your opinion on pugs/bulldogs/other brachy breeds
So, my opinion on them is actually pretty controversial here on tumblr, and I’ve stayed out of the majority of the debates regarding them for that reason.
I do not think their inherent existence is cruel. I do think breeding for extreme traits known to cause health problems is cruel, but brachycephalic dogs as a whole? No, not really.
I think a lot of the problems that come from brachy breeds are not necessarily brachy problems. Many of these dogs are kept overweight, understimulated, and poorly contained. They tend to either have poor genetic temperament, or their owners tend to refuse to actually train their dogs as they are regarded as more an accessory or a novelty than anything else and thus it shows in the way the dog interacts with the world. They tend to have very little angulation, tend to be fed a selection of extremely low quality kibble (if they even get more than whatever their owner eats as table scraps and nothing else), being honest many aren’t even properly potty trained.
When doing research on brachy breeds, I can honestly say that the majority of dogs involved in these studies are not going to be well bred or well kept, so it’s hard for me to blame the health problems associated with them on just their head/muzzle ratio and shortened/thin nostrils.
I actually had a conversation with another member of dogblr some time ago about how, when kept fit and actually worked with, pugs seemed to be dogs that enjoyed activities such as rally and agility with minimal worry regarding shortness of breath or overheating (two health problems associated with brachy breeds) and relatively little longterm injury from repeated work so common in other, healthier, breeds.
In fact, that last pug is named Daisy, and her owner has made it her business to prove to the world that pugs are capable of so much more than being fat snorting sausages with attitude problems.
I was talking to another member of dogblr about how dogblr regards brachy breeds, and he told me about how he had overheard pug breeders at a show discussing nare width and taking x-rays and CT scans of their dogs heads as a means to prevent stenotic nares from occurring in future litters. I personally have heard responsible pug owners sharing their stories on how they found breeders breeding for decent angulation, how to keep their dogs fit and trim, and how much happier and healthier their dogs seemed to be compared to the aforementioned fat snorting sausage.
Something else to keep in mind for pugs is that they live, quite frankly, forever. I wish dobes had the lifespan pugs seem to have. For not being a brachy breed, dobes certainly fare far worse on the longevity and health aspects.
This also applies to bulldogs. As another unhealthy breed that lives for-freaking-ever, and another breed that dogblr loves to hate, I personally really enjoy seeing an actual nice bulldog when it pops up like this guy from Pacific Rim. He’s in decent shape, he can actually walk and move, from what few shots we get of him he has much better angulation and functionality (and BONE without an oversized head, oh goodness) than the majority of EB example pictures that float around condemning the breeds as a whole.
I’m not defending those who intentionally breed for extreme, unhealthy traits. I am, however, saying that I’m rather reluctant to call a breed or group of breeds unhealthy for a single trait when I personally believe there is more at work than just the construction of the head.
This is also completely ignoring the functional brachy breeds, such as American bulldogs, some molossors, and even working rottweilers and boxers. Someone once posted a picture of a very extreme working boxer saying he couldn’t work due to his extreme head and angulation- that particular boxer had his IPO1 and his AD, an endurance test which requires the dog to run for 12 miles without becoming overheated or overtired. Let’s be clear that there are plenty of non-brachy dogs that fail this test. You cannot tell me there is no way a dog can be both functional and brachy when I see these examples in real time.
I also think that, if brachy heads are cruel, then reteromops and various brachy crossbreeds are also just as cruel as the purebreds, as those dogs are still brachy, still struggle with minimal angulation, and still have various health problems associated with their base breed!
Decent breeders, whether they are crossbreeding or purebreeding, are talking about how to fix the problem. They are aware that there is a problem, and that people want answers. And I wish they’d work together on this, but ah, such is life. But I don’t think hope is really lost for any of these dogs. I think it’s merely become just as much of a hotbutton debate topic as hips/gait/angulation in the german shepherd, to be honest, with both sides screaming rhetoric and nothing noteworthy or worthwhile being done.