The Vet’s Office: Pugs — the long and the short of it
By Dr. Beth Engelbert, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
Playful and loving. Square and cobby. The breed standard calls them “multum in parvo” meaning “a lot of dog in a small space.” Whichever terms are used, the Pug is an adaptive little dog that just enjoys being with its family. While not known for being athletic, the Pug can do obedience and agility.
The Pug’s origin is mostly unknown. The Pug is believed to be derived from a Chinese breed called the Lo-sze. Portraits of Pug-like dogs stem back to 400 B.C. The Pug was bred as companions for Chinese rulers and eventually spread throughout Asia. It is thought Dutch traders brought the dogs to Europe where they continued to be favored by royalty. The Pug became very popular in England and France. They were seen in Spanish paintings and in matching outfits as carriage drivers in Italy. Some Pugs were used for tracking and as guard dogs.
The Pug originally had longer legs and noses. In the mid 1800s, more Pug dogs were imported from China. These Pugs had evolved to have shorter noses and stockier legs. The imported dogs contributed these traits and the Pug of today was born.
The Pug is a compact, muscular dog with the head being the most identifiable trait. Pugs have large heads with short, square muzzles and thick necks. These features are accentuated in fawn pugs, where the face, ears, and under the tail are black against their tan body. The AKC recognizes black and fawn Pugs. In Canada, apricot or silver fawns are allowed.
Pug fur is short and smooth, but they still shed. Their characteristic wrinkles need care to keep them healthy. Pugs can develop allergies which can lead to skin and ear infections.
The expressive eyes of the Pug can be problematic. The eyes are in shallow sockets and are prone to corneal injury. Trauma can cause the eye to proptose – come out of its socket. Pug eyelids can roll in or grow extra eyelashes. Low tear production can also occur.
Pugs may have hip problems or luxating patellas. Occasionally, they will develop an abnormally shaped vertebra. Neurological problems can occur if the vertebra affects the spinal cord.
Other neurological conditions seen in Pugs include epilepsy and “Pug Dog Encephalopathy,” a fatal inflammation of the brain. “Pug Myelopathy” is a poorly understood, multi-factorial condition that leads to weakness and ataxia of the rear legs. Intervertebral Disc Disease is also a problem with Pugs.
Prone to obesitiy, monitoring a Pug’s food and calorie intake is very important in managing many conditions.
While the list of problems Pugs can have may seem daunting, finding a reputable breeder with healthy lines is important in finding your charming new friend.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.