Pugs ‘no longer considered a typical dog’ due to high health risks

A new study says pugs have substantial health risks and can no longer be regarded as typical dogs in terms of health. Experts are advising people not to adopt the dogs until there is an improvement in their health and their body shape shifts to being less extreme.

The health of pugs in the UK is now significantly different and mostly worse than that of other dogs, according to new research from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC). When compared to other dogs, pugs are nearly twice as likely to develop one or more problems each year.

These findings show that the pug can no longer be a typical dog in terms of health, according to experts. Pugs have grown in popularity in recent years due to their flat-faced appearance and body form. It links to many of their health difficulties.

However, researchers suggest that the dog’s health should take precedence over people’s desire to acquire one. They claim that immediate action is highly required to lower the breed’s high risk of health problems.

Dr. Dan O’Neill is an associate professor in companion animal epidemiology at the RVC and the lead author of the paper. He said: “Although hugely popular as pets, we now know that several severe health issues are linked to the extreme body shape of pugs that many humans find so cute. 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 number of pugs registered with the Kennel Club increased fivefold from 2005 to 2017. However, because of the breed’s flat face, bulging eyes, wrinkled skin, and obesity predisposition, there is rising worry about health issues in the dogs.

Findings of the pugs study


According to the experts, these are all features that people find adorable. The entire scope of the pug health crisis has not been properly clear until recently.

The study was led by the RVC’s VetCompass program. It examined the health of 4,308 pugs and 21,835 non-pugs in a random sample. Pugs were 1.9 times more likely than non-pugs to have one or more problems recorded in a single year. Thus, indicating a low overall health status in the breed.

Pugs had a higher incidence of 23 out of 40 (57.5%) disorders compared to only seven out of 40 (17.5%) disorders. A list of the 40 most prevalent disorders was compiled across pug and non-pug dog breeds. The disorder with the highest risk in pugs was brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS). The breed is nearly 54 times more likely to have the condition.

This represents the common respiratory problems that flat-faced (brachycephalic) breeds encounter due to their facial shape. Pugs were also more likely than non-pugs to have narrower nostrils, skinfold infections, and obesity, among other things.

However, they had a lower likelihood of developing heart murmurs, hostility, and wounds. Because of the extreme body shape that humans anticipate of the breed, the researchers believe that many pugs may suffer from seriously damaged health and welfare.

If health and welfare issues for pugs in the UK are to improve, their body form must shift towards a more moderate, and less extreme, shape. While waiting for these adjustments, experts advise the public to consider twice before purchasing a flat-faced dog.

Shocking but not surprising

Bill Lambert is the health, welfare, and breeder services executive at The Kennel Club. He said: “Sadly, certain exaggerations that can cause health issues are often perceived as ‘cute’ or ‘normal’ for the breed and, worryingly, desirable by pet owners too.”

Justine Shotton is the British Veterinary Association (BVA) president. He said: “These statistics are shocking but, sadly, they will not be surprising to our members.

“Vet teams see pugs with these distressing health problems – from breathing difficulties to eye ulcers and painful spine abnormalities – in veterinary practices across the UK on a daily basis. This study clearly demonstrates how it is the extreme characteristics many owners find so appealing, such as squashed faces, big eyes and curly tails, which are seriously compromising pugs’ health and welfare and often result in a lifetime of suffering.

“While these extreme, unhealthy characteristics remain, we will continue to strongly recommend potential owners do not buy brachycephalic breeds such as pugs.”

Canine Medicine and Genetics published the research.

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