What Is A Barrel Chested Dog Breed?

Sometimes as veterinarians, or even as avid dog lovers we can get carried away with “lingo” and forget that not everyone is familiar with these terms as we are. Today we are going to address one term that is frequently used in the veterinary industry – most particularly in relation to canine bloat: “barrel chested dog breeds.”

Labrador in field with purple flowers

The term barrel-chested refers to dogs that have a very round chest that takes on the appearance of a barrel. These dogs have a deep ribcage and a ‘heavy’ chest.

There are a number of ways that barrel chestedness can be measured but the easiest way to determine whether a dog is barrel chested or not is by fully researching the breeds that make up your dog. Certain breeds such as the Keeshond, are naturally barrel chested. In some other breeds, like the Labrador Retriever, the shape of the barrel chest has developed over time in some breeding lines but according to AKC regulations this feature is not desired in a true to breed specimen.

If you have questions about whether or not a barrel chest is a desired feature in a particular breed we recommend looking over the AKC regulations for that particular breed. Just remember, we don’t all fit into the “standard” for how others think we should look and that goes for dogs too. Just because your dog is a little different to the AKC requirements doesn’t mean they aren’t a great dog all the same.