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Why Do Dogs Arch Their Backs? 11 Reasons

Why Do Dogs Arch Their Backs? 11 Reasons

There are many different ways in which our dogs try to communicate with us since they can’t talk like we do. Some of their body language is used for showcasing their emotions like happiness or excitement.

Another type of body language can be a sign that your pooch has some health issues. You have to pay close attention when it comes to some of the ways in which your dog is communicating with you. Some of the signs will be more noticeable, while others, not so much.

One of the ways is by arching their back, and then the question, “Why do dogs arch their back?” occurs.

There are many reasons as to why dogs do this. Some are harmless while others may indicate that the dog is in some serious pain and has some health issues.

We are here to the rescue by giving you many different reasons for your dog arching its back. Pay attention to how often and for how long your dog stays in the back arching position.

Why Do Dogs Arch Their Back?

When it comes to dogs arching their back, it can look and last differently, and every type has its meaning. For example, if a dog is stretching after it has woken up from a nap, then its back will be arched, its bum will be high, and it will only last for less than a minute.

When the middle of the back is arched, and there are some other symptoms connected to it, this can be a sign of something serious, especially if they are in that position for a long period of time.

There are many different reasons as to why dogs arch their back, and we have listed them all so you can know what to expect.

1. They Are Excited

the dog eats on a stone and arches its back

Dogs tend to arch their back for a brief moment when they are excited and want to play. This usually representrs the beginning stage of them inviting you to play with them. After this, they will probably have the zoomies, where they run all over the place.

This is something that is quite noticeable, and is rarely mistaken for something else.

When talking about excited dogs, their sexual drive is also included. Male dogs that are not neutered will show this behavior. Besides an arched back, they will most likely have swollen glands on their penis.

This is also nothing to be worried about, and it does not last for a long time. You should keep an eye on it so the swelling does not get worse. In rare cases, a vet check will be needed.

RELATED: When To Take The Cone Off Of The Dog After Being Neutered? Tips To Make Your Dog Comfortable

2. Gastric Dilatation And Volvulus (GDV, Or Bloat)

GDV is a problem that a dog can suffer from for numerous reasons. This means that the stomach is stretched by air, food, or liquid. This is quite uncomfortable for the dog, and it can lead to some serious issues.

One of the issues is that their stomach can turn around. This can further lead to more pressure being put on the dog’s stomach. That pressure causes abnormalities in the blood flow.

This is dangerous because the vital organs will not receive enough blood, and the aftermath of all of this is shock and even death.

Some of the signs besides an arched back are:

Distended stomach

Pain in the abdomen

Gagging and retching

This is one of those reasons where seeing an arched back in a dog for a long period of time is quite distressing.

The best thing is to contact a vet just to be sure that everything is alright with your dog.

3. They Are In Pain

“Why do dogs arch their back?” is the question we are covering in this article, and the most common answer is that your dog is in some sort of pain. By arching their back, they are relieving some of that pain.

We humans tend to curl up when we have a stomach ache, and so do dogs, but in their own way. The stomach pain does not have to mean that your dog has some serious issue, but you need to react as soon as you check it so you can alleviate any pain that your dog may have.

Any type of stomach pain is not good to be left untreated for a long time because it can turn into something serious.

When your dog is in pain, it will most likely showcase some other signs, not just arching its back, and some of those signs are:

Tail hanging low

Head hanging low

Stiff walking

Tucked abdomen

Rear quarters lowered

When you notice any of this, especially combined with an arched back, call the vet and book an appointment.

4. Spinal Problems

dog set on a leash

A dog’s spine is very firm, and it can handle some distress, but there are always problems that can occur. There is a health issue called kyphosis.

Yes, this sounds confusing, and we did not know what this meant as well. The easiest way to explain kyphosis is a strange or abnormal curvature of the spine in the neck area and upper back.

By arching their back, they are making the pain a bit easier to endure. If kyphosis appears in a young dog, it means that it is most likely inherited. When talking about older dogs, it is most likely either an injury or the spine wearing off over time.

This can also lead to a herniated disc in the lower back, which is a spinal condition called intervertebral disc disease (or IVDD), which causes spinal pain in the spinal cord.

This is extremely painful for the dog, and as a result, they arch their back to remove some of the pain.

There are some other spinal problems that can affect your dog for numerous reasons like a dog bite, for example.

If your dog has some issues with its spine, it will most likely showcase some of these signs of pain besides arching its back:

Not being able to climb up and down stairs

Walking like they are drunk


Losing movement in their rear legs

Not being able to jump from a higher place like furniture

When you notice any of these, contact the vet immediately because it can be detrimental to your dog’s life. It may not be that serious of an issue, but anything that has to do with the spine needs to be treated as soon as possible.

There is also a possibility that your dog has a slipped disc. Your dog will be arching its back, and will most likely lose some balance and start to wobble. This can happen if your dog has fallen from a high place.

Some dog breeds are more prone to spinal problems, and those are Dachshunds, Pekingese, Beagles, and Cocker Spaniels.

