8 Dog Breeds with the Flattest Faces

Dogs with short muzzles are truly unique in appearance, contributing to their popularity, but it’s important to learn about the specific health issues that can become life-threatening.

Apr 20, 2024By Lisa Szymanski
dog breeds with the flattest faces

From the Pekingese to the pug, flat-faced dogs are among the cutest in the world. While there’s no doubt that their wrinkled snouts and snub noses create an adorable appearance, these dogs are not without challenges. Short-muzzled breeds are known as brachycephalic, which means “short face.” Because they have congenital problems that affect the structure of their airways, they can struggle to breathe when they’re overheating or stressed. If you want to know which breeds are affected, I delve into the 8 dog breeds with the flattest faces.

1. Bulldog

brown and white english bulldog puppy
Bulldog puppies are irresistible, but always be mindful of their respiratory problems.

The English bulldog is undoubtedly one of the most well-known flat-faced dog breeds. While some describe these stocky dogs as mean-looking and lazy, bulldogs have continued to make their mark in the hearts of many dog lovers. They’re among the top ten dog breeds in the U.S., which says a lot about their favorability. English bulldogs weigh a solid 50 lbs and have short jaws, flat noses, and wrinkles all over their faces. They’re affected by a condition known as brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome, or BOAS, caused by an obstruction of their airways. With weight management, including a balanced doggy diet, BOAS symptoms shouldn’t get in the way of a good quality of life for a bulldog.

2. Pug

pug sitting on green grass
Sadly, pugs are one of the most affected breeds when dealing with BOAS.

You might be surprised to learn that the short-muzzled pug comes from royalty dating as far back as 400 B.C. Hailing from China, these small dogs with their bulging eyes and squashed noses are a family favorite in the U.S. They’re entertaining, loving, and have incredibly friendly personalities. Many believe that the big eyes and wrinkly faces of pugs give them human-like expressions, similar to those of the French bulldog. While pugs are sweet, and they’ve appeared everywhere, from movies to social media, these cuties aren’t without challenges. Their wrinkles need to be cleaned daily, and they’re the second-highest short-faced breed to suffer from BOAS.

3. Shi Tzu

shi tzu panting
Cute and cuddly, the Shi Tzu is an independent toy breed.

If you’ve gotten the impression that a Shi Tzu walks around with their nose in their air, it’s because they’re royal dogs. Shi Tzus are ideal for someone who enjoys the company of a lap dog with moderate energy levels. They actually make great apartment dogs because of their toy size, but they need plenty of socialization and training to overcome their stubbornness. Before you decide to adopt a Shi Tzu, consider the amount of grooming they require. These royal dogs, with their flat muzzles, need the hair around their eyes, noses, and mouths trimmed to avoid matting. Keeping the hair short will minimize respiratory irritation in these little dogs, as their coat won’t get in the way of their nostrils and mouths.

4. French Bulldog

french bulldog lying on black tiles
The playful French bulldog is known to snore like a tractor!

America’s most popular dog breed is the French Bulldog because they’re friendly, intelligent, and they’re really cute! Despite their name alluding to French roots, these dogs actually came from England in the mid-1800s, where toy bulldogs contributed to the breed. It was only after French breeders modified the appearance of the little bulldogs that they became the flat-faced Frenchies we know today. This bully breed is a big snorer, and it’s because of their short muzzles and small nostrils. Up to 50% of Frenchies are prone to breathing difficulties because of congenital problems with their airways and flat snouts. Symptoms such as wheezing, snorting, labored breathing, and gagging are signs of BOAS and should be addressed by a veterinarian.

5. Pekingese

fawn pekingese sitting on grass
The Pekingese comes from Chinese royalty.

The Pekingese is another breed that comes from Asia, historically serving as a companion dog for Chinese royalty. They have a long and fluffy coat that creates the appearance of a mane around their head and neck. A fun fact about this “mane” was that Pekingese were bred to look like a Chinese mythical guardian lion known as the “foo dog.” These tiny dogs only reach 9 inches in height, but what they lack in size, they make up for in ferocity. The snub-nosed breed requires training to follow commands because they’re very independent. Pekingese struggle in warm climates, which is made worse by their flat noses. Keep their coats trimmed in the summer to protect them from overheating and matted fur.

6. Boston Terrier

black and white boston terrier
Boston terriers are energetic short-faced dogs.

Boston Terriers are called “American gentlemen” because of their sweet personalities, their black and white “tuxes,” and their American origins. During the 19th century, pet owners in Boston fell in love with the breed, and soon these round-headed dogs became family pets. Weighing around 25 lbs, these terriers are full of personality and make great companions. Not to be confused with the French bulldog, Boston terriers are leaner and slightly taller than their bully cousins. They’re popular city dogs because they do well with moderate exercise, which means that a daily walk and some play time keep them happy. While Boston Terriers are generally fit dogs, they do experience health problems such as a luxating patella and upper airway conditions that create breathing difficulties.

7. Bullmastiff

bullmastiff lying on green grass
Bullmastiffs are huge dogs with short muzzles that rapidly affect their breathing.

Bullmastiffs might look like intimidating guard dogs, but they have such loyal personalities and make wonderful family pets. These large dogs are powerful and have an interesting history as protectors of game for wealthy reserve owners in England. Despite these dogs being such strong guardians in the 19th century, they’re affected by a multitude of hereditary conditions, including hip dysplasia and bloat. Mastiffs have short snouts that contribute to their respiratory issues, such as BOAS. They struggle in the heat and if they’re overweight, it makes breathing much harder. Keep mastiffs cool and comfortable, and don’t overdo vigorous activity to avoid any strain on their joints and respiratory systems.

8. Boxer

face of a boxer dog
Boxers are energetic and a favorite flat-faced dog breed.

Fun, energetic, and full of love, the boxer is one of the world’s most popular flat-faced dog breeds. The boxer dog is intelligent and highly active, so you’ll have to commit to walks and stimulating activities that prevent boredom. They have big personalities and make great watchdogs that can reach a weight of 80 lbs. Sadly, these brachycephalic dogs are affected by breathing problems. Boxers struggle in warm temperatures, and they should only exercise an hour after they’re fed to avoid respiratory and abdominal complications. By paying careful attention to the health of these dogs with the flattest faces, they can go on to live full and happy lives.

Lisa Szymanski
By Lisa Szymanski

Lisa is a wildlife enthusiast who enjoys hiking and gardening and has four years of experience volunteering at pet shelters. She is the proud mom of two dogs, a Pitbull named Ragnar, a Boerboel named Blueberry, and four feisty chickens, or as she calls them, the "queens of the yard," Goldie, Gray, Peaches, and Brownie.