Deep-Chested Dog Breeds Under the Microscope

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If you own deep-chested dog breeds, you have to look for various health issues such as bloat. Bloat is a deadly condition that causes a gas build-up in the dog’s stomach. 

This blocks food and gas from passing through the digestive tract. But why are these breeds prone to bloat? Here’s all you need to know about deep-chested dog breeds and what makes them deep. 

You will also get to know the correlation between bloat and deep-chested dogs and ways to prevent bloat in these four-legged friends. So, let’s kick in. But first, what is a deep-chested dog?

deep-chested dog breeds

What is a Deep–Chested Dog?

A deep-chested dog had a chest that extends to their elbows or below. This makes them narrow or deep compared to normal or barrel-chested dogs. Deep-chestedness commonly affects large breeds, but it can also affect small and medium.

Dogs with big chests were mostly bred for running since they have high speed and endurance. Running is possible thanks to the shape of the chest, which gives the dog’s lungs a lot of space to expand. 

For this reason, the dog finds it easy to take deeper breaths. Talking of deeper breaths, they provide more oxygen to the dog’s muscles, boosting energy and making the dog run fast over long distances.

Why is My Dog’s Chest So Deep?

Why does my dog have a big chest? If you’re wondering why your dog’s chest is so deep, the reason might be due to canine gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV). GDV is a life-threatening condition, mostly in large, big-chested dogs.

However, any breed, small or medium, can be affected. You’ll notice this health disorder when the stomach fills with gas, causing bloat in dogs or a simple gastric dilatation.

The Location of a Deep-Chested Dog Breed’s Chest

A dog’s chest runs from the bottom of the dog’s neck to the stomach. It includes the ribs and spine, from the shoulders to the end of the ribs, and the dog’s breastplate connects some ribs in the ribcage.

diagram of a boxer dog explaining a barrel-chested dog's anatomy

Other Types of Dog Chests

Did you know there are different types of dog chests? Among them are:

  • Deep-chested dog breeds
  • Round-chested canines
  • Barrel-chested dogs

Deep Chest

Dogs with deep chests are usually narrow and have a tall rib cage that is oval-shaped from the front. In simple terms, the rib cage is higher from top to bottom than wide, from left to right. As a result, these chests fall low, and if not lower than, the dog’s elbows in its front legs. 

Deep chests are not for a specific dog. Any dog size can be deep-chested. Compared to round chests, deep chests are taller and narrower. Typically, dogs with deep chests were bred for running because they have high speed. In addition, the deep chest creates space in the lungs for deeper breaths.

Round Chest

The second type of dog chest is round. When you line up different dog breeds, you will notice that most have round chests. A round chest has rib cages that appear in a circle. Dogs with round-shaped chests were bred for activities such as swimming, herding, and great companions. 

Barrel Chest

Lastly, we have barrel-chested dog breeds. A barrel chest is wide at the front and appears like a barrel. In dogs with a barrel chest, the top and bottom parts appear straight and even. Other than that, the sides of the shoulder are wider and rounded. The bottom of the chest is usually in line with or above the elbows of the front legs.

Typically, barrel-chested dogs have thicker necks with front legs further. Like large barrel-chested dogs, some breeds often have a lot of strength and power in the front of their bodies. On top of that, these dogs were bred for hunting and fighting. Apart from that, they helped in digging and acted as guard dogs.

barrel-chested dog breeds

Examples of Deep–Chested Dog Breeds

Dogs with deep chests have narrow and tall rib cage that is oval-shaped from the front. Some of the common breeds are:

Determining if a Dog has a Deep Chest

Determining whether your dog has a deep chest can be tricky. However, you can make everything easy by checking the following aspects.

Standing Position

The standing position is a great way to check if your dog is deep-chested or barrel-chested. First, position your dog to stand, then look from the front and sides.


By now, things are starting to get clear. Now, look at the shape of the chest area from the front. Next, go to the sides and check where the rib cage ends. Do this while comparing the elbow and the shape of the stomach.

a black greying Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Deep–Chested vs Barrel–Chested Dogs: The Differences

There are different types of dog chests. However, telling the difference is not a walk in the park. You need to check on some features to know the best. To help you out, check out the table below for the obvious differences between barrel-chested and deep-chested dog breeds.

Deep-Chested DogsBarrel-Chested Dogs
Have narrow and tall chests.Wider chests.
The chest is oval-shaped from the front.Rounded chests and wider shoulders.
Build for running and endurance.Build for hunting and digging.
There is an abdominal tuck, where the stomach is higher than the bottom of the rib cage.No abdominal tuck and the stomach is lower compared to the bottom of the ribcage.
The front legs are a bit closed.The front legs are almost apart.
The bottom of the rib cage ends in line with or below the elbows in the front legs.The bottom of the rib cage ends in line with or above the elbows in the front legs.

Health Issues Associated With Deep–Chested Canines

Without a doubt, you can differentiate between a deep chest and a barrel chest. However, these breeds are prone to various diseases. Here are health issues that affect dog breeds with deep chests.

Deep-chestedness is a condition where the chest extends to or below the dog’s elbows, making them narrower and deeper than the normal chest of dogs. Deep-chested dogs are affected by a deadly condition known as bloat. 

