Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (otherwise shortened to BOAS): Almost all brachycephalics suffer from this to an extent; it’s just a matter of definition. Most dogs still get through life OK, but they could get through life significantly better than just ‘OK’ if the syndrome is identified and corrected between 6-12 months of age. However many other dogs really struggle through life, getting worse as the years go by and potentially developing life threatening concerns.

Below we list the very basics of what the facts are, with far more detailed explanations available of each of these facts.

1. Snoring is not normal

Society has come to accept snoring dogs and restricted exercise on hot days as being normal. This is incorrect. Neither is normal and it is important to educate yourself that you do not need to commit your dog to a life less comfortable than it may be by receiving incorrect advice.

2. Anatomical concerns can lead to long term issues

Turbulent airflow from narrow nares (present in 50% of dogs) and long soft palates (present in 90% of dogs) can lead to problems like everted laryngeal saccules (treatable with surgery), redundant pharyngeal mucosa and stage 2 and 3 laryngeal collapse (all not treatable with surgery and the reason dogs get worse with their breathing with age). For these reasons early intervention to prevent the non-treatable changes is most important.

3. Assessment of airways, and if appropriate, corrective surgery

There are two main reasons to correct abnormal airways. Firstly, because performed early it’s quick, simple, relatively low cost (if it is done at desexing) – and non invasive, and gives the best guarantee possible that your dog doesn’t just get through life OK, but will be as comfortable as possible with their breathing for life.

4. The best time to consider corrective surgery?

6-12 months is ideal. Over two years of age long term results drop more rapidly due to irreversible redundant pharyngeal mucosa. The absolute ideal time is at desexing (if you are desexing), but you must find a quality brachycephalic specific surgeon.

5. What outcome can you expect from surgery?

Performed at 6-12 months, 90% of dogs will exhibit moderate to significant improvement, and significantly reduce the potential for progressive concerns throughout their life. After 12 months this slowly reduces in effect to two years. After two years this reduces more rapidly, but will still help prevent breathing concerns worsening. So essentially 6-12 months of age is best, ideally before two years of age, but no age is too old.

6. My dog is not noisy should I still have the airways assessed?

Yes. 50% of dogs that initially have no noise still have excessively long palates and correcting this before noise starts is far better than waiting until noise starts, as the delayed onset of noise indicates non-corrective anatomical changes will have started.

7. How to find the best surgeon

This is really simple, ask two questions:

“Are you experienced in removing everted laryngeal saccules? And are you experienced in not just shortening a palate, but thinning the palate also if it is excessively thick?”

If you receive a “Yes” answer to both, you have an excellent surgeon!

8. How is the surgery done and how invasive is it?

Performed early by an experienced surgeon it is non traumatic, relatively non invasive and recovery is very quick and easy. Done later with secondary changes recovery can become a little rough for a few days to possibly a few weeks for those being done later in life when breathing problems are really progressing. Hence our strong advice that assessment at desexing by a surgeon that answers “Yes” to the two questions above.

9. Brachycephalic extra considerations

Brachycephalic breeds also suffer (to varying degrees), the following conditions that you should at least be familiar with:

  • Caudal aberrant turbinates
  • Hyperplasic intranasal turbinates
  • Hypoplastic trachea
  • Hemi-vertebrae and
  • Hip dysplasia

It is an option to screen for these concerns for owners that want a full health picture of their dog.

10. BOAS related intermittent regurgitation/vomiting

The negative pressure created when these breeds breath can lead to sliding hiatal hernias and reflux, leading to oesophagitis that results in intermittent regurgitation.

11. Breeders and their advice (and how to find a good one)

Much breeder advice is incorrect so always check with an experienced brachycephalic veterinarian. A good breeder will simply admit that anatomical airway concerns are part of the breed, and that there may be extra costs involved.  Be very wary of breeders claiming their dogs never have airway concerns and would not benefit from corrective surgery if appropriate.

12. Dr Philip Moses and Frenchie’s Australia

As an extra resource to ensure you have the correct advice, please refer to one of the most respected specialists when it comes to brachycephalic breeds, as well as the wonderful French Bulldogs Australia that provides “honest information”.