A pug on the heartstrings; record pets.
Byline: neil mcintosh
FEW would argue that pugs, French bulldogs and other brachycephalic breeds are some of our most endearing pets - but they don't have their troubles to seek.
Most are affected in some way at least by brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), a complicated, multifactorial condition that results in a reduced ability to breathe freely (surely a prerequisite to a happy life?).
BOAS begins with the squashed up face, so that the nose is concertinaed from a nice, long, open tube into a scrolled up snuffle machine.
It continues to the larynx where an overlong soft palate flaps about, doing more for snoring than it does for breathing.
And it ends in the trachea, which is abnormally narrowed, so that a deep inhalation of air must feel like sucking through a straw.
Add to all this an oesophagus that has such weak musculature that regurgitation is common (and occurs just when you least expect it) and then there are the spinal deformities to consider.
Around one third of pugs, for example, have an abnormal gait caused by a variety of developmental disorders of the bones in the spine.
And I don't really have the space to mention eye disease and issues with skin fold infections. When you put it all together, you might wonder how these brilliant wee guys get through life at all. Except, of course, some of them don't.
The UK Brachycephalic Working Group consists of a number of interested bodies, including veterinary organisations, universities, The Kennel Club, welfare bodies and breeders and its aim is to improve dogs' health and reduce consumer demand for the breeds.
It has already succeeded in getting many big advertisers to desist from using flat-faced dogs in their promotions.
The Dutch government, however, has gone a step further. In 2014, it instigated a ban on breeding from dogs with abnormalities that could harm the health of the parent or offspring.
And new legislation has set out criteria, making enforcement much easier.
Commedia, a Dutch organisation of pug breeders, said this would essentially stop pug breeding in the country. Only dogs with a snout length of at least half the size of the skull will be allowed to breed freely.
The only problem, as ever, is that the new laws may lead to illegal importation of puppies from elsewhere. Causing even more misery SHOW NEWS June 15 & 16 | Border Union Agricultural Society Championship Show in Springwood Park, Kelso, 9am June 15 | English Setter Society of Scotland's Championship Show, Springwood Park, Kelso June 16 | Scottish Beagle Club's Championship Show in Lanark Agricultural Centre at 10am | Scottish Great Dane Club's Open Show in Springwood Park, Kelso