The health of pugs is too fragile to be considered typical dogs

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The pug is a very common muscular-headed dog (with a “pressed” muzzle). Relatively small (about 30 cm at the withers), it is appreciated for its gentle and cheerful temperament. However, this breed is subject to frequent health problems, so much so that veterinarians question the health of these animals. A study has now shown that their health is so fragile that they can no longer be considered typical dogs.

Flat-nosed dogs—such as Pugs, French bulldogs, and English bulldogs—are prone to cephalic syndrome, which refers to a group of upper airway abnormalities inherent in this conformation. Affected dogs show mild to severe breathing difficulties, breathe noisy and breathe easily. A team from the UK’s Royal College of Veterinary Medicine looked particularly at the health of pugs. Their study shows that they show a greater predisposition than other breeds to many common health issues.

The popularity of the pug has risen sharply over the past two decades: annual registration data from the UK Kennel Club shows an increase from 2,116 in 2005 to 6,033 in 2020. The success explained the emergence of the pug: “ A Pug’s small stature, along with a flat face, large head, bulging eyes, and wrinkled forehead, can evoke positive emotions by conforming to a ‘baby-style’ facial configuration, leading to innate reactions to disease in humans. ”, noted the researchers in their study. However, you should think carefully before adopting (and getting attached to) this type of dog.

Dog “atypical” from the point of view of health

The face shape of the pug is not only associated with humeral syndrome, but also corneal ulceration or dystocia (which refers to the inability of a female dog to give birth naturally, without assistance). Obesity has also been reported as a common pug disorder. Despite the growing evidence base, there are still gaps in health information about pugs compared to the number of dogs overall. So this new study aimed to compare the odds of common disorders between pugs and other breeds.

The researchers collected clinical information from UK veterinary practices participating in the VetCompass survey. They randomized data from 4,308 dogs and 21,835 dogs of other breeds, which received veterinary care in the UK in 2016. From clinical records, the team identified all disorders diagnosed in each group in 2016, then listed the most common disorders for each. .

Analysis of the data shows that pugs are more likely to suffer from one or more disorders each year than other dogs. This strain appears to have diverged significantly from other species, with data revealing that pugs have different classifications (susceptibility or protection) for 30 of the 40 common disorders considered; Over 76% of these differences were predispositions. These disorders included (from highest to lowest risk): brachial airway obstruction syndrome, nostril stenosis, corneal ulceration, skin fold dermatitis, and auditory exudate.

We now know that many serious health issues are linked to the extreme body shape of bugs, which many humans find very cute. Dr Dan O’Neill, associate professor of animal epidemiology at the Royal Veterinary College and lead author of the study, said in a statement.

“Attractive” but very problematic features

The results of this study do not surprise Dr. Miffany Hill, a veterinarian at the University of Cambridge. ” The common image we have of Pugs, smiling and sticking out their tongues, seeming to pant, is not the “happy” image we might imagine. In fact, they are forced to breathe through their mouths, because they cannot breathe effectively through their noses. ‘, she explains to the BBC. Because of these breathing difficulties, these dogs are very sensitive to heat.

Pug skulls are smaller than average, but their organs did not follow the same direction; This explains his many health problems, the specialist explains. Thus, dermatitis is caused by the fact that the skin of the face is very extensive compared to the other, and it forms many folds. As for the “nice” little twisted tail, it is the result of a vertebral deformity that can lead to a herniated disc.

The study also shows that Pugs are less likely than other breeds to have a heart murmur or lipoma, to injure themselves or show aggression – confirming in passing that the Pug has a very gentle temperament, and is especially suitable for young children. But now specialists are calling for the common sense of the population: it is necessary to take into account the quality of life that this dog endures before making it your pet.

To reduce these health problems and ensure the well-being of Pugs, their body shape should shift to a calmer one. ” As long as these extreme and unhealthy characteristics persist, we will continue to urge potential owners not to purchase brachycephalic breeds like the Pug. Justin Shotton, president of the British Veterinary Association, said:

Source: D. O’Neill et al., Canine Medicine and Genetics

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