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Common Bulldog Health Issues - Elongated Soft Palate

Updated on July 14, 2012

One of the loveliest and ugliest dogs walking the face of the earth is the Bull Dog. Lately they are making a return to the public eye with more appearances in dog food commercials and other appealing ads. Bulldogs have long been the symbol for the massive Mac trucks. They have been the proud mascots of high school, college, university and professional sports teams. The British Bulldog of professional wrestling fame, the University of Georgia’s Uga VI, the Mississauga Ice Dog’s, and others pay homage to the strength and determination of this breed.

Bulldogs are friendly, generally laid back and outgoing. They make wonderful companion animals for some people. Yet, Bulldogs, like so many other purebred dogs suffer from various health natures. Some are mild while others are severe and can be quite costly. Before you decide the Bulldog is the right breed for you, you need to understand what can possibly go wrong.

Basic Health Information

English bulldogs fall into the brachycephalic group of canines. Members of this type of dogs are Brussels Griffon, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, French Bulldogs, Japanese Chin, Pekingese, Pugs, Shih Tzu and Yorkshire Terrier. The term brachycephalic refers to the shape of the face and the accompanying internal structure resulting from this. A brachycephalic dog has a “pushed-in” face. The nose is squat and the muzzle appears to have a mashed look.

Such a look can be charming. It is also hazardous. This truncated muzzle has all the required parts of a regular dog’s muzzle squeezed into a much smaller space. As a result, such a normal function as breathing is difficult. Current breeding practices are working to reduce the problem, but this will always remain an issue with brachycephalic canines. No matter how hard a breeder tries, a Bulldog owner always faces a nightly snore-fest.

Snoring is a way of life for Bulldogs. So, too is drooling after and during meals. These habits are both annoying and charming. They are part of the Bulldog’s nature. Owners get used to them. Yet, the face that characterizes the Bulldog can also bring with it certain health risks. These may severely affect the longevity and quality of life of your dog. Among the most common and treatable health issues in the Bulldog is an elongated soft palate.


What Is An Elongated Soft Palate

Picture the upper palate of a German shepherd. Notice its length and width. Take that same amount of skin and stuff it into a smaller dog’s mouth. Make it fit. You can do it, but the result is some of it may fall down into the opening of the larynx, blocking it. This will prevent the air from entering and leaving the throat and lungs.

As a result, the dog breathes heavier, the lungs and heart work harder. The dog becomes short-winded when taking walks. He or she pants heavily when over exerted. On a hot day, the problem becomes exasperated as the dog tries to pant to cool down. He or she may decide to lie down for a little bit after only going a short distance.

This is a problem affecting Bulldogs. Some do not suffer from this problem, but many do. Fortunately, veterinarian medicine has a cure for this. A veterinarian can perform a surgical operation to reduce the size of the palate. Your vet will enter the mouth, cut the palate down to size, and sew it back into place. At the same time, he or she may take care of a few other health issues - narrow nostrils (stenotic nares) will increase the breathing problem. The vet may also remove the tonsils (Yes, dogs do have tonsils) and the everted saccules.


Surgery is usually not complicated. You can take your dog in the morning and bring him or home at night. You do need to be aware, however, that complications are possible. There is always a worry about the use of anaesthetic.

There is also another possibility. The operation may result in swelling of the throat. This can lead to a major reaction. Your dog will then need medical care, including oxygen. As a result, a relatively inexpensive operation of around $1,000 Canadian will increase. You need to be prepared for such a problem.

This will also necessitate your dog remaining under a veterinarian’s care. Many vet clinics and hospitals do NOT have a vet on staff for overnight. You may need to transfer the dog. Do know what your vet offers. Be aware of their overnight procedures. Know where to take your beloved pet if he or she must receive 24-hour care.

While most operations go without a hitch, you need to be prepared in case something goes wrong. It is always good to know what the possible consequences could be and how to deal with any sudden medical emergencies.


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    • Seakay profile image

      Seakay 6 years ago from Florida

      Wow, great information! I didn't realize these problems with bulldogs. Good to know! Thanks for thr read.