles Spaniel
  • Maltese
  • Pekingese
  • Pomeranian
  • Shih Tzu

More information about brachycephalic dog health and what The Kennel Club is doing is available on our website.