Comparative morphometric study of the mimic facial muscles of brachycephalic and dolichocephalic dogs
Excessive breeding of dogs has led to a disadvantageous morphology in some breeds, for example extreme brachycephaly, which is responsible for many health issues. We hypothesize that alterations of the mimic muscular system are present in brachycephalic dogs and could contribute to behavioural problems due to a restricted mimic display. Therefore, the purpose of this paper was to compare the mimic muscular systems of brachycephalic with dolichocephalic dogs. Mimic muscles were measured and set in ratio to measurements of the head and calculated indices. When bringing the length of the muscles m(x) in proportion to the length of the head, highly significant differences (p < .0001) and significant difference (p < .05) were found in all but two of the examined muscles. Calculations of the m(x) divided by the cranial index and the square index showed significant differences for all muscles. For example, the musculus (m.) levator nasolabialis was morphologically different from the one of dolichocephalic dogs. Muscle fibres of the m. levator nasolabialis were localized in the fold over the nasal bridge of brachycephalic dogs. The raphe of the m. orbicularis oris was not always apparent in brachycephalic dogs. The proportions of the muscle lengths and the length of the eye slots to the size of the skull have shifted considerably in brachycephalic dogs. We conclude that many alterations contribute to the strong shift in the proportions of the head of brachycephalic dogs versus that of dolichocephalic dogs. Our findings suggest that brachycephalic dogs have reduced mimic skills that can lead to ambiguous communication.