BREED WATCH POINTS OF CONCERN FOR PUGS

See the Kennel Club website for the (Breed Watch Illustrated Guide Pugs category 3)

Physical attributes as related to the Breed Standard for pugsthat can affect health issues in the breed and can be sometimes overlooked by both new and experienced judges. I hope some of the points raised here will at least make judges think about overall health of the breed and be aware not to reward attributes detrimental to health.

GENERAL  APPEARANCE

There are two points in this section that can affect health:

1. ‘Decidedly square and cobby’ does not mean overweight or fat. Overweight pugs are at greater risk of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)as detailed in research by Cambridge University. There is a breed specific Body Condition Score chart for the breed. Pugs with a Body condition Score Grade 7 and over are at increased risk of respiratory problems.
2. ‘Never to appear low on legs or lean and leggy’. This is something that judges can be confused about and seem to think that the exaggerated roll a short legged pug exhibits is correct for the breed.  When read in conjunction with the Gait/Movement section of the Breed Standard, it can be clearly understood that this is incorrect for the breed and it also affects the health of the dog. Low on leg means the dog has to work those short legs too hard to cover the ground making parallel movement impossible.The Standard calls for ‘a slight unexaggerated roll of hindquarters’. Breed Watch Concern – Limbs and Movement.

HEAD AND SKULL

This is perhaps one of the most important parts of the Standard relating to BOAS affected dogs and to the points of concern for pugs assessed as Category 3 on the Watch List Breeds. The Standard was written many years ago when a lot of breeds looked very different to today. I will not cover the historical aspect of exaggerations, save to say that without the extremes in previous years today’s pugs would still benefit if judges were aware of the effect of exaggerations that cause health issues in pugs. The Breed Standard is very clear with regard to nose, nostrils, over nose wrinkle and eyes.

1. The head, described as ‘relatively large and in proportion to the body’, should be big enough to, in some part, compensate for the brachycephalic (short) shape to allow sufficient room for all aspects of respiration.
2. Breed Watch Concern nose and Nostrils – The Standard calls for ‘nose black, fairly large with well open nostrils’. Many pugs have stenotic (narrow) nostrils and coupled with an excess of soft tissue this can, but not always, affect their breathing. See Nostril chart and page 4 and 5 of the Breed Watch Guide.
3. The Breed Watch Guide highlights respiratory concerns and nostril stenosis and any dogs found to be affected by respiratory distress must be penalised as this can cause extreme discomfort.
4. Eyes – Breed Watch Concern – Excessively prominent eyes. Entropion. NB Breeds that have characteristic wrinkle and/or large eyes will be at increased risk of developing ocular conditions.  Any dogs showing exaggerated eye/eyelid conformation must be penalised.
5. The Breed Watch Guide also mentions pugs under the Mouth and Dentition section, but there is no specific concern highlighted for the breed. The Breed Standard covers what is required.
6. Breed Watch Concern – Skin and Wrinkle – Over-nose wrinkle has already been covered, but also see breed specific chart.

NECK

The neck must be strong to be able to carry a large head, but proportionate to the body. This is a feature than cannot be ignored as the neck provides the space for the pharynx, larynx, trachea and all the soft tissue noticeable in brachycephalic breeds.  We are not looking for a neck like a swan, but a good crest and a strong neck, but not too thick a neck should be an important consideration.

EYES

Brachycephalic dogs do not always have deep eye socketsand thus some pug’s eyes can be more prominent. Eye openings are round and eyelids should fit tightly around the eyes with no, or very little, white of the eye visible. Eyes should look healthy, clear and ‘free from obvious eye problems’.  A heavy over nose-wrinkle that touches the surface of the eye will often cause irritation to a pug’s eyes and can cause low grade ulcers leading to pigmentation on the eye.

BODY

The body should be short and cobby, with a broad chest and well-sprung ribs carried well back. It is not said, but also implied a long sternum where the chest bones can attach. The correct size chest for a pug should provide both protection and space for the heart and lungs. This is unfortunately not always recognised by judges and many pug’s chests are too shallow, short and have no fore chest.Such chests give very poor help to the diaphragm musclesthat are very important for the well-being of the dog. Heavy abdominal breathing and stressed panting are often evident when this is the case. Similarly dogs that are ‘tied in at the elbow’ are similarly affected.

A level top line (neither roached nor dipping) can be a good indicator of a strong spine and certainly of a balanced outline. A mistake seen by judges is to reward dogs who over extend the back legs to disguise a dipping top line. Legs should be ‘well under’ the body.

SKIN AND COAT

This is part of the Watch List concerns and although relates to the well-being of the dog is easily visible to any judge. The usual area of concern is an infection under the nose roll or rarely where the tail curls onto the hip.