Stenotic nares and Elongated Palate – Dangerous Cause of French Bulldog Breathing Problems

By: Danielle Harris

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Stenotic Nares, Elongated Palate and Brachycephalic Dogs

If you have a brachycephalic dog, this means that the dog has shortened skull bones. This gives the face, particularly the nose, an appearance of being somewhat “pushed in.” Since the face and nose have shorter bones, other soft tissue structures are affected.

Some of these changes can lead to physical problems for the dog. This condition is called brachycephalic airway syndrome.

The brachycephalic breeds that tend to have brachycephalic airway syndrome include French and English bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Chinese pugs, Pekingese dogs, Lhasa Apsos, Bullmastiffs, and Shih Tzus.

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

Brachycephalic airway syndrome is a set of upper airway abnormalities that often affect brachycephalic dogs.

These can include extended nasopharyngeal turbinate, laryngeal collapse, an elongated soft palate, a hypoplastic trachea, stenotic nares, and everted laryngeal saccules.

A dog who has brachycephalic airway syndrome could have a combination of these abnormalities.

Many of these pets affected with brachycephalic airway syndrome cannot tolerate heat well due to difficulty regulating body temperature because it is hard to pant normally.

What are Stenotic nares and Elongated soft palates?

Stenotic nares

Dogs with stenotic nares have very narrow nostrils, which causes the amount of air that can flow into them to be restricted.

Symptoms of Stenotic nares:

Noisy breathing, especially during inhalation, exercise intolerance, blue gums due to lack of oxygen, fainting.

stenotic nares before and after
Stenotic Nare Correction Surgery


Stenotic nares can be managed if mild and surgically corrected if more severe.

If your dog is only mildly affected, you can take measures to make him comfortable, including keeping him at a healthy weight, limiting stressful situations and exercise in hot or humid weather, and find alternatives to a neck collar, such as a harness.

However, if the problem is more severe, and it can become more severe, surgery is possible.

The surgery involves widening the nostrils by removing pieces of the nostril wall, and prognosis is good. This will allow for better airflow through the nostrils.

Elongated Soft Palate Blocking the airway

Elongated soft palates

A dog with an elongated soft palate (the soft part of the roof of the mouth) has a soft palate that is too long for the length of the mouth; the excess length partially blocks the entrance to the trachea (windpipe) at the back of the throat. This is an airway obstruction.

Elongated soft palate is a congenital condition (present at birth).

If the dog has an elongated soft palate, this can be shortened surgically to a length that is considered more normal.

Symptoms of Elongated Soft Palate

The symptoms of an elongated soft palate in dogs and cats can include difficulty breathing, noisy breathing, snoring, snorting, coughing, gagging, vomiting, bluish gums, heat stroke, exercise intolerance or collapse after exercise.

Symptoms may be worse in hot or humid weather.

If left untreated, an elongated soft palate can cause developmental problems, inflammation of other respiratory tissues, heart disorders, laryngeal collapse, and even death.

Surgery Photos Credits – Facebook Friend Pang


If the soft palate obstruction is not significant enough to warrant surgery, your veterinarian may recommend that you manage the condition by keeping your pet at an appropriate weight, monitoring exercise, reducing stress, and avoiding heat and humidity.

Surgical correction of stenotic nares and elongated soft palates.

elongated palate removed

The success of the surgery will depend on a few different factors.

The earlier that you visit you vet for treatment of the abnormalities, the better the potential outcome will be.

The condition gets worse over time, and other abnormalities may pop up as well.

If stenotic nares or an elongated soft palate are corrected early, this will significantly improve the air flow of the dog.

It could even prevent development of further complications with brachycephalic airway syndrome.

Brachycephalic airway syndrome is a potentially serious and life threatening problem.

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