|© The Onion 2011|
Well, The Onions's spoof look at Pugs in 2007 (here) is obviously not entirely accurate. But at the other end of the extreme, the Kennel Club Guide to Dog Health, produced for vets, offers no health information at all on the breed - other than that the pug "usually lives to a ripe old age." (pdf downloadable here).
The Pug Club UK, which offers an "ABC of Keeping Your Pug Happy and Healthy" is a bit better. It warns that pugs' eyes (described as "unique" and responsible for the breed's "irresistible appearance") are prone to injury and ulcers. It also mentions that they should not be walked in the heat of the day or driven in a hot car because of their tendency to overheat. It also includes some rather vague info about joint problems - although does not mention by name one of the breed's biggest problems - hemivertebrae (abnormally-shaped vertebrae that result in a twisted spine) or Pug Dog Encephalitis (a seriously nasty neurological problem for which there is now a DNA test). In summation, it's a rather fluffy, general guide which offers no in-depth information; no links to where one might find more information about breed-specific problems and no details of any current health research. Over at The Karlton Index, where Philippa Robinson has embarked on an ambitious project to encourage breed clubs to do better, the Pug Club UK currently earns a poor rating for its health info.
No better, but a bit more specific, is Champdogs guide to the Pug:
"Pugs are generally a healthy breed and do shed the coat,but at times can suffer from certain health problems just like any other dog. Eyes are the main concern,since Pugs have such a short nose and such bulky eyes,they easily scratch their corneas of even punture there eyeballs,causing eye ulcers. Therefore try to keep them away from sharp objects at all times.
Others can be Hip Dysplasia; where there is a poor fit between the bones of the hip joint - the femur and the actabulum.
"Patellar Luxation;this is when the kneecap,slides in and out of it's groove.It is thought to be inherited although the exact mode of transmission has not been determined.
Hemivertabrae disease, a deformity of the spine,this can lead to acute pain,or even loss of movement coorination and paralysis."
But spot the glaring omission (other, that is, than of an education or a spell-checker). There is no mention of Bracycephalic Airway Obstructed Syndrome (BOAS), an extremely common problem in Pugs and one that very often necessitates surgery to allow them to breathe more freely. No mention of Pug Dog Encephalitis either.
The Pug Club of Ameria deserves some praise, meanwhile. It is not the best laid-out website in the world, but there is quite a lot of health information there. The PCA also recommends testing hips, patellas, eyes and DNA-testing for Pug Dog Encephalitis - in stark contrast to the Kennel Club or UK breed club which lists no health tests for pugs. This despite, in the US, pugs being the second-worst breed of all (next to bulldogs) in terms of hips - with 64 per cent of those tested rated as dysplastic.
There is one UK website that is, as yet, incomplete but promises to build into valuable resource for discerning readers looking for a comprehensive, well-researched source of objective data on the most serious problems in particular breeds: UFAW's guide to the Genetic Welfare Problems of Companion Animals.
Here's what it says about breathing problems in the Pug.
Even I was a bit surprised to see this, though: "The breathing problems caused by these abnormalities (BAOS) are so commonly recognised by breeders of bulldogs and other short-faced breeds that some carry oxygen cylinders with them to shows."
Please, tell me that ain't true.