PUG: Interview with an owner

Pug – Cheeky characters

I was delighted this week to have been contacted by Jackie, who was kind enough to provide some feedback on the website. She has owned Pugs over the years and has worked in welfare for PDWRA (Pug Dog Welfare & Rescue Association).

I am delighted to share with you an honest view of owning dogs of this very popular breed. Jackie owned Dorothy and Wobbie. She occasionally fostered, but many of the Pug dogs coming in had ‘issues’, and weren’t for the novice dog owner.

Jackie said she was looking for a portable companion with low energy levels once mature. She wanted dogs that were loving and friendly toward people. Unfortunately the boy, Wobbie grew to dislike people and her new puppy after he was about 4 years old. She says “I have no idea what triggered him as he seemed to ‘grow into’ his dislike of some people/situations around this age.” Sadly, this has led to her re-homing him, although she still covers the full cost of his huge healthcare bills (see below).

pug dogs
Pugs

What are the health issues with a Pug?

Jackie says the health issues have been a huge minus and were far above what she had researched. She says “Being a brachycephalic breed, they have a multitude of health issues and I felt I spent the whole of their lives going to the vet. The health issues I experienced were:-

  • Skin/allergy issues – (Dorothy & Wobbie) lifelong conditions of atopic dermatitis
  • Stenotic nares (nostrils too small) Dorothy & Wobbie (surgery)
  • Larngyal collapse – Dorothy (surgery)
  • Eyes: (entropian – the eyelid folding in) Wobbie (surgery)
  • Canine keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye not producing tears)- Dorothy
  • Luxating patella (kneecap slipping in and out) – Dorothy (surgery)
  • Epilepsy (seizures)- Wobbie
  • Slipped lumbar vertebrae – slipped discs in neck – Dorothy (not treated, sadly pts aged 9.5yrs)

In between this, the Pug’s eye being very vulnerable to injury, we had multiple eye ulcers to deal with.

Suitable for a less active home?

People generally choose toy dogs because they want a dog that requires less exercise. Jackie says that Pugs are low energy like her “I’m not wanting to walk 2 hours morning and night.” Hmm, sorry Jackie, but I’m not wanting to do that either! I want a dog that will run around and have fun for an hour, then be chilled for the rest of the day. Dogs love a routine and prefer company to endless exercise. Ironically, Jackie says she walks her dogs “Twice daily; 30-45 mins per walk. Training is daily, throughout the dogs’ lives as it should be with any dog.” That’s more than I do Jackie!

Pug dogs
Pug dogs Dorothy and Wobbie

Jackie says she devised a lifestyle to fit around having a Pug. She bought her own business so that she could take the dogs to work if necessary. Happily this is the case for many people these days – let’s hope that post-Lockdown people continue to manage their lives around their dogs and don’t just dump them into rescue.

Pug temperament

Pug dogs are placid and generally sweet-natured, with a low energy level. They are described by Jackie as happy and great companions. She feels their best feature is their comical face, friendly disposition and the daily walks and companionship. Like most dogs in fact! My dogs certainly make me laugh every day.

Pug dogs
Dorothy Buggy Stroller

Pug challenges

Jackie has quite a list here: “The health issues; the greed (we didn’t have a waste paper on the ground for 10 years); the constant shedding (365 days a year).

From a training perspective, I’d say it’s physically harder to train a smaller dog as you are not on their eye level most of the time. Resisting ‘babying’ them; this alone was one of the commonest problems with behaviour issues in welfare; the dogs were humanised and mollycoddled and not given boundaries. Also when a Pug is crossed with another breed (ie terrier), you are entering into a total unknown regarding personality; again this problem was quite evident during my stint in welfare and they were often NOT low energy in this scenario.

Best Pug home?

Jackie says “Absolutely anyone who wants a low energy dog; but who also has the finances to provide for them which needs research. Their health issues are a constant bind and expensive. Insurance is also expensive, and becoming more so. I’d say insurance is absolutely vital for a Pug, as not many get through life without needing treatment (often surgery), from a vet.

An MRI scan, as I write in 2022, comes in at about £2000; that’s just to FIND OUT what the problem could be, before the expense of treatment (often lasting a lifetime) starts. My monthly insurance payments are around £50 per month Dorothy’s was nearer £100 pcm by the time she went to Rainbow Bridge.”

By way of contrast, Aura is 9 years old, with no surgery, no illnesses, no operations (apart from being spayed). She is not insured and has no vet visits apart from an annual booster.

pugs
Jackie

Purchase challenges

I feel that perhaps the biggest challenge with a very ‘popular’ breed is that people jump on the breeding bandwagon and either breed carelessly, or criminally. Jackie says “I eventually learned choosing from a Kennel Club registered litter each time was no guarantee of a healthy dog.” This is because the Kennel Club will register any old dog onto the ACTIVITY REGISTER, which people often don’t realise is no guarantee of health checks or quality.

NB: Only a Kennel Club Assured Breeder of pedigree dogs will have been rigorously inspected and expected to maintain very high standards of breeding.

Jackie’s final word of advice? “Do not visit the breeder unless they health test both mum and dad; be prepared to walk away from a litter of VERY cute puppies (not as cute as mine ;p). Make sure the breeder will take the dog back if your circumstances change.” Thank you so much for your input Jackie!

Choose carefully – my thoughts

I get it, Pugs are cute. But they are not real dogs! They are artificially constructed by humans to meet ridiculous demands, at the expense of their health and quality of life. If they’re perfect, why are they dumped into rescue? Please don’t choose a Pug? Choose one of the other hundreds of healthy, happy breeds of dog available to us?

Remember..

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NB: I am not a dog trainer, or a dog behaviourist, just a dog breeder and owner. I can only offer my opinion, based on my experience.

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