Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Dog breeding is causing a ruff time

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.

A portrait of  a Russian Princess with her pug (1759)

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” 18 July 2005.



3 comments on “Dog breeding is causing a ruff time

  1. rachelmcnamarablog
    May 5, 2016

    I wrote my first blog post on this topic as well. I really love dogs.
    I like how you took a more scientific approach to this issue, I also like how you looked at the historic importance of purebred dogs. It would have been interesting if you had look at other bred not just the pug. Even compared the different types of dogs such as toy, hound, terroir etc.
    Hounds and Terroirs generally have less heath problem then the toy dogs. The problems with a lot of ‘toy’ dogs like pugs is they were bred for their appearances. Dogs like Border Collies don’t have as many health problems because they were bred to be athletic but that doesn’t stop genetic problems. Different genetic problem effect every breed, and due to selective breeding they have only gotten stronger.
    One of the main problems with breeding is that some dogs will be interbred. This causes a lot of genetic problems. A sign in some bred that a dog has been to closely interbred is blue eyes but this isn’t true for every bred. For example, a blue eyed Jack Russel Terrier has been too causing inbred and as I result may become blind but a blue eyes Husky is perfectly fine.
    The saddest thing about it is that most of the health problem these dogs face could be fix just by cross-breeding.


  2. sineadmcgarrigle
    May 8, 2016

    Awesome article i really love the in-depth look into the dangers to the animals of specific breeding, in this case the pug.
    I was hoping to see more explanation on the ‘mutt’ or mixed breed dog being more healthy in comparison as well as pointing out the specific breeding errors. It has been researched and seen that mixed breed dogs have a higher lifespan and a healthier lived life.


  3. kblade96
    May 12, 2016

    I thought your post was really interesting, you provided great information and plenty of it and the title as well was quit engaging. I enjoyed reading from someone else point of view on the matter. i was unaware that pugs were used in the 16th and 17th centery in the military as guard and tracking dogs. It would have been nice to see more information as to why pugs were used in the military and used as tracking dogs with the type of nose they have now being one of the worst. So i did some research into it and I found that King William of the 16th to 17th centery had actually had his life saved by his pug waking him up war with the Spanish. i also found nthat pugs were only breed to be house pets and in Chine some emperors would send soldiers to watch over their pugs to make sure no hard would come to them. But i was unable to find any information on animals being tracking dogs in the military. This information was found on the anniemany web site under pug dog history (


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on May 4, 2016 by in Geelong - Friday 3pm.

Deakin Authors

%d bloggers like this: