Should We Be Worried By Pug Breathing Problems And How Can We Prevent Them?

Pug breathing Problems

There are lots of questions that dog owners have before buying a pug. One of the most important concerns pug breathing problems. This means their symptoms, severity and likelihood.

Many of us will have walked past a pug breathing weird in the park and been concerned about its health. It is not uncommon for new owners to say my pug is breathing very fast and not know why. It is therefore important that are prospective owners are educated on the subject.

This guide on pug breathing will look at the issues of pug breeding and facial structure and why this is such a problem when it comes to breathing issues. From there we will look at different pug respiratory problems that you may encounter – from the normal noises to the more problematic issues.

We will also look at what to do if you find your pug struggling to breathe. Once we have looked at the potential problems, we will address the possible solutions on how to improve pug breathing issues in day-to-day healthcare and home life. Finally, we will take a step back so you can decide if this dog really is for you.

Do All pugs have breathing problems?

To start with, this can depend on what we mean by breathing problems?

Pugs certainly have more difficulty breathing than other breeds and all pugs will exhibit some sort of symptom. There are lots of noises that pugs make. Owners can experience pug panting, pug wheezing or pug snorting or all three in one unpleasant session.

These noises are a normal part of living with a pug. Then there are times when you notice a pug breathing heavy, fast and with sign of distress. This is when you have a clear medical problem and need to take action. As you will see below, there are small measures that can correct this quickly. However, it is also important to be aware of medical problems and the risk of pugs breathing attacks.

This high percentage is all down to the shape of their face – they are a brachycephalic breed

A brachycephalic breed is essentially a dog with a short, broad head where the breeding standards have distorted the face and had an impact on the shape of the nose and the airways. This is seen in pugs, bulldogs, pekingese and other toys. This is something that has been breed into these dogs.

Centuries ago, pugs faces weren’t so flat and the eyes were less buggy. It was decided that these “cute” traits were desirable and the breed was bred to this new standard. Unfortunately, over-breeding has led to this genetic predisposition to respiratory issues and noisy breathing. A squashed face is common. Sadly, so are narrowed nostrils, an elongated soft palate and small windpipe.

These pug nose problems and windpipe issues can lead to important medical issues

It is important to pay attention to the way that your pug is breathing and the noises they are making as they can give a clue to the possible cause.

Medical issues regarding pugs breathing issues tend to be lumped together under the label of Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome. This is a collective term for all the standard issues experienced by any dog in this category. Symptoms include snoring, rapid breathing, frequent panting, difficulty swallowing and gagging.

There are many owners that will cry but my pug won’t stop sneezing! Why do pugs sneeze so much?

There are different causes of this. The most common issue is pug reverse sneezing which is generally caused by an elongated palate. This over-long tissue obstructs the airway, leading excessive gasps, sneezes and wheezes. There is also the possibility that sneezing and snorting is due to illness through a bacterial build up on nose. This is more common in this breed due to the shape of the nose and the moisture in skin fold. Regular cleaning around the nose is recommended.

Others will find that they notice pug breathing problems at night. If you have a pug breathing heavy at night or snoring, this could be due to that elongated palette or those narrow nasal passages. Snoring is not a big problem if it is monitored, a bit like our own. If it seems to be restricting air intake or causing other issues, talk to a vet. Corrective procedures on the airways and palette could be in order if your pet has a severe condition. You should also be aware that heavy breathing in a pug can also be due to an allergic reaction or a reaction to smoke.

Then there is the severe issue of a pug having trouble breathing and failing to get enough oxygen

If your pug begins show signs of respiratory distress with rapid breathing and an increase in noises, stop what you are doing and let them rest. There is a good chance that the issue will improve if they have a chance to catch their breath and calm down. If the breathing attack is more severe than normal, or they are happening more frequently, take your dog to the vet to get them checked out.

What can you do to help your pug on a daily basis?

Now that you are more aware of the potential issues that can occur with a pug and its breathing, it is time to learn more about how to help pugs breathe better.

Many vets and pug owners will talk about surgery to correct the nasal passage and help the airways. However, this should only really be considered when the problem is severe and there are serious health implications. Panting, wheezing and rapid breathing are unpleasant, but they can be be kept under control with some simple rules.

Dealing with pug dog breathing problems within the home

The first thing that you need to do is ensure that your dog has a comfortable living environment at home where they are not made to breathe heavily or breathing becomes difficult. There are many ways of going about this. It helps to use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air and avoid poor air quality. Understand the allergens that your pug is sensitive to, remove them and don’t smoke around them.

It is also important to remember here that temperature can play a big part on the breathing habits of pugs. These dogs are not designed to withstand extreme weather conditions and cold temperatures and extreme heat can both take their toll. The best option for the home is to keep the rooms air conditioned at a pleasant temperature and avoid to much sunlight coming in. It should go without saying that these are indoor dogs as outside temperature fluctuations could kill them.

Dealing with a pugs breathing problems when out on a walk

Exercise is very important with pugs because they are active little dogs that are prone to overeating. Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome can be triggered by more than just genetics. Obese dogs are much more likely to develop issues, which means you need to work hard to keep their weight down.

At the same time, over-exertion and exercise can also trigger breathing problems, so you need to find the middle ground where you are working off the calories without straining them.

Once you have figured out the best time frame for a daily walk, there are other factors that can help you to reduce the risk of poor breathing or attacks. Going back to the issue of temperature, it can help to walk them in the early morning or early evening so the sun is a little cooler. Pug owners are also advised to take some water along to keep them cool and hydrated and to opt for a harness rather than a collar and lead. Harnesses offer better weight distribution and won’t put so much force on the neck and throat. Collars can contribute to collapsed trachea and other problems.

What have we learned about pugs breathing problems and their solutions?

There is a lot to take in here. On one hand, the issue of pugs breathing with difficulty can seem alarming when we list the potential issues and symptoms like this. The breeding of these animals means that they are prone to illness and poor breathing and there is little we can do to correct it. We need to be aware of the issues of elongated palettes, narrow nostrils, collapsed trachea and bacterial infections. At the same time, we need to remember that a good home environment, exercise regime and day-to-day care can help to keep some of these disorders under control. Severe attacks can be avoided, even if your pup is prone to snoring, snorting and sneezing.

Should this put you off from getting a pug?

Breathing problems in pugs are common and it is something to keep in mind when choosing this breed as a family pet.

There is a good chance that you won’t be able to stop your pet from developing these problem, as their breeding and genetics may have sealed their fate. However, the problem may not be as bad as you may think. Panting, sneezing and snorting are common and don’t have to be an issue if you know how to control the problem and provide relief. As long as you have the patience for a brachycephalic dog and can provide the right care, you can deal with pug breathing problems.

Featured Image: Pixabay


Passionate lover of dogs and proud owner of a friendly, mischievous and energetic golden retriever named Beethoven! I’m incredibly excited to share my experiences on how best to care for your beloved pet. The more we know, the happier we and our canine friends will be!

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