Saturday 20 November 2010

Pugs at Discover Dogs

When you're a breed, like the Pug, that is predisposed to overheating and breathing problems, it is a kindness to keep them lean.  This fawn Pug at Discover Dogs last Saturday really was very overweight. It doesn't help either, with the hip dysplasia that is common to the breed (only the bulldog is worse, according to OFA statistics) .

However, according to the Pug reps on the stand, it's not really hip dysplasia - it's that Pugs are built differently to other dogs. This means, apparently,  that there's "no need to hip-score" (And, indeed, only 27 Pugs have ever been scored under the BVA/KC hip scheme which has been running for, what, 40 years or so now?).

Mind you, no less than three reps on the stand were also insistent that Pugs do not suffer from breathing problems.

This picture of rude health is confirmed by the new manual the Kennel Club has produced for vets. It lists exactly.... no health problems for the Pug.

Not quite true according to two recent papers published in the Veterinary Journal (Asher et al; Sumners et al) which found that the Pug suffers from a total of 33 disorders, 18 of them related, or exacerbated, by their conformation.


  1. There was a large scale dog breeder in the U.S., now retired from dog breeding, who sold Puggles, a cross between a Pug and a Beagle. Usually Puggle puppies come from a Beagle mother and a Pug father.

    They are very cute and sporty enough looking to be considered either a man's dog or a woman's dog.

    I have seen Puggle calendars with photos of Puggles. You can find photos of Puggles all over the Internet. I guess there are still some smaller breeders of Puggles out there.

    There are also Pug-Pins, sometimes called Carlin Terriers, from Pug X Miniture Pinscher breeding.

    One outcross could restore the pugs' health.

  2. "One outcross could restore the pugs' health"

    Well "anon" this shows exactly the extent of your knowledge of breeding ect.

  3. In response to the first comment, I agree Anonymous #2. One outcross? Really? Sigh.

    And yes, OFA has a tendency to not be so accurate with hip evaluations in dwarfed dogs. Does this mean not X-ray? NO.

    This means know your breed. Treat the dog, NOT the x-rays and breed responsibly. Know your lines. Know your dog.

    And make sure (like I do) the breeders have a guarantee for health. I will take ANY of my dogs I bred back at ANY time. However, for hips I have a line in my contract that if the dog is found to be significantly overweight or obese my hip guarantee is null and void, and they do not get their money back.

    And yes, those Pugs are FAT. MY pet peeve is obese dogs. I was at a pet expo and saw a lab so fat it had no neck. I yelled at the owner "How can you let this dog get so fat? Its a sin." No answer. Poor dog. And those are the types of owners that point the fingers at good breeders because their dogs "had health and hip problems"...well YEAH they will if they are twice their recommended weight!

  4. I like the puggle too - a good-looking characterful mix which, when it works, offers an improvement on the pug's conformation and softens the beagle's hunting ability. As much care needs to be taken over how these are bred, however, as any purebred dog and there are undoubtedly some out there doing it simply to make money.

    And no, a single outcross would not restore the pugs' health. And outcrossing has not really been considered in this breed. Conformationally, it would obviously be possible to select for a dog less physically disposed to problems (flat face, twisted tail) - an outcross would not be needed for that. But pugs are also very inbred - the lowest effective population size of any breed that Imperial College looked at. That may lead (may have already led?) to an increase in auto-immune issues; lower fertility; smaller litters. Genetically, the breed could probably do with some new blood.

  5. Jemima, I love PDE and your blog. I was wondering from your comment above, if an outcross has been considered for any KC breed? I don't consider the LUA/NUA Dalmatians an outcross anymore - that was just one Pointer, and it was years ago.

    I also wonder about how to get a less extreme Pug without outcrossing when they are so inbred?

    Here in the US we have Boston Terriers who sometimes have a less flat face than the typical show Boston Terrier face, but ALL of the Pugs that I have seen here look very much alike, and NONE of them, that I have seen, have anything other than that very flat face.

    Do people on your side of the pond have any Pugs with a less extreme face?