5. Anal Sac Disorders

When it is healthy, your dog’s anal sac needs to be able to release some fluid through the anal glands. When that fluid can not be released, it can cause some problems for your dog.

The fluid not being released means that it will gather somewhere within the anal glands. This causes tension in your dog’s hind quarters, and they will try to release that tension by lowering that part of the body.

The back is usually arched, but sometimes it will not be. If you see your dog’s behind being lowered, you can be sure that there is something wrong with the anal sac.

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6. Abdominal Problems

Abdominal pain is tricky, and it can cause your dog a lot of discomfort. Arching their back is their way of releasing some of that pain. Abdominal problems can be caused by a couple of things, and some of those are:

Enlarged organ

Anal sac disorder


Viral infections

Internal bleeding

Loss of appetite

Every single one of these can be very dangerous for the dog. All of them are most likely to be accompanied by vomiting. Even though this is bad, and it leads to problems for the dog, it is good because something obvious like vomiting will make you realize that your dog has some abdominal issues.

If they are just experiencing some abdominal pain and nothing else, then arching their back may not be something that we dog owners would see as abdominal problems. This way, when you see your dog vomiting, you will bring it to the vet immediately.

RELATED: My Dog Is Gagging And Not Throwing Up: Six Possible Causes

7. Spondylosis Deformans

Spondylosis Deformans can be one reason why your dog arches its back. For the people who don’t understand this professional term, neither do we – it is technically arthritis of the spine.

This happens when osteophytes (bone spurs) ‘bridge’ the disc space along the vertebrae. This can appear in the lower back, part of the upper back, and at the end of the lower part where the tail begins.

This health condition is often connected to aging. It is an interesting fact that Greyhounds are more prone to getting this condition. There have been some studies done on Greyhounds to help vets figure out how to solve this problem.

They have figured out that they tend to bite their tail when they get Spondylosis because the pain is mostly in the lower back.

Acupuncture, medication, and physical treatments have shown to make some difference. Dogs have been treated with all of these, and have shown big improvements.

You need to make sure you handle your pooch that has this condition correctly. Your dog will not be able to climb up and down furniture because of the pain and weakness. You will also be able to notice them limping, falling, and wobbling because they do not have enough strength in their back legs.

Ask the vet for advice on how to make them as comfortable as possible.

8. Nausea

the dog is nauseous

Nausea is something that can be mild and not that concerning, but it can also be a sign that something is seriously wrong. Your dog can get nauseous from things like food poisoning, motion sickness, or eating something that is toxic.

Nausea usually comes with some stomach pain, or an upset stomach, so this is why they are arching their back. They can also do this when in the process of vomiting. The tension makes them arch their back so they can vomit easier.

Always go to the vet to be sure that your dog does not have some serious problem, and to receive advice on how to treat your dog and what to do to make him feel more comfortable.

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9. Stretching

Arching their back is something that can also be pleasurable, and it does not mean that there is some problem. This way, they are stretching their muscles.

You will be able to see them arch their back right after they wake up. This does not last for a long time to be more precise, they will do this for a couple of seconds. They will usually stretch their legs afterward.

When they are done, they will go on with their day. This is something that does not need to make you concerned.

They will also do this if they have been laying around for a long time.

10. Certain Standards

This is something that is connected to their past, but not a lot of people know about it. Some dog breeds were bred in a way that their back was naturally arched. This was really popular with German Shepherds.

This was when German Shepherds were desired more for their looks than their intelligence and work abilities. Many of the GSDs that had an arched back were popular and won many competitions and shows.

This made arched backs popular at some point, and a lot of breeders wanted to bring this standard to other dog breeds.

There was even an example in 2016, where a female German Shepherd with an arched back won a competition. A lot of people did not like this, and they received a lot of backlash.

Luckily, there is no such thing as a German Shepherd with an arched back. Some people might try to breed them, but they are not popular today. Always find a reputable breeder when getting a dog.

11. Inflamed Prostate

An inflamed prostate can lead to several problems for the dog, and it will give them a lot of discomfort. Arching their back helps them urinate and release some of that pain.

Your dog may also seem a bit stiff, and it will, for sure, have some problems urinating and defecating.

Situations In Which They Can Arch Their Back

Back arching can be done in various situations, not just when they are standing still in the middle of the room. We listed some of the situations in which dogs can arch their back, and it can be a prelude to some problems.

Here is a list of the situations in which the dog can arch its back:

1. When A Dog Is Getting Up

the dog is playing on the beach

This is something that we already mentioned, but we want to put it on this list as well. This is stretching for the dog, and you can be sure that they will feel amazing afterward.

This is done when they have woken up from a long or short nap, or even when they were just laying for a longer period of time.

They don’t know that they are stretching their muscles, but they know that it feels good. This is something that my dog does on a daily basis, and even a couple of times a day.

I can see how relaxed he gets after a good stretch.

