Do All Pugs Have Breathing Problems And Why This Breed Is Susceptible

Everyone loves a pug. What isn’t to love? Pugs are little clowns, a huge personality in a tiny body. They are amazing, adorable companions. Unfortunately, the defining characteristic of Pugs, their flat faces, can mean trouble for their health, specifically their breathing. You may be wondering, do all Pugs have breathing problems?

Do All Pugs Have Breathing Problems?

Not all Pugs have breathing problems, but they are more prone to them like all other brachycephalic breeds. It is estimated that half of all Pugs and other flat-faced dogs have breathing problems. 

How Can You Tell If Your Pug Has Breathing Problems?

A dog is part of the family, and as a family member, we want to keep them healthy. To keep your Pug in the best health possible, it’s important to know if your Pug is having trouble breathing. There are a few things to look out for:

do all Pugs have breathing problems
  • Overly loud breathing
  • Snorting
  • Snoring
  • Gagging
  • Intolerance to heat
  • Intolerance to exercise
  • Vomiting

If this article discusses how to tell if your Pug has breathing problems, discusses the issue more in detail to help you out.

Pugs are what is called a brachycephalic breed. Brachycephalic means “”short-headed”” and is defined by a short, pushed-in snout. Short snouts equal short airways. 

The skull itself can also be more condensed than regular dogs’ skulls. Other examples of brachycephalic dogs are French bulldogs, Pekinese, and English bulldogs. 

Pugs and other brachycephalic breeds are in a uniquely unfortunate situation because snorting, snuffling, and snoring are seen as typical characteristics of the breed. While endearing, these noises are not normal and are a side effect of their short skulls and squished faces. 

If your Pug displays any of these symptoms, it’s worth a trip to the vet to discuss treatment options.

What Can I Do If My Pug Has Breathing Problems?

The first step for any dog displaying health issues is a vet visit. A vet can examine your Pug and let you know if they are having breathing problems. This can be a scary diagnosis! 

Pugs with breathing problems can suffer from related issues, like sleep apnea, heatstroke, collapse, and exhaustion. 

Luckily, there are ways to help. The most important thing an owner can do for a Pug with breathing problems is to keep them at a healthy weight. Obesity is very common in Pugs, and obesity will exacerbate any breathing issues.

Pugs are notoriously big eaters. It’sIt’s hard to say no to those big brown eyes, but a fit Pug is a healthy Pug! 

Other things that can be done at home are keeping it cool inside, keeping a close eye on your Pug during strenuous activity, and feeding on an elevated food bowl to prevent regurgitation. 

If your Pug is having problems breathing, this post will help you understand what to do if your Pug is struggling to breathe.


Sometimes at-home care isn’t enough to help a Pug breathe easier. In those cases, it may be time to talk to your vet about surgery. 

Breathing issues stemming from flat faces and snouts are called Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome, or BOAS. 

BOAS surgery is becoming a staple of many veterinary practices with the skyrocketing popularity of pugs and French bulldogs. Like any surgery, BOAS surgery is a big deal, but it can provide real, permanent relief from breathing problems.

During BOAS surgery, the surgeon will shave the soft palate (soft roof of the mouth) down, allowing for easier breathing. They will also enlarge the nostrils, making it easier for the Pug to take a full breath. Occasionally, the tonsils will also be removed. 

BOAS surgery has a short recovery time, and most owners can take their dog home the same day. Pain relief and anti-inflammatory drugs will be prescribed for the following days. The dog will need to be rested for about a week post-op.

Every dog, and therefore every surgery, is unique. Prices will be different depending on the veterinarian and the dog, but on average, BOAS surgery will cost around $3,500.

The price alone can prevent pet owners from pursuing this method, but if you have Pug pet insurance, that can help relieve the cost. It can also help ensure that your pet receives the proper care for their breathing issues.

How Can Breathing Problems In Pugs Be Prevented?

why can't Pugs breathe

Prevention of breathing problems in Pugs is a hard subject to tackle because it comes down to the flat, wrinkly faces we love at the root of the problem. The only way to prevent breathing problems in Pugs is to breed them to be healthier in the future.

What does this mean for a prospective Pug parent? As an owner, there are a few steps you can take to make sure your new Pug puppy is healthy and won’t suffer from breathing problems down the line.

  • Only buy from reputable breeders. Avoid pet shops and puppy mills.
  • Meet the parents of your puppy. This is a great way to have a sneak peek of your puppy as an adult.
  • Pick a breeder that is breeding for longer snouts. Pugs with longer snouts are healthier and much less likely to suffer from any breathing issues.
  • Look for breeders who are breeding for agility. Agility dogs have to be able to breathe free and clear, and longer-snouted Pugs are becoming more and more common in the agility scene.

Another excellent way to own a pug without supporting negligent breeders is to rescue it. When you rescue a pug, not only do you get the best companion you could ever ask for, but you also don’t put any money in the pockets of people breeding for unhealthy characteristics. 

Rescue Pugs are just as likely as any other to suffer from breathing issues but almost always have had extensive vet care before being adopted out. There is nothing quite as rewarding as giving a home to a Pug in need.

It’sIt’s tough to think about, but negligent breeding has led to the breathing problems that Pugs suffer from. The focus, up until recently, has been on getting flatter, wrinklier faces. To achieve those looks, unhealthy dogs were bred, continuing the trend of dogs that can’t breathe correctly. 

Things Are Looking Up!

It’sIt’s a sad fact that so many Pugs can suffer from breathing problems, but there is change on the horizon! 

There are multiple organizations spreading awareness of the challenges that poorly bred brachycephalic dogs suffer from. You can find the hashtag #BreedToBreathe on Twitter, advocating for better breeding practices. 

CRUFFA (The Campaign for the Responsible Use of Flat-Faced Animals) has been campaigning for the AKC, and the dog show Crufts, to only accept healthy Pugs with no breathing problems. 

Lastly, there is the Retro Pug and the Carlin Pinscher. The Retro Pug (also called the Retro Mop) is pretty self-explanatory. Retro Pugs are bred to look more like pugs did in the past, taller, with longer snouts.

Carlin Pinschers are a mix of Miniature Pinscher and Pug. Carlin Pinschers stay small and stocky, but because of the Miniature Pinscher genetics, their snouts are longer. Longer snouts mean easier breathing! 

Another bit of good news is that BOAS surgery is improving every day. Brachycephalic dogs undergoing BOAS surgery these days can live fulfilling, happy lives, free from any breathing trouble.

We all adore pugs! It’s because we adore them so much that we want the best for them. Hopefully, soon, breathing problems in pugs can be a thing of the past.

Final Word

Pugs are prone to health problems, but not all of them will suffer from this condition. If you’re looking to get a Pug as a family pet, make sure you do your due diligence. 

Shop from reputable breeders, or consider rescuing an older Pug. That said, older Pugs can have breathing problems that are more pronounced than younger ones.

If you take these steps, you’ll be less likely to get a Pug that bred incorrectly. Pugs that are bred correctly will also face fewer respiratory problems than those that aren’t.

Unfortunately, when you have a brachycephalic dog, you may experience more problems. That’s why it’s essential to make sure you have pet insurance so you can provide them the proper care they need.

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