Why is my Pug breathing fast?

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Pugs are awesome dogs. They are adorable little beans that make you feel happy every time you see them but lately, you have been noticing your Pug is breathing a little too fast. At first, it seemed normal. However, it started to concern you when you saw your Pug is having a rapid breathing rate even when it is resting.  

So, is it typical that your Pug breathes fast or is something wrong with the dog?

The main reason as to why Pugs breathe fast is due to a genetic mutation that makes their upper respiratory system forcefully fit into an area that is too small and therefore, the windpipe is narrowed. Thus, it causes hindrance to breathing.

This mutation in genes alters how a Pug’s bones in the skull grow which is why their head is wide and short with a small nose and a face that is overly-flattened. Due to this ill-formation, Pugs are prone to many respiratory issues.

You see, Pugs belong to a dog group named “Brachycephalic Dogs”. Commonly, all dogs in this group have a defective facial formation that gives them a unique looking face but unfortunately, a number of breathing issues too which is also known as Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS).

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A research done by the Kennel Club showed that about 50% of the Brachycephalic dogs such as Pugs and Bulldogs are having severe breathing issues due to their genetics and only 7% to 15% of these dogs are able breathe like normal and non-brachycephalic dogs.

However, there are secondary reasons that may worsen a Pug’s breathing issues too such as hot weather, being obese, bacterial infections in the nose and emotional reactions such as to being super excited, anxious, scared or stressed.

Should I be worried when my Pug breathes fast?

Not necessarily because heavy breathing is a natural occurrence in pugs. Plus, this breed certainly can and do live a happy, long and healthy life regardless of their breathing issues as long as vet-care is provided. So, think of this as a trait of their genetics.

Nonetheless, if the dog keeps on breathing fast and heavy along with snorting and snoring (refer to the below section for more symptoms), the best course of action is to bring the dog to its vet and do an examination to get the proper treatments to ensure the condition will not get worsened.

Either way, it is better that you have the knowledge of this phenomenon. So that you will know how to take care of your Pug accordingly to make sure it stays healthy.

When should I bring my Pug to the vet?

Generally, most pet-parents go for home-remedies to treat a dog when they are having breathing difficulties but at a certain point, it can get worse to a point where veterinary-help is needed.

Especially for a Pug that inherently has breathing issues, you need to have a clear idea as to when you should consider the dog’s fast breathing as normal or serious that vet-care is required. So basically, identifying that is the crucial part.

If you notice the following symptoms along with fast breathing, then it likely means the dog is in need of professional vet-care and your remedies will not do it.

  • Shaking
  • The tongue looks abnormal and turned a different color
  • Pawing at mouth
  • Panicking and hyperactivity
  • Gasping for breath
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing
  • Gasping after coughing
  • Fainting
  • Nasal congestion (stuffy nose)
  • Wheezing
  • Gums appear purple or blue

If you see a combination of the symptoms above including rapid breathing, then it is the time to bring your Pug to the vet.

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Can breathing fast be a symptom of a serious disease?

Yes. Although, the typical reason that a Pug breathes fast is due to being genetically defective, breathing heavy can be a symptom of some other disease or condition too.

Such as:


If a Pug is obese or over-weight, the fat tissues of its abdomen start to put pressure on its diaphragm, making it get pushed forward.

As a result of this, it makes the dog’s lungs unable to expand normally which means it gets difficult for the Pug to breathe in enough oxygen. Therefore, the Pug finds it hard to inhale and exhale (So they start breathing faster).


When the body temperature of a Pug’s increases up to 40°C (104°), it means the dog is exposed to a serious risk of heatstroke which occurs once the temperature goes above 106° (41°).

It can be extremely harmful. However, breathing faster is an obvious symptom of this along with lethargy, drooling, reddened gums, collapse and weakness. This condition finally could lead to brain damage, coma and even organ failure which means the death.

Emotional reactions:

A pug feels all kinds of emotions just like any other dog breed.

So when they are having negative feeling such as anxiety and stress, they react to these emotions by breathing faster and louder, being hyperactive, not eating, being aggressive and chewing everything in the house.

So as I said, breathing faster can be a symptom of this condition.