    Here, except among (amoung) the show dog crowd, your views are not considered as extreme as they seem to be over there. Here much of the public doesn't know what a kennel club is, and doesn't care at all to hear about the politics within any of our kennel clubs.

    Hybrids (crossbreds) are common and very accepted among the public, although NOT by some of the show dog breeders, but I wouldn't say that our kennel clubs themsleves are against hybrids.

    It would be difficult to find any one opinion that could be called "The American Opinion". At one time, people said that America was like all of Europe, as far as being diverse, but now we have become even more diverse, so I would probally compare trying to find ONE American opinion, like trying to find ONE opinion for Europe-Asia combined. With this many little pockets of opinions here, I am hoping that a more unified place like Britain will be able to work through the problems inherent in breeding to a small group of winners. Good Luck to you, and thanks.

  6. There is always some variation within a breed. I have met some pet pugs that are not quite as extreme. The issue would be in persuading breeders to select for a pug with a bit more of a muzzle. The response is usually: it's not the length of the muzzle. You hear this from the peke breeders too. But there's no getting away from the fact that the longer the muzzle, the fewer breathing problems - when did you meet a German Shepherd with bracychephalic airway syndrome? Having said that, it's true that there are additional factors that have a bearing too - such as the size of nostrils, and the amount of internal soft tissue in the throat.

    A contact was at a pug health seminar here today so am hoping to report on that tomorrow. Will be interesting to hear if there was any discussion re an outcross.

  7. So, the breathing difficulties and tendency towards overheating, that's why there's so many pugs competing in AGILITY?
    There's even a UK champion who was best of breed at SKC who's also won her agility warrant. So it's not just the "less extreme pet pugs" who can live a healthy active life.
    Dog obesity has nothing to do with breed - it's due to incompetent ownership.

  8. Oh please anon 09.24, if you do not believe pugs have breathing issues then you like many top pug breeders are just in COMPLETE DENIAL and you are so DESENSITIZED to what is normal when it comes to breathing

  9. The conference was very good with a good turn out of breeders and pet owners. The latter seem to have been owners that had pugs with conditions, ranging from pug dog encephalitis, spinal problems and eye problems.
    With regards to HD, the general impression was the LACK of dogs being scored. From 2001 to 2010 only 10 pugs scored via the BVA, plus 20 more results via the KC. Of these 30, scores ranged from 8 to 72 with a max of 106. The median score being 16.
    The ortho specialist said that 16 did NOT reflect the severity in the breed due to lack of pugs being scored in the UK.
    Two key points are that clinical signs may show up from the age of 4 to 5 months, be them mild, and the seem to disappear, as fibrosis and stabalisation occurs. In other words, it looks like the problem has gone. BUT, later in life the dog will suffer with arthritis and the condition will get worse. Also the severity of the condition will often not be reflected in the xrays taken. A dog with a bad xray will often be seen running around with no apparent problem......but later in life could be crippled with arthritis.

  10. would Perthes not be a more like explanation id the symptons came and went like that?

  11. Pug health has become a hot button topic for me. I've posted some info on my blog including photos of how they USED to look. It is sad what we have done to them over time.

  12. Anon 15:13
    Legg Perthes is another condition found in some pugs. The symptoms are indeed identical to HD although it can occur in either both hips or just one. The disease also looks different on xray.
    The speaker was definitely talking about HD symptoms coming and going, but only touched on Perthes before moving onto a bigger problem in the breed.....hemivertebrae.

  13. I have a flat faced breed and have not had any problems with their breathing ( 20 dogs over the years)
    I am not a cruel person who condems her dogs to a life of suffocation. I expect them to be able to go for walks and live normal lives.

    Their noses are about half an inch long. Any longer than that does not seem to have an advantage . shorter than half an inch and yes they do start to struggle ( I have seen some who's noses where basicly attached to their forhead, but not in this country)

    If they could not breath I would not own them !

    I hate snuffly dogs. A relation of mine got a boston terrier ( nose a good inch longer than my dogs ) she is really snuffly , probably due to having a very podgy face so I wouldnt have one.

  14. h.griff, may I ask what breed of dog you have?