Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome refers to a variety of upper airway problems found in short-nosed, flat-faced dog breeds such as the Pekingese. Brachycephalic means having a short, broad head. Brachycephalic breeds may experience partial obstruction of the upper airway due to physical characteristics such as narrowed nostrils, an overly long soft palate, or collapse of the voice box. Breathing difficulties may also occur because of an abnormally small windpipe. Some of the more common brachycephalic breeds are the pug, bulldog, boxer, chihuahua, and shih tzu.
Some common symptoms of an obstructed upper airway may include snoring, rapid breathing, noisy breathing, panting, difficulty eating or swallowing, coughing and gagging, inability to perform physical activity, especially in warm, humid weather, and occasionally physical collapse.