Veterinarians say that the rising popularity of pug-themed events and cafes is “irresponsible”, as this can make the demand for flat-faced breeds grow.
Are these cafes and events really for the pugs? [Photo by RocketNews24]
But what's so wrong about liking flat-faced breeds like pugs? After all, don't dogs of any breed deserve love? Well, it doesn't seem like pugs don't have to worry about that. Brachycephalic breeds are becoming more and more popular among pet owners. However, it's not loving the dogs—or the dogs themselves, for that matter—that's the problem.
The problem is that these dogs are doomed to suffer their entire lives because of a demand for exaggerated physical features. Brachycephalic breeds suffer from several different health conditions, and veterinarians fear that trendy things like “puguccinos” or “pugtails” will only increase the demand for these sickly breeds.
“People are drawn to these dogs based on appearance while completely pushing aside all of the health issues,” said the Royal Veterinary College's Rowena Packer.
Going to a pug-themed cafe can impact a pug's health [Photo by Pug Cafe]
“It is just irresponsible to be having these events where [these dogs] are celebrated [for] their looks without any serious educational message alongside it,” Packer continues. Veterinarians agree that people have overlooked or even dismissed the “diseased state”, as animal behavior and animal welfare science professor Paul McGreevy puts it, of these animals.
Thus, anything that popularizes these kinds of breeds—the aforementioned pug-themed events and beverages, for example—is concerning. If the breeds are popularized even more, there will consequently be more of these animals with several health and welfare concerns.
It can be argued that pug owners and event organizers have good intentions. These kinds of events, according to their organizers, are meant to bring pug owners together to socialize and enjoy the company of each other and of each other's dogs. However, there are those who also question the motivations of these owners and organizers. What—or who—are these events really about? British Veterinary Association senior vice-president Gudrun Ravetz says that these pug-themed activities are really more about the owners, and less about the dogs themselves and their health.
Add to that the fact that the health problems of pugs often lead to obesity. These events may be avenues for pugs to be given unhealthy treats that can lead to weight gain.
The folds and wrinkles on a pug's flat face, which many breed for, can make pugs more vulnerable to conditions like eczema.
Aida Martinez of the cafe Pugs & Pals says that their pug-themed cafe raises awareness on the rehoming of pugs by bringing some in from a local shelter. However, Packer reiterates that this is not enough. These awareness-raising events, while well-intentioned, don't address a very real problem. “[P]eople are buying these animals in a really frivolous, materialistic way,” Packer explains.
Pugs are cute, sure, but that cuteness comes at a cost. Packer says that the breed has health problems “from head to tail”. The morphology of the dogs makes them prone to conditions such as dental crowding, skin disorders, eye problems, and even difficulty giving birth to pups. Selective breeding has given the breed physical traits that can exacerbate health conditions and give them a sub par quality of life.
Thus, veterinarians want people to look past the pug-themed events and cafes and into what they—as well as the dogs themselves—are really getting into when they get a pug.
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