Why Do Bulldogs Sleep Sitting Up and When Should You Be Concerned?

If you have a loveable bulldog as a pet you know first-hand why they’re one of the most popular of all the different dog breeds, especially in the United States. They’re gentle, intelligent, inquisitive and so good around kids. Bulldogs are particularly good apartment and city-living dogs too because, although they are not lazy, they are not nearly as active and energetic as many other, larger breeds. Plus, how is it possible not to love that wonderful, wonderful face?!

But…that face. If you Google ‘bulldog sleeping funny’ you’ll get back hundreds, if not thousands, of videos and photos showing bulldogs sleeping in the most awkward, upright, seated positions. Now, sure, they look even cuter that way, and elicit lots of ‘aww, hot cute!’ remarks, but the reason they are sitting up is likely caused by, you guessed it, their face, and the fact that it’s so compact and flattened. (Actually, their hips can play a part too. We’ll get to that.)

What Causes Bulldogs to Sleep Sitting Upright?

There are basically two things that cause bulldogs to sleep sitting up, or in other awkward, unnatural positions. The first is hip dysplasia, which is common to the breed and can definitely be part of the reason why they don’t sleep flat on the ground like most dog breeds. The other reason is they were tired and sleeping upright felt comfortable.

Brachycephalic breeds are beloved for their flat faces, no doubt, and they keep getting bred to have even flatter faces with wider features, but this selective breeding process has led to a health problem that all bulldogs face; not breathing easily while lying down flat.

Is It More Comfortable for Bulldogs to Sit Up while Sleeping?

The answer to this question is yes and no. As we’ve talked about, bulldogs are part of the brachycephalic breed of dogs and, because of this, many of them have problems sleeping in a normal, flat position because they can’t breathe correctly and it gets very uncomfortable for them.

So, instead of the normal position, they sleep sitting up (or on their backs, or curled up, or standing up, or on their backside), so that they can breathe easier and get the sleep they need without having to gasp for air all night. While this might not be as comfortable as a regular sleeping position, it is more comfortable because they can breathe easier. So the answer, again, is yes and no. It’s not great, but it is easier for them to sleep sitting up.

Why Do Bulldogs Sleep on their Back?

While we’re on the subject of bulldogs sleeping sitting up, one other position they adopt frequently is to lie on their back, with their feet up in the air, and sleep that way. The fact here is that your bulldog buddy is probably trying to cool itself off if it’s sleeping on its back because their belly has the least amount of fur, so they can cool off faster.

Also, you should be very happy if your bulldog sleeps on its back. See, in this position, they are extremely vulnerable to attack (at least in the wild). But, if they are comfortable enough to do this at home with you around, it means they truly love and trust you 100% because it’s a position they would never take in the wild.

Do All Bulldogs Sleep Sitting Up?

No, not really. It depends on how bad their breathing problems are, their comfort level and several other factors. Some bulldogs can breathe ok and so don’t need to sit up while sleeping, and some like to sleep in other positions (as mentioned above). Bulldogs do tend to sleep sitting up more than most other dog breeds but, if the question is do they all sleep sitting up, the answer is no.

If your bulldog does sleep sitting up all the time, and they don’t have the energy you think they should, you might want to bring them to your local vet to have them checked as sleep-apnea can be a very serious problem for some bulldogs.

Is There Any Health Reasons Why Bulldogs Sometime Sleep Sitting Up?

Yes indeed. As we’ve talked about their flat faces and muzzles make it difficult to breathe for some bulldogs, although it changes from one to another. Since breathing is a very important part of living and staying alive, you could definitely say that the reason they sleep sitting up is health-related.

Also, as we’ve mentioned, some bulldogs have hip dysplasia, which is an abnormality of the socket of the hip joint. Many bulldogs are born with this problem and, due to their hips being a bit abnormal, sleeping flat on the ground is painful or at least uncomfortable.

What Other Positions do Bulldogs Sleep In?

Quite a few! When you can’t sleep on your belly like the rest of the dogs you tend to make up a few extra sleeping positions to get the job done. We’ll list a few in just a minute but be aware that there are so many it wouldn’t be feasible to list them all. Bulldogs are notorious for finding the weirdest, craziest positions to sleep, so don’t be surprised by any of them!

  • One their left or right side
  • On their back
  • Standing up with the head propped up on something (Usually this denotes a serous breathing problem)
  • On their butt
  • Curled up (one of the most common positions.)
  •  social animals.)

All of these positions, and many more, maybe chosen by your bulldog buddy as a sleeping position, but the one they seem to like best is sitting up and snuggling with their human. That being said, if you think your bulldog might have a sleep problem due to their inability to breathe, you should have them checked out by your local vet.

How To Be Sure your Bulldog is Sleeping Comfortably?

There are a few things you can do to make sure your furry pal is getting the sleep he or she needs to be healthy, active and happy. No, you can’t change their face (and who would want to?!) but you can do some other things to help them sleep better.

Make sure there is nothing in their nose.

Bulldogs are curious and like to root around outside, which could lead to debris, dirt, leaves and more getting stuck in their little nose and then their nasal canal. Seeing as their nasal canal is already small, checking and cleaning their nose at the end of the day is a great idea.

Keep them inside during allergy season

Like we humans, bulldogs can have allergies, especially with their flat noses. This can cause the airway between their nose and lungs to swell and become smaller than it already is, which can make it even more difficult to breathe and cause them to snore and/or wake up often.

Make sure they have a good quality bed to sleep in

Bulldogs already have enough sleep challenges. The last thing you want is to pick a bed that’s either the wrong size or uncomfortable for them, which will make sleeping even more difficult. A doggie bed with raised sides can be good because they can prop up their head and breathe easier, but it all depends on what they like, how they sleep, their size, etc. Below are a few dog beds that will likely be a great fit for your bulldog.

  • ASPCA Microtech Dog Bed
  • Long Rich Reversible Rectangle Pet Bed
  • Best Friends by Sherry OrythoComfort Deep Dish Cuddler
  • Mixjoy Orthopedic Dog Bed
  • NOYAL Donut Dog Bed

3 of the Best Qualities to Look for in a Bulldog Bed

  1. A bed with excellent support for their heads.
  2. Memory foam is a good choice.
  3. The right size of bed. Bulldogs like to sleep ina small-ish space, so a bed that fits them correctly and isn’t too big is a must.

What are some Normal Sleeping Behaviors for Bulldogs?

Most animals move around a bit in their sleep and bulldogs are no exception. If you’re a bit freaked-out (or, let’s be honest, amused) by your bulldog buddy’s sleeping behavior, you should know that most of the time it’s 100% normal and very few actions they make while sleeping is bad for them, as long as they can breathe alright.

  • Whimpering
  • Kicking or twitching
  • Wagging their tails
  • Grunting
  • Soft barks
  • Snoring
  • Moving excessively

If your bulldog seems to be in distress you can softly stroke them to calm them down while saying their name softly too. They may wake up but, afterward, will likely sleep better.

We hope you liked Why Do Bulldogs Sleep Sitting Up and that it answered all your questions. Best of luck helping your bulldog to get the restful sleep it needs!







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