Researchers have found that a gene mutation is responsible for breathing difficulties in Norwich Terries and Bulldogs that is not related to brachycephalic faces. Brachycephalic faces can cause Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome or BOAS. Researchers found that Norwich Terriers can suffer from Upper Airway Syndrome or UAS which is similar to BOAS.
The team from the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, led by Jeffrey Schoenebeck found that a mutation of the ADATS3 gene was linked to the breathing problems. This mutation is also found in French and English Bulldogs. The gene has been linked to edema, (swelling and fluid retention) which is a problem with UAS and BOAS causing breathing difficulties.
Once the researchers develop a test to determine which dogs have the gene mutation, breeders can better control breeding practices. What is important to recognize is that the mutation may occur in other breeds as well shedding a whole new light on breathing issues in dogs.
What is also interesting is that females tended to be healthier than males. Of the 26 common health problems in this breed, males were more likely to get 8 of them.
(photo from internet free stock)
The very characteristics that make the French Bulldog popular, such as their short nose and skin folds, contribute to their health issues. Breathing issues are seen in over 10% of the breed as well as skin problems due to their skin folds.
This means that breeders have to be very diligent in their breeding program to help reduce the health issues. People who want to own this breed should be aware of the health issues and be prepared to pay for the extra veterinary care that these dogs require.
Short nosed or Brachycephalic dogs such as Pugs, French Bulldogs and Bulldogs suffer from Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) which can cause health problems, breathing difficulties and even death. Veterinarians have conducted research to try to determine if there is a way to predict which dogs will suffer from BOAS, (almost half the dogs in these breeds are affected). By determining which dogs will have BOAS, breeders can try to eradicate it from the breeds that suffer from it.
This photo shows a dog with closed nostrils making it difficult to breathe
In 2015 researchers at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London determined that dogs whose muzzles were less than half of their cranial length and dogs with thicker necks were more likely to have BOAS. However, they did not feel that this was a reliable way for breeders to select dogs for breeding.
More recently a new study by researchers at the University of Cambridge tried to compare neck girth with chest girth and muzzle length to see if that could predict BOAS. However, they found that it was not easy to measure dogs and it was not reliable. They did suggest that breeders should not use dog with very short muzzles, wide faces and thick necks for breeding.
Dr. Nai-Chieh Liu one of the researchers suggested that breeding for open nostrils is most likely the best and easiest way to improve these breeds. Researchers are going to try to find a genetic marker for BOAS to help improve Brachycephalic dogs to improve breeding programs.
People who own one of these breeds should have their dogs checked yearly for difficulty breathing even if the dog appears to be OK.