Rare Breed: Dog


HEIGHT

WEIGHT:
6 – 8 kilograms

LIFESPAN:
12 – 15 years

ORIGIN:
China

DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS:
short snout, toy breed, big eyes, big personality, curly tail…
difficulty breathing, spinal problems, overcrowding of teeth…


Guessed the breed yet? Well, unfortunately it’s a very popular little breed – the pug! Don’t get me wrong – it’s not like I dislike the breed, just saddened by how much inbreeding has damaged this breed. The reason it is in a post of Rare Breeds is because there are less than 50 genetically individual pugs, out of all pugs, in the UK alone! So most pugs will be related somehow, which means inbreeding is harder to avoid – whether you know you are inbreeding or not!

This breed was originally bred for Chinese nobility, they are good companions with a fun personality. Unfortunately with too much human interference, this breed has many health issues, and despite the knowledge we have kept breeding from unhealthy stock.

The breed standards set up by the kennel club haven’t helped either – the standards of how dogs must look causes health issues, which are often hereditary.

Overcrowded Pug Mouth
Overcrowded Pug Mouth (BBC Pedigree Dogs Exposed Image)

Pugs have the same amount of teeth as any other dog, the same amount of nasal tissue as any other dog… but with a brachycephalic (flat and wide) skull, all of this has been squashed up – which causes issues. The flatter skull also means less space for the eyes, and pugs are prone to eye prolapses. Having the same amount of nasal tissue is what causes the breathing difficulties, often pugs need surgery to remove some of this tissue to enable their airways to be cleared and normal breathing to be established.

The kennel club breed standard for the pug calls for a double curl of the tail, this has had negative affects on the spine. The persistent breeding over and over of damaged, to conform to breed standards, has left pugs with worse spinal problems over the years. The spine can become twisted and painful, just so that they can have a tail curled to the way people want it to look!

Curved spine as a result of breeding for a curlier tail (BBC Pedigree Dogs Exposed Image)
Curved spine as a result of breeding for a curlier tail           (BBC Pedigree Dogs Exposed Image)

These are just the tip of the iceberg with pug health issues. We will never get this breed back (or others) if we don’t try to start out-breeding, and expanding the gene pool, to preserve these animals. Let’s face it – this breed is loved worldwide, and we’d hate to see it go extinct!

Pug (wiki)
Pug (wiki)