|My dog's got no nose...|
Breed notes writer Alison Mount writes:
"Opinions were sought on which areas of health that most frequently affect Pugs should be covered and it was agreed that orthopaedic issues, DNA testing and research techniques and eye problems should be the topics."
Now it's great that the Pug Club is discussing these issues - and particularly what sounds like a new impetus to tackle the hemivertebrae (abnormal spine) problem in the breed.
But... didn't they forget something? What about the fact that Pugs can't breathe properly because you've bred the poor things with such ridiculously flat faces? The Pug, along with other bracycephalic breeds such as the Peke, is plagued by bracychephalic obstructed airway syndrome (which often requires a surgical procedure to correct). According to the breeders, however, the cause is nothing to do with the flat face and no doubt the Comments section below will rapidly fill with Pug breeders telling me just that.
"It has been proven in Pekes that a longer muzzle does not help the breathing, it is the nostrils that count," says Adele Nicholson, Secretary of the Pug Dog Club.
Proven? Show me the proof!
There is none, of course - just anecdotal evidence from breeders of bracycephalic dogs suffering the collective delusion that they've done nothing wrong in distorting a dog into such a freakish shape. And so they maintain that the length of the dog's muzzle has nothing to do with the breed's inclination to respiratory distress. The breeders say it's all about the size of the dog's nostrils so all they need to do is breed for bigger/more open ones. Sure, that has something to do with it. But it's only part of the story.
Don't take my word for it. Here's what the Animal Health Trust had to say about it to one pug owner who asked:
"Pugs are an example of a breed that has been selected to an extreme of conformation (very flat face), with all the problems that accompany it. You are right, a longer muzzle would help with the airflow; but this is a breeding issue, that can only be resolved with inverting the selection process and breeding pugs towards a longer nose. Nostrils can be "opened" with a surgery (the surgery for brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome will include opening the nostrils and shortening the soft palate) but the muzzle cannot be prolonged surgically in one individual animal obviously."
Meanwhile in Germany, a few breeders have got together and said enough is enough. They're breeding a pug with a longer muzzle. The tagline on the MPRV website says: "Qualzucht? Nein Danke!"
It translates as "Torture breeding? No thank you!"
|MPRV pugs with longer muzzles|
Following Pedigree Dogs Exposed, the Kennel Club here in the UK amended the Pug breed standard. It no longer demands a "short" muzzle; just a "relatively short" one. Will this be enough to encourage the UK breeders to breed a dog with a less abnormal anatomy?
Debatable. Breeders want the very flat faces. And the breed standard still points out that a double-curl in the tail is "highly desirable", despite an obvious link to hemivertebrae.
|Hemivertebrae in a pug|
So... what are the chances of the Pug Clubs deciding that they should drop the double-twist as it comes with a health risk? About the same as breeding for a longer muzzle, I expect.