It's all in the head - A detailed insight into Dog Skulls

Wag Wiki, last updated 28th, Jan 2015, Adnan Khan

Correct me if I’m wrong but what attracts most humans to a certain dog breed in the first impression is how they look. In fact, the majority of potential dog owners are influenced by direct media and word-of-mouth instead of their own research. Even with such a tremendous tool as the internet which can be termed the biggest facilitator of knowledge, most people rely on influential avenues like media and celebrities. 

Let us observe the quintessential factor of what makes a dog look different from another dog in the first look. The first impression I get of a dog is their face, that is influenced by the shape of their skull. Besides the size and body structure most people, would not go beyond ‘cute’ factor of a dog. 

The shape of a dog’s skull has evolved into primarily three broad categories:

  • Dolichocephalic skull
  • Mesaticephalic skull
  • Brachycephalic skull

The different types of dog skull have been described in detail:

Dolichocephalic skull


Dolichocephalic Skull

- ‘Dolichocephalic’ literally translates to ‘long-headed’, technically where the length of the cranium (skull) is much greater than the cranial width. This is the longest skull-shape in dogs. Primarily meant for excellent sight, Dolichocephalic skulls provide higher range of vision due to the long and narrow snout. Having an exceptionally long snout also benefits in hunting, sniffing and tracking related jobs amongst the dog kingdom.  


Example dog breeds of dolichocephalic would be - Greyhound, Saluki, Whippet, Rajapalayam etc. 

melo skull

Mesaticephalic Skull

-  Also known as ‘mesocephalic’, this is the most proportional of the three skull shapes. Also known as ‘square-skulled’, these dogs have craniums whose length and width is proportional or similar in measurement. These breeds are gifted with broader snouts and larger nasal cavities giving them wonderful scenting capabilities.


Most popular breeds with mesocephalic skulls are - Labrador Retriever, Beagle, Chihuahua, Cocker Spaniel etc. 



Brachycephalic Skull

-By far the most ‘man-made’ and yet the most interesting skull shapes in the dog kingdom. Brachycephalic dogs are arguably one of the cutest breeds for pet owners. This is a relatively broad and short skull type with the breadth at least 80% of the length of the muzzle. History suggests, such dogs were termed under ‘fighting dogs’ like Boxers and Bull dogs. The utility of the skull compression was to achieve strong jaws. However, the most attractive looking skull type also comes with complications of its own.


Brachycephalic breeds, especially the extreme versions like Pugs and English Bulldogs are prone to overheating due to being unable to cool themselves. Shorter snouts means the warm air does not have a passage to cool down in the process. In addition, skin infections, eye problems and overcrowded teeth are some of the generic issues that auch dogs face. 

Appropriate examples include; Bullmastiff, French Bulldog, Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso etc. 

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