Dogs help us in many ways, from guarding live stock from predators, to being a companion. Pugs are an excellent example of what selective breeding can result in. Throughout history pugs were bred to be companions, with the breed often being painted alongside their human companions. During the 16th and 17th century Pugs were even used in the military as tracking dogs, and guard dogs (Farr, Montague 1999). Pugs, similar to the guard dog Chihuahua breed would bark and yap at the presence of an intruder.
Pugs are the most obvious case of how far a dog can go on the scale of inbreeding. This breed has many health problems. They are susceptible to eye injuries proptosis, scratched corneas and entropion (Farr, Montague 1999), due to their prominent skeletal brow ridges and the absence of a long snout. Compact breathing passageways result in breathing problems, leaving many unable to regulative body temperatures. Their normal body temperature is 38° C, however this can rise to 40° C. When this occurs, pugs unable to cool themselves and are at great risk of heatstroke (OwnedByPugs 2009). Pugs also suffer from conditions such as stenotic nares, eye prolapse, skin fold dermatitis, hip dysplasia, demodectic mange, necrotizing meningoencephalitis, and hemivertebraee (Farr, Montague 1999).
Without a doubt, dog breeding is a cause of controversy amongst dog lovers. The United Kingdom pedigree-dog industry has been at been at the centre of controversy due to welfare and health issues. The investigative piece ‘Pedigree Dogs Exposed’ is a documentary that looks into issues facing pedigree dogs. But more specifically it criticises the lacking standards of the Kennel Club, which is the governing body of pedigree dogs in the UK. The production found that many of the dogs bred suffer from diseases. Breed standards, judging standards and breeding practices were all found to compromise the health of pedigree dogs.
A study on inherited defects in UK pedigree dogs by Asher and Diesel et al (2009) showed that dog breed standards have a detrimental impact on dog welfare, with breeds such as the Miniature poodle, Bulldog, Pug and the Basset hound having the highest prevalence of conformation-related disorders. The nature of dog breeding unfortunately results in dogs being bred for their appearance, with their health taking a side step. Asher and Diesel conclude their study stating that this area needs to be addressed to safeguard the welfare of pedigree dogs.
Asher, L., Diesel, G., Summers, J., McGreevy, P., Collins, L. (2009) Inherited defects in pedigree dogs. Part 1: Disorders related to breed standards The Veterinary Journal 182: 402-411.
Portrait of Princess Ekaterina Dmitrievna Golitsyna (1720–1761), née Cantemir, wife of D.M. Golitsyn (1721-1793)
“Keeping your Pug cool during the dog days of summer”. OwnedByPugs.com. 18 July 2005.