Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Pugs have high health risks and ‘can no longer be considered a typical dog’

Pugs have high health risks and ‘can no longer be considered a typical dog’ (David Jones/PA)
Pugs have high health risks and ‘can no longer be considered a typical dog’ (David Jones/PA)

Pugs have high health risks and can no longer be considered a typical dog from a health perspective, a new study suggests.

Experts are advising people not to buy the dogs until there is an improvement in their health and their body shape shifts to being less extreme.

New research from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has revealed the health of pugs in the UK is now substantially different and largely worse than other dogs.

Pugs are almost twice as likely to experience one or more disorders annually compared with other dogs.

According to the experts, these findings suggest the pug can no longer be considered a typical dog from a health perspective.

The flat-faced nature and body shape of pugs – behind many of their health issues – has seen them increase in popularity in recent years.

But researchers argue that the health of the dog should be prioritised over people’s desire to own one.

They say urgent action is required to reduce the high rate of health issues associated with the breed.

Dr Dan O’Neill, associate professor in companion animal epidemiology at the RVC and lead author of the paper, 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.”

From 2005 to 2017 there was a five five-fold increase in Kennel Club registrations of pugs.

Dog life expectancy survey
From 2005 to 2017 there was a five five-fold increase in Kennel Club registrations of pugs (Clara Molden/PA)

However, there is growing concern over health issues of the dogs stemming from the breed’s flat face, bulging eyes, wrinkled skin and tendency towards obesity.

These are all characteristics which are often considered cute by the public, the researchers suggest.

Until now the full scale of the health crisis in pugs has not been fully understood.

The study, led by the RVC’s VetCompass programme, compared the health of random samples of 4,308 pugs and 21,835 non-pugs.

Overall, pugs were found to be around 1.9 times as likely to have one or more disorders recorded in a single year compared to non-pugs, indicating a poor overall health status in the breed.

Compiling a list of the 40 most common disorders across pug and non-pug groups of dogs, pugs had a higher risk of 23 out of the 40 (57.5%) disorders compared with a lower risk of only seven out of 40 (17.5%) disorders.

Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) was the disorder with the highest risk in pugs, with the breed almost 54 times more likely to have the condition.

This reflects the common respiratory difficulties experienced by flat-faced (brachycephalic) breeds due to the shape of their faces.

Pugs were also at higher risk of many other conditions compared to non-pugs, including narrowed nostrils, skinfold infections and obesity.

But they did have reduced risk of some conditions, including heart murmur, aggression and wounds.

The researchers suggest their findings indicate many pugs may suffer from seriously compromised health and welfare because of the extreme body shape that humans expects of the breed.

To correct this, their body shape must shift towards a more moderate, and less extreme, shape if health and welfare issues for pugs in the UK are to improve.

While waiting for these changes, the advice from experts to the public is to stop and think before buying a flat-faced dog.

Bill Lambert, health, welfare and breeder services executive at The Kennel Club, 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, British Veterinary Association (BVA) president, 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.”

The research is published in Canine Medicine and Genetics.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]