Mixed in among pugs’ many weird and wonderful quirks of personality are a collection of strange sitting positions. There’s the feet-in-air pose, the lolling upside-down position, and the legs akimbo sitting pose. All of these are contributing factors to why people love pugs so much.
But our personal favorite is pugs’ propensity to sit like humans. But why do they do it? And is it comfortable?
Why Do Pugs Sit Like Humans?
It only takes a cursory exploration of your favorite search engine before you’re knee-deep in funny pictures of pugs sitting like humans. Hours later, you’re charmed but none the wiser as to why pugs sit like humans.
There are various theories about this behavior, ranging from mimicry to comfort.
Pug See, Pug Do
One theory is that since dogs are by nature pack animals, they work hard to integrate with the humans they bond to. This includes mimicking behavior we make a habit of, like sitting upright in front of the television.
Cue hundreds of pictures of pugs, apparently lounging in front of the television.
Your pug expresses a desire to remain part of your pack by sitting like a human. By reflecting your behavior at you, your pug says, “I too belong in this group.”
But that’s not the only reason pugs sit like humans.
Another theory about why pugs sit like humans has to do with comfort. Pugs are naturally top-heavy dogs. That puts stress on their joints, especially if they stand for long periods.
When pugs sit like humans, they take some of that stress off their hips and back. It doesn’t look comfortable, but it turns out that when pugs sit like humans, they shift their weight and help re-center their considerable chests and provide support for the lumbar region without stressing their backs.
The obvious comfort of this human sitting pose is reflected across a range of similarly top-heavy dogs. Not only pugs sit this way but also great danes, pit bulls, and mastiffs.
It’s not just big dogs that find sitting like a human, either. We belong to a pair of dachshunds who love to sit up like humans, presumably because it alleviates the stress on their elongated backs.
But if your pug sits like a human to stay comfortable, should you be concerned? Not necessarily. Sometimes a pug sitting like a human is indeed self-treating a condition, like hip dysplasia. However, that shouldn’t concern you unless your pug starts sitting like a human quite literally overnight.
Most dogs develop this behavior as they move into maturity because their bodies are getting ever-bigger and, depending on the dog, more challenging to support comfortably. That doesn’t equate with joint pain.
But if your pug has no history of sitting like a human and suddenly decides in middle age that’s the only way to sit, then it might be time to call the vet. Other signs to watch for include:
- Perpetually shifting position
- Difficulty getting comfortable
- Favoring one leg over the other when walking
Mine, All Mine
Comfortable or not, another theory about why pugs sit like humans has to do with territory. This makes sense if you’ve ever seen a dog sit up during a car ride and survey their home turf. Our dogs particularly enjoy doing this as we approach the house, much to say, ‘This space belongs to us.’
So, sometimes if a dog sits like a human, there’s an element of territorial surveying or declamation involved in the action. However, pugs aren’t naturally dominant dogs. So it’s unlikely your pug sits like a human to show dominance.
That said, sitting like a human is an excellent way for your pug to get a higher view of the world. Your pug may sit like a human to get a better view of the surrounding area and watch for everything from treats to squirrels to that ball rolling under the couch.
Humans Encourage It
Finally, many pugs sit like humans because their humans respond positively to the behavior. As discussed, the internet is rife with pictures of pugs sitting like humans. Pugs might not understand the internet, but they recognize that pictures translate into attention from you.
And pugs are deeply devoted dogs. They want to please you. So, if they see you laughing or snapping photos when they sit like humans, your pug will find reasons to keep doing it.
Experimenting with Sitting Positions
While pugs sit like humans, it’s not the only way they sit. That makes it useful to distinguish between two similar pug-favorite sitting postures, sitting like a human and the frog sitting.
Sitting Like a Human
If your pug sits like a human, they sit upright. Like you, their posture isn’t great in this pose, but their legs are straight out in front of them. In some cases, a pug might have an arm to the side, the way you would if resting your arm on the side of a chair.
Sitting Like a Frog
This is another favorite pug pose, and often pug owners confuse it with the tendency to sit like a human. Pugs that sit like frogs typically begin on the floor. Crucially, they put their legs straight out behind them, like a swimming frog.
This also looks spectacularly uncomfortable, but only because we have different physiology to our dogs. For a pug, it’s a perfectly comfortable sitting position and shouldn’t cause alarm unless you notice other symptoms of active pain like:
- Compulsive licking
- Laziness/reluctance to move
- Stiffness when standing up
Conclusion – Why Do Pugs Sit Like Humans?
There are many reasons pugs choose to sit like humans. They range from an instinct to please to watching the world go by.
Whatever the reason, rest assured that if your pug sits like a human, they’re comfy. They don’t look it, but sitting like a human gives your pug a chance to relax their spine the same way you do when you slouch against a sofa.
Of course, you know your dog best, and if you notice signs of distress or discomfort, they’re worth monitoring. But until you do, you can continue enjoying the pug’s comedic propensity to mimic human behavior.