That looks so attractive! And healthy!
Too bad that this is what they used to look like:
The above portrait of an eighteenth century English pug by Thomas Gainsborough suggests something that has popped up in some of the more recent genetic literature.
Pugs, as we know them today, are not primarily Chinese dogs.
This study, which examined 170,000 SNP’s in the genomes of several dog breeds, revealed this diagram of relationships between breeds:
Pugs group near the Jack Russells and some border terriers (that weird dark green line).
They don’t group with the Shar-Pei, the only other Chinese breed in this study.
This strongly suggests that pugs, although they may have derived from Chinese happa dogs that were brought over in the fifteenth century by the Portuguese, actually were developed in their current form in Europe.
Pugs were first massively popular in the Dutch Republic. It is not clear if the Dutch imported them from China, but they certainly were trading in the region by the seventeenth century.
Because travel in those days was quite arduous, it is very unlikely that the Dutch or anyone else brought over a lot of brachycephalic toy dogs from China.
They may have brought over some, which were then bred to indigenous European toys.
Then the Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic became King William III of England and then William II of Scotland.
And the British people became pug crazed. In those days, William III– who is usually called “William of Orange”– overthrew the monarchy of James II, the last Roman Catholic king of England. James was a Stewart and a believer in the “divine right of kings,” which didn’t exactly endear himself to a largely protestant country that had been a republic just a few decades before. The same republic had been created upon the execution of his grandfather, Charles I. So they really didn’t much like his kind around there.
For many years, pugs were called Dutch mastiffs or Dutch pugs, and everyone wanted one.
These dogs were likely crossed with terriers and other small dogs that were fairly common in Britain at the time.
So pugs in the British Isles were many generations removed from China, and as pugs spread from the Netherlands across Europe, similar things were happening. The Belgians bred their toy griffons to pugs. The Germans bred their small pinschers to them.
It is not clear to me where modern pugs were founded from. I wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t almost entirely founded from English stock, which then gradually replaced all the other pugs in the rest of Europe. The Kennel Club of the United Kingdom is the world’s oldest, so it may have simply been that they were the first to standardize the pug.
And everyone else had to comply.
This should tell us a lot about what pugs actually are.
They might have been derived from a few Chinese dogs that came into Europe 400 or 500 years ago, but their current form was developed in Europe.
And they are now predominantly of European blood.
That means that Westerners decided what the pug should look like.
Westerners decided that it would have the extremely shortened muzzle and the potential spinal defects that come from the double curled tail.
And Westerners can fix the problems that pugs have.
Appeals to supposedly ancient Eastern traditions are historically inaccurate.
Pugs are European dogs now.