Also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), it causes gas to build up in the dog’s stomach, blocking the entrance and exit of the stomach. When this happens, gas and food can not pass through the digestive system, which also reduces circulation in the digestive organs. When this happens, you will notice symptoms such as:


Retching is a condition that makes the stomach try vomiting. However, it does not cause vomit at all. When bloat affects deep-chested dog breeds, you will notice that they try vomiting, but nothing comes out at all. 


The second instance is pain symptoms in dogs. Typically, pain results due to many reasons. For example, bloated dogs with pain will become restless, and sometimes they might not feed properly.

Distention of the Abdomen 

Another symptom is distention of the abdomen. Since gas builds up, leading to bloat, your dog’s abdominal system will swell and protrude outside.

Rapid Heart Rate

Apart from pain, your dog’s animal heart rate will become abnormal in that it will beat at a high rate. From this, the shock might occur. Since it is a deadly condition, your dog might die. However, you can resort to emergency treatment, such as surgery, to correct the condition.

With that in mind, here is the correlation between this deadly disorder and your dog’s body structure.

The Correlation Between Bloat and Deep–Chested Dogs

The relationship between deep-chested canines and dog bloat occurs when the stomach builds up gas. When this happens, the chest cavity allows for more stomach expansion. This is more visible in large-chested than in dog breeds with shallow chests. As a result, the stomach may flip on itself and create more room to rotate.

Facts About Bloat in Deep-Chested Dog Breeds

With all that in mind, you might be interested to know more about GDV in deep-chested dog breeds. So, check out these facts.

  • Typically, bloat affects dogs weighing above 100 pounds (45 kilograms). According to experts, they have a 20% risk of this condition.
  • When this happens, the stomach becomes distended and pushes the posterior rib cage so that it appears bloated. When you press the left side where it appears swollen, you will hear sounds that imitate the drum.
  • Breathing becomes difficult since the bloated stomach presses the diaphragm. After this, air circulation in the digestive organs becomes difficult since the blood vessels come in contact with the distended stomach. As a result, systematic shock occurs.
  • The dog becomes weak and collapses, making it lie on one side.

Factors Contributing to an Increase in Bloat

As much as bloat is preventable, there are some practices that pet parents do that increase the risk of bloat in dogs. Some of them are as follows:

  • Rapid eating
  • Taking one meal a day
  • Having a family history of bloat 
  • Underweight or thinness
  • Aggression or dog dominance behavior
  • Fearful or nervous temperament
  • Consuming moistened food that has citric as a preservative
  • Being male sex are more likely to bloat than females
  • Older dogs have the highest risk

Preventing Bloat in Deep–Chested Canines

Deep-chestedness is a condition that affects many dogs. When left untreated, it can cause adverse effects such as death. However, there are many ways to prevent these health issues. Check out these preventable steps.

Change Your Dog’s Eating Habits

Changing your dog’s eating habits is one way to prevent bloating in deep-chested dogs. Typically, one tends to take in much air when feeding, especially if it’s quick. Due to this, gas builds up, resulting in bloating. For better results, use slow-feeder dog bowls to control food intake.

Combine Meals

Many pet parents like feeding dogs a large portion at one stage. This is also called on-demand feeding. When this occurs, they might bolt food or develop gas and blockages. Feed small meals instead of one or two large ones.

Feed Your Pets Individually

One thing that pet parents love doing is feeding pets together. This is a nice act since it helps create a strong bond. But, on the contrary, it does not apply to deep-chested dogs. When they eat together, there’s a high competition which makes them gulp down their meals.

Avoid Strenuous Exercise 

Like human beings, dogs, too, need to exercise. Exercise is good since it helps strengthen muscles. However, it does not apply to dogs with deep chests. If need be, you should avoid strenuous exercises before and after meals.

Treating dogs with deep chests can be expensive. But with the tips outlined above, you will get to prevent further health risks.

At this point, you can easily identify deep-chested dogs and know the factors leading to bloat and how to prevent it. So, here are some bloat treatment tips for deep-chestedness.

Treating Bloat in Deep-Chested Dogs

Bloat is a dangerous condition in deep-chested dog breeds. If you notice this condition, you need to seek immediate veterinary intervention. The veterinarian will reduce the pressure on the stomach wall and internal organs during the treatment process.

At first, the vet may try different attempts, such as passing stomach tubes. However, it can fail because of the twisted dog stomach. So different treatment methods will proceed where they insert a large-bore needle or catheter into the skin of the stomach to relieve the pressure.

After that, shock treatment begins using intravenous fluids and emergency medications. Once the dog becomes stable, the veterinarian performs surgical correction. In some instances, they will delay the major surgery until the patient is fit for anesthesia.

An adult beige English Mastiff lying on green grass

The Final Say

Deep chestedness is a deadly condition that affects dogs. This health issue makes the dog’s chest appear deep. As a result, it causes bloat and gas build-up. This is a serious and fatal condition. When it appears, you will notice rapid heart rate, shock, retching, or even death.

The better part is that you can prevent it using different methods such as controlled feeding and avoiding strenuous activities before and after meals. Of course, as a pet owner, you have to look for such symptoms.

If your dog displays bloat signs, seek help from a veterinarian as soon as possible. They will administer an emergency treatment to ease the condition.

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