Pugs No Longer Considered A 'Typical Dog' Due To Health Issues

Daniel Mitchell-Benoit
A pug with its chin and one paw resting on the edge of the bed it's in, looking sadly at the camera.
Unsplash | Karin Hiselius

Pugs are a breed of dog that has sort of exploded in popularity more and more over the past decade or so. They began permeating online spaces with their silly looks, becoming mascots and characters for more franchises, and ultimately have grown in demand.

This increased desire for the breed has led to some less-than-ideal breeding practices, which has saddled the poor pugs of today with so many health issues, researchers are classifying them outside the 'typical dog' species.

A new study suggests that pugs shouldn't be considered "typical dogs".

Three pugs standing next to each other in a paved garden area.
Unsplash | Sneaky Elbow

A UK study from BMC Canine Medicine and Genetics has singled out pugs as a breed that should no longer be thought of as regular dogs due to the severity and commonality of their specific health problems.

Instead, they're to be considered brachycephalic dogs.

A boxer next to a white wall looking up at the camera.
Unsplash | Lucie HeleŇ°icov√°

Brachycephalic dogs include a few other designer breeds, such as bulldogs and boxers, and are characterized by their extremely pushed-in noses. These flat snouts cause such extreme respiratory and sometimes even brain function difficulties that these breeds are classified as a different species of dog entirely.

Despite the known issues, pugs especially are still being bred to have even shorter snouts.

A white and brown heavily-jowled bulldog sitting in some grass.
Unsplash | Fakhriddin Mamadaliyev

Multiple animal rights groups have attempted to put an end to this, and while it has worked in some areas like Norway where specific designer breeds prone to health issues are no longer allowed to be bred, these groups hope those rules will encompass more at-risk breeds in more areas.

What exactly is wrong with pugs, though?

A pug in a purple harness and pink leash standing in some grass.
Unsplash | Ryan Antooa

Beyond their flat faces, the latest research from The Royal Veterinary clinic found that of 40 tested disorders, pugs had a higher prevalence in 23 of them. Pugs are also 1.86-times more likely to be diagnosed with one or more of these disorders compared to other breeds.

These results do not come as a surprise to many.

A pug with its chin and one paw resting on the edge of the bed it's in, looking sadly at the camera.
Unsplash | Karin Hiselius

Dr. Myfanwy Hill, a veterinary surgeon at the University of Cambridge, was not shocked at all by the new findings. As she told the BBC, "The issue you've got is a dog with a smaller skull, but nothing else about the dog has gotten equivalently smaller. [...] their brains are squished into a box that is too small," as are other soft tissues present in the pug's body.

Pugs being considered different than a standard dog is ultimately for their own good.

A pug in a colorful jacket sticking its tongue out.
Unsplash | Daniel Sandoval

"The current study highlights that predispositions outnumber protections between Pugs and non-Pugs for common disorders, suggesting some critical health welfare challenges to overcome for Pugs," reads the study, "Highly differing heath 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.” 

h/t: IFLScience