16 Flat-Faced Dog Breeds – Understanding Brachycephalic Breeds

flat faced dogs

I don’t know about you, but when I see a dog with a smushed-in face, I just want to love on them. They’re super adorable pups, and the short snouts only add to how cute they are. Flat-faced breeds also tend to be very charming, as you’ll see in our list of pups below.

There’s actually a specific term for flat-faced dogs: brachycephalic. These dogs have a short-length skull and a flat or pushed-in face. There are many flat-faced dog breeds, but the most popular are the Pugs, French Bulldogs, and Boxers. 

Health Risks of Flat-Faced Dogs 

flat face dog breeds

Brachycephalic dog breeds, or those with flat faces, are prone to specific abnormalities due to their smushed-in faces. Flat-faced dogs have special health considerations that as a pet owner, you must be aware of, so you can avoid any complications. These include: 

  • Overheating
  • Dental disease
  • Eye problems
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome, BOAS
  • Exercise limitations

When it comes to overheating, brachycephalic dog breeds are at a higher risk because they have narrowed nostrils and windpipes, which can in turn, lead to breathing difficulties. It’s the same reason we have to be careful not to over-exert them and establish exercise limitations. The labored breathing often leads to lowered oxygen in the bloodstream, which can also lead to heart problems.

Those with brachycephalic syndrome are more prone to suffering heatstroke, as well, because of their narrow nostrils, known as stenotic nares, so make sure you keep them indoors or limit their outdoor activities on hot days. 

Dental disease is a potential problem as well because these cute pups have the same number of teeth but a shortened upper jaw, which can lead to overlapping and crowding and speed up the process of decay. 

Many brachycephalic breeds often have more skin folds around their faces due to their shortened snouts and narrow ear canals, which can lead to the growth of yeast, causing skin infections and ear infections. Eye issues, such as cherry eye, are also commonplace because their eyes tend to be larger than other breeds, which restricts tear film.

Believe it or not, some brachycephalic breeds struggle to give birth normally and need a cesarean section or c-section. This is often due to selective breeding that has resulted in the puppies’ heads being too large for the birth canal, a condition known as dystocia due to fetal pelvic disproportion.

Treatment of Breathing Issues in Brachycephalic Dogs

Breathing difficulties, including noisy breathing, are just a way of life with brachycephalic dogs. However, there are special treatments you can undergo if you and your veterinarian believe it’s worth the investment.

First, the veterinarian has to diagnose the health risks, and they typically do this through a thorough examination, which may include an endoscopy, laryngoscopy, or CT scans. If they discover your pup has issues due to brachycephalic syndrome, there are a few different treatments available. 

For example, for those with extensive trouble breathing, your veterinarian might recommend surgery to widen narrow nostrils or to shorten an overlong soft palate. However, since it can be risky, considering the already-existing breathing problems, most vets will only recommend these treatments if it is necessary to improve your pup’s quality of life. 

Air Travel and Exercise Considerations 

When it comes to air travel with brachycephalic dogs, it’s usually a good idea not to fly with them. They have a harder time adjusting to changes in temperature and air quality, which can distress those with severe respiratory issues. Speak with your veterinarian about the possibility of your pet flying and any precautions you should take. 

As far as exercise goes, some exercise is good for all dogs. Just make sure that you take extra precautions with a brachycephalic dog, such as not playing too hard or long during hot weather or when there are significant air quality issues. This usually means these flat-faced dog breeds aren’t suitable for activities like dog sports.

Flat-Faced Dogs

There are several flat-faced dog breeds that you can adopt if you’re set on having a pooch with that cute smooshed-in face look. Let’s take a look at our top ones!

1. French Bulldog

flat face dog breeds

The French Bulldog is arguably one of the most charming on the list. The French Bulldog is so stinking cute with its pushed-in face, tall ears, and wide smile that you’d be hard-pressed to pass by without a pet or two. French Bulldogs are one of the smaller brachycephalic breeds, though, by the size of their personalities, you’d never know it!

The French Bulldog is a sweet dog with a friendly personality that literally fits in anywhere, from an apartment to a farm or a single-person home to a large family. Since French Bulldogs also acclimate well to city life, they are one of the most popular dogs on our list, too.

The French Bulldog is more of a low-key energy type of dog that will enjoy quick bursts of fun, but loves to cuddle with their pet parents, too.

