Ask English bulldog English bulldog breathing problems - from causes to treatments!

English bulldog breathing problems – from causes to treatments!

English bulldog breathing problems are very serious and can lead your pup into life-threatening situations if they are not treated in time! That is why you need to know everything about this issue, from causes to solutions!

English bulldogs are one of the most popular breeds in the world, especially because of their distinctive look – small snout and lots of lovely wrinkles and folds! But, because of those physical traits, they are also prone to certain health issues! Breathing problems are one of the most significant concerns when it comes to the English bulldog breed.

The unique anatomy and physiology of English Bulldogs make them susceptible to a range of respiratory complications, such as brachycephalic airway syndrome, stenotic nares, soft palate abnormalities, and others. In this article, we are going to try to present you these problems from the causes and diagnosis to treatment and preventive measures! 

Why do English Bulldogs have trouble breathing? 

Ask English bulldog English bulldog breathing problems - from causes to treatments!

English bulldogs that we all love are well known for their flat face and short snouts. These physical traits combined with their stocky body build, result in a condition called brachycephalic syndrome. This syndrome affects the structure of their upper airways, leading to breathing problems.

English Bulldogs have a distinctive respiratory system that sets them apart from other breeds. Bulldogs have a shorter and narrower trachea, an elongated soft palate, and narrow nostrils, all of which make it harder for them to breathe compared to dogs with longer snouts. For example, dogs that have longer snouts have no respiratory problems, like Dachshunds, but they have floppy ears and are prone to ear infections

British Bulldogs also have some unique breathing mechanisms. They often rely on panting to cool themselves down as they struggle with efficient air intake through their narrowed nostrils. On top of that, their elongated soft palates can obstruct their airways, leading to snorting, wheezing, and snoring sounds during breathing.

Common Breathing problems in Bulldogs


Ask English bulldog English bulldog breathing problems - from causes to treatments!

Ok, so we now know that bulldogs are prone to breathing issues, but what are the most common problems that they can experience? Here are some of he respiratory issues that are common in bulldogs:

  • English bulldog Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (BAS)

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome, or BAS for short, presents a range of respiratory issues that can often be seen in bulldogs. These can include narrowed nostrils, elongated soft palates, everted laryngeal saccules (abnormal tissue in the throat), and a hypoplastic trachea. All of these factors can make it challenging for Bulldogs to breathe, especially during physical activity or in warmer weather. So, here is a bit more about each of these issues in the hope that it will be easier to understand how pesky these problems are!

  • Stenotic nares

Stenotic nares are another common issue in English Bulldogs, and they refer to narrowed or pinched nostrils. When the nostrils on the snout are small, the air amount that should flow through them is much smaller than it should be! When the nostrils restrict airflow, it is much harder for Bulldogs to breathe normally. It would be like that you are trying to breathe through a thin straw – hard and uncomfortable, and we do not want our wrinkly companions to experience that!

  • Soft Palate Abnormalities

Soft palate abnormalities occur when the tissue at the back of the mouth, called the soft palate, is elongated or thickened. This can partially block the airway, leading to snorting, snoring, and difficulty breathing. It’s no wonder English Bulldogs are known for their noisy breathing – blame it on their special soft palates! This is a condition also very common in French bulldogs or English Olde, but luckily, it can be managed!

  • Tracheal Hypoplasia

Tracheal hypoplasia is a condition where the trachea, or windpipe, is narrow or not completely developed! This can lead to further breathing difficulties as the already restricted airway becomes even more constricted. This type of respiratory problem can be seen when there are genetical deviations like in breeding double merle bulldog puppies. Even though bulldogs can live with this issue, it is serious, and it will keep making them ill. Tracheal Hypoplasia can cause respiratory distress and can be particularly problematic during exercise or periods of excitement.

English bulldog breathing problems – symptoms and causes

Ask English bulldog English bulldog breathing problems - from causes to treatments!

Symptoms of English bulldog breathing problems can include: 

  • Noisy breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Frequent panting
  • Snoring
  • Difficulty exercising
  • Trouble with sleeping
  • Rapid panting and excessive drooling
  • Frequent snorting, snoring, wheezing, or gagging
  • Easily exhausted or fatigued.
  • Bluish tint around the gums or tongue

In severe cases of respiratory difficulties in bulldogs, affected dogs may even collapse due to lack of oxygen. It is very important for owners to be aware of these symptoms and take their pups to the vet as soon as possible! 

Causes of breathing problems in English Bulldogs

As for causes of breathing problems in English bulldogs, first in line are genetics! Over the centuries of breeding British bullies, their genetics have changed, and they have those adorable, expressive eyes, wrinkly faces, short snouts, and stubby bodies with stack-up muscles! But, among the things that we love, they have a few more things like various health issues and breathing problems! 

Other causes can be found in environments like humidity, heat, and air pollution… We can also mention the allergies since bulldogs are prone to them, and they do affect the breathing and normal functioning of the dogs. 

Obesity can also be one of the causes of difficulties in bulldogs’ breathing. The extra pounds that may seem adorable can put additional pressure on their airways. That can make it even harder for bulldogs to breathe comfortably. Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for managing their breathing issues and overall well-being, so you should definitely try to keep an eye on your bulldog diet!

Understanding the unique challenges that English Bulldogs face on a daily basis with breathing can help us provide better care! So, the next time you see these adorable wrinkly dogs snorting and wheezing, remember that they may need a little extra support to breathe easily!

How to treat breathing problems in English bulldogs?

Ask English bulldog English bulldog breathing problems - from causes to treatments!

When it comes to treating breathing problems in English Bulldogs, there are a few options that can be helpful:

  • Medical help

Medical interventions are often the first line of defense. Your veterinarian may prescribe medications such as bronchodilators or anti-inflammatories to soothe the inflammation, open up airways, and improve breathing. If your bulldog is suffering from a respiratory infection, they may get antibiotics to stop the infection from spreading out and get them better! 

  • Surgical help

Sometimes, when the breathing problems are more severe, medication can’t help, and it is time to consider surgery! Surgical options can include procedures to manage structural abnormalities, like elongated soft palate or narrowed nostrils. Surgeries are a good option when nothing else helps, and the recovery doesn’t have to take long with proper care. Before this type of treatment, make sure to discuss everything with your veterinarian and listen to their advice!

  • Breathing Aids and Techniques

Breathing aids and techniques can help manage your English Bulldog’s breathing problems, but they should be recommended by your vet! These aids can include using specialized harnesses that support their airways, special beds for sleeping with elevated headrests, and others.

Practicing breathing exercises to improve lung capacity is also one of the techniques that can be very helpful. Consult with your vet to determine which aids and techniques are appropriate for your furry friend.

Preventing breathing problems in Bulldogs: 

Ask English bulldog English bulldog breathing problems - from causes to treatments!

Even though the breathing issues in bulldogs are pretty serious and need treatment, you can still take some matters into your own hands and prevent bigger problems! Here are some advice on how to prevent bulldog breathing problems:

  • Avoid exposing your bulldog to excessively hot or humid environments.
  • Choose controlled exercise routines, preventing overexertion.
  • Maintain a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise.
  • Ensure proper grooming, especially cleaning wrinkles and folds, to reduce irritation and infections.
  • Practice responsible breeding, avoiding mating dogs with severe brachycephalic features.


Bringing it all together, managing breathing problems in your English bulldog requires a combination of awareness, veterinary care, and preventive measures. Regular check-ups, prompt intervention, and appropriate treatment can significantly improve their quality of life. Remember, your bulldog’s well-being depends on your attentiveness and love.

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