May 20, 2022 -- Pugs face dire health risks and can “no longer be considered as a typical dog” when being treated for health issues, according to a new study published in the journal Canine Medicine and Genetics.
The breed has become popular in recent decades and known for a flat-faced look with bulging eyes, a wrinkled forehead, and nub tail. However, breeding pugs for their appearance has led to detrimental consequences to their health.
“There is growing concern about serious health and welfare issues in the breed,” study authors wrote.
To understand the health effects, researchers from The Royal Veterinary College compared the odds of common disorders between pugs and other breeds under primary veterinary care in the United Kingdom throughout 2016. They analyzed more than 4,300 pugs and nearly 22,000 dogs from other breeds, comparing their health profiles and risks of developing 40 different disorders.
The study team found that pugs had an increased risk for 23 of the 40 disorders, including being 54 times more likely to have severe breathing problems that stem from shortened heads and snouts in dogs. This is called brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome.
Pugs were also 51 times more likely to have narrowed nostrils, 13 times more likely to have eye ulcers, and 11 times more likely to have skin fold infections. About 17.4% of the pugs were obese, as compared to 6.9% of other dogs, which increases the risks for major health issues.
At the same time, pugs were found to have a reduced risk for seven disorders, including heart murmurs, wounds, and aggression, as compared to the other dog breeds.
Overall, study authors said pugs are overwhelmingly predisposed to disease, which outweighs their protections and suggests that the breed has critical health and welfare challenges.
“Hugely differing health profiles between Pugs and other dogs in the UK suggest that the Pug has diverged substantially from mainstream dog breeds and can no longer be considered as a typical dog from a health perspective,” they concluded.
Dog breeds with severe breathing problems, such as pugs, French bulldogs and English bulldogs, experience major health issues but continue to be bred for their appearance, according to CBS News. In the U.K., annual registrations of pugs jumped from 2,100 in 2005 to more than 6,000 in 2020. In the U.S., pugs are listed as the 28th most popular dog out of 204 breeds.
However, some governments are beginning to note the health risks, according to USA Today. Earlier this year, Norway banned the breeding of certain dogs, including English bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles spaniels, due to selective breeding that causes health issues.