Posts Tagged ‘pug’

Diseases are cute

At least with pugs, they are:


And with pugs, it’s sad to say that this isn’t first disorder they’ve had that people have thought might be cute.



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Snoring pugs are not cute. This poor creature suffering from stenotic nares. The nares are the nasal cavity, and stenosis just means they are abnormally scrunched up.


The dog is actually having a very hard time oxygenating itself while it is in prone position.

The entire reason why this health condition exists is simple breeding for extreme brachycephaly.

I can’t imagine going through life without being able to oxygenate my body as fully as possible, and I can’t imagine what it would be like to have my breathing obstructed every time I went to sleep.

I have had a person very close to me with COPD that resulted from a lifetime of smoking.  One of the reasons why I don’t smoke and never will is that I have no desire to be in that situation. I never want to have the discussion about my health ever to involve a discussion of oxygen tanks.  I never fail to appreciate how important it is for me to be able to take in full breaths of air.

But it’s one thing for a person to develop breathing problems as the result of a lifetime of smoking.

It’s another to breed for it in a dog.

It’s even more of a problem for dogs because dogs dogs use their respiratory systems as their primary cooling systems. Dogs pass air over their moist mucus membranes when they paint. This causes evaporation, which leads to cooling. When dog has such a scrunched up muzzle, it cannot cool itself efficiently.

This is why pugs and other brachycephalic dogs drop like flies on hot summer days.

The biggest welfare problems that dogs face today in the West are not neglect, dog fighting, or puppy mills.

The biggest welfare problems they face are distortions in conformation that have very real consequences for their health.

The reason why this is such a big welfare problem is that it’s not seen as being objectively cruel like those other practices. Dogs win prizes because they have a particular conformation, even if it is very bad for them.

Jemima Harrison used a pug as a good example of what this sort of breeding has produced in Pedigree Dogs Exposed:


The sad thing is that people think this is normal.

Not only do the laypeople think this is cute, dog shows reward extreme muzzles.

Dog shows are respectable and esteemed institutions, and as a result, you don’t see as much of a public outcry against extreme brachycephalic breeding as you do with dog fighting and puppy mills.

And because of this discrepancy, the welfare issues that result from this sort of selective breeding are an even bigger problem than those disgusting ones.

If we can say no more to dog fighting and puppy mills, why can’t we say no more to dogs that can’t fully breathe or oxygenate themselves?

No one is saying end brachycephaly in dogs.  After all, most dogs are brachycephalic when compared to wolves, and some breeds have always had shorter muzzles.

But we’ve gone too far.

We’ve pushed the organism’s anatomy too far, and we’ve got to stop and think about where this is heading.

There is a certain banality of evil that exists with pugs and other breeds like them. I don’t wish to use that Eichmann analogy too lightly, but it seems uncomfortably appropriate.

People accept that it’s wrong to fight dogs or breed them like broiler chickens, but they are entirely okay with dogs that spend their entire lives struggling for a breath.  The axiom that leads to the cruelty is the breed standard, and virtually everyone who buys one of these dogs wants a little flat-face, no matter the consequences.

In fact, it is unlikely that most people who own these dogs ever seriously consider the cruelty by anatomical distortion when they decide to get one of these dogs. These are not callus people. They are dog lovers, who often spend lots of money on their charges.

But they have allowed the flat-face to blind them.

They cannot see how much of deficit these dogs actually face when it comes to breathing and cooling themselves, and the sad part is that the deficit is seen as cuteness or even a breed trait.

It is in this realm that we’re decided to we have allowed obvious discomfort to go unchallenged, and in this respect, we now have a problem that is going to be next to impossible to fix without outcrossing– which no one wants to do.

The pug is a victim of our own caprices and vanities. It never served any purpose in the West, except to be a nice pet. We allowed it to become an object that we could mold in any way we saw fit, and now we are suffering the consequences.

We’ve lost site of this animal as a biological entity. In the eyes of many, it has ceased to be a dog. It is an animate toy.

Its canine anatomical necessities have been put on the backburner in order to mold into the image we have created for it.

And until we recognize that pugs are indeed dogs, they are going to continue to suffer.

This is not the way we treat animals we love.

