Pugs Before Selective Breeding: Why Pugs Are Tormented



Pugs and all their features are a sight to behold.


At least that’s what fans of the breed would say.


Where Pug lovers see a cute little snout, researchers, medical staff, and concerned dog owners see a respiratory problem waiting to happen.

Where Pug lovers see a cute skull, others cringe at the thought that such a skull would have to accommodate a full-size brain.

Where Pug lovers hear that sweet little snort, others worry that the dog could collapse at any moment.

The thing is, a lot of people don’t know that we built the Pug that way and that we could just as easily kill him.

And yet we decided to keep breeding these adorable little critters becauseā€¦ well, just because we can.

Despite obvious health issues, self-described Pug advocates love the way they look and will uphold the standards of their beloved breed at all costs.

Yes, that’s right, breed standards don’t even recommend stopping these cruel breeding practices.

Pugs before and after breeding

Before selective breeding, Pugs had longer muzzles, regular shaped faces, fewer wrinkles, no bulging eyes, and even a different gait and sometimes a straight tail.

Retro Pug with potentially less health issues, a Chihuahua-Pug cross on the left and a Beagle Pug mix on the right.

This difference between the Pug before and after selective breeding is directly related to a variety of health problems.

Among these are:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Sleep apnea
  • Encephalopathy (skull too small for the brain)
  • skin problems
  • Eye problems (most often poor eyesight up to blindness)
  • Hip dysplasia

Respiratory problems alone are responsible for a number of medical complaints that Pugs have to deal with.

Unable to cool down effectively, not getting adequate oxygen supply, or dying in their sleep due to respiratory problems are all potential problems Pugs face.

Possible telltale signs (aside from appearance) of Pugs in distress are plentiful.

Have you ever seen a Pug walk around with his mouth open all the time despite not getting much exercise or being outside on a hot day?

Have you ever seen a Pug snort extremely loudly for seemingly no reason?

Have you ever seen a Pug lie down in the shade with all four paws spread out to the sides?

All of these are results of the so-called selective breeding that created the modern Pug.

All of this just to create this super small muzzle.

For many, these looks aren’t even cute anymore and are instead just hideous. Bulging eyes, wrinkles all over the body and, in most cases, overweight.

Really, how can a muzzle that is almost pressed inward look cute to some?

It is a facial feature that also affects the shape of the skull compared to old paintings of Pugs.

All of these issues contribute to a decreased lifespan for Pugs.

Are pugs selectively bred?

Yes, pugs are selectively bred, as are technically all modern purebred dogs. However, the Pug was bred for specific, unhealthy facial features.

Selective breeding occurred in part by pushing the upper jaw back, resulting in compression of the nasal passage, head wrinkling, and misshapen eyes.

Pug puppy with large eyes as a potential cause of eye problems lying on the floor in front of a pink background.
Photo by MirasWonderland from Shutterstock

The Pug was not only selectively bred, but people also fail to provide the proper level of care.

Even though your potential pet is plagued with health problems, people will immediately ignore them to get the Pug to be the way they want it to be.

Since there is no denying the plethora of health problems, they will rationalize it.

You will often hear Pug owners say that Pugs are prone to sinus infections because of their short muzzle as if that were all.

These statements do two things: They lessen the threat posed by these health problems and they prevent the real problem.

As if raising Pugs in this unhealthy way with respiratory problems was the only possible way to call one of them your own.

Also, every other Pug I see, regardless of whether they’re out and about or on social media, is overweight.

Obesity is a serious problem and no, Pugs are not overweight by default because they love food.

Most dogs would check that box when asked if they like to eat or not.

That doesn’t mean you have to compromise, but Pug owners seem to do it more often than others.

Possibly because dog owners like the look of a stocky Pug. He’s a fat, unhealthy dog, nothing cute about it.

Obesity was also the leading medical condition in this study among more than 1,000 Pugs, with nearly 70% of them found to have a health problem.

Surprisingly, this Swedish study found no link between the Pug’s gait and its weight.

However, the study found that 1/3 of more than 500 1-, 5-, and 8-year-old Pugs have trouble walking properly, often related to neurological issues.

How were pugs originally bred?

Originally, Pugs were bred with small to medium-sized healthy companions, and at the time, the facial features of the modern Pug were not at all desired.

The fact that Pugs look the way they do today is due to the desire of pet owners to own these creatures and make them look as adorable as possible.

Beauty standards are always subject to change and have been since humanity began, so it’s no surprise that this ideal image of the Pug has only recently emerged.

However, although the Pug has resembled today’s Pug since the 20th century, it is safe to say that this has only become a dramatic problem in the last few decades.

Many people don’t even know that the Pug is a truly ancient breed.

The Chinese have kept these dogs, as have British royalty, and they have found their way into homes all over the world.

Their rise in popularity is due in part to all the hype they generate on social media.

It’s true that their facial features draw views, but what if that comes at the cost of most of these dogs?

cruelty in breeding pugs

Breeding pugs with extremely short muzzles, small round skulls, and encouraging the image of bulging eyes, irritating wrinkles on the skin, and excessive weight as puppy traits can be considered cruelty.

As described above, all of these problems contribute to serious health problems.

People interested in the Pug and its unhealthy appearance rarely think of the veterinary costs associated with it.

Not only will your pet suffer, but your chances of leaving $1,000 to $2,500 on the vet’s table for an operation related to his respiratory problems are also high.

Why buy a puppy that needs grooming?

You may be wondering what can be done about the cruelty of breeding Pugs and there are a few ways:

  • Buy a Pug with a longer muzzle, fewer wrinkles, healthy eyes, etc. from breeders conducting extensive health testing.
  • Rescue a Pug (Watch out for the cost and consider health insurance)
  • Find a similar breed
  • Investigate the possibility of a Retro Pug

Regarding the last point for Retro Pugs, many breeders have started crossbreeding keeping the Pug characteristics, just in a less exaggerated way.

A favorite for this is the Beagle, as their neutral appearance and overall good health, along with their similar size, makes them an ideal candidate.

That being said, improving a breed requires several generations and decades of work.

If you have found a dog that meets the requirements, feel free to do so, but be sure to require all health tests.

X-rays of the hip and elbow, healthy weight of the parents, no eye problems, not too many folds in the skin, properly shaped skull: all these problems should help avoid irresponsible breeders.

Disclaimer: This blog post is not a substitute for veterinary care and is not intended to be. I am not a veterinarian or a pet nutritionist. If your dog shows any signs of illness, call your vet.



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