Brachycephalic breeds

Cats, Dogs, Welfare


Brachycephalic means ‘shortened head’ and is also known as ‘flat-faced’. The following breeds are included – although you can get mix breeds that also have this head shape.


  • Burmese
  • Himalayan
  • Persian


  • Affenpinscher
  • American Bulldog
  • Boxer
  • English/British Bulldog (like Coco, pictured above)
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Bullmastiff
  • Boston Terrier
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Chihuahua
  • Chow Chow
  • Pekingese
  • Pomeranian
  • Pug
  • Shar Pei
  • Shih Tzu
  • Yorkshire Terrier


Why does it matter?

Brachycephalic animals often have narrow nostrils, a long soft palate and narrow windpipes. This can result in several health issues

  • Difficulty breathing (which you may hear as it is noisy)
  • Difficulty sleeping (they may sleep in a position that props open their mouth)
  • Unable to exercise far or long
  • At a higher risk of heatstroke
  • Gastrointestinal problems

The medical term for the breathing issues is BOAS - Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome.

Not all flat-faced animals have these issues, and these problems can also appear in other breeds.


What can I do if my pet is brachycephalic?

Check in with your vet for advice, as it can impact every animal differently.

Make sure your pet is a healthy weight.

Don’t over-exercise, especially in hot weather.

In severe cases, animals need corrective surgery to open their airways. These operations are expensive and complicated so if you have bought a puppy, make sure you have pet insurance that can cover this in case they grow up with complications.


Looking to adopt a brachycephalic breed from us?

If you are looking to adopt a brachycephalic breed from us, we will talk you through any health issues we have treated or have concerns about, so you have a clear picture of what to expect from your new pet. All of our cats and dogs have a vet examination. 

Above Coco the British Bulldog had a palate operation with us to help her breathe more easily. She recovered well and was adopted to a new loving hime.

Below India the Persian had issues with her tear ducts and terrible gum disease. Although an operation to widen her nostrils was considered, after operations to fix these symptoms her health improved considerably as you can see in the before and after pictures below. We kept in touch with her new adopters to ensure she was coping well.




Happy cat settled in bed

New cat

Setting up your home ready for your new cat to help them settle in quickly

Cats, Adopters, Cat behaviour

New dog image

New dog

How to help your new friend settle in and start to build a bond

Dogs, Adopters, Dog behaviour

Dog adoption timeline image

Dog adoption timeline

What to expect in the weeks and months after adopting a dog

Dogs, Adopters, Dog behaviour

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