Pugs can no longer be considered a typical dog from a health perspective, a new study has said.
Experts are now advising people not to buy the flat-faced dogs until there is an improvement in their health and their body shape becomes less extreme.Research from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) revealed the health of pugs in the UK is now substantially different and largely worse than other breeds.
Until now the full scale of the pug health crisis has not been fully understood. They are almost twice as likely to experience one or more disorders compared with other dogs.
Their body shape and flat face, seen as ‘cute’ by pug fans, has seen them increase in popularity, with a five-fold increase in Kennel Club registrations from 2005 to 2017.
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But there is growing concern over the health issues stemming from their beloved characteristics, including their bulging eyes, wrinkled skin and tendency towards obesity.
The researchers said a dog’s health should be prioritised over people’s desire to own one, as they called for urgent action to help pugs out.Associate professor Dr Dan O’Neill said: ‘Although hugely popular as pets, we now know that several severe health issues are linked to the extreme body shape of pugs that many humans find so cute.
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‘It is time now that we focus on the health of the dog rather than the whims of the owner when we are choosing what type of dog to own.’
The study, led by the RVC’s VetCompass programme, compared the health of random samples of 4,308 pugs and 21,835 non-pugs.Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) was the disorder with the highest risk in pugs, with the breed almost 54 times more likely to have the condition.
This reflects the common respiratory difficulties experienced by flat-faced (brachycephalic) breeds due to their face shape.
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Pugs were also at higher risk of many other conditions compared to non-pugs, including narrowed nostrils, skinfold infections and obesity.
But they did have reduced risk of some conditions, including heart murmur, aggression and wounds.Bill Lambert, from The Kennel Club, said: ‘Sadly, certain exaggerations that can cause health issues are often perceived as ‘cute’ or ‘normal’ for the breed and, worryingly, desirable by pet owners too.’ Justine Shotton, British Veterinary Association (BVA) president, said: ‘These statistics are shocking but, sadly, they will not be surprising to our members.
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‘Vet teams see pugs with these distressing health problems – from breathing difficulties to eye ulcers and painful spine abnormalities – in veterinary practices across the UK on a daily basis.’
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