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The Health of the Breedcategory-health

Posted on April 2, 2012

The Pug is small in size, enormous in personality, intelligent, affectionate and loves to be the centre of attention. A Pug will soon find the weakest link amongst its humans and manipulate them, whether it is for food, games or for the most comfortable seat in the house. They are generally very active little dogs and enjoy the daily exercise essential to keep them fit and prevent them from getting overweight. While it is not well known, many pugs take part in agility, not an activity for an unhealthy dog!

The breed is long lived, normally reaching a good age – 15 or 16 year old pugs are not a rarity.

The Breed Council, and dedicated pug breeders are committed to ensuring the health of their breed through an active programme which includes monitoring the breed health, putting in place health programmes, supporting research and in providing education for breeders, owners and others involved with the breed.


While of general good health, the pug has been identified as susceptible to certain health issues involving respiration, eye shape and general soundness. The breed is working hard to ensure that wherever possible issues are recognised and addressed.

The Pug Clubs and The Breed Council have also liaised closely with The Kennel Club to update the breed standard to make its requirements very clear. For example: ‘the nose should be fairly large with wide open nostrils; eyes or nose never adversely affected or obscured by over-nose wrinkle; eyes relatively large, never protruding, exaggerated or showing white when looking straight ahead, and free from obvious eye problems.’ Breeders should be avoiding excess in all areas.

Hemivertebrae: The Pug Breed Council’s Health Subcommittee is currently in discussion with Dr Cathryn Mellersh, Head of Canine Genetics at the Animal Health Trust, Cambridge, to work out a programme for DNA testing for hemivertebrae in pugs.

To this end the Health Sub-Committee have agreed that The Pug Clubs encourage all breeders, to take X-rays of dams and sires’ spines to test for hemivertebrae. The current aim has to be to breed from stock which is as clear as possible. The knowledge of the radiological status of the parents and pedigree analysis of as many ancestors as possible, along with their HV status, are at the moment the only tools available to avoid breeding from affected stock.

Responsible breeding:

The five Pug Clubs are strong supporters of The Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder Scheme and have added a clause to their Code of Ethics to which new members have to agree to abide, which states that if breeding pugs, they should adopt as a minimum standard the principles, requirements and recommendations as embodied in the scheme. It is also strongly recommended that members who breed should be part of this scheme.  For more information, go to

While the Pug Clubs are pleased to see the continued popularity of this charming dog, a major concern is that of the breed being used by those who do not have its interests at heart and are breeding pugs and pug crosses purely to supply a ‘market demand’ and having no stake in maintaining and improving the long term health of the breed.

For further information contact Adele Nicholson on 020 7352 2436 or mobile 077 111 61850.