Monday, 16 January 2012

Molly comes home - and passes out with joy

Picture: Polly Hancock

London24 runs the story of Molly the pug, safely back home after she went missing when burglars ransacked her owners' flat in north London on January 6.

The dog was found after a big Twitter campaign supported by, among others, chat show host and pug owner Jonathan Ross.

And the reason I'm mentioning it here?

"“Everyone was screaming and crying,” said owner Caitriona Fox. “Molly was excited but then she passed out. She’s been quite nervous, but then she got into bed with us. She’s not normally allowed to sleep in our bed because she snores.”

It is good news that Molly is home. But it is much less good news that, like too many other pugs, her snoring is so loud that it keeps her owners awake as she struggles to get air to and from her lungs. And it is very bad news indeed that, when she's excited, her airways block to the point that she passes out through oxygen starvation to her brain.

Still, as pug breeder Amanda Ellis told us when we were making Pedigree Dogs Exposed, they get back up again, don't they?


  1. PDE has done a lot of good, but this particular blog entry is a cheap shot.

    I did a search on DogzOnline forums using "snoring + loud" as a search term. The breed that came up most frequently was Labrador (which, being a Lab breeder, I'll believe). A long list of other breeds turned up, including: vizula, Rottweiler, jack Russel, Staffordshire bull terrier, Cavilier, Akita, shar-pei, golden retriever, French bulldog, and, yes, pug. This comment was from a mastiff owner: ". . . geez when you're trying to watch a good telly programme and they're snoring look out! Got to have it up so bloomin loud to hear it over them...get good at lip reading :laugh:"

    It's not clear that the dog passed out due to oxygen deficit. People often say their dog 'passed out' when it went into deep sleep after exhaustion, so this one instance doesn't mean much. I don't find pugs listed in the 'most expensive' list by vet insurance companies . . . and their lifespan data, in data presented in the PDE discussion of lifespan, isn't bad (around 9 years).

    If the dog in the picture is Molly, I'd say her weight is a bigger threat to her health than her muzzle length. Can't really say from the photo, but as pugs go, it looks like Molly's face not flattened as much as the typical show pug.

    1. Yes of course many dogs snore, but for different reasons. And the reason pugs and other brachycephalics snore is because of narrow airways - right from the entrance at the nose down to the lungs.

      But you might be right re the passing out - perhaps she did just mean from exhaustion. I will check and edit it if I have jumped to the wrong conclusion simply because pugs do often pass out when they overheat or are over-excited.


    2. Have now double-checked this and Molly did actualy pass out - not just fall asleep through exhaustion.


  2. Annie Macfarlane16 January 2012 at 11:52

    Oh dear! I'm sure there will be a few more comments coming in from pug owners to challenge your thinking Jennifer. One of my friends had a bulldog and when she gets too excited she overheats and passes out. This is particularly bad in the summer when you introduce heat! She has to be taken to a bath and revived....spraying cool water over her until she cools down. I would say that 9 years for a pug is very bad. As a toy breed one would expect the pug to live until around 16 years. I think Jem's making a point here...and not a cheap shot...but we'll wait and see what Pug owners say! That's probably the best way to judge the frequency of these episodes.

  3. That owner needs to get the weight of the Pug asap imo. Sleep apnea can be caused by obesity in humans and dogs--low muscle tone and soft tissue around the airway (e.g., because of obesity)

  4. Strangely my father spoke of the Pug of his day being a "little dog with BIG heart". Indeed my neighbor lost one of her two pugs last year after being outside playing under a year old in the heat.
    Dad had described his love for the Pug from a childrenhood experience with a Bull visting the family farm. It seems he would not have made it to safety as he was being chased down by a charging bull if not for this little pug. It seems that Pug raced at the bull took a mouth full of its nose and held on. My Dad as a child was able to get out of the fenched in area. He said the little dog held on until he was safe...then letting go was thrown many feet. Took off running outside the fence. Does not sound like any Pug of today does it? Kathy Bittorf

  5. Trying again------This dog needs to lose weight Sleep apnea as well as breathing problems can be caused by Obesity!!!!!!!!

  6. Annie Macfarlane16 January 2012 at 18:29

    There are however many pugs that suffer sleep apnea and breathing difficulties that are not obese but I do take your point and you are not wrong. Obesity is a problem in many pet animals..and it does them no favours.

  7. She’s not normally allowed to sleep in our bed because she snores.”

    I don't see any statement here that says the owners do not let her in the bed because she keeps them awake.. do you?
    I don't see any statement that says she "struggles to get air into her lungs"

    I see nothing that says she "passes out" on a regular basis except except by the blogger..

    extrapolation.. or just blatant assumptions?

  8. Jemima, you can try and educate people about the problems with pugs until you are BLUE IN THE FACE (excuse pun).

  9. "and their lifespan data, in data presented in the PDE discussion of lifespan, isn't bad (around 9 years)."

