Do pugs have health problems? Where does the dog breed come from?

Research has shown that pugs are twice as likely to suffer from health disorders compared to other dogs

Pugs are a popular pet in many families, but experts say they “can no longer be considered a typical dog” for health reasons.

Experts have urged people not to buy pugs until the breed sees improvement in their health.

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New research from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has shown that the health of pugs in the UK is now worse than that of larger dogs.

The flat-faced dog is known for being a sweet companion, but it’s these very traits that wreak havoc on the breed’s health.

Here’s everything you need to know about where pugs come from and what health problems they have.

Where do pugs come from?

To create a pug, three types of flat-faced dogs were bred together: the lion dog, Pekingese dogs, and the Lo-sze dog known as the old pug.

Agnes the Pug poses for a photo at Crufts (Image: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Pugs first came to Europe in the early 17th century after China and Europe established trade routes.

Because of their comical facial features, they became the pet of choice for royal households.

In the 1700s, the famous artist William Hogarth was a pug enthusiast and regularly portrayed images of pugs in her paintings.

Marie Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI, also had a pug she named a pug.

However, the pugs we have today look very different.

After the 1860s, pugs were imported into Britain from China. These breeds typically had the short legs and wrinkled face that we see in modern dogs today.

Why aren’t pugs considered “typical dogs” anymore?

Research by the RVC has found that pugs are twice as likely to suffer from health disorders compared to other dogs.

Experts have said that until their health issues improve, they “can no longer be considered a typical dog.”

dr Dan O’Neill, associate professor of pet epidemiology at the RVC and lead author of the study, explained: “Although they are very popular as pets, we now know that several serious health problems are linked to the extreme physique of pugs that many people have find so cute.

“It is now time that we focus on the dog’s health and not the owner’s whims when deciding what type of dog to own.”

Since 2005 there has been an increase in Pug Kennel Club registrations with the breed increasing in popularity.

However, the impact of their breed on their health is “not surprising”, according to Justine Shotton, President of the British Veterinary Association.

Shotton added: “Vet teams see Pugs with these distressing health conditions – from breathing difficulties to eye ulcers and painful spine abnormalities – in veterinary surgeries across the UK on a daily basis.

“This study clearly shows how much it is the extreme features that many owners find so appealing, such as: E.g. bruised faces, big eyes and curly tails that are serious.”

What health problems do pugs have?

Research has shown that pugs are 1.9 times more likely to have another disorder than other dog breeds.

You also have a risk of developing 23 in 40 common diseases, as opposed to the standard risk of 7 in 40.

One of the conditions most commonly diagnosed in Pugs is Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), which causes breathing difficulties.

Pugs are prone to the condition due to the shape of their flat nose.

But it wasn’t all bad news, it was found that they are at reduced risk of developing a heart murmur. Do pugs have health problems? Where does the dog breed come from?


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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