Friday, 16 February 2018

Can We Stop Pug Bashing? | Cat the Vet RANT

Please excuse the intermission from the typical programme of lipstick and blush to make way for this rant about something that's quite close to my heart. 

 Pugs are popular, their squishy faces and big brown eyes are everywhere. I get why at first glance it might be easy to convince yourself that they’re the new ‘chihuahua in a handbag’ trend. But pugs aren’t a trend, they’re a breed loved with good reason to. Pugs were bred originally in China to sit on the Emperor’s lap, they’re literally bred to love you, sit on your lap and look cute. And as a mother to two pugs, I can attest that is indeed what they do. They're needy, they're like my shadow; they’re both stuck to me like glue and have to be sitting on someones lap at all times.  
They are extremely affectionate. They want to be cuddled and held all of the time. I've yet to come across a pug that - or hear a pug parent say that their little one - doesn't love to snuggle.  You’ll notice I said “mother to two pugs”. I don’t mean to sound like a crazy dog lady... but I really do think of them like my children. Their behaviour is so child like, it’s hard not to. They look at you so intensely with those beautiful soulful eyes when you talk to them, it's like they understand. They're creatures of habit, they love a routine and they love their toys. They love to play, and they love to make you laugh. They're stubborn like toddlers, and they have tantrums and answer back. No, I'm not kidding - after Barney gets a telling off, you'll be sure to find him sulking at the top of the stairs for the next 20 minutes, refusing to come down. If you spend 24 hours with a pug, I promise you won't be able to think of them as just a dog - their incredibly loving and comical nature makes them much more than that. 

It's probably clear within the first couple of paragraphs that I adore my fur babies, Barney and Betty. I can't stand to be away from them, even staying one night at my boyfriends house is painful because I miss them so, so much.  I've sort of been waiting for an opportunity to dedicate a blog post to them, and I'm actually really sad that this is the first one... 
The screenshot above is taken from Cat The Vet's Facebook page, and her post upset me deeply. How dare she insult my babies like this? She's not my vet, but she's made a page for herself as a public figure in her field, and I find this behaviour abhorrent and extremely unprofessional. Imagine if your child's primary school teacher starting posting 'funny' posts about how vile children are. This is a woman who is supposed to be trusted to look after animals, and yet here she is online, in a public forum with over 8,000 likes, condemning a specific breed. Yes, these are illnesses pugs are more susceptible to but theres a hundred and one better ways to raise awareness about them, rather than posting something as derogatory as this. Imagine sending your precious fur baby to someone sharing "Pugs & Kisses & DEATH"? That's plain hateful. 

I mean, what's the suggestion behind a gesture like this? "Why bother?", It's cruel to allow pugs to live?  Fucking hell, you could do this with humans too! How about someone presents you a card with an adorable picture of a baby on it, and some arse hole has annotated it with all the ailments humans are prone to: cancer, lung disease, kidney failure, diabetes, asthma, mental illness... I don't think I need to tell you the list is endless. Adolf Hitler wanted to euthanise those with disabilities and mental illness... the suggestion behind the pug bashing is, to my eyes, not only that pugs should stop being bred, but - what? They should all be euthanised? Because this isn't the only post I've seen pug bashing, and if you've spent any time online I'm sure you've probably seen some of the viral posts warning of the health problems 100% of pugs will absolutely definitely have at some point in their lifetime (eye roll).  
Yes, pugs have some health issues they're more prone to than other breeds, but the same can be said for any dog. And all of pugs health issues are manageable. With my two I've had a couple of problems - Barney had mange as a baby (demodex mange - a kind of parasite that is present on all dogs and is passed from mother to pup, puppies of any breed with weaker immune systems are susceptible to the mite actually causing an issue, and if it does, it is easily treated). Betty has had an eye ulcer after it being scratched from playing rough and tumble with her brother. It was healed in less than two weeks with eye drops. Skin issues? I clean Barney and Betty's skin folds regularly. Sensitive eyes? I check and clean them regularly. Ears? Yes, I clean them once a week too. And, trust me on this one please, it is a small minority that go into becoming a pug parent that don't know what they're taking on, or aren't prepared for it. 
Pugs are a tricky breed, I understand that, but all animals are complex and come with their own problems. Labradors are prone to hip dysplasia and cataracts. Spaniels are prone to elbow and hip dysplasia and ear infections. Common health problems in bullmastiffs include hyperthyroidism, a heart problem called subaortic stenosis, and they're also more prone to a list of cancers. But obviously not every dog of any of these breeds are guaranteed to get any or all of these ailments. The same goes for pugs.  Certainly, Pugs should be bred sensibly - but shouldn't every puppy? Isn't that just common sense? You're going to get unethical breeders when it comes to all breeds of dog, and unethical breeding practices is another matter altogether - that isn't isolated to pugs just because they're a popular breed now. 
Bottom line is: Pugs are here to stay. Should current and would-be pug parents be made aware of the health issues they're potentially taking on? Absolutely. Should a specific breed be publicly bashed at all, let alone by someone who's making a living out of caring for them?  Because it's funny how Cat the Vet is spreading bullshit messages like this online (so she can reel in all those likes!) and yet I bet she's more than happy to pass over the bill to a pug parent when she's treating these issues.   
 So if you're reading this and you're somebody who may have shared a post about how 'cruel' it is that pugs, you know, exist, or have grimaced at the shape of their skull, please educate yourself and think about what good your scrutiny is actually going to do. By all means, start a conversation about how to ensure good health for your pug (or any dog), but is bashing a breed really worthwhile? People have pugs, people love their pugs, that's not going to stop because Sandra from Birmingham shared a Facebook post about how reverse sneezing is the devil's work. 
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  1. This is heartbreaking. I’m so horrified that a vet would post something like this. I have a mini yorkie who are prone to a myriad of health problems, and at this stage she has them all! It only makes me love her more and want to take care of her literally all the time - how dare people say such horrible things about our fur babies! This has just infuriated me!

