Why Do Pugs Sleep Sitting Up And Does It Mean Anything?

When I first got my beloved Pug dog, I also stepped up onto a steep learning curve ladder!

Of course, I didn’t know this at the time. So while experiencing life together with my Pug was so exciting, it was often also very stressful.

Take the first time I saw my Pug fall asleep sitting up. What the heck?

why do Pugs sleep sitting up

Is this normal? What is wrong with my dog? If you have had a similar experience, this is definitely the article you want to be reading right now.

Why Do Pugs Sleep Sitting Up?

According to canine veterinarians, there are a few simple reasons your Pug may prefer to sleep sitting up (or even standing up): breathing problems, or health problems such as hip dysplasia.

It could also be that your dog is just comfortable sleeping in this position. Similar to how people prefer to sleep on their back, side, or on their stomach. Dogs tend to have their favorite positions too.

Pug dogs are adorably cute – no one questions that. However, often that cuteness comes at a high price in terms of your Pug’s respiratory health.

Dogs that have very short muzzles with broad, wide jawlines are called “brachycephalic” (brack-eee-seh-fall-ik). The word literally translates to mean “short-headed.”

The shorter the dog’s muzzle, the shorter the respiratory passages will be and the more cramped and crowded the jaw becomes. This means that lying down may literally deprive your Pug of air!

What Is Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome?

senior Pug falling asleep sitting up
It’s not unusual to see your senior Pug sleeping while sitting up leaning against something.

BOAS, or Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome, is a more serious respiratory condition that Pugs may develop.

It happens when the respiratory passages become blocked for some reason, causing chronic sinusitis, canine sleep apnea symptoms, snoring, respiratory distress and heat intolerance, among other symptoms.

It is important to know that not all dogs with short muzzles will develop BOAS. But it is equally vital to know the symptoms so you can keep an eye out and seek veterinary care for your Pug dog if needed.

Weird Pug Dog Sleeping Positions

Pug dog owners tend to be sound sleepers. If you don’t start out that way, you will soon adapt or risk staying awake all night listening to the sound of your Pug snoring!

While sleeping sitting up is one of the most common weird Pug sleeping positions owners have seen (and photographed, and posted on social media), it certainly isn’t the only odd way Pugs like to sleep.

It may not make sense right away why your Pug decides to sleep propped up against a banister, chair, table, desk, toy, dog bed or even another Pug.

But once you learn more about BOAS and the naturally shortened sinuses of your dog’s face, it becomes easier to see how sleeping in these types of upright positions might be a good thing.

Also, if you are caring for a Pug dog for the very first time, you may not yet know just how much Pugs love to sleep.

They really love to sleep! A Pug dog can easily sleep for 20 hours a day, especially in puppyhood and during the senior dog years. Puppies are particularly prone to fall asleep whenever and wherever.

What Are the Warning Signs of Canine Sleep Apnea?

dog falls asleep sitting up
Some dogs are just tired and will sleep anywhere if they can just get a quick nap in.

However, if you see your adult Pug suddenly falling asleep in the middle of play, dinner or another favorite activity (other than more sleeping), it may be time to talk with your dog’s veterinarian.

As we briefly mentioned here earlier, dogs can get sleep apnea just like people can. In fact, most (but not all) people who get sleep apnea have facial structures similar to Pug dogs – short wide jaws, thick necks, narrow or obstructed respiratory passages.

One of the warning signs of undiagnosed sleep apnea in people is suddenly falling asleep during the day, including while behind the wheel. Luckily, your Pug dog doesn’t drive. But sudden bouts of daytime sleepiness can still be a sleep apnea warning sign.

Here are some other warning signs to watch for:

  • Snoring loudly.
  • Fits of gasping or choking during sleep.
  • Waking up from sleep because of gasping or choking.
  • Open-mouthed breathing while asleep.
  • Head and neck extension while sleeping.
  • Sleeping propped up or sitting up!
  • Pale or blue color to gums and lips (indicates lack of oxygen).
  • High pitched wheezing sound while asleep.

What Are Signs Of Hip Dysplasia

When you think of hip dysplasia, you think of large dog breeds. However, according to Dogs Health, this breed is susceptible to developing both hip dysplasia and arthritis.

Although, it is not as common in small dogs as it is in large dogs. It usually affects younger pups, but can develop later in life. It’s important to monitor your dog to ensure they are not dealing with this issue.

Here are some warning signs to watch for:

  • Loss of thigh muscle mass.
  • Decreased activity.
  • Difficulty climbing stairs, rising from a laying position, jumping, or running.
  • Swaying, “bunny hopping” gait.

If your pooch is displaying any of the symptoms above, you should take them to your local vet. They will be able to check your pooch and may be able to come up with a treatment plan.

Your Pug Is More Comfortable Sleeping Sitting Up

Pug falling asleep on the couch
Some dogs find it comfortable to sleep in unusual positions, especially if they don’t want to be alone.

It could be that your dog finds it difficult to breathe in other sleeping positions. Therefore, they sleep sitting up, because it is the one position that allows them to let more air in through their nostrils while sleeping.

Keeping their head up, makes it easier for them to breathe better. If you live with someone who snores, you know that they will snore louder depending on their sleeping position.

Unfortunately, this breed is prone to several health problems and respiratory problems are just one of them.

Like people, dogs will have their favorite sleeping positions. Some may like sleeping at your feet, pillow, or lay on top of you.

How to Help Your Pug Dog Sleep Better

Treatment options can include keeping your dog slim and trim (hard because Pugs love to eat!) and using a dog bed with a raised area for your dog to rest their head on.

Use of allergy medications for dogs and surgery are also frequently recommended management options.

If you know or suspect your Pug dog sleeps sitting up because of breathing difficulty, you will want to talk with your dog’s veterinarian right away.

Final Word On Pug Sleeping While Sitting Up

When you find your Pug nodding off while sitting, it can be cute and even funny. This isn’t actually a sign that your dog has underlying health issues.

However, if this becomes a daily ritual, you may want to consider taking them to the veterinarian to ensure they are healthy.

References And Further Reading

AKC – Hip Dysplasia In Dogs

The Paws – Mary Clark – The 36 Funniest Pug Sleeping Positions