Why Do Pugs Have Short Snouts?

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Pugs are one of the most recognizable dog breeds. Their short stature, wrinkled face, and squashed noses are instantly identifiable, even among people unfamiliar with dog breeds. 

While these features make for an adorable face, you may have heard that short snouts cause health problems. 

If you’re considering a pug, you may be wondering why they have short snouts and what health implications it has. This article will address everything you need to know about short snouts, so keep reading to learn more. 

What Is a Short Snout?

Most dogs have long noses. Historically, long noses were more beneficial for working dogs, as they mean the animal has an exceptional sense of smell.  

However, some breeds have short snouts, which is the term used to describe dogs with flat faces. You may also hear them referred to as “brachycephalic.” The word brachycephalic comes from two Greek words, meaning “short” and “head.” 

The difference between short and long-nosed dogs is quite evident and easy to distinguish. Short-nosed dogs have muzzles that look squashed or flattened, and they often have underbites. 

What’s less easy to identify is that short-snouted dogs have a sense of smell far inferior to long-nosed dogs. They’re also more prone to health issues.  

What Are Other Dog Breeds with Squashed Noses?

Pugs are not the only short-snouted dog breed. Some other common squashed nose dogs include: 

  • English Bulldogs
  • Boxers
  • French Bulldogs
  • Boston Terriers
  • Cavalier King Charles
  • Bullmastiffs
  • Pekingese

Why Do Pugs Have Short Snouts?

If having a short snout means having some less desirable traits, why have some dogs been bred this way? 

There are two primary reasons: selective breeding and genetic mutation. 

Selective Breeding

Selective breeding is used to bring out desirable traits in plants and animals. 

You can selectively breed to produce, remove, or preserve specific physical attributes, health conditions, and mental traits when it comes to dogs. Short snouts are one of the physical attributes that breeders can produce. 

But why? 

The simple answer is that short snouts look pretty cute on dogs. And in recent years, the demand for dogs with short and wide heads—in other words, with smashed faces—has gone through the roof. 

Not only are they adorable, but this kind of dog is well-suited to city and apartment life—much more so than medium or large breeds. 

Selective breeding is an extraordinarily effective way to meet the demand for these dogs. However, it isn’t without its problems. It can increase the frequency of rare disease-causing genes, and it may be dangerous for canines in the long term.  

Genetic Mutation

But what causes a short snout in the first place? Scientists were very interested in answering this question, and researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland recently uncovered the genetic factor responsible for a short snout. 

They learned that a genetic mutation causes pugs to have the face shape it does. This variation disrupts the gene that determines the facial length, and animals with this variation have an increased chance of being brachycephalic. 

Do Short Snouts Cause Health Problems?

Brachycephalic breeds indeed have a higher risk of suffering from certain health issues

But what’s important to keep in mind is that being short-nosed does not automatically mean that your dog will develop health problems. However, prospective pug owners should understand the risks associated with this breed.

Here are some of the most common.

Respiratory Problems

Pugs have narrow nostrils and windpipes, making it difficult to get oxygen. This condition is called Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). We can see that brachycephalic dogs have lower oxygen saturation levels in their blood than their long-nosed counterparts. 

Dogs with short snouts typically have problems breathing and controlling their temperature. As a result, they’re usually less athletic and may develop more serious issues like sleep apnea. If you have a pug, you may notice symptoms such as:

  • Labored breathing
  • Noisy breathing
  • Breathlessness

It’s best to talk to your vet if you notice these symptoms. In some cases, your vet may recommend surgery, though usually, the condition is manageable. Avoiding too much exercise, giving your dog lots of water, and maintaining a healthy weight are all critical to keeping your pug healthy. 

Ocular Problems

Ocular problems are common in bulging pug eyes, which are incredibly sensitive. Pugs are at increased risk for injuries such as prolapse, ocular proptosis, and corneal ulcers because their tear film does not spread correctly. Pugs often suffer from issues like:

  • Eye irritation
  • Dry eyes
  • Eyelid curling
  • Eyelids partially open while sleeping

why do pugs have short snouts

Birthing Problems

Dystocia, or trouble giving birth, is typical in brachycephalic female dogs. Short-snouted dogs have large heads, which don’t fit through the mother’s birth canal, making risky cesarean sections necessary. 

Neurological Problems

Pugs have compressed skulls, a factor that makes them more predisposed to neurological problems. You may have heard of pug encephalitis. This condition is an autoimmune disorder that leads to fatal brain inflammation. While uncommon, it’s something to be aware of. 

Skin Disorders

Pugs often have allergies that lead to itchy skin. Plus, their wrinkled skin is the perfect place to trap dirt and moisture, which can cause bacterial skin infections. 

The most common infection is pyoderma, which results in things like small red bumps, pimples, and blood blisters. Sometimes changing your dog’s diet is enough to treat it, but you may need to use a medicated shampoo in other cases. 

Final Thoughts – Why Do Pugs Have Short Snouts?

So, should you get a pug?

The popularity of the pug breed certainly shows no signs of slowing down. They can enjoy long and fulfilling lives with the proper care, and they make wonderful, loving pets.

However, it’s critical to remember that pugs are predisposed to specific health issues. Like all animals, they require lots of care, but you should be prepared for the possibility they will need attention for some brachycephalic-specific conditions. 

Your vet can help provide the proper care and treatment plan so that your pug can live the best life possible. 

rachael barkzine

About the author

Rachael is the co-founder and editor at Pug Facts. Owner of one elderly Pug, she’s dedicated to helping other Pug owners create healthy, happy, lives with their furry best friends.

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PugFacts is a small team of devoted PUG owners – so we understand what it’s like to be obsessed with your pup! We consult with veterinarians and dog behavior experts to bring you the best advice for your furry companions.

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PugFactsGuide is a small team of devoted Pug owners – so we understand what it’s like to be obsessed with your Pug! We consult with veterinarians and dog behavior experts to bring you the best advice for your furry companions.