    Shauna |

  2. Aww pug is so cute! Why would someone post something like that?? Boggles my mind..

    Candice |

  3. I can't believe a professional would post something like That, how stupid! Pugs are such smart dogs - it's such a shame when people buy a dog based on whether they are on trend..

    Kate |

  4. You may not like what I'm about to say but I'm going to say it anyway...

    I work in the pet insurance industry and part of my job is identifying trends, and there has been an enormous upswing in the demand for brachycephalic (i.e. short-faced) breeds - mostly French bulldogs and pugs. In some areas these breeds are literally thousands of times more common than they were even five years ago.

    A consequence of this is overbreeding, inbreeding, poor conditions and increasing incidences of dogs being born with over-exaggerated features like overly-bulging eyes (such that they get injured exponentially more commonly than any other breed, OR other pugs years ago whose features weren't so exaggerated) and nasal/facial surgeries because their increasingly flat faces mean their nasal passages are too short to regulate their body temperature effectively. In the summer, many brachycephalic dogs die of overheating because of this. Some pugs have SUCH big, bulging eyes that they actually FALL OUT. This is is not just urban legend, I have seen the photos and dealt with the upset customers who has to witness their babies in this distress.

    In every dog breed, you are right, there are problems more commonly associated with them, but we can't just sweep these under the carpet. You're right - labradors ARE more prone to hip and eye problems, which is why they are subject to hip and eye scoring, so that buyers know whether or not the breeding pair their puppy comes from is more or less likely to have these problems. It might be wise to assess breeding pairs of brachycephalic dogs for facial flatness and eye bulging, perhaps?

    Whatever your dog breed and wherever they come from there is a chance of them having health problems of some kind, but there is no breed at the moment that is increasing in such numbers while decreasing so badly in overall health. The percentage of pugs needing treatment has exploded like no other breed in history. It's heartbreaking because it's true.

    Now, don't get me wrong, I think the vet acted incredibly rashly and the "& death& comment is a particularly harsh addition which was unnecessary. But she has a point. I work with a lot of vets who are exasperated by the number of owners who get dogs because they're cute and trendy (and whichever way you look at it, pugs and frenchies ARE trendy dogs - that's why there are so many more of them now than just half a decade ago) without being fully aware of what they're getting themselves into, emotionally and financially.

    Pugs are wonderful dogs with amazing temperaments, and I would never, ever deter someone from getting such a sweet and characterful dog. BUT I would urge them very, very strongly to take all of this into consideration and make sure to choose a puppy with less-bulging eyes and less flat faces if they want to minimise the risk of huge costs and huge heartbreak in the future. You have very clearly done your research and I'm very sure that you take excellent care of your dogs and that they will live long lives under your supervision. But if you really love pugs as much as you say, it's important that you're involved in making sure other potential owners are as dedicated and educated as you are.

    I'm sorry this is so long, but it's something I'm very passionate about, and it's also something I know a huge amount about. It's not intended as a dig or a rant because I truly believe you are a good dog owner - this isn't about you at all. It's about an incredibly selfish industry that prizes appearances over health.

  5. I'm not a fan of pugs just because I don't like their appearance, HOWEVER I'm really glad to have read this as I'm a auntie/mom to a dog (my grandparents have him) and I know they're your babies. I consider my German shepherd my baby even though he is as big as me. Pets aren't pets. Pets are family. And I think it's great to love them to this extent. I'm not familiar with diseases around pugs, but every breed has some problems - some more, some less. If you love your dog, you'll do everything you can to make them as healthy and as happy as they can be. I personally don't get the fuss about pugs and why everybody has to have them now (I wouldn't get it for any breed so this isn't against pugs), but I do get it if you like a breed.
    I hope your pugs stay healthy and happy as long as they can and I hope you'll enjoy your family :)

    xo Honey - blog Royal Lifestyle - Twitter - Instagram


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