Extreme breeding has gotten so severe that the poor pups can no longer be considered to be “typical dogs”, due to the long list of serious health issues they face. As a result, pugs are faced with a “lifetime of suffering”, and even the classic image of a pug happy with its tongue out is yet another indicator of the pain inflicted on pugs for the sake of their looks. Research from the Royal Veterinary College revealed UK pugs are almost twice as likely to experience one or more disorders annually, compared with other dogs.
The key issue lies in the fact they are bred for the way they look above anything else – Kennel Club registrations of pugs from 2005-2017 have increased five times over.
Dr Dan O’Neill, senior lecturer in companion animal epidemiology at the Royal Veterinary College, told The Telegraph pugs lack the “basic functions” expected of any dog.
He said: “For example, they should be able to blink. It doesn’t feel like a big ask that a dog can blink, but many pugs can’t fully.
“A dog should be able to sleep without having to constantly wake up to breathe. It doesn’t seem like a big ask that a dog should be able to sleep.
“A dog should be able to sit there without snoring and snorting and struggling to breathe. A dog should be able to have skin that isn’t folded and not have crevices with infections and smell.
“These are really basic things. Pugs just don’t have those basic functions.”
He added: “The public hasn’t twigged to the link between the dog’s higher risk of health issues, their decision to buy that type of breed instead of a more moderate breed, and the fact that they’re imposing a lifetime of suffering on these dogs.”
Dr Myfanwy Hill, a veterinary surgeon from University of Cambridge, was unsurprised by the findings.
She said: “The issue you’ve got is a dog with a smaller skull, but nothing else about the dog has gotten equivalently smaller.”
She said “their brains are squished into a box that is too small”, while other soft tissues are “squished into a smaller space”.
She added the “common image we have of pugs” where they’re smiling and have their tongue sticking out, looking like they’re panting, is not the “joyful” image we may think.
“Really, they’re having to breathe through their mouths, because they cannot breathe efficiently through their noses.”
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Mr O’Neill called on dog owners to take more responsibility for their pet’s health.
He said: “We should, as humanity, be able to put on our big girl and boy trousers and make a decision to get breeds that have basic, innate health features – blinking, breathing, mating, giving birth and skin that is comfortable. These are not big asks.
“The owners of these dogs will often say that they’re special dogs, but they’re special because their health needs are so much greater than other dogs.
“That might make them unique, but probably not in a good way.”