Pug Breathing Problems: Find Out here how to prevent them!

Pug Breathing Problems – The Basics

Pug breathing problems are common, as they are a brachycephalic breed. This means that the breed has abnormally short and small snouts and oddly shaped skulls. All brachycephalic breeds suffer from breathing issues, what varies is the severity of the issues. Sadly, Pugs are one of those breeds. This doesn’t mean they can’t live happy and long lives, but it means you’ll have to be extra careful while owning one of those beautiful flat-faced dogs. In this article you’ll learn:

  • Issues of brachycephalic breeds.
  • How to recognize those issues in Pugs.
  • Safety measures that all Pug owners should follow to lessen the issues.
  • And a few tips and items that will help you ensure their safety.

This guide is vital for all Pug owners that want to offer a high quality of life to their pets. You must follow every single tip to avoid endangering your Pug unnecessarily. Let’s get started right away and “fight” those Pug Breathing Problems!

“These brachycephalic breeds have smaller airways, narrow nostrils, multiple folds in their throats, and larger tongues than breeds with long-muzzles. The unique physiology of flat-faced dogs makes it more difficult for them to pant enough to cool off”

American Kennel Club – AKC

Pug breathing problems associated with brachycephalic skulls

Pugs are easy to recognize thanks to their very different skulls. They have short snouts when compared to other breeds like hounds and sporting breeds. Even though we don’t know for sure the origins of Pugs, we know that they are a manmade breed. They were bred to be as they are now, whit a short snout and small size. We also know that most Pug dogs existing today come from the same 50 original parents that arrived in the UK for the first time, imported from China.

Since them, we modified the Pug to have these short and cute snouts. Still, we now know that this rather cute trait is the cause of all of their breathing issues. This is a condition called Brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome (BAOS), which at the same time can be caused by different issues directly related to the brachycephalic skull. The issues are:

  • Stenotic Nares – Narrow nostrils (this can be fixed by simple surgical procedures)
  • Elongated soft palate – Long and large soft tissues inside the mouth that are connected to their tongues and get pushed back as they inhale, troubling their breathing.
  • Pharyngeal Turbinates – Bones normally located in the nasal cavity that is instead pushed back into the upper throat in Pugs.
  • Tracheal Hypoplasia – Narrow windpipe (very rare in Pugs)
  • Laryngeal Hypoplasia – Small and underdeveloped larynx.

All of those issues affect Pugs, but their severity is purely congenital, passed down by the parents. They can also cause other issues, like Pugs that pass out when exercising, weak heart, sleep apnea, and more.

To avoid getting a Pug with extreme cases of those issues, you must pick the right one by using our guide. This will ensure that you get a Pug that is not troubled by them to that extent.

How to tell if your Pug has those issues

As we said above, all brachycephalic breeds have them, but those issues are not fatal. They usually present in the form of:

  • Loud breathing.
  • Loud snoring.
  • Reverse sneezing.
  • Loud wheezing.
  • Weird sounds while coughing.
  • Quickness to overheat.
  • Heavy panting.
  • Low endurance.
  • And troubled breathing

These are common traits in all brachycephalic breeds. Also, things like allergies, low or high air humidity; low or high temperatures, obesity, exercise, and excitement can worsen those issues and cause them to appear.

“Seeing mum (and dad if possible) is always an important part of buying any puppy, but especially so for brachycephalic dogs, as it may tell you something about the future health of your puppy. If you would not be happy to take home either of the puppy’s parents, then it may not be advisable to choose a puppy from the litter. The mother and father will pass various characteristics on to their puppies and the characteristics that you may not like may also appear in the puppies when they are a little older.“

UK Kennel Club

Easy steps to lessen Pug breathing problems

Of course! Even though all of this might sound like Pugs are doomed to suffer, it’s not like that. Pugs have to and can be protected from worsening those issues by simple steps care that you can make easily at home:

