Flat faced dogs, also known as short snouted, short muzzled or brachycephalic dogs, include Chows, Pugs, Pekingese, Bulldogs, Shih-Tzus, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Lhasa Apso, Boston Terriers, Boxers and probably others.
After one of my dogs died recently (old age and he died very peacefully in his sleep), someone contacted me about adopting a rescue she had. She is a three year Boxer and has settled in very well. She is very friendly, very energetic and plays well with my other dog.
Her face causes her a problem I am unused to, always having had ‘real’ faced dogs, or dogs with long noses, as they should be. Whilst my Kelpie wolfs her food down in double quick time, the Boxer has difficulty scooping up the food.
She also has great difficulty in managing a bone. My Kelpie makes short work of even quite large bones. The Boxer either gulps the bone whole (not the idea at all) or licks it then leaves it. I am still trying to find the ideal bone size for her. Raw bones are a must for a healthy mouth (teeth and gums).
A flat faced dog is an unnatural breed. They could not survive in the wild. Why do humans have to mess things up so badly?
What other problems do flat faced dogs have?
The upper respiratory airway is short and narrow. This compromises breathing which can interfere with efficient panting, contributing to overheating or heat stroke. This is also a problem for overweight dogs as breathing is always more laboured.
They have abnormally formed tracheal cartilage. This can lead to collapse, so a collar is a bad idea. A harness is better for these breeds.
The nostrils can be tighter than is natural. This can lead to snoring, snorting, wheezing and reverse sneezing.
The eyes tend to bulge because of the compressed facial features. This means the eyes are not held in their sockets as securely as normal dogs eyes. Eye lubrication can be a problem.
Traumas to the eye can occur more often, because of the short nose, and often take longer to heal. Excess pressure to the head or neck can create trouble for the eyes.
The wrinkles and folds on the nose and face can be a place for dirt and yeast to accumulate.
The squashed face of a dog with a flat face means they can be prone to crowding teeth, making chewing food more difficult.
When mother dogs bite off the umbilical chord of their puppies, they can bite too close to the puppy, causing bleeding.
As already mentioned, they can have issues with scooping up food. A bowl that is elevated can help. If they don’t get the right bone to crunch on, the health of their teeth and gums will be a recurring problem.
I suggest that the breeding of these animals needs to focus on extending their noses, so they are not prone to the whole host of unnecessary problems. The originators of these breeds may well have had shorter noses than is common in other dogs, but would never have had such short snouts as to cause all these problems.
Just as the public rose to the occasion and stopped the cruel practice of tail docking, so too we can support a healthier breeding of flat faced dogs. Why do animals always have to suffer because of our ignorance, our ego, our fashions? Isn’t it time to step up to the mark of being the responsible, compassionate beings we all have the potential to be?
Even with these problems, a natural diet will go a long way to keeping these problems to a minimum and keeping the dog healthy in every other aspect.