How to care for your flat-faced dog

While very endearing, flat-faced dog breeds require a little extra care and attention to ensure they live a long and happy life...

Flat-faced dogs are endearing, but their shorter snouts make it harder for them to breathe. Here’s what to do to keep them comfortable.

Flat-faced dogs, also known as brachycephalic dogs, are increasing in popularity. And it’s not hard to see why. They have squishy faces, slightly buggy eyes, and often short, squat bodies which make them hard to resist. Breeds include Boxers, French Bulldogs, English bulldogs and the Pug.

Unfortunately, this incredible cuteness comes with a caveat. Brachycephalic dogs (from the Greek meaning ‘short head’) tend to have narrower nostrils and shorter airways, which makes it harder for them to breathe.

But this doesn’t have to mean that they can’t live a long, happy, healthy life – there are just a few things that as a flat-faced dog owner you should keep an eye out for.

Hot weather help

Dogs pant to help them cool down during hot weather. But this is a little harder for dogs with a shorter snout. Due to those narrower nostrils and shorter airways mentioned above, they’re not able to regulate their body heat through panting as efficiently as dogs with a more traditionally shaped snout.

So, to make sure they stay comfortable during the warmer months make sure they have access to cool, shady areas so they don’t overheat.


While exercise is still very important for your flat-faced dog, you’ll need to be careful to not be overzealous when it comes to walkies time. While you shouldn’t skimp on exercise per-se, it’s important to keep a careful eye out during warm weather to make sure they don’t overheat and, if it’s too hot outside, play games with them inside instead.

Check their teeth

Along with their shortened snouts, the jaws of flat-faced dogs are also shorter than most other dogs. However, they still have the same number of teeth as all their canine cousins. With less space to fill, these teeth are more prone to overlap, which can cause a buildup of plaque and tartar. So, it’s crucial they get their teeth cleaned regularly and checked by the vet.

Watch their eyes

A trait of flatter-faced dogs is their slightly protruding eyes. This is due to shallower eye sockets. As a result, their eyes are more prone to dryness, injury, infection and proptosis (displacement from the socket). Be on the lookout for any unusual discharge or excessive rubbing of their eyes as an indication that something may be wrong.

Consider surgery

Depending on the severity of your dog’s breathing problems, surgery may be required to widen their nostrils and help ease their breathing. Not all flat-faced dogs will need this surgery, but it’s worth talking to your vet about, especially if your dog tends toward snuffling and snorting loudly and constantly.

Get expert advice

At any point, if you have questions about caring for your flat-faced pooch talk to your vet. They’ll be able to advise the best way to look after your pet and give them the best life possible.