Your Designer Pug Is No Longer Considered a ‘Typical Dog’ Because the Poor Thing Can’t Breathe

Your Designer Pug Is No Longer Considered a ‘Typical Dog’ Because the Poor Thing Can’t Breathe
Image: Royal Veterinary College, compiled by Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

We’ve done messed up things to dogs, haven’t we. Research from the Royal Veterinary College has shown that pug health is so poor that the breed can no longer be considered a healthy “typical dog”.

Pugs are not an especially natural breed. Years and years of intensive breeding from human owners led their faces to mould into the way that we know them today. The breed is also famous for their major health problems, ranging from respiratory issues (see: the face) to seizures.

Now, the Royal Veterinary College says that the health of the pug breed is alarmingly bad.

“Pugs are almost twice as likely to experience one or more disorders annually compared with other dogs,” the college says.

“These findings suggest the Pug can no longer be considered a ‘typical dog’ from a health perspective and urgent action is required to reduce the high rate of health issues associated with the breed.

“While there is growing awareness of these severe health problems in Pugs, until now, the full scale of the health crisis in Pugs has not been fully understood.”

Health samples of 4,308 Pugs and 21,835 non-Pugs were analysed in compiling this information. Overall, it was found that Pugs were 1.9 times more likely to develop one or more disorders in a single year, compared to non-Pugs. Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome was found to be the disorder with the highest risk among Pugs (the breed was found to be almost 54 times more likely to develop this disorder).

Pugs were also found to be at much higher risk of the following conditions than other dogs:

  • Narrowed nostrils (Pugs are 51.3 times more likely to suffer from this)
  • Eye ulceration (13 times more likely)
  • Skinfold infections (11 times more likely)
  • Ear discharge (9.6 times more likely)
  • Allergic skin disorder (5.9 times more likely)
  • Demodectic mange (5.6 times more likely)
  • Retained baby teeth (4.3 times more likely)
  • Obesity (3.4 times more likely)

That being said, some conditions were found to be not so observable in Pugs, such as heart murmur (0.2 times more likely), lipoma (0.2 times more likely again), aggression (0.3 times more likely) and wounds (0.5 times more likely). The college ties these to Pugs typically having a calmer temperament, which although makes for a nice pet, owners should also be aware of the health conditions common in the widely popular breed.

“Although hugely popular as pets, we now know that that several severe health issues are linked to the extreme body shape of Pugs that many humans find so cute,” says Doctor Dan O’Neill, an associate professor in companion animal epidemiology at the Royal Veterinary College.

“It is time now that we focus on the health of the dog rather than the whims of the owner when we are choosing what type of dog to own.”

The paper on Pug health is available through Canine Medicine and Genetics.