Elongated soft palate is most common with Brachycephalic dog breeds. The Bulldog, but also the Pug, Boston terrier, Pekingese, Boxer, bulldog, Shih tzu or any one of the other breeds with "pushed in" faces, are called Brachycephalic breeds. The word comes from Greek roots Brachy, meaning short and cephalic, meaning head. They have been bred so as to possess a normal lower jaw, that is, one in proportion to their body size, and a compressed upper jaw.
The soft palate is a flap of mucousal tissue which closes off the animal's airway (nasopharynx) during swallowing to prevent foods and liquids from going into their lungs. In animals with a normal soft palate, it touches or slightly overlaps the epiglottis.In the Brachycephalic breeds, it is difficult to fit the soft tissues of the canine mouth and throat into the short face. In dogs with an elongated soft palate, the palate then overlaps the epiglottis to a considerable degree, partially obstructing the animal's airway during breathing.
The signs of elongated soft palate are mouth breathing, snorting and snoring which gets more prounounced after exercise. It tends to get worse as the dog gets older. Not only will it impair the dog's ability to eat, but it will interfere with his breathing. Generally he will regurgitate, or bring up, his food, often several times before he manages to digest it. In time, stretched ligaments in the larynx leads to labored breathing and laryngeal collapse.
Laryngeal collapse is a late stage in airway obstruction. Pressure changes caused by the elongated soft palate bring about the stretching of the ligaments that support the laryngeal cartilages. These cartilages gradually collapse inward which can lead to attacks of acute airway obstruction, and sometimes part of the soft palate needs to be surgically removed. Naturally, any dog that has suffered with soft palate should never be used as breeding stock.
This congenital condition affects the breed far less now a couple of decades ago.
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