What Is Brachycephalic Syndrome in Boston Terrier?

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Boston Terriers’ adorable face is irresistible. The shape of their face and features of their head is called brachycephalic, and some difficulties may arise out of that cute face which is called a brachycephalic syndrome. So, what is a brachycephalic syndrome in a Boston Terrier?

How can it affect their way of living?

What is a Brachycephalic Syndrome in a Boston Terrier?

A Brachycephalic Syndrome in Boston Terrier is the obstruction of the air pathway due to their flat face and smooshed nose, which causes breathing difficulty, snoring, or coughing. Dogs, like Boston Terriers, were bred with a small head, with a nose that is pushed inward. This is the reason why they are prone to brachycephalic syndrome.

Boston Terriers are part of the brachycephalic dog breeds. They are highly susceptible to this syndrome not just because of their facial structure. Boston Terriers can experience brachycephalic syndrome because of other reasons as well.

Woman carrying her Boston Terrier

Let’s jump through the causes, symptoms, and how to prevent brachycephalic syndrome in Boston Terriers.

Causes of Brachycephalic Syndrome in Boston Terriers

Brachycephalic Syndrome can be triggered by different things, whether it’s a sudden occurrence, due to their genes, or it has been developing due to your Boston Terrier’s lifestyle. Let’s take a look at some of the causes of brachycephalic syndrome in your Boston Terrier.

  • Elongated soft palate: the tip of the soft palate is too long that it partially blocks the airway and disturbs normal air circulation
  • Stenotic nares: the nostrils are too narrow or pushed inward making it difficult to breathe through the nose
  • Hypoplastic trachea: the trachea is smaller than normal allowing less air to get in and out
  • Everted laryngeal saccules: part of the tissue near the vocal cords are blocking the passage of air down the trachea
  • Laryngeal collapse: the cartilage of the voice box partially or completely collapses blocking the airway

These abnormalities that cause brachycephalic syndrome may be inherited from the parents or may develop over time.

Symptoms of Brachycephalic Syndrome in Boston Terriers

Through careful observation and monitoring, we can easily identify if our Boston Terrier experiences brachycephalic syndrome. Most of the symptoms of brachycephalic syndrome are visible or audible. Here are the symptoms that you should take note of to know if your Boston Terrier has it.

Boston Terrier with brachycephalic syndrome
  • Breathing through their mouth
  • Noisy and rapid breathing
  • Panting heavily
  • Snoring loudly
  • Snorting or Coughing
  • Retching or Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sudden fainting or collapsing after strenuous activities or extreme weather conditions

If the brachycephalic syndrome is not treated as early as possible, it can lead to other serious illnesses and symptoms, such as:

  • Cyanosis, the tongue, and gums turn bluish due to lack of oxygen
  • Inflamed trachea and larynx
  • Heart failure

How to Take Care of a Boston Terrier With Brachycephalic Syndrome

At one point in their life, whether mild or severe, Boston Terriers will experience brachycephalic syndrome. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Boston Terriers are the third most common breeds to have a brachycephalic syndrome. So, as owners, how do we take good care of our Boston?

Practice Healthy Lifestyle

Boston Terriers should be kept in shape, not too thin nor obese. Regular exercise, such as walking or running, can help boost their strength and muscles. A 30 to 40 minutes of exercise is enough to keep your Boston active and healthy.

Pay close attention to the type and amount of food that they eat. Since they are companion dogs, they spend most of their time napping and eating. Make sure to only give the right amount and type of food for your Boston.

Do not allow them to have free access to unlimited food or they will be overweight which is not good for their body and organs.

Facial Care

Your Boston Terrier has some crevices all over his face. Cleaning those folds will keep him free from inhaling too much dirt and hosting too much bacteria. Cleaning the nose of your Boston Terrier regularly will also help in normal breathing.

Boston Terrier puppy

You can use pet wipes to clean the face of your Boston Terrier.

Keep Them Indoors During the Hot Weather

To reduce the chance of heatstroke or breathing difficulty, you should keep your Boston Terrier inside the house during humid and hot weather. Walking exercises can still be done early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun is not that harsh already. Allow having a cool place in the house to stay.

Always Provide Clean Water to Drink

Your Boston Terrier should have free access to clean water, especially after an exercise. Water can help them cool their body down, hence, preventing stroke or overheating which can lead to breathing difficulty. 

Treatments for Boston Terrier With Brachycephalic Syndrome

Identifying the main cause of the syndrome can result in an accurate treatment. If the brachycephalic syndrome is mild, the vet may advise you to limit your dog’s activities and exercise, maintain their lean body, and give them a cool place to stay.

If the syndrome is moderate to severe, surgery will be needed to solve the problem. The type of surgery will be based on the cause of the brachycephalic syndrome. However, the main goal is to open up the airway and remove any obstruction. 

Your Boston Terrier needs close monitoring after the surgery, or else post-operative complications may arise.

Related Question

How Much Does Brachycephalic Surgery Cost?

The cost of brachycephalic surgery ranges from $200 to $1500 depending on the cause of the syndrome and the type of surgery that is needed to be performed. For the elongated soft palate surgery, the estimated cost is $500-$1500, while the stenotic nares surgery can cost from $200-$1000.

Why Do Boston Terriers Must Not Ride in a Cargo?

Boston Terriers should not ride in cargo because the plane’s changing altitude can cause breathing problems to them. If it’s inevitable to bring your Boston Terrier on a plane ride, make sure to keep them in a carrier under your seat or beside you. Give him some toys and blankets to feel comfortable.


Boston Terriers are brachycephalic dogs and whether you like it or not, they may experience brachycephalic syndrome. This can be caused by a narrowed or blocked air passageway resulting in breathing difficulty, panting, and acute fainting. Brachycephalic dogs should be taken good care of and the right treatment should be administered accordingly.