  • Avoid obesity: If you have read our article about how much should Pugs weigh, you know that they’re prone to become obese. This is something that’s directly under your control. Check out this article about how to keep your Pug lean to eliminate this risk immediately!
  • Keep room temperature at recommended levels: High temperatures will cause your Pug to overheat, which will cause him to pant as if he just ran three miles. That’s why keeping your pug cool is vital. Temperatures between 68°F or 20°C are perfect for them. You can easily fix this by placing a fan or two around the house, so air keeps circulating in hot months.
  • Keep rooms humid: Low humidity during winter causes Pug’s throats to dry rapidly while breathing. Also, places, where humidity is above 60%, can cause trouble breathing. You’ll need to get a humidifier for winter or a dehumidifier for those extra humid places to avoid those issues.
  • Cold air: During winter or in places where the temperature is cold year-round, you’ll have to pay attention to your dog’s breathing. If he breathes using his mouth, he may start suffering from breathing issues as his lungs receive cold air. You’ll have to limit his outside time if that’s the case. Instead, if he breathes through his nose, the risk is lessened.
  • Keep exercise in healthy levels: Pugs were not created to run! If you exercise your Pug too much, he might overheat, which can be fatal for them. Follow our tips to avoid overheating and heatstroke every time you take him out for a walk.
  • Don’t use a collar: Collars choke Pugs, which is a no-no. Check out our selection of harnesses instead.
  • Maintain allergies at bay: Pollen, dust, smoke, cigarette smoke, air fresheners, and other sprays can cause allergies. This will cause their soft palates to get enlarged, troubling their breathing. To avoid it, keep them inside during fall and months with extra pollen. Dust your house very often, cleaning his stuff too, and avoid other allergens. Other allergies can come from foods, toys, and other plastic items like bowls. We have selected the best hypoallergenic foods, toys, and stainless steel bowls for Pugs.
  • Get a good bed for your Pug: Something as simple as their bedding can be a game-changer. If your Pug snores, you can simply check his position while he sleeps, and help him get accustomed to a new sleeping position. If you do this while he’s a puppy it’s much easier. He’ll need a good bed, with proper neck cushioning (or a pillow), and back support.

As you might have noticed, we have covered each of those tips in other sections of our blog. Now you know why they are so important!

Breathing issues in senior Pugs

Another cause of Pug breathing problems is when they reach seniority. Why? There are two main reasons:

  • If your Pug was not active while he was a young adult – Keeping them strong and lean until they reach the golden age is key. They will need their muscles, strong bones, and more. A good diet is also crucial while they grow and when they’re adults.
  • If your Pug reaches seniority being obese.

When Pugs reach seniority, they lose a lot of their energy levels, so what you’re currently feeding them might not be the best. They don’t need as much energy because they’re not that active, making them fat due to the excess. To avoid that, you’ll need to keep them with a good exercise routine that’s apt for senior Pugs (no more Pug’s CrossFit), feed them with a good senior Pug food, and check them occasionally with the vet. Along with a ton of love, there’s nothing else they would need to have good, issue-free seniority.

Common misconceptions

Pugs have been demonized in many dog communities as the sickest dogs. Still, this is not the truth. They’re slightly prone to suffer from common issues in dogs due to their brachycephalic skull. Still, something no one is telling you is that all dogs can suffer from those issues!

You can easily keep a Pug healthy without suffering the consequences of their brachycephalic nature. If you do it right, you can give your Pug a healthy life without even noticing he has them!

Simple issues like them snoring, breathing loudly, and reverse sneezing are not fatal, so you won’t have to worry about them at all times. Sometimes, they will have trouble breathing, but it’s not always something that should keep you worried.

There are a few actual instances where you need to supervise them:

  • If they pass out.
  • If they seemingly stop breathing while sleeping (sleep apnea).
  • If you see that their gums turn blue (Cyanosis). This means they are not able to breathe, and you must take them to the vet ASAP.
  • And when they’re overheated.

All of these issues can happen but are easily avoided with proper care. If you take the necessary measures, they should never happen.

Frequently Asked Questions – Pug Breathing Problems

Can a Pug live a happy life with those issues?

Of course, they can! All Pugs have those issues, even the record-breaking “ Snookie” pug dog, who lived more than 27 years.

What’s the biggest cause of Pug breathing problems?

Aside from BAOS; allergies to dust, pollen, and food. And let’s not forget unaware owners that keep their Pugs with a collar! They are black-listed to us!

Can my Pug die from those breathing issues?

Pugs rarely die directly from those issues! When that happens, it’s mostly caused by unaware owners that either keep their Pugs obese “because they look cute” or are trying to exercise them too much. If you follow these tips and the advice from your vet, your Pug should live a long, happy life.


Pugs are a brachycephalic breed, which is something they will have to live with until their last day. Still, this is not something to be afraid of; instead, you’re the only one that can help them have a better life. Since that’s the case, you’ll have to offer him proper care, proper diet, exercise levels, bedding, and more. However, isn’t that the case for all breeds?

Sure, some of them don’t require as much, but we also know that none of them will be as loyal, playful, and loving as a cute Pug.

Are you up to this challenge?

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