What Can I Expect From a Pug?

3 12 2008

The Pug

Oh, lovely and most charming Pug
Thy graceful air and heavenly mug
The beauties of your mind do shine
And every bit is shaped so fine
Your tail is most divine.

– Marjorie Fleming

Recently, a reader inquired about the health of the soon to be added member of their family, a pug puppy.  He is going to be their Christmas present, and from what I could tell, a highly anticipated one.  The concern they felt over his health is due to the recent death of the puppy’s father, due to liver failure, so they asked me.  Since I am not a pug, and I do not have one nearby to ask, I had to do a little research on this one.

I went to the library to check out a whole stack of books, but they would not give me a card.  I tried to tell them that I am a world famous online dog behaviorist, but they would not budge.  In fact, they asked me to leave the building.  What is wrong with some people?  So, I spent some time researching on the Internet, as well as meeting and conversing with several pugs that are active online.

As with all canines, pugs are subject to the same ailments, but there are three conditions that are prevalent among the pug breed: Mange, Entropion,  and Knee problems.  Additionally, there is a condition that only affects pugs, encephalitis.

Mange being the first to discuss, there are two types.  Pugs generally suffer from demodectic mange, also known as puppy mange or red mange.  This is actually the easier mange to deal with.  Your puppy may begin to show signs of this type of mange between four and ten months of age.  Mange is actually a mite.  It is usually present on most dogs, but it is kept under control by the dogs immune system.  Some types of stress may trigger an outbreak because stress suppresses his immune system.  Unfortunately, some things that may cause stress in your pug are things that are out of your control, like teething, the first “heat” cycle in females.  Some stressful things that you can control are traveling or too much noise.

If your pug experiences any hair loss, take him to the vet immediately.  If it is not cared for, it may become skin eruptions.  Your vet may need to “dip” your puppy for a few weeks.  Demodectic mange is not transmittable to humans, but sarcoptic mange is.  Luckily, sarcoptic mange is unusual in pugs.

Entropion is a condition where the eyelashes rub against the eyeball.  This can be very irritating to your dog, and if it is not treated, your pug may go blind.  This is a condition afflicting almost all of the flat-nose dog breeds.  If you notice your pug has stains under his eyes or “squints,” call your vet.  Detecting this early is essential.  Entropion is a genetic defect.  If you are buying your pug from a breeder, make sure you ask about this condition.  Dogs that suffer from this condition should not be bred.

Knee problems: sometimes people like to use the big words to describe this condition, like “luxating patella.” Personally, I call it a “trick knee.”  This particular condition has been showing up more frequently in the pug breed, but it is far more common in larger breeds.  Basically, the femur may slip out of place and now you have a luxated patella, as the femur is no longer in proper alignment with the patella.  Usually, surgery is required to correct this condition, it can be very painful to your dog.

The most concerning disease affecting pugs is encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.  Vets and researchers believe that this disease is genetically inherited.  Unfortunately, no pug has survived this disease.  Symptoms include pressing their head against a hard object, weakness on one side of the body, seizures, bad eye sight and circling.  When tested, nothing out of the ordinary is shown, however the symptoms will become worse.  Pug parents need to communicate with each other, exchanging information about your pug, should he suffer from this illness.  You MUST notify the breeder, as the two pugs that parented your pug should not be bred again.  For more in-depth information on encephalitis in pugs, click here.

You will also want to discuss with your vet hemivertibrae.  This is a condition where some of the vertabrae do not form correctly as a dog’s skeleton matures.  The results may be a curvature in the spine and compression of the spinal cord.  In dogs, this only affects the vertebrae at the base of the neck.  This condition also appears to be an inherited defect.  Presently, there is no way to predict if a puppy will develop it.  If your puppy develops this condition, notify your breeder.  A reputable breeder will be grateful for the knowledge and will not allow additional breeding from the affected couple.

Finally, to answer your specific question, I do not believe that the liver failure suffered by the dad will cause your puppy any problems.  What I would do is ask the breeder for her vet’s name and phone number.  Once you contact her vet, explain your interest and ensure you received the correct story about the daddy dog.

Then, I would call your own vet.  Talk with him about your new puppy, the things to expect, and schedule your first visit now.   Since Christmas falls on a Thursday, some vets may take a four or five-day weekend. Try to get the first appointment available after Christmas.

Good luck, and I hope he fills your world with joy and happiness.



One response

4 12 2008

I never realized these ailments were so prevalent among pugs.

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