In this website, you will find almost everything about the Pug, with a focus on science and health. Connected to Pug health is the history of dogs and Pugs, anatomy, breed related diseases, genetics, how healthy Pugs look like and function, etc. The website is managed by me, Therese Rodin, and also by my husband, Mats Rundkvist. You can read more about us under “About us”.
My interest in Pug health started a while after we had bought our two Pugs Mimmi and Nappe in 2013. Before we bought them we read a lot about Pugs, e.g. on the Swedish Kennel Club’s breed club homepage, in a Swedish book about Pugs and we browsed the internet to read and look on film clips about Pugs. Our conclusion at that time was that it is a rather healthy dog breed that is easy to handle. However, Mimmi and Nappe were going to educate us. Both of them had several health issues that are common for the breed. Some of their problems will be visible under “Pug health and breeding strategies”.
In spite of all the health – and behavioral – problems our pups had, we became adored by the breed. They were so loving and humorous, always giving us a reason to smile and laugh. Their health issues and what we learnt as being a part of the Pug community, made us come to the conclusion that we would never buy a Standard Pug again. (Yes, there are Standard Pugs that are healthy but they are too few and the risks are too high.) We looked around and found German breeders who had worked about 20 years to modify the extreme, compact conformation of the Pugs, giving them a less brachycephalic skull, more open nostrils, longer legs, a bit of a neck, less loose skin, a longer back etc. They called these Pugs “altdeutsche Möpse”, “Old German Pugs”. We saw this as a possibility to have a healthy Pug in the future and started to contact these breeders. Since then we have come to know several of these breeders and have followed them and their breeding over the years. In April 2017 our sweet little Nappe died but we were not ready for a further Pug. We knew though, that the next Pug was not going to be a Standard Pug.
During 2017 I worked together with another woman interested in healthier Pugs to start Mopsklubben, the first club in Sweden for sportier and healthier Pugs. I processed all research and other relevant literature for our breed standard and the breeding strategy and wrote most of it. Therefore, you will find parts of Mopsklubben’s breed standard and breeding strategy, although most of it heavily reworked and expanded, here on our webpage. My husband also helped a lot with building up the club regarding e.g. its statutes, register of membership and other formal things needed for the club. Eventually it showed that the other founder of Mopsklubben and I did not have the same ideas and goals regarding genetics and breeding of healthy Pugs and that led me to leave the club as my husband also did. The different opinions can be compared to those of the Old German Pug breeders and the Retro Pug breeders where I lean more toward the latter.
Most of the breeders of Old German Pugs say that their Pugs are purebred and this is important for them. Some of the more moderate breeders of Old German Pugs also own dogs that are the result of crossbreeding. The breeders who breed “Retromöpse”, “Retro Pugs”, work with crossbreeding to improve the genetics and the anatomy of the Pug. Their goal is a Retro Pug that genetically is about 80 – 90% Pug. In their breeding they use Old German Pugs that they combine with Parson Russell Terrier. (Read more about this under “Genetic diversity”.) Mainly, the breeders of Old German Pugs have health as a central goal but are often more “conservative” and often only accept the Standard Pug colors, want a tightly curled tail and so on. The breeders of Retro Pugs instead, put health above form and color, and use to accept all colors that are not related to health issues (such as merle). They also usually accept less curled tails and want Pugs that have a longer muzzle than would be possible with a purebred one.
About a year after Nappe had left us we started to look around again and by chance, I saw our Leni, an Old German Pug, on a German advertisement site for dogs for sale. She was about six months old then and a budding beauty. I just got thrilled about her; she had great nostrils and a great anatomy. She also had a little more nose length than a Standard Pug, although it could have been longer. I contacted the breeder to learn more. She told me that Leni breathed freely and she sent me videos where I could hear her panting which seemed free. She also sent me certificates on tests that had been made on her parents and her and everything looked excellent. So we said that we wanted her and would come to fetch her but that we would examine her and if she did not breathe freely after all we would not take her home.
Leni came home to us on 30. April 2018 and we were so happy. She had an amazing anatomy that I had never seen in a Pug in Sweden before. She breathed freely through nostrils and when panting and had quite another ability to endure heat than our little Mimmi who has a good breathing “for being a Pug”. Naturally, an Old German Pug is not like a dog with a long muzzle but a great step on the way to something better. Leni snores (more than Mimmi who hardly snores at all!) and sometimes there are “snorts” e.g. when she turns her head upwards but her function is not at all affected, which has been confirmed through an exercise tolerance test. You can read more about Leni and her test results here on the website.
Through courses at the Institute of Canine Biology, led by Carol Beuchat Ph.D., I became more and more aware of all the health issues connected with purebred (i.e. inbred = incestbred) dogs. I learnt about the alarmingly high inbreeding coefficient of the Pug (and many other breeds). According to one American study, the Standard Pug has an inbreeding coefficient of about 45%. This means that the Pugs in the study are more related genetically than siblings. Health problems as a result of inbreeding start when the coefficient of inbreeding (COI) is above 5%.
Since purebreeding with closed studbooks is like a slow suicide of the breeds, the knowledge we have now says that we will never combine our Leni with a purebred Pug. Our passion leads us to try to contribute to a healthy Pug and we think that the only way to have any Pugs left at all is to let their anatomy come closer to that of the “normal dog” as the Old German Pug and Retro Pug breeders do, and to add new genes in a systematical crossbreeding program, as the Retro Pug breeders do. (Read more about the “normal dog” under “A healthy Pug standard”.)
And now, enjoy browsing the other pages on our website!
Therese Rodin and Mats Rundkvist
with Mimmi and Leni, our Pugs