Quakers Hill Veterinary Hospital

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Brachycephalic Syndrome - Airway Surgery

Figures from The Australian National Kennel Club have shown the number of Brachycephalic breeds have boomed over the past three decades. This trend is mirrored in the UK and US. These purebred dogs tend to be smaller with shorter wider heads. Such breeds include the Pug, English Bulldog, French Bulldog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Shih Tzu and Pekingese. The "doe-eyed" appearance makes them extremely cute matching their big personalities.

However, these characteristic features cause some serious health issues. These include breathing, eye, skin and dental issues. They cannot tolerate heat which is only worsened by obesity. The disproportionate head size compared to the mother's pelvic canal means they often need a caesarian for the safe delivery of pups. This is especially true for the English Bulldog. The average life expectancy of brachycephalic breeds is estimated to be four years less than other breeds (The Veterinarian, April 2016),

Brachycephalic airway syndrome is the anatomic consequences of the flattened face and shorter nose. Namely,
Pinched (Stenotic) Nostrils - left Pre op & right Post Op


Overlong or Elongated Soft Palate

Corrected Soft Palate - end of palate touches the epiglottis



A normal soft palate finishes at               The soft palate post correction

the caudal end of the tonsils (lines)        -  the lines point to the suture 

- the extra triangle part is "overlong"       knots at the level of the caudal
                                                                ends of the tonsils 

Everted Laryngeal Saccules
Laryngeal Collapse
Stenotic Nares (pinched nostrils) and Elongated Soft Palate are primary causes of Brachycephalic Syndrome. They are both surgically correctable. As so are the secondary consequences of Everted Laryngeal Saccules.

The presence of Hypoplastic Trachea worsens the prognosis.

Minimising chances of problems include:
  • Researching the breed of interest for known defects prior to purchase
  • Enquiring re the health of the parent dogs including DNA tests, xray screens
  • Thorough puppy checks during their initial vaccinations. 
  • Checking soft palate position and laryngeal ventricles at desexing (usually six months of age) or if indicated by excessive upper airway noise
  • Skin folds and eyelid position/corneal irritation are monitored during the first year of growth
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