Nothing’s wrong here.
Posts Tagged ‘pug’
Pugs have a lot of problems associated with their bizarre phenotype. This is a breed that is well known for its scrunched-up muzzle and head, which cause problems with oxygenation and with cooling. We’ve been through this enough times on this blog that I’m going to leave them alone on this post.
However, the question becomes how could we fix the problems that pugs have.
One answer to this question comes from Germany, where pugs have been crossed with “Parson Jack Russells” (long-legged JRTs) and then bred back into pugs. Longer-muzzled dogs were then selected from the back-breedings.
This is definitely a way of fixing the pug issues related to phenotype, but it does involve cross-breeding. And it also involves ignoring both the breed standard and what is actually winning in a particular breed.
Which are not easy to do.
This new type of pug is called “Retromops.” It is “retro” in that it resembles an older form of pug that had a longer muzzle, and the word “mops” is what pugs are are called in other Germanic languages besides English.
The dogs are pretty retro. This is a painting by the English artist Henry Bernard Chalon of a pug in 1802.
With the exception of the cropped ears, this dog strongly resembles the Retromops.
Of course, this dog lived before there was anything known as a kennel club, and the concept of a “purebred dog” was actually quite a bit up to interpretation. George Washington was breeding foxhounds and water spaniels just few decades earlier, and all he did was just make sure that dogs that looked and acted like foxhounds were bred to foxhounds and the dogs that looked and acted like water spaniels were bred to water spaniels.
But that’s very different from created a closed registry breed.
There were also no breed standards. That concept doesn’t come to the fore until many decades later.
And yes, it’s very likely that English pug breeders crossed their dogs with terriers. There couldn’t possibly be a vast supply of pugs in Europe during their first few centuries of being exported, so it would make sense that someone crossed a pug with a terrier every once in a while.
And perhaps more often than that.
Modern breeding systems and conformation showing created the conventional pug.
The conventional pug has lots of health issues, but even if it can be shown that Retromops have a much better quality of life, I doubt that there will ever be a demand for them.
People want pugs to look like the conventional pug. They don’t want something looks like a sort of border terrier/bulldog/spitz.
Even if the Retromops looks like the pug that was introduced in Europe originally, people are so attached to the current standard pug that I doubt they would accept the longer-muzzled type.
This breed has been branded to look a certain way, and because it has no function other than to be a companion, looks are a huge part of what makes a pug “fit for purpose.”
It’s a sad situation, but there is at least one way to make a better pug.
Unfortunately, it’s never going to be accepted or widespread.
But I certainly wish that it could succeed.
With pug popularity on the rise, it’s very unlikely that this model could ever take off.
Of course, someone will mention the puggle, but the puggle concept was always about creating a designer crossbreed. It was never about making a better pug.
So until there is a sea change with the public and within the established pug fancy, we’re pretty much stuck with the conventional pug.
But we should be going retro.
I am often amazed at what people think they are doing with dogs.
No one has demonstrated to me what is essentially an article of faith or at least a current mantra of the AKC-apologist set:
That breeding to a breed standard means that the dog is healthy.
And from what I’ve seen in the actual scientific literature, it’s actually something that is probably not true.
At least not always true:
Now, if you’re breeding a vizsla to its breed standard, you’re really not producing any exaggerations that might cause the dog to be unhealthy.
But the same logic that produces the athletic and svelte vizsla– that is healthy because it is bred to a written standard– simply cannot apply to a dog like a pug.
A vizsla is a gundog. It was developed in Hungary as an HPR, and it actually prospered quite well during the communist years as it was the Hungarian equivalent of the German forester’s drahthaar.
Vizslas, like many continental gundog breeds, were only recently allowed to be sold to people who were not hunters. Thus, through most of the history of this breed, it was always a performance dog that was bred to a performance standard that also was as much about the dog’s behavior and aptitude as its conformation.
You cannot say that about pugs.
Or a lot of other breeds.
What use does a pug have?
Well, it’s a pet dog. A pet dog doesn’t have to bred to any sort of performance standard like a vizsla would be.
And this is precisely where things start to go off the rails.
In the case of a vizsla, a written standard has to have some basis in the real world.
In the case of the pug, it can be as convoluted as the human imagination will take it.
And that’s the big problem with saying that breeding to a breed standard makes a dog healthy.
To breed a dog with as many health problems as pugs have that call all be traced to its various exaggerations in morphology is perhaps the most stupid thing we’ve ever done to dogs.
It’s also unusually counterproductive.
The claim is that modern show dog breeders are selecting for the healthiest dogs ever, but this claim doesn’t even pass the giggle test when you start looking at dogs like pugs.
There are lots of claims that pugs have ancient Chinese origins, and although I will admit they do have some ancestry from dogs imported from China, most of their development actually happened in the West, first in the Dutch Republic and then in the UK.
And it’s in those countries that breed took on its current form.
In the early nineteenth centur, this is what an English pug looked like:
It’s still a brachycephalic dog. And yes, it has cropped ears.
But it still has a relatively normal dog body.
And in 200 years of “breed improvement,” we’ve produced a dog like the modern pug, which has too many health problems to elucidate in a single blog post. Almost every single one of these problems can be traced to its phenotype, which has been the result of human ignorance mixing in with human caprice and vanity.
The story of the pug is the story of everything that is wrong with dogs in the West.
It’s a tragedy masquerading as virtue.
Breeding to the standard has done nothing good for the pug.
And these people ought to be ashamed of themselves.
But they aren’t.
They twist it all around to blaming it on puppy mills and the mass production industry.
But that’s nothing more than an obfuscation.
If the public were fully informed of the problems that come from breeding a dog with a muzzle like a pug’s, I don’t think the breed would have one tenth of the popularity it now has.
At the very least, there would be demands to change the standard or maybe bring in new blood to make a more healthily conformed dogs.
Of course, the bastards lambaste the puggles, which are not terrible idea. However, the entire puggle concept has been based upon a puppy mill economic model, so at least right now, it’s a bit doomed to failure.
But that doesn’t mean the concept is wrong. It just means that puggle and pug cross-breeding for health would have to take more human approach.
Because that’s one thing the modern pug fancy doesn’t have going for it– they really don’t care about how much suffering they cause the dogs.
They delude themselves into thinking that if they just win ribbons, they are being ethical
Instead, they are breeding dogs that have obvious problems. These problems are obvious to anyone but a pug breeder, of course.
They’ve bought into the cult.
And there is no reasoning with them.
Ignore the cartoon of the “heart on the nose.” (I lack this cuteness gene).
This is a pug with a decent mug!