The Science Behind Pugs' Squished Little Faces

Khryss | Published 2017-06-05 07:03
With their squished and wrinkled little faces, buggy eyes, and small physique, pugs have become the crowd's favorite. But if you're a dog lover (just like me), you might've at least once thought of how such flat faces came to be. Now, researchers have shed light on how these cute little canines look like they ran face-first into a wall (but in an adorable way). Pugs fall under a category of dogs called brachycephalic dogs. These squished-face dog group includes bulldogs, Boston Terriers and Shih Tzus to name a few. While these dogs' shortened heads emphasize their cuteness, this feature actually make it difficult for them to breathe. Even their expressive bugged-out eyes are easily injured. And so, a group of scientists and veterinarians wanted to find out what exactly causes these. Utilizing 374 pet dogs of various pedigree and mixed breeds, researchers first took CT scans of each canine to map and measure their respective features. They also analysed their DNA samples to know their genetic variations. As expected, researchers found that the extent of the dogs' head shaped group with their breed- from extremely snouty dogs (smooth collies) to the other end of the spectrum (pugs). Researchers also found that such head shapes were associated with DNA variations. This includes a certain mutation that disrupts the activity of a gene called SMOC2, which is strongly linked to facial development. That is, the more this mutation affects the SMOC2 gene, the squishier their faces become. Well, I guess dachshunds aren't the only "badly" mutated (in terms of health issues) cute doggo. But no matter what, they'll still be perfect for us, wouldn't they?
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