Pugs cannot be considered “a typical dog” due to dire health issues, study finds


A study conducted by The Royal Veterinary College warns pugs face dire health risks, and concluded the dog breed can “no longer be considered as a typical dog from a health perspective.” 

The popular breed is known and loved for its flat-faced look, bulging eyes, wrinkled forehead and nubby tail, but the consequences of breeding for their specific appearance have become detrimental to their overall health. To understand the impacts more, the study looked at 4,308 pugs and 21,835 dogs of other breeds in the U.K., comparing their health profiles and odds of developing 40 common disorders.

Best In Show Announced At Crufts
A pug dog stands in the exhibition hall on the final day of the annual Crufts dog show at the National Exhibition Centre on March 13, 2011 in Birmingham, England. 

Oli Scarff / Getty Images

The study found that pugs had an increased risk for 23 disorders, including being 54 times more likely to have brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome, 51 times more likely to have narrowed nostrils, 11 times more likely to have skin fold infections. In addition, 17.4% of the pugs were obese, compared to just 6.9% of other dogs. 

However, pugs were found to have a reduced risk for seven disorders, including heart murmurs, wounds and aggression compared to other dog breeds.

But ultimately the study found that pugs’ predisposition to disease significantly outweighed their disease protections. It concluded that pugs have critical health challenges and that the “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.” 

The popularity of pugs has seen a sharp rise over the past 20 years, with the study citing annual registration of pugs rising from 2,116 in 2005 to over 6,000 in 2020. And they’re just as popular across the pond. The American Kennel Club currently lists them as the 28th most popular dog breed out of 204 breeds in the U.S. 

But experts warn dog-lovers of the increased health issues brachycephalic breeds like pugs, French bulldogs and English bulldogs experience, and say to consider the health of the animal when looking for a new furry friend. 

Earlier this year, Norway went so far as to ban the breeding of certain dogs, including English bulldogs and cavalier King Charles spaniels, for health reasons after an animal rights group petitioned an Oslo court, according to USA Today.


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