What is Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome?

"The French bulldog, Bulldog, Pug, Pekingese, Shih Tzu, Japanese Chin, Boxer and Boston Terrier are all examples of brachycephalic breeds.  The most distinctive feature of these breeds is their short muzzle.  Brachycephalic dogs have been bred for centuries to possess a normal-sized lower jaw, and a disproportionately shorter upper jaw.  In recent decades, breeding selection for extreme brachycephalic features has resulted in dogs that are predisposed to upper airway tract obstruction and subsequent respiratory distress, among several other health issues.  Although not all brachycephalic dogs suffer clinical signs, the incidence and severity of the respiratory disorders has increased.  The respiratory disease related to brachycephalic conformation is called "brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS).

"BOAS Research    A proportion of brachycephalic dogs suffer severe BOAS, but not all dogs of a given breed are equally affected.  Our study at the moment concentrates on Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and Pugs.  We have developed a non-invasive technique to objectively measure respiratory function using whole-body barometric plethysmography (WBBP).  To understand why some dogs suffer BOAS and others do not, we are conducting studies to find the association between disease progression and dimensions of the skull and upper airway tract conformation.  DNA samples are also collected to look at the genetic basis of BOAS.  The aim of our research is to improve the health and welfare of brachycephalic dogs by reducing the incidence of severe BOAS and so give the dogs a better quality of life."

BOAS Testing in Australia

With grateful thanks to our sister clubs French Bulldog Club of Queensland, French Bulldog Awareness Group of WA and to the British Bulldog Club of Tasmania for their support and generous donations.  We also acknowledge the many individual breeders and owners of French Bulldogs for their donations.  Together with the French Bulldog Club of NSW, $25,000 was given to the ANKC to help fund this exciting health initiative. 

Whole-Body barometric plethysmography (WBBP) is the only study which has been able to separate severely affected to normal dogs and on a scientific basis.   The French Bulldog Club of NSW's initiative to raise funds to bring a WBBP chamber to Australia was successful.  Housed at Vineyard Veterinary Hospital, 703 Windsor Road Vineyard NSW under the supervision of Dr Karen Hedberg BVSc Dr Rob Zammit BVSc and Prof Claire Wade BVSc (Hons) PhD UNSW G Cert Ed UQ.   

FBCNSW anxiously awaits the implementation of respiratory function testing via the UK scheme - which we understand - will be adopted by the ANKC.   Testing & assessment days will be advised once the scheme has been finalised and put in place.  

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