    For a toy breed THAT is appalling.

    "extrapolation.. or just blatant assumptions?"

    Or another very sad thing that CAN AND DOES happen to this breed. Rather than analysing what has been written by Jemima why not ask yourself this question...

    Is it right that pugs CAN PASS OUT WHEN EXCITED due to their overly long soft palate, collapsing larynx and oedematous soft tissues of the airways?

    Wake up.

    It happens. And it is a welfare issue.

    1. "and their lifespan data, in data presented in the PDE discussion of lifespan, isn't bad (around 9 years)"

      That's from the Finnish database. The KC survey puts the average at 10.05 (median 11).

    2. the average life span of a pug is 12 to 14 years.

    3. Lifespan data are poor . . . as well pointed out on an earlier and most interesting discussion in this blog. The 'best' source I can find with Google today is:
      which creates a composite estimate based on various data sets.
      This puts the pug at 10.0. Virtually the same as the Italian greyhound, lowchen, English toy spaniel, and better than the Japanese chin, pom, Manchester and kerry blue terriers, and Frenchie. Much higher than the miniature bull terrier (at 6.8 yrs). Some, but not all toy/small breeds have long life expectancy.

  10. poor little dog - but aside from being short nosed, this dog is fat, (unfit) and if it snores that badly, it should probably have had some surgery to HELP it, not just be banned from the bedroom!

  11. What makes this a cheap shot is using a reunion with a loved one as a vehicle for putting forward a point of view. What would you say if some journo used the reunion of parents with a diseased, kidnapped child as an opportunity to get on the soap box for genetic testing . . . because the kid had Tey-Sachs or sickle cell disease. Heartless, if not anti-Semetic or racist.

    As for brachy's snoring, I'm sure there are many that do, and at least some that don't. I've long wondered why so many of my dogs have freight-train scale volume when they snore. I can't see any sign of sleep apnia, and they're much less brachycephalic than I am. I'd guess snoring is complicated and multi-causal.

    You've already hammered the pug quite a bit. Why not move on to some other breed that has serious health problems. The insurance company data I can find suggests the Bernese Mountain Dog and Rotti are both good candidates . . .

    The Bernese mountain dog is also notable for short lifespan. Dogue de Bordeaux is another good candidate for study, for reasons of lifespan and frequencies of problems shown on the OFA database.

    Another reason for the cheap shot accusation is photo-intense pseudo veterinary science. Picture may be worth 1000 words for propaganda purposes, but the most photogenic reasons for ill health are not the most important. Athletics isn't lacking for examples of people who were extraordinary in their prime and largely incapacitated, or dead by middle age.

    Note, the Finnish database gives a Foxie a shorter expected lifespan than a pug.

    1. I can see where you are coming from re: this being a "cheap shot" but on the other hand the fact that we find the snoring, snorting and passing out from excitement as NORMAL in this breed (and the fact that the owners of this dog consider it just a normal part of life) is really ODD. I like Pugs, I think they can be wonderful family pets, we really do owe it to them to consider if the "cute smooshy faces" are in their best interest. Using your analogy, the little boy with Down's syndrome who has made the news lately because he has been modeling for Target and Macy's is charming and adorable, so would it be OK to deliberately try to conceive children with an extra chromosome so they can be sweet and adorable like him?

    2. I absolutely agree, it's awful that show ring pressures have resulted in ever-shorter muzzles in pugs and other brachy breeds. I suspect that the pug is more burdened than most breeds with breeders who don't do health testing and who breed for image more than health. I'll bet most pet pug folks would accept a slightly longer nose and a puppy price that includes the cost of some health testing to get a healthier dog. But I'd rather see the breed portrayed as a breed that can and should be 'saved' than as poor little doggies bred to suffer. Why not use a positive approach . . . eg, find a few notable breeders who are doing the right thing and improving breed health . . . than using reunion with a lost dog as a way to publicise bad trends in breeding.
      I also think we should be cautious about using obvious sniffeling and snorting as an indicator of health. Pugs have health problems, but if you judge by vet bills or longevity, you can find a lot of breeds that are worse off.
      As for the Down's syndrome analogy . . . I am not aware of any dog breed in which extra chromosomes are present. It shouldn't be many years before they understand the dog genome well enough to understand the causes of brachycephally, and it's likely that no more than a handful of genes are involved. . .not a whole chromosome.
      I can think of some breeds that might be described as mental retards . . . the pug isn't among them.

  12. I have two pugs, Romeo and Ophelia. They are great, had them over 10 years, raised them since they were puppies. And they are AKC registered. They snore all the time when their asleep, but it dosen't bother me. My husband snores ten times worse, so i'm use to it. They are our wonderful family dogs, our kids adore them.