Bacterial infections in the nose:

When a Pug has a lot of mucus with rhinitis, it leads to bacterial infections within the nose and breathing heavier is a symptom of this condition along with sneezing, snoring and nasal discharge.

Here are more diseases and conditions that can make your Pug breathe fast

  • Asthma
  • Lung Diseases such as cancer
  • Laryngeal Paralysis
  • Side effects of medication
  • Smoke Inhalation
  • Pneumonia
  • Compressed Lungs
  • Hernia
  • Anemia
  • Collapsing Windpipe
  • Nausea

What can I do at home to help my Pug breathe better?

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Make sure the Pug is only exposed to cool climates   

A Pug is not compatible with high temperature, meaning torridity and humidity impact the dog extremely negatively. So avoid such climates and keep the dog inside for the time being when it is hot and bring the dog outside when it is cool during the evening or early in the morning.

When the dog is inside, keep the room temperature between 15°C (59 °F) and 21°C (70°F) and any temperature above 26°C (80°F) can be harmful.

If you are living in a tropical country or it is the summer at the movement, I assume you can control the room temperature but if you are not able to, then at least, try to use fans, keep the windows open for a breezy wind and also, keep the sunline blocked.

On the other hand, if you are living in a country where there is cold weather or you have the winter, make sure you are not setting the heater above 26°C (80°F).

Avoid high intensity exercises

If your Pug easily gets out of breath or is old and finds it difficult to be super active, then it is best you only make the dog do activities that are not highly intense.

So keep the activities at a slower pace such as slow walks and hide and seek with treats (The dog can take its time, walking and sniffing around to find the hidden treat)

Otherwise, breathing issues will be aggravated since being out of breath can only trigger a breathing problem even more.

Ensure the Pug is within a healthy weight range

Obesity is definitely not a good physical state for a Pug that has breathing issues, in fact it worsens the condition. It is like pouring gasoline on a fire. So, pay more attention to how much the dog is eating. To do that, track the amount of foods, the doggo consumes by tracking calories.

That way it will be easier for you to change the food amount accordingly. For example, if you know the exact calorie amount your Pug is eating and then you found, the dog is at an unhealthy weight, you can lower the calorie intake and help the dog lose some weight.

No leash and collar

When you are using a leash and collar on your Pug, it puts so much pressure on the dog’s windpipe. Since the dog is already struggling with the bad formation of its respiratory system, putting a leash and a collar can be the worst decision.

So the better choice is to go for a harness. It does not target the pressure into one single area but rather scatter across shoulders, chest and back that the dog would not even feel it

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Use an oxygen mask

If your Pug’s having serious breathing issue constantly that the dog can not even get a break, buying an oxygen mask with a tank that are specifically made for dogs is a good decision. However, this is a decision that the veterinarian should make. So, consult with them surely.

Is it normal when pugs breathe fast while sleeping?

Yes, not only Pugs but most dog breeds tend to breathe rapidly when sleeping and dog experts think it is probably due to exciting dreams which means it is totally normal that your Pug rapidly breathes when sleeping and it will only last for a while since the dog’s breathing rate comes back to normal.  

However, make sure your Pug sleeps in right positions. Usually, the dog on its own, finds a favorite sleeping position that is the most comfortable and optimal for breathing. So, once you notice that the doggo is sleeping in a certain position for many nights, that should be its favorite sleeping position.

So make sure the dog will sleep in that position and will not change to other awkward positions that can block or harm the airway of the dog while sleeping.

Final Thoughts

What makes a Pug breathes fast is a defective gene that makes the dog’s bones in the skull and respiratory system develop abnormally. That results in many breathing issues, it is also known as Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS).

However, as the pet-owner, you do not have to be extremely worried about it as this is a natural occurrence in this breed. However, having the knowledge to know how to treat the condition and most importantly, when to bring the dog to the vet is important.

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Unless, the condition is not severe, you can go for home-remedies such as keeping the room temperature between 15°C (59 °F) and 21°C (70°F) and using an oxygen mask.

In my opinion, the most optimal course of action is to go to the vet regardless of whether the condition is serious or not. You can never be too careful.

Either way, with proper maintenance given from you along with regular visits to the vet’s office, your Pug certainly can live happily and healthily just like any other dog.

Featured image credit: Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

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