Ask a UW Veterinarian: Puzzled by Dog’s Snoring


This expert response comes from clinical assistant professor Elizabeth Alvarez and clinical instructor Maria Verbrugge DVM’03 with the UW Veterinary Care Primary Care service.

Question: We have an old English mastiff; he has been to your hospital for leg surgery. His leg is fine, but his snoring is LOUD!!! Is this something I need to have checked out? Thanks.

Answer: We’re so glad his leg is doing well — isn’t our surgery team the best?

This is a great question. The sound of snoring can come from the nasal cavity or nasopharynx, the area connecting the nasal cavity to the back of the throat. Snoring is more common in some breeds of dogs, especially the brachycephalic or flat-faced types of breeds — including the English mastiff — because it’s quite common for these dogs to have a soft palate (the roof of the mouth) that is too long for their flattened faces. This long soft palate flops over the airway when the dog is very relaxed, creating an obstruction that rattles around as they breathe in and out. Just like in people, recent weight gain in pets can also cause this noise to increase.

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So, is snoring a problem? Usually, it is only a problem when dogs also have an obstruction when they are awake. Some flat-faced dogs will eventually need surgery to decrease the obstruction in their airways. If your dog ever seems to have trouble breathing when he is awake, can’t cool off when he’s hot, or seems to struggle to breathe when he exercises or plays, he should be examined by a veterinarian right away.

Additional causes of snoring would include other types of changes in the nasal cavity or nasopharynx, such as inhaling foreign material, certain infections, inflammation, or a mass. If your dog’s snoring is new, meaning he never used to snore and now does; it seems to be getting progressively worse; or he has discharge coming from his nose, these would also be indications to have him evaluated.

We hope for many years of happy, restful snoring for your boy!

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