Do you have any advice for how to respond to people that are morally opposed to pugs? I have a pug that I adopted from a Pug Rescue when she was 5 and abandoned because the owner "didn't have time for her." I know that breeding pugs for the traits it has been bred for has been unhealthy for the breed, I deal with those pug health issues, but I love my little girl and don't know how to politely tell people to stop assuming I'm a horrible person for having a pug.
Simply telling people that she is a rescue should stop any judgement. People love to criticize without knowing the facts, so there really isn’t anyway around the jerks who insult and leave. But if someone has the decency to actually talk to you, explaining that she was rescued voids out all opposing arguments.
Owning a Pug isn’t a crime. You must be prepared for their many ailments due to terrible breeding, but outside of that - you shouldn’t feel ashamed to have one.
What should ultimately be avoided is supporting any breeders that continue to breed for the unhealthy traits that make a Pug’s life miserable. In order to steer this breed into the right direction, we have to encourage cross breeding to pick up traits that will lengthen the snout, soften the eyes, strengthen the spine, and flatten out some wrinkles.
But, alas, Purebred Pug Clubs want their Pugs to remain Pugs and, for the sake of the show ring, won’t be crossbred. And when you talk about cross breeding, you don’t want to fall into a “designer dog” trap either. We’re not looking for Puggles, we’re looking for an outside breed to be introduced temporarily to create healthier offspring that can pass those traits off to their own and still remain “Pugs.”
All purebred dogs started out as a mix of something anyway, so the idea that they are remaining pure is bs. How many times have I done my fun facts and said “this breed originated from 4 different breeds.” Take Saint Bernards for example
Since the late 1800s, the St. Bernard breed has been ever refined and improved using many different large Molosser breeds, including the Newfoundland, Great Pyrenees, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Bernese Mountain Dog, Great Dane, English Mastiff, and possibly the Tibetan Mastiff and Caucasian Ovcharka. Other breeds such as the Rottweiler, Boxer, and English Bulldog may have contributed to the St. Bernard’s bloodline as well.
First, encourage your friend to do the straw thing again, but for longer. If she’s coping while doing nothing ask her to do mild physical activity like walk around, wash the dishes, get the mail. If she can breath through only a straw, whilst doing mild activity, for an hour, with no discomfort, then give her a medal and send her off to a medical science lab.
Second, let’s define ‘the pug crises’. If we’re going to talk about health problems in the pug related to breeding or anatomy, we should include, but not limit ourselves to:
Brachycephalic syndrome, causing air hunger, overheating, exercise intolerance, collapse, chronic vomiting and increased risk of respiratory obstruction
Hemivertebrae and increased risk of intervertebral disc disease
Eye problems including: overexposure predisposing to keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye) and eye ulcers, proptosis of the globe (eyeball popping out), laterally deviated vision, entropion
Excessive facial skin folds, leading to yeast dermatitis and chronic ear infections.
Hip dysplasia. Even though they’re little, they still get it surprisingly commonly.
Propensity towards obesity. This may be linked to the breed’s general difficulty exercising.
I think that’s enough problems to address to begin with. There’s too much flesh and not enough bone in the head. The breeding towards a curved tail, and a ‘double curled tail’ is still considered highly desirable in the show ring, has resulted in unstable backs and hemivertebrae. The desire for large, round eyes instead of more oval, typical eyes has resulted in bulging globes that easily pop out. And the ‘well defined wrinkles’ of the breed standard go too far, resulting in skin and ear infections and encouraging the breed to retain the excessive soft tissues of its head.
The purebred pug scene, and the desire to achieve a perfect ‘look’ has resulted in the suffering of this breed. The greatest opposition to change is the purebred pug clubs, because changing the breed standard would result in dogs ‘not looking like a pug’ anymore. They are also firmly against crossbreeding, even though we know that after 5 generations of crossing back, the offspring are indistinguishable from a purebred. Nevertheless, if I could change the world I would:
Change the breed standard to include a minimum nose length of 2 inches.
Allow a curled tail, but more than 360 degrees is too much.
Have all show dogs hip scored to compete. Spinal Xrays would be great while we’re at it.
Limit maximum size allowed for eyes, encourage more oval than round eyes.
Outcross to other breeds.
Personally, I think the Jack Russel Terrier, particularly the straighter legged ones, are excellent candidates to cross pugs to. The head is just lovely, they still have lots of energy, and most of their genetic problems don’t overlap. It means that instead of this:
You end up with something a bit more like this:
Really, the breed clubs need to ask themselves whether they really like the dogs or the look of the dogs. The breed deserves better.
Can you honestly say that this isn’t ‘pug’ enough to you? ‘Cause it ooks very puggy to me, but with much less suffering.
But what would I know? I’m just a lowly veterinarian.