9 Reasons Why Your Pug Is Yawning So Much

Do you own a pug that yawns excessively throughout the day? Perhaps it’s more common during specific situations – whatever the case, it’s very endearing! But why do pugs yawn? I decided to find out.

Pugs can yawn for a number of reasons, including: exhaustion, boredom, stress, excitement, confusion, empathy, submissiveness, and because it’s contagious. Yawning is a reflex that your dog can use to communicate how they’re feeling at a given time.

While there are no definitive answers, there are many possible reasonings behind a pug’s yawn. It’s important to grasp an understanding of what your dog is trying to communicate to you. This will allow you to react appropriately in varying situations.

1. Exhaustion

The most obvious reason is probably this one – a dog may yawn because they’re tired or sleepy. Pugs are a low-to-medium energy breed that can sleep for up to 14 hours in total per day. This includes a series of naps throughout the day, so you can imagine how often your pooch may be seen yawning.

Pugs are classified as a brachycephalic breed meaning they have flat faces and a short nose. While their features are cute, it also impacts their breathing abilities. As a result, they don’t need much daily exercise, and all it takes is a 30 minute walk for your pug to tire out. By night time, your furry friend will be yawning relentlessly to signal to you that they are ready for bed.

2. Boredom

Much like humans, being bored can put a dog into a mental lull. While pugs are docile for the most part, pug puppies are definitely more active. They require a lot more attention and playtime, so it’s a common occurrence to see them yawning when bored.

Pugs also have a stubborn streak and aren’t the easiest to train. When frustrated during obedience sessions, they may yawn to indicate that they need a mental break. When you notice this, it’s time to change it up. I recommend you try to make it fun with shorter sessions to ensure they are kept stimulated.

3. Stress

Yawning can be an indication that a pug may be feeling anxious. It can be habitual, similar to a human biting their finger nails to relieve stress. Yawning can usually be seen alongside other behaviors such as whining, pacing, and drooling. Make sure you look out for these in combination, so that you can try and pick up their mood or calm them down.

Pugs are normally very easy going, but they can also feel overwhelmed in unfamiliar situations. Meeting new people or pets can be stressful if a pug hasn’t been properly socialized. A yawn is a signal for their owners to possibly remove them from a situation that’s making them uncomfortable.

Obedience and training classes is another scenario where a pug may feel worried. If they’re failing to learn a new command, it can cause a lot of tension, especially if a pug feels like a punishment is to follow. Additionally, if a pug is caught misbehaving, they’re expected to be scolded. A yawn may be released as a calming signal to let you know that they meant no harm.

4. Excitement

When a pug is excited in anticipation of doing something they really enjoy, they may yawn as a way to prepare their body for action. Inhaling a deep breath into their lungs will boost the flow of oxygen to the brain and increase their heart rate. For example, when you grab their leash and harness, they’ll know that it’s time to go for a walk. Releasing a yawn in anticipation of it while you get ready to go is a likely scenario!

5. Confusion

When asked to follow a command that they might not be familiar with, pugs may not know how to respond. Instead, they might let out a yawn to indicate that they’re confused. Expect to see this alongside their famous head tilts – a common theme in your journey to training your pug. This is not to be confused with their stubbornness to oblige when a treat isn’t involved.

6. Passive Body Language

Dogs can communicate submissively with calming signals that include yawning. It’s to portray that they’re not a threat, especially to bigger and more aggressive dogs. This can be extended to how they interact with humans too. In an attempt to avoid conflict, your pug may yawn as a sign of pacification to let others know that they don’t want any trouble. Other calming signals can include lip licking, slow walking, indirect eye contact, and tucking their tail in between their legs.

7. Empathy

Studies conducted by the team from Birkbeck College, University of London, have suggested that canines are capable of empathizing with humans, and yawning is a sure sign of that. 21 out of 29 dogs yawned when a stranger that sat in front of the dog called its name then yawned once eye contact was made. On average, these dogs yawned 1.9 times.

In contrast, when repeating the test by replacing the yawn with the action of opening and closing of their mouth, none of the 29 dogs yawned at all. This is evidence that dogs can empathise with humans – afterall, they are great at reading human social cues.

Personally, I have noticed this often from my pug Finn. Whether it’s scratching his chin or staring into his eyes, he’ll often respond with a loving yawn. While it can be viewed as a non-affectionate response, it’s been proven that the “love hormone” oxytocin releases when humans and dogs stare at each other. This chemical signifies the bond between a dog and its owner. 

8. Regulating Body Temperature

When a dog yawns, they’re inhaling a deep breath of cold air. In turn, it increases blood flow to their face, neck, and head. This airflow seemingly cools the spinal fluid and blood, which suggests that it can regulate their body temperature. This involuntary reflex may be more frequent during hot days or when your pug is trying to cool down after a bout of physical exercise.

Why Do Pugs Make Noises When Yawning?

At times, pug owners will notice a yowling sound that accompanies their dog’s yawn. There is no definitive answer for why they do this, but it has been suggested that you can think of it as an emphasis to a point. After all, canine body language can be communicated through mouthing, movement, and sounds. So combining them is like putting an exclamation mark on whatever they are trying to convey.

Another theory is that your pug may be stretching their vocal cords to start the day. Yawning while releasing a sound may be more common after making up from their slumber. It signals that they’re awake and ready to tackle the day. Think of it from a human’s perspective; when we wake up in the morning or after a nap, you’re more likely to wake up yawning, stretching, and yelling!

Yowling yawns can also be a learned canine behavior. It’s very endearing and owners usually find it cute, so they tend to react positively to it. If a pug notices that it gets them attention, they will likely repeat the action. Pugs are known to be a breed that loves to be at the centre of attention.

Although, if the sound is more like a shriek, this can be an indication of a problem. There might be something that’s causing them pain and discomfort. When noticed, take your dog to the vet for a check up to rule out any underlying health issues that may be present.

Related Questions

Do dogs yawn when they are happy? Yes, an excited pug that’s anticipating an activity they enjoy can be seen yawning as a way to say “I’m ready to go!”. Inhaling big gulps of air helps boost oxygen flow to their body and brain, which prepares it for action.

Why is my dog is yawning excessively? It can be a calming signal in stressful situation as a way to deal with nervousness. Try and settle your dog down by removing them from the situation temporarily. The excessive yawning should subside once they feel calmer.

Do dogs yawn for attention? Yes, it can be a learned behavior, especially if they’ve noticed that it gives them extra attention from their owners.

Is your dog trying to yawn but can’t? This can be related to pent up stress and anxiety. Incomplete yawns often mean that they can’t fully relax to achieve that full muscular stretch.

Do dogs yawn when in pain? If the yawn includes a noticeable shriek then it can be related to something causing them pain. Take your furry friend to the vet for a check up if this happens.


Carpenter, J., 2008. Pet dogs can ‘catch’ human yawns.

DeNoon, D., 2011. Why We Yawn.

Joly-Mascheroni, R. M., Senju, A. & Shepherd, A. J., 2008. Dogs catch human yawns.

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