And if we truly do love them, it’s time to look at things from their perspective.

Have a bit of empathy.

Would you like it if you struggled to breathe every time you went to bed?

What if your sweat glands couldn’t cool you on a hot afternoon?

We need to think about these issues before we start nattering on about what’s cute or “excellent breed type.”

These are secondary considerations.

We make breeding decisions for dogs. We write out breed standards. The dogs have no say in it, but they do suffer when we don’t put their interests first.

We’ve clearly not put their interests first when we allowed pugs to turn out this way.

It’s time to change it.

For the love the dogs and simple human decency, we must change.


Update: This dog has already undergone an operation for stenotic nares. It turns out that the reason for her problems are that her entire upper respiratory system is stenotic!

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1890's pug

Photo from Nara U.

This is the 1890’s version– back when they had a muzzle!

This is what they look like now:


This breed has not been well-served by the fancy in the past 120 years.

Like many brachycephalic breeds, they have a hard time breathing and cooling themselves, and those wrinkles have a tendency to collect gunk that allows bacteria to flourish.

The double-curled tail has created a selection pressure for deviated spines, and oh, those bug eyes have a tendency to fall out under even modest trauma.

It’s very sad what we’ve done to this breed. It’s also a good example of how dog shows lead to extreme distortions in type.

This breed has no work. It never has had any work.

There is no way to divine a working trial for them.

But because its utility was solely in how it looked, extreme conformation could be justified.

There is absolutely no need to make any claims about this conformation giving the dog an advantage at doing a task– something that even the English bulldog fanatics at least attempt!

This sort of dog should have been built upon a different standard:  Can it be a healthy and active family pet?

In its current form, the pug is compromised in its utility.

No one wants a dog that has all of these potential impairments.

But the attitude among the pet buying public has been “It’s cute. So who cares?’

This attitude needs to change.

And if it does, maybe the pug will come out better for it.

The expression on the dog in the 1890’s photo is much more reflective of the breed’s temperament than the distorted modern version.

These are sly little dogs.



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Rare documentary footage!  I believe he’s luring the bear into heavy cover, where the pug pack is waiting to attack it:


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How to oxygenate a pug

One way to fully oxygenate a pug is to mate it to a beagle.

And make a puggle.

And tick some people off.

Like a former president of the Pug Dog Club of America.

Of course, this person is a proponent of the toilet science that is behind the “pure blood cult” that unfortunately underpins the entire established dog fancy.

Now, let’s keep in mind that pugs are one of those breeds that has been utterly FUBAR by Western fanciers.  A flatter and flatter muzzle means breathing and cooling problems, also known as brachycephalic airway syndrome. The desire to produce a double curl in the tail has also predisposed the dog to spinal issues.

And I could go on.

But those facts don’t stop this former president from making a whole series of really stupid comments about what happens when you breed a pug to a beagle.

The first of these is the nearl tautology in the title “Pugs and Beagles: Two Distinct and Separate Breeds.”

My answer to that statement is  “So?”

A breed is something humans contrive. It is not a biological entity, and the notion that a breed should always be pure is something that has generally been rejected in animal husbandry. And it’s only been the gold standard of dogs for about a 150 years– and even then, it was not universally accepted in all breeds.

Now, a puggle is just a dog with 50% pug genes that happens to have a normal muzzle and a single curl to the tail.

It’s not unlike the pug that you’d find in England in the eighteenth century, like this fine specimen:

Yep. That’s William Hogarth with his own pug (“Trump.”)

Pugs were not always extremely brachycephalic.

And they also did not exist in their current form for thousands of years.

And they didn’t exist in a closed registry system for all that time.

The former president makes this a major part of her complaint against puggles:

The Pug is an ancient breed dating back to the Major Han dynasty (206 b.c. to a.d.200) in China. They were bred for the emperors and other high officials.

Well, not exactly.

Pugs were largely developed in their current form in the Dutch Republic and then in Great Britain. Indeed, there was a belief that most pugs were from the Netherlands, and only the black ones were Chinese. The black pugs were derived from Chinese stock that was brought to Britain in the late nineteenth century, but the bulk of pugdom was developed from stock that came to Europe in the seventeenth century. And they were crossed with lots of different European breeds, including pinschers and terriers.

