Are Rottweilers Brachycephalic – An Indepth Look

Last Updated on January 7, 2022 by Griselda M.

Are rottweilers brachycephalic?  This is a question most new dog owners want to answer before bringing their new puppy home.

Some breeds of dogs and cats are prone to obstructive breathing due to the shape of their head, muzzle, and throat. The most common dogs affected are known as the “brachycephalic” breeds. Brachycephalic means “short-headed.” 

Popular brachycephalic dog breeds include the French bulldog, English bulldog, Pekingese, Pug, and Boston terrier. These dogs have a relatively short muzzle and nose.  Due to this, the throat and breathing passages in these dogs are naturally flattened or undersized.  The Persian cats are also known to have a brachycephalic conformation.

Brachycephalic Meaning

The word Brachycephalic Syndrome refers to a condition that hinders dogs and cats from breathing well.  The everted laryngeal saccules, elongated soft palate, and stenotic nares are combined, making it hard to breathe well.

  • The Everted Laryngeal Saccules. This is a condition in which the tissue within the airway just in front of the vocal cords is pulled into the windpipe, partially obstructing the airflow.  Some brachycephalic dogs also have a narrow trachea due to the collapse of the cartilages that open and close the upper airway.
  • The Elongated soft palate.  The soft palate in this case grows too long with its tip protruding into the airway.  This interferes with the movement of air into the lungs.
  • The Stenotic Nares.  These malformed nostrils collapse inwardly or are too narrow.  When inhaling in air, they make it difficult for the dog to breathe well through the nose.

Other Brachycephalic Breeds Besides Rottweilers

Over the years, the brachycephalic breeds have become increasingly familiar with their round faces and big eyes. However, despite their popularity, most suffer from health problems related to their unusual face setting.

The Brachycephalic breeds include:

  • Affenpinscher
  • American bulldog
  • English Bulldog
  • French bulldog
  • Pug
  • Rottweiler
  • Shar Pei
  • Shi Tzu
  • Dogue de Bordeaux
  • Boston Terrier
  • Chihuahua
  • Pekingese
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Cane Corso
  • King Charles Spaniel
  • Bullmastiff
  • Neapolitan Mastiff
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Japanese Chin

Before buying any of these brachycephalic breeds, you should know of any potential health issues they are susceptible to.  This helps you be on the lookout for any warning signs of ill health.

These breeds can suffer from heatstroke, disturbed sleep, skin infections, and abrupt weight gain quite fast.  Although not all brachycephalic breeds suffer from these health problems, it is critical to look into these issues.

Other Brachycephalic Breeds Besides Rottweilers

Learn more about: Why Do Dogs Rub Their Face On The Ground?

Brachycephalic Health Problems Affecting Rottweilers and Other Breeds

Breathing Problems

The Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) is a significant problem for all these breeds and is also known as Brachycephalic Syndrome.  It affects their ability to breathe normally.

Why Does BOAS Cause Breathing Problems:

Dogs, same as humans, breathe in oxygen through their noses and mouth. For brachycephalic dogs, they have narrow nostrils that make inhaling more difficult.

Due to their shorter muzzle, bones in the head have more soft tissue and skin around the nose, mouth, and throat.  This means that their airway is partially blocked or narrower as the tissue leaves a smaller space.

These dogs’ windpipes can sometimes be narrow or deformed, meaning they breathe in less oxygen with each breath.

Dogs don’t sweat, so they regulate their body temperature through panting. Unlike the longer muzzle dogs, breeds cannot draw in as much air as they should, causing them to overheat.

If your dog is wheezing, snorting, or grunting, it means it’s struggling to breathe, or something is obstructing the breathing, as these are not normal noises.

Signs That Show Your Brachycephalic Rottweilers Or Any Other Breed Is Struggling To Breathe

If your notice that your dog has narrow nostrils or they appear tight, instead of being open or round, it could be a sign that they are struggling to breathe because no air can pass through the nose.

A narrow airway means obstructed breathing that causes your dog to make snoring, gagging, or coughing noises when breathing. That’s why it is not advisable to exercise your brachycephalic breed in hot weather.  This is because they overheat pretty quickly, causing them to be at a higher risk of developing heatstroke.

They are also prone to an overlong soft palette that obstructs the air from getting into the windpipe, making breathing even more of a struggle.  This produces a grunting or snoring noise every time these dogs breathe.  If your dog has difficulty breathing, consult your vet.

Skin and Ear Problems

Because of the shape of their head, brachycephalic breeds suffer from skin and ear problems.  They have lots of skin folds around their eyes with narrowed ear canals.

The poorly ventilated areas can cause yeast infections and become very sore if not carefully taken care of. You can prevent this by cutting out grains from their diet.

Research has shown that brachycephalic breeds do better when you don’t feed them with grain at all.  If you notice they have itchy, sensitive, and sore skin, talk to your vet as soon to get a crème to deal with it.

Eye Problems

Some brachycephalic breeds are affected by various eye problems. The leading eye problem is Cherry Eye. This disease is caused when the tear gland in the eyelid becomes swollen and red, resulting in covering part of their eye.

If not treated properly, your dog could end up with a severe infection or even lose the affected eye and become blind.

Breeds with prominent eyes are vulnerable to developing ulcers in the eye or injury, leading to blindness if left untreated. It is critical to keep a check on your dog’s eyes daily.  Should any problems occur, consult your vet immediately.

Read more about Rottweilers With Down Syndrome.


Besides all this, people are always attracted to the appearance of brachycephalic dogs.  Research shows that most pet lovers prefer these dogs for their appearance that is often prioritized to their health. The bulldog, French bulldog, and Rottweiler rank among the topmost loved dogs in the US.

If you have a soft spot for the brachycephalic breeds, don’t despair.  Hopefully, a better cure for their respiratory and other health problems will become more widespread as time goes on.   This will help breeders and pet lovers to continue rearing these breeds without many health problems.  In the meantime, if you are adopting a brachycephalic dog, go ahead and do so.  If raised in a suitable environment, most of them do not suffer all the above health issues.  Some go through their life without any significant health problems.

Read more about: Are Rottweilers Aggressive By Nature – A Deeper Look

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