The Breathing Habits of Pugs

Updated April 17, 2017

Early Chinese breeders thought that a flat face and wrinkles brought good luck, and this is evident in the pug breed. Most dog breeds have a snout, but early pug breeders bred out the snout to produce a dog that was considered precious as well as lucky. Unfortunately, it is the pug's distinctive facial features that also cause it breathing problems.

Normal Breathing

Pugs can't help being noisy. They snore, often very loudly, when sleeping and make snorting noises when they are awake. They also tend to grunt, and wheeze and have difficulty catching their breath, so they sometimes let out a big gasp. It might sound worrying, but these noises are "normal" for a pug. The reason for the snoring is that the nasal passages are very short. Clean out the pug's nose gently with a tissue to help it breath easier.


Heat affects a pug's breathing and this is one breed of dog that must be kept cool, because overheating puts extra strain on the respiratory system. Again, the short nasal passages mean that they can't cool themselves down by panting. In hot weather don't over-exercise a pug outdoors, even if the pug is putting on weight, another of the breed's tendencies. Indoors, the pug likes a cooling fan or air conditioning set at 20 degrees Celsius or 20 Celsius to keep him comfortable.

Elongated Soft Palate

An elongated soft palate (ESP) is a serious congenital condition affecting a pug's breathing. The pug has a small voice box and an elongated palate covers part of it, making breathing difficult. Signs of the condition may appear when the pug is overexcited or after a very brisk walk. The pug may try to gulp in air, and can even hyperventilate to the point of passing out. In other cases, where the soft palate is swollen, the pug sounds as if he has laryngitis. A vet can adjust the palate surgically and remove the problem.

Collapsed Trachea

The collapsed trachea is another birth defect. The cartilage rings in the windpipe collapse, making the pug either have a hoarse cough or other abnormal breathing sounds. Given that the pug's normal breathing is different to many other dogs, owners need to pay special attention to any deviations from the "norm" in a pug. Again, this condition is fixed by surgery. The most serious condition is when a pug's nostrils are too small. Called stenotic nares, it is rare, but more common in pugs than other breeds. With this condition the pug can only breathe through his mouth. A vet can operate to correct this.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Based in London, Eleanor McKenzie has been writing lifestyle-related books and articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in the "Palm Beach Times" and she is the author of numerous books published by Hamlyn U.K., including "Healing Reiki" and "Pilates System." She holds a Master of Arts in informational studies from London University.