Pugs at highest risk of obesity, research finds
The risks of obesity are greater for brachycephalic dogs such as pugs.

Vets urge owners to keep their pet healthy.

New research by the Royal Veterinary College, part of the Brachycephalic Working Group (BWG), has revealed that pugs are more than three times more likely to be obese than other dogs.

Almost one in five (17 per cent) of pugs are formally diagnosed with obesity each year, making it the most commonly diagnosed disorder in the breed.

In response to these findings, the BWG is urging owners of pugs and other flat-faced dogs to play their part in tackling the problem. Owners can help protect the welfare of their dog by providing a healthy diet and ensuring the dog gets enough exercise.

Obesity is harmful for any dog, making conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes mellitus and certain types of cancer more likely. But the risks are even greater for brachycephalic dogs, as it can exacerbate the breathing problems which many such dogs experience.

Dr Dan O’Neill, chair of the BWG, said: “Many individuals in several dog breeds including pugs have a high impulse to overeat embedded in their genes, but development of obesity in pugs is not inevitable, it depends on their access to food. Pug owners absolutely have the power to improve their dog’s health and welfare by keeping them lean and fit.”

Advice for owners from the PDSA and the BVA includes:

    •   feed pugs a high-quality, complete diet suitable for their age
    •   contact a vet for advice if there are any concerns
    •   regularly measure the dog’s weight and body shape
    •   exercise the dog daily.

The Kennel Club, alongside pug breed clubs, has also responded to the research, changing the ‘Pug breed standard’ to make it explicit that pugs should not be obese. 

Dr O’Neill added: “The updated wording in the breed standard is very clear about the importance of keeping flat-faced dogs such as pugs at a healthy weight. We hope these clear messages will bring about meaningful change away from the older and harmful perception that pugs should be chubby. No dog should ever be obese.”