2. When Pooping

Well, this is something we all know, and we probably see a couple of times a day. It is no secret that dogs arch their backs while they are popping.

There is not much that needs to be said about this. It is a natural process.

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3. When Being Petted

This is something that is also connected with cats – maybe even more connected to them. You can often see a cat arching its back when it wants to receive more pets. Well, this is something dogs do as well.

Most of the time, a dog will give you a paw or push you a bit with their head so they receive some more love through petting.

But, they can also ask for more pets by arching their back, and even looking at you and pointing to their back with their head.

4. When Eating

Sometimes, when they get really hungry and get a hold of food, dogs will eat very fast. When they eat too intensely, they sometimes tend to arch their back.

If you notice this, try to calm them down and make them eat slower. Fast eating can cause some serious conditions, and you don’t want that.

They can also arch their back after they are finished eating. This is unfortunately a bad sign, and your dog most likely has some health issues. If you see your dog arching its back after a meal, you should make a visit to the vet.

5. Dog Arching Its Back And Refusing To Eat

the dog lies on the laminate

This means that your dog has some abdominal issues. When it comes to puppies, this can be a sign of parvovirus, which is something that should concern you, and you should bring your dog to the vet.

It can be something that is not that big of a deal, but it can also be a sign that your dog has some serious problems that you need to fix as soon as possible.

6. When Taking A Walk

If your dog is arching its back when walking, it means that it has either abdominal problems or back problems. When talking about abdominal pain, it can mean a lot of things, and some of those are:

Bladder issues


Stomach ulcers

Intestinal obstruction


This is also usually a sign of your dog having a twisted gut. This is easily fixable with surgery if it is caught on time. There are some ways to prevent this from happening, and some of those are:

Not giving your dog large amounts of food at once

Preventing him from running at least one hour before and after a meal

It can also mean that your dog has an enlarged prostate, which can also cause him to have problems with urinating.

7. When Standing

When your dog is just standing in one place and arching its back, it means that he has some stomach problems. This is when they don’t have the energy, but need to stand and arch their back so the pain is more tolerable.

The tail will most likely be hidden between his legs. This can also be an indication of:

A pinched nerve

Full anal sac glands

A spinal injury

Gastrointestinal issues

Full anal sac glands are easy to solve, but others may be a bit more difficult.

8. Arching Their Back And Shaking

This can mean that your dog has eaten something that it was not supposed to. If this is the case, vomiting and diarrhea will most likely appear as well. This can be scary and dangerous or even fatal so if you notice this, immediately take your dog to the vet.

This can also mean that your dog may suffer from some muscle disorder. Some of these disorders are:

Paroxysmal gluten-sensitive dyskinesia (PGSD)

Scottie cramp

This can be very confusing for the dog, and even painful.

9. When Scared

Cats are known for arching their back in order to look bigger and more intimidating to the thing that is scaring them. Dogs are the opposite.

When dogs are in an uncomfortable situation, they will often arch their back so they look smaller and show that they are not a threat to the opponent.

You will be able to see their tail being tucked between their legs. This is something that my dog showcases when he hears fireworks or sees a cat.


How Do You Know What Exactly Is Going On?

We understand that all of this can be scary and overwhelming because there are a lot of potentially bad things that can be going on with your dog when it is arching its back. Unfortunately, they don’t know how to talk so they can’t tell us exactly what is wrong with them.

Therefore, we need to do our best to figure out what is happening with our pooch. Don’t break your head too much.

We have some advice for you. If you see your dog arching its back, and right after that, being completely fine and moving along with its day, then you don’t have anything to worry about. This is part of their natural behavior, like, for example, when they are stretching after a nap.

If you see your dog arching its back and having some other signs of discomfort, then you should probably react. Sometimes, other signs of pain will not be that noticeable, but we are sure that you will catch them.

We are convinced that you are an amazing dog owner, and that you will have that gut feeling of something being off with your beloved pooch.

When you get that gut feeling, call the vet to be sure that your dog is fine. If you have any doubts, make sure to at least call the vet for some advice.

Why Does My Dog Arch His Back Like A Cat When I Pet Him?

It is unusual to see a dog arching its back while it is being petted because this is something that cats are known for. Not a lot of dogs do this, but some will arch their back as a way of asking for more pets.

This is nothing to be worried about it is something that some dogs do naturally while others do not do it at all. I personally find this type of behavior endearing.

My dog does not do this. He is the type of dog that will give me his paw and look me directly in the eyes until I start to pet him again. He also pushes my hand with his head.

To Sum It Up

There are many different ways in which dogs show us their emotions, and if there is anything wrong with them. One of those ways is by arching their back. You may ask yourself, “Why do dogs arch their back?”, and we hope that we have given you all the answers you need.

It might just be that they are excited or even scared, but it can also mean that something is wrong with your dog, and that it is his way of showing it. It may also be back pain, abdominal pain, or many different health issues.

Make sure that you observe your dog. If arching its back is something it does often and for a long time, then you should seek professional medical advice and care for your dog.

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