Hypoplastic Tracheas in English Bulldogs and French Bulldogs - BigBulldogs

Hypoplastic Tracheas in English Bulldogs and French Bulldogs

Q- BigBulldog my 12 week old Bulldog puppy has been coughing and wheezing for the past few days so we took him to the Vet. He was diagnosed with a Hypoplastic Trachea. The Vet told us that he would continue to get worse and we will probably have to put him to sleep. This really concerns us because we love him so much. He still eats well and plays, but coughs at night and seems to get tired rather quickly. When we contacted the breeder, they said not to worry about it that he would most likely grow out of it! Does this make any sense? Even though we love him to pieces, I cannot bear to have my kids become more attached to a pup that we will have to put down. Do you have any advice or knowledge on this subject? Thank you Jackie.

The BigBulldog: Jackie, Thank You for your question, This really strikes a nerve with me, so get ready cause here it comes.“ DO NOT PUT YOUR DOG TO SLEEP.” If this is your desire, bring him to me and I will take him off your hands. Wanna know what I’ll do? I’ll treat him with antibiotics and gentamicin for 10 days or so, wait a month for him to have a growth spurt, then I will sell him to a wonderful family for full price and give a 1 year health guarantee. These half cocked Vets make me furious. I have heard these types of stories over and over again as well as experienced it personally at least 100 times. In fact over 75% of the time when some “Specialist Vet” diagnosis a severe hypoplastic trachea on a Bulldog pup, he’s wrong.


NORMAL SIZE TRACHEA – A normal size trachea is about the thickness of the spine. Rarely will you ever see this in Bulldogs.

LESS THAN ADEQUATE SIZE TRACHEA – 50-80% less than the spine thickness. This you often see in Bulldogs and most of the time they grow out of it. 

– 20% or less than the size of their spine. Most of the time the pup will die.

All Bulldogs have a degree of what is referred to as Brachycephalic Syndrome. This simply means that they have a pushed in nose. This characteristic is what makes a Bulldog a Bulldog as well as what makes a Bulldog prone to several respiratory issues. (Breathing Problems)

The severity of the issue is determined by what genetic degree of narrowing has actually occurred. Here are a few symptomatic examples that I have experienced;

1. SEVERELY HYPOPLASTIC TRACHEA- Puppy is small, thin and lethargic. He has chronic respiratory infections as well as pneumonia. He cannot seem to get comfortable irregardless of what he does. He cannot play with the litter mates and he sits with his head tilted straight back, nose pointing to the sky so that it straightens out his trachea in order for him to breathe. This is a very sad condition and nothing currently can be done to remedy this problem. I have NEVER seen this degree of Hypoplastic Trachea become better. The only humane thing to do here is to euthanize him.

2. LESS THAN ADEQUATE SIZE TRACHEA- Puppy is full size and healthy looking. He eats well, is energetic and plays. Often times there is no warning at all because the trachea is normal size until he is 8-10 weeks old. He then has a growth spurt but the trachea does not grow and remains the same. Then he develops an abnormal cough/ wheeze and or raspy throat sounds that often leads to an upper respiratory infection that is stubborn to get rid of. However he does improve little by little and eats well and remains reasonably energetic. (BEWARE not to confuse this with a basic cold or pneumonia. Baby Bulldogs can have a normal size trachea and still suffer from upper respiratory issuesas well as pneumonia quite frequently. We are specifically speaking of (Hypoplastic Tracheas) here. In some instances baby Bulldogs eat so fast that they actually choke on their food and can actually pass out because of lack of oxygen. In all cases when you suspect an abnormally small trachea, you should softened their kibble with warm water, or place a large rock in their bowl so that they actually have to work to get to the food rather than inhale it.

Years ago when the symptoms of LESS THAN ADEQUATE would prevail, I’d run Bully to the vet and get a chest X-Ray and most of the time Doc would say, “This pup has a less than adequate size trachea. Go home and treat him for upper respiratory for 14 days and wait a month or two. As you know he needs to have a big growth spurt so that his trachea can grow to adequate size.” I have seen or heard of this hundreds of times through the years. “It’s just a Bulldog Thang. “
Often times my client does absolutely opposite of what I recommend to them. They believe that ALL VETS ARE THE SAME. Every week I field a phone call or two where a Vet scares the heck out of my client by wowing them with their veterinary expertise and scholastic degrees making them believe that I’m nothing more than a stupid know nothing low rent white trash dumb breeder. (I love these guys.)

Hey folks……”ALL” Bulldogs have a smaller than average trachea. (Espicially when they are babies……) 

This happens so frequently that I have decided to dedicate a section to them on my website. Name to be determined.

I am not posting this information to make any person look bad. I have never met this vet below and know nothing of her character. However if she is going to give my client WRONG information and advise her to return the dog to me as well as KILL ONE OF MY SWEET BABY BULLDOGS because of her ignorance, then I choose to put the information out so you can become more educated and BEWARE of how uninformed a licensed vet can be.


Fortunately for the Bulldog baby, the client called me and asked my opinion before they did anything drastic. They came up the next day to return the pup as their vet suggested. Instead, we took her to see Dr. Eaton who see’s hundreds of Bulldogs per month until she recently retired. As you see in the pdf file below according to Dr. Eaton, THE PUPS TRACHEA SIZE FOR HER AGE WAS NORMAL TO SLIGHTLY SMALL. NOT SEVERELY HYPOPLASTIC. I might also add that Dr. Eaton was 100% correct in her prognosis of this pup because we treated her with antibiotics for a couple of weeks and she was good to go thereafter. In fact it’s been over a two and a half years and she has had ZERO Trachea problems. 

Please note to pay special attention to the yellow highlighted areas. 
(A/O means Advice to Owner) and the trachea is the dark line that goes down the middle of the pups chest and dumps into the stomach. How would you judge it?


So Miss Jackie with all that said it is my advice to you to get the professional opinion of someone who see’s hundreds of Bulldogs per month rather than your average run of the mill vet no matter what letters and or degrees they have after their name. A vet can be your Bulldogs BEST FRIEND or WORST NIGHTMARE. It is solely up to you to do your homework. I completely agree with your breeder. Keep an eye on him and give him time to grow. Most likely he will be fine in a month or so. Find yourself a Bulldog Vet and listen to him. Not someone who says they are a Bulldog vet. Someone that has seen thousands of Bulldogs. Let me know if I can point you towards one. I have counted over 80 Bulldogs in the waiting room at my vets office during a single 2 hour visit. Go figure.