If this pup interests you, check out the different types of French Bulldogs

2. Boxer

dogs with smushed faces

If you’re looking for a pup that has goofiness in spades, you’ll meet your match in the Boxer dog. Unlike the Frenchie, Boxers have a lot of energy and need a yard to run around in or a person who likes to hike or take long walks to help exert that energy.

Boxers are medium to large-size dogs that need room, but if you live in an apartment, you can adapt them to that lifestyle with plenty of outdoor exercise. Just be careful not to overdo it. As a brachycephalic breed, they are prone to breathing issues.

Though they’re known for being silly, Boxers are also protective and alert dogs that need socialization. There are also different types of Boxer dogs, as well.

3. Bullmastiff 

flat faced dog breeds

One of the largest brachycephalic breeds, the Bullmastiff, was bred by crossing Bulldogs with Mastiffs. These pups are highly protective of their pet owners and home, having been bred to protect English homes in the mid-1800s. However, they are very trainable, and with proper socialization, they can get along with almost anyone. 

One of the Mastiff breeds, these Mastiffs need a lot of exercise and room to sprawl, because have we mentioned that they’re big? In addition to the regular concerns about brachycephalic dogs, keep an eye out for hip dysplasia.

4. Boston Terrier

dogs similar to pugs

Boston Terriers, aka Tuxedo Dogs, aka the American Gentleman, are one of the cutest brachycephalic breeds you’ll ever come across — but don’t tell the others we said that. These pups make great companion animals as they are more than happy to be where their people are. 

The personality of a Boston Terrier is just as cute as its looks. Boston Terriers are super smart and pick up on commands easily, but they do have a propensity for curiosity. The Boston Terrier also has very prominent eyes, which can lead to injury, so take proper care when playing. 

5. Brussels Griffon

flat face dogs

Check out this cuteness in a tiny package! The Brussels Griffon is small, only weighing around 5 to 15 pounds, but boy does it have a lot of personality packed into its small body. They are known for being loyal companions, and some even say they look like Ewoks from the popular “Star Wars” franchise. 

The Brussels Griffon is an entertaining pup that will keep you on your toes, and they have a lively disposition that makes them amenable to all.

6. Cane Corso

dogs with flat faces

If you’re looking for another whopper of a beast, the Cane Corso is a stunning creature that’s known for its loyalty as much as it’s known for its intimidating stature. This Italian breed is well known for being a working dog, so if you give it a job, it’s likely to be happier — it’s not a pup that likes to sit around. 

Despite their size, Cane Corsos are amazing family dogs, and with proper socialization, they can even get along with other animals. 

7. Pekingese 

dog with smushed face

The Pekingese is one of those dogs that you can’t help but smile at. This breed has longer fur with a lion-like mane and requires regular grooming. The origins of the Pekingese date back to ancient China, where they sat beside royals. They still maintain that dignified attitude today. 

Pekingese dogs are known for being very stubborn, and they like to make their opinions heard — just imagine having another child in the home. However, they are confident pups that make excellent companion dogs. 

8. Chow Chow

dogs with smooshed faces

The Chow Chow is a fluffy dog that also hails from ancient China, and like the Pekingese, it also has a lion-like mane. Many compare the Chow Chow to a cat because it is regularly grooming itself and is one of the cleanest dog breeds. 

Chow Chows are very loyal dogs, but they tend to be aloof with strangers. Therefore, socialization and training are a must if you want to have it around other animals and people. Their dense double coats require regular grooming to keep them in good shape, free of tangles and mats. 

9. Bulldog

dogs with flat noses

English Bulldogs are probably one of the flatter-faced dogs on this list, but Bulldogs also have one other feature that sets them apart: an undershot jaw that gives them a seriously cute underbite. One of the types of Bulldogs, it is easily recognizable by the protruding bottom jaw. 

One thing about Bulldogs is that they look like grumpy dogs, but boy, do they know how to have fun! Just head to any social media site to see one riding along on a skateboard, looking all cool. However, they are also notorious for lounging and snoring while doing so, thanks to their flat faces. Bulldogs are amazing family pets, though, and friendly to boot!

10. Dogue de Bordeaux

smooshed face dogs

The Dogue de Bordeaux is a French Mastiff breed that is known for its proportionately large head. Its size can be very intimidating, but this flat-faced dog is one of the sweetest pups and is regularly called a gentle giant. 

The Dogue de Bordeaux needs early training, not because it’s an aggressive or aloof sort, but because its size can sometimes lend to a bit of … lack of gracefulness. Proper training and socialization will only make them that much better. 

