With a blog name like spacepug you would expect that I am a pug owner. I don’t own a dog, simply because my urban living situation doesn’t allow it. I grew up in a house full of dogs, since my mother was a purebred dog breeder. It was a wonderful experience to watch puppies be born, learn to walk and find homes, but the more time I spent around dog shows and dog breeders, the more jaded I got.
A recent story on the BBC brings that back…it seems someone has finally spoken out about how many of the breed standards cause the selection of aesthetic traits that may compromise the health of the dogs. Some breeds are selectively engineered for such large skulls and shoulders that the puppies cannot be born naturally, but only by caesarean section. Other breeds have skulls too small for their brains, or spines so elongated they are vulnerable to injury. Years of selective breeding can produce beautiful animals, but the cost of unnatural selection seems to be disease. My mother had to abandon her own breed line after two decades due to recurrent hip problems that could not be corrected even by new blood.
Pugs are one of the problem breeds. We love them for their bulging eyes and the snorting sounds they make, but these traits make them prone to vision and respiratory problems. If you want one, you have to know that going in.
The BBC story states that “Scientists at Imperial College, London, recently found that pugs in the UK are so inbred that although there are 10,000 of them, it is the equivalent of just 50 distinct individuals.”
If we love our pets, why do we do this to them?