No one threw little fits about people breeding Chinese dogs to European ones in those days.

But, oh, do they now.

Now, this former pug club president goes off into the morass of toilet science and easily disproved claims about what happens if you cross two breeds:

The breed [the pug] has several health issues including the more common of elongated soft palates, to Pug Dog Encephalitis, which is always fatal, Hemi-vertebrae, which causes rear leg paralysis and Epilepsy. They are also prone to all sorts of eye problems and obesity.

Their biggest problem is they are such wonderful pets they have become popular and as is often the case this new found popularity is not good for the breed…

Upon checking the Beagle web site we find this breed is a hunting breed of note. He often works in packs. Is very active and not necessarily a lap dog.

The Beagle web site lists 97 health problems with about 20 listed as those with a higher incidence within the breed. These also include common problems such as elongated soft palates to epilepsy to severe eye problems.

Therefore, why take these two wonderful breeds and combine them to make a “breed of the month”? There are very good medical reasons not to mix such health issues and one wonder if the purchasers of these “Puggles” are willing to not only pay the price of medical problems but also undergo the heartache when their fashionable breed experiences life threatening issues.


There is a common claim among the high priests of the blood purity cult that if you cross two breeds you get the health problems of both breeds.

Actually, no.

Most of the health problems purebred are the result of recessive alleles. Most of these diseases are exposed through a reduction in genetic diversity within a breed, which are usually the result of the closed registry system and popular sire syndrome. As the dogs within a breed become more related to each other over time, the greater the chance of them producing dogs with these health defects.

When one crosses two breeds, that issue is usually mitigated through simple probability.

Not all diseases are recessives, of course.

And if beagles and pugs had the same disorder that is caused by the same mutation or series of mutations, then one could make the case that crossing them might cause health problems.

We already know pugs do have a lot of issues with genetic diversity. (All 10,000 pugs in the UK are derived from just 50 ancestors. It’s not as extreme as Cavaliers, Sussex spaniels or Norwegian lundehunds, but they do derive from a very limited gene pool.)

But the real issues pugs have are the result of their bizarre conformation.

And when you cross a pug with a normal dog, these effects are mitigated a bit.

The truth is there is a religious belief in the dog fancy that two breeds should never be crossed, unless we’re talking about extreme circumstances.

And then, even when extreme circumstances are revealed, as is clearly the case with the very inbred Norwegian lundehund, crossbreeding is attacked as some sort of unmitigated evil.

It must be denounced.

But the truth is this is all a smokescreen.

The pug fanciers might want to denounce puggles all they want.

But puggle breeders didn’t produce the defective dogs we call the pug today.

It was “reputable” and “responsible” breeders, who “show.”

And the show ring, instead of “improving” the pug, distorted and contorted its conformation until it no longer resembles a dog.

It is now a flat-faced freak that can’t really breathe or cool itself.

Although there are procedures that can alleviate some of these problems, one way to oxygenate a pug is to let one mate with a beagle.

And then you get something that maybe Mr. Hogarth would recognize as a being a pug dog.

And it’s “pug dog,” not “pug species” or “pug space alien.”

Pugs are still dogs.

And they have canine anatomy and physiology.

We ought to respect these simple facts when we’re producing dogs.

We can breed dogs that have quite impaired bodies.

And it’s simply not ethical.

And in my book, breeding a pug to a beagle is a more ethical endeavor than continuing down this bizarre path of flat-faces, deformed brains, and distorted spines.

But then again, I’m operating under the presupposition that logic and evidence mean anything.

And you really can’t do this with members of a cult.

They already know the “facts,” and the louder they talk, the more true they are!

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How pugs are made

At the pug factory!

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According to Pai, Hodge was one of six pugs that were exhibited at the Botanic Dog Show in 1897.

Hodge was the great-grandson of a Pekingese that was crossed into pugs to “improve” the head and reduce inbreeding problems that were becoming more and more common in British pugs.

So pugs did receive some more blood from East. In addition to black pugs from China, they also received a bit of peke blood.

However, there probably wasn’t a lot of pekingese blood in pugs, for pugs are more closely related to Brussels griffons than they are to pekes.

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