Respiratory Problems in the Boston Terrier

Boston Terriers are adored by breed enthusiasts and general dog lovers alike, primarily because of their adorable little faces. Their eyes are bulgy and their snouts are short with a slightly upturned nose. They have a charming, goofy look to them at times. Most Boston Terrier owners were drawn in by these unique facial characteristics, even though their small muzzles are the cause of many health problems.

Dogs with such short muzzles are referred to as Brachycephalic. Other dogs in this category include English Bulldogs, Boxers, and Pugs. Brachycephalic dogs are prone to reverse sneezing, snoring, and wheezing. Many owners enjoy and are amused by the silly sounds their pug-nosed dogs make, but sometimes this audible breathing can be indicative of a far greater problem. While the little snores and sneezes can be quite charming, the sounds are actually a result of an respiratory system that is not ideally designed. Due to the nature and build of their small heads, Boston Terriers often have shorter airways and elongated palates that can cause breathing difficulty. Boston Terriers were bred specifically to have these aesthetically desirable little heads and small muzzles, but at the expense of their potential health. Not ever Boston Terrier or every Brachycephalic dog will suffer from any or all of these conditions, but it is good to remain educated on the subject so that you can recognize a problem arising in your dog as early as possible.

A number of Brachcyephalic dogs will end up suffering from a problem called “stenotic nares,” which is a scientific way of saying small nostrils. As one might expect, having irregularly small nostrils will make it very, very difficult to breathe for a dog. “Tracheal stenosis” is a similar problem in that the trachea is too narrow for air to pass through easily. In the most severe cases of both of these problems, the dog will require surgery to widen the breathing cavities.

Another symptom attributed primarily to Brachycephalic dogs is the soft palate being elongated. The Soft palate is what separates the mouth from the nose in the back of the throat, and when it is too long it can hang down and block the travel of air. This will cause more audible breathing sounds, such as snorts or snores. Over time you should adjust to the constant snorts and will even grow to love them. Many people find their Boston Terriers breathing endearing.

As if these problems weren’t enough for the poor Boston Terrier to deal with, the breed is also prone to heat stroke, much like the rest of their Brachycephalic brethren. Because of the shape of their face and respiratory system, it is more difficult for them to pant, and thus harder for them to cool themselves naturally. To avoid risk of heat stroke, always make sure your pet has plenty of cool water to drink and is not left unattended in warm places. It’s also a good idea not to let them run to much on a hot day. Like Labradors, Boston Terriers will exhaust themselves to the point it causes harm to their bodies. As long as you keep a close eye on your Boston, he or she will be perfectly fine.

This article was written by John Jackson and has been contributed by For more information on the Boston Terrier, please visit our page

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