Why Does My Pug Sleep With His Eyes Open Should You Worry?

The first time I saw Mindy my black Pug sleeping with her eyes open, I freaked out. You’ve probably wondered “why does my Pug sleep with his eyes open?” It can be freaky, and in this article, I tell you what I discovered and whether or when you should start worrying.

Why Does My Pug Sleep With His Eyes Open?

Even though it looks like your Pug is sleeping with their eyes open, the truth is that their eyes are not really open. What you’re most likely seeing is your dog’s nictitating membrane or third eyeball.

Your dog’s eyes may also be dried out, which is known as keratosis also known as dry eye syndrome. This condition causes some dogs to sleep with one eye open.

why does my pug sleep with his eyes open

If your pooch does have keratosis or dry eye syndrome, you will need to apply medicated eye drops to help with their tear stimulation. You’ll need to contact your vet to find out which eye drops to use.

If you have a Pug, it’s most likely the first reason, which is their third eyelid. In this article, we’ll understand why this is such a common behavior in Pugs and if this is normal for all dogs.

But first, let’s see what it looks like. In this video, you’ll see a Pug that is sleeping with their eyes open and you can even see the third eyelid.

While it may look cute to some people, it can also be the sign of some eye issues. I’ll share below some of the other possible reasons your Pug may be sleeping with their eyes open.

What Dog Breeds Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

All dogs have a third eye lick, which is also known as the nictitating membrane.

However, some breeds more likely to look as they are sleeping with one eye or both eyes open. Read this article to find out why Pugs sleep so much.

This condition which is also known as (haw eyes) is more noticeable on breeds with short muzzles, or short-faced breeds such as the Pekingese, Shih Tzu, Bulldog, Pug, and etc because of their bulging eyes.

These breeds are unable to close their eyes completely. This can lead to dryness and irritation and other eye problems in the future.

If you’re noticing your Pug sleeping with their eyes open quite often. It’s best to take them to the vet before the problem becomes worse.

If you look at your pooch while they are sleeping, don’t freak out if it seems as though they are staring at you.

Related Articles On Pug Sleeping Habits:

Why Does My Pug Sleep Under The Blankets

Best Beds For Pugs

The Third Eyelid

As I mentioned above, all canines and cats have a palpebra tertia also known as the nictitating membrane or third eyelid. When your dog is sleeping with their “eyes open,” what you’re actually seeing is the third eyelid.

If you look closely at the open eyes, you won’t see much of your dog’s eye color. Instead, you’ll most likely notice a light pink, red tissue that covers their eye.

This is the nictitating membrane, Palpebra Tertia or haw. The third eyelid is a membrane that helps protect Fido’s eyeball by keeping it moist while they are sleeping.

Unlike other dog breeds, the Pug is unable to close their eyes completely.

What Does A Dog’s Third Eyelid Do?

If you’ve never seen your dog sleeping with their eye open, that’s okay. We never noticed Mindy sleeping with her eyes open until she was older. Now let’s take a look at what the third eyelid does for canines.

According to Deborah S. Friedman, D.V.M, the third eyelid is responsible for:

  • Acting like a “windshield wiper” for the cornea. It helps remove debris and mucus from your pooch’s eyes.
  • The nictitating membrane is responsible for producing one-third of your Pug’s tears. The tear glands and lymphoid tissue act like a lymph node and produces antibiotics to help fight off infections.
  • Protects your dog’s eyes from injuries.

You shouldn’t be able to see the third eyelid when your dog is awake. If you can see it, it may due to a medical issue that is causing your dog’s third eyelid to be exposed.

Other Reasons The Eye Membrane Is Showing

If you’ve suddenly started seeing your Pug’s third eyelid when they are awake, or sleeping, you’re probably freaking out. We’ll take a look at some of the other reasons that this can be happening.

Pugs are known to have several kinds of eye problems. Sudden exposure of the third eyelid can be a range of several possibilities that range from neurological disorders, ocular problems or even systemic autoimmune issues.

While it’s normal for your Pug to twitch while sleeping and can be cute to watch them dream. It can be scary or freaky to see your Pug sleeping with one eye or both eyes open.

This behavior can be indicative signs of other issues such as:

  • Cherry eye or Lagophthalmos
  • Trauma (injury to their eyes)
  • allergic conjunctivitis
  • Horner’s syndrome (neurological disorder)

This condition can also be caused by a poor physical condition. Certain physical conditions can cause the muscles around the eyeballs to relax and cause the eye to settle deeper into the socket, which exposes the third eyelid.

Canines who suffer from malnourishment or dehydration may suffer from this issue. Read this article to get your Pug to drink more water.

Should You Worry?

I noticed Mindy my black Pug sleeping with her eyes open a few times. At first, I thought it was creepy, but I NEVER took her to the vet. She didn’t do it very often, so I didn’t think it was necessary to take her.

If your Pug’s third eyelid looks abnormal, then you should definitely contact your veterinary for diagnosis and treatment. Other things to consider on whether if you notice this behavior is:

  • Has your Pug experienced any type of trauma to their eyes or head?
  • Do their eyes look normal other than the third eyelid showing? Do they show sensitivity to light?
  • Can your Pug keep their eyes open? If not, this could be an indication of an eye injury.
  • Do you notice any discharge? If so, they have probably acquired an eye infection.

If your Pug has experienced any of the above, you definitely need to take them to the vet.

Final Word On The Third Eyelid

Pugs love to sleep and if you haven’t experienced them sleeping with their eyes open, I’m sure that you will eventually.

This behavior usually doesn’t mean anything bad. As I mentioned, Pugs are one of the breeds that are prone to this problem.

The main thing to keep in mind is. As long as the membrane retracts back into it’s “awake” position, your pooch is fine.

If it doesn’t then you will want to contact your vet as soon as possible. The third eyelid SHOULD not be exposed while your pooch is awake.

The sooner you can get treatment for your dog, the better chance they will have to avoid severe nerve damage.

References And Further Reading

National Purebred Dog Day – The Haw

Deborah S. Friedman, DVM – Why Do Dogs Have A Third Eyelid?

Dan Biros, DVM, DACVO – MSPCA Angell – Third Eyelid Gland Prolapse In Dogs

Kirk N. Gelatt, VMD – MSD Manual Veterinary Manual -Eye Structure and Function In Dogs


Black Pug Site