11. Japanese Chin

flat face dog

If you’re looking for a flat-faced dog to be your lap companion, the Japanese Chin is more than happy to oblige. These dainty dogs are highly affectionate and were once bred as companion dogs to Japanese aristocracy. 

In addition to its affectionate nature, the Japanese Chin is also a playful sort that is happy to pounce around, running after a ball. They are graceful dogs that remain loyal to their people. 

12. Affenpinscher

brachycephalic dog breeds

The Affenpinscher is also affectionately called a monkey dog due to its pushed-in face that makes it look like a Wookie or Ewok. These pups are equally playful and loyal to their pet parents, making them a wonderful family pet. 

Affenpinschers are small dogs, but don’t let that fool you. They have a lot of energy and require a lot of exercise, but as with all flat-faced breeds, make sure you don’t overwork it. Don’t be surprised if your pup exhibits a lot of curiosity, too; that’s just the nature of the breed. It’s also a very confident dog that carries its head high. 

13. Lhasa Apsos

flat nosed dogs

Lhasa Apsos are revered for their long-standing history (the breed is more than a thousand years old!), where they were originally bred to serve as the watchdogs of Buddhist monasteries. To this day, the Lhasa Apso is a very alert dog that keeps a mindful watch of its surroundings. 

The Lhasa Apso also exudes elegance from its prancy walk to its long fur that flows in the wind. This flat-faced breed is confident yet aloof with strangers, but it is affectionate and loyal to its family.

14. English Toy Spaniels

flat nosed dogs

At first glance, it’s easy to confuse English Toy Spaniels with their cousin, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, as they have the same color scheme, but this flat-faced dog breed has a shorter snout. One of the types of Spaniels, this pup has a double personality. Outdoors, it is playful and exuberant. Indoors, it’s calm and dignified.

However, like its cousin, the English Toy Spaniel is a friendly, affectionate sort that loves to cuddle with its people and spend time around its family. 

15. Pug

dogs similar to french bulldogs

Who doesn’t love the Pug? This bug-eyed, flat-faced dog has so much personality packed into its little stature that it’s hard not to. Add the fact that it’s a mischievous sort, and you’ve got your hands full when you own one. 

Pugs, like the Shih Tzu and Chow Chow, are an ancient breed well known for their devotion. Pugs are playful and active, but they are prone to obesity. Being that they are one of the flatter-faced dogs on this list, they overwork very easily, so keep an eye on their exercise levels, too.

16. Shih Tzu

suspicious dog face

The Shih Tzu is one of those flat-face dogs that was closely related to royalty, given their constant presence in palaces. Shih Tzus are one of the best lap dogs there is, and they are happy to travel with their people and easily adapt to their surroundings. They also love children, which makes them a great option for families and a loyal companion. 

One of the things about the Shih Tzu is that it is prone to overproducing tears, which is why you’ll often see stains beneath their eyes. However, this is easily solved with regular grooming practices, including special wipes to clean those stains away.

FAQs

How Do I Purchase a Flat-Nosed Dog That Is Healthy?

Sadly, one of the areas you will struggle with when looking for a flat-faced puppy to add to your home is finding one that is free of health conditions. Narrow nostrils and other health problems are a given, so you have to go in understanding that you will likely spend a good time with the vet either preventing or discussing health concerns.

What Are Dogs With Flat Faces Called?

Dogs with flat faces, like the French Bulldog, are called brachycephalic dogs.

What Breed Has a Flat Face?

There are multiple brachycephalic dog breeds, including Pugs, Shih Tzus, Boxers, and Bulldogs.

Are Flat-Faced Dogs Healthy?

Typically, these popular breeds can be healthy, but they will face a host of health problems if you do not care for their specific health risks on a proactive basis.

Conclusion

Owning brachycephalic breeds is just like owning any others; you might only have to be a little more health cognizant. Just be aware of the possible health issues they face and take the proper precautions to keep them safe.

Whether it’s a Boxer, a Bullmastiff, or a Pug that’s captured your heart, we know that you’ll love them all the same!

Christina Drury
Meet Christina Drury, a dedicated animal enthusiast, and proud pet parent. She has a deep-rooted affection for all creatures, and Christina has called the Buckeye State home for the past four years. As a seasoned writer, she possesses a versatile writing style that spans various niches, yet her heart truly belongs to animals. With her innate connection and expertise, Christina is committed to crafting engaging and insightful content for animal-related issues.

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