The Pug has been selected as a companion lap dog. Pugs can easily become overweight couch potatoes, but love short walks. Keeping them trim and fit is important because they can suffer from breathing problems. Pugs need to avoid exercise in hot or humid weather because as a flat-faced breed they are prone to overheating. Great care should be taken when exercising a Pug. If you are a light sleeper, be warned that Pugs can snore very loudly.
Inbreeding Coefficient - COI
(Should be as low as possible)
The UK Kennel Club breed average COI is 5.7% - see 'A Beginners Guide to COI'
Effective Population Size - EPS133.88
EPS is a measure of how many individuals are contributing genetically to a breed population. It is a measure of the size of the gene pool in a breed. Lower than 100 is considered critical by conservationists and below 50 brings a breed close to extinction. For more information see the Kennel Club article.
Health and Welfare Problems due to Conformation
(Body shape and physical characteristics)
- Due to his extremely flat face (brachycephalic) and round, bulging eyes, the eyes have very little protection and are prone to injuries (Brachycephalic ocular syndrome) – causes chronic irritation and pain.
- Skin fold dermatitis (Having a wrinkly face means that the skin folds can collect dirt and infections, particularly the over nose. Skinfold wrinkles can sometimes also rub on the eyes causing irritation)
- Again, due to the lack of length of muzzle and small nostrils, pugs can suffer with Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), causing chronic discomfort and exercise intolerance – if not treated, this can lead to laryngeal collapse.
- The Pug’s screw tail is caused by Hemivertebrae (a deformity characterised by wedge-shaped bones – if elsewhere in the spine it can cause paralysis)
- The Pug’s face and tail shape limits his ability to signal to other dogs.
- Hip dysplasia (a developmental malformation of the hip joints causing pain and disabilty): breed mean score 24.9 (parents should be much lower)
- The Pug is one of the 15 high profile breeds designated by the Kennel Club as requiring particular monitoring by reason of visible conditions which may cause health and welfare concerns.
Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are now available for Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia:
DNA Tests Available
Parents should be tested for:
- Pug encephalitis (tests susceptibility to the disease) (inflammatory disease of the central nervous system causing seizures, depression, wobbliness – progressive and fatal) (autoimmune disease)
- Degenerative myelopathy (CDRM) (degenerative disease of the spinal cord, causing hindquarter weakness, loss of feeling and paralysis)
Unofficial (Breed Club) Schemes
X-ray for Hemivertebrae (note that parents which are radiologically clear of hemivertebra can still be carriers).
Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents. If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.
Other Diseases Reported
(For which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)
- Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) (the shortened skull and elongated palate affects the ability to breathe and exercise intolerance)
- Hemivertebrae (wedge shaped vertebra – in some dogs causes hind leg weakness, spinal pain, paralysis)
- Atopy (sensitivity to pollens and other protein substances, causing intense itching and sometimes skin trauma)
- Skin fold dermatitis (around the tight screw tail and facial folds)
- Trachael collapse
- Patellar luxation (slipping kneecap)
- Pigmentary keratitis (eye disease, potentially leading to blindness)
- Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (developmental disease of the head of the femur, causing pain and lameness)
- Hypothyroid (underactivity of the thyroid gland causing lethargy, weight gain and hair loss)
- Diabetes mellitus
- Distichiasis (double row of eyelashes)
- Dry eye (Keratoconjunctivitis sicca)
- Dystocia (birthing difficulties)
- Cancer: canine cutaneous histiocytoma; mast cell tumors; brain tumors
- Intervertebral disc disease (causing pain, weakness or paralysis of the hind quarters)
Ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Consider carefully whether to purchase a puppy if some of these or other diseases are in the family line.
Ask about the breeder’s policy in cases of serious genetic diseases occurring to your puppy in later life. Good breeders will request to be informed of such events in order to improve future breeding decisions. Some breeders will also agree to contribute towards medical costs or refund purchase price.
You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the RSPCA / BVA AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP): www.puppycontract.org.uk
You are also advised to buy from a breeder who follows the Dog Breeding Reform Group’s (DBRG) Standard for Dog Breeding: