Pugs have the most insatiable appetite of all dog breeds

According to a study by the Royal Veterinary College, pugs are 3.1 times more likely than crossbred dogs to be overweight due to overeating. And The Times reports that they have the most insatiable appetite relative to their ability to burn off energy. In short, they are the most manic eaters of all the dogs. They love their food. Common sense thought: they wouldn’t be able to eat if their owner didn’t put food down for them. Ultimately this is a story about dog caregiving which is usually the case.

Pugs are the worst over-eaters
Pugs are the worst over-eaters of all dog breeds. Infographic by MikeB.

The study researched the feeding habits and weight of 22,333 dogs seen by British veterinarians in 2016. In addition to pugs being the most predisposed to being overweight through overeating, they also found that:

  • Beagles were 2.3 times as likely to be overweight
  • Golden retrievers were 2.6 times as likely
  • English Springer Spaniels were two times as likely
  • Border terriers and labrador retrievers were both on 1.7 times as likely to be overweight and
  • Cavalier King Charles spaniels were 1.5 times as likely while
  • Cocker spaniels were 1.3 times as likely to be overweight

Interestingly, some breeds were more resistant to obesity such as German shepherds and Shih Tzus which were respectively 1.7 and 2 times less likely to be overweight than crossbred dogs.

Obesity in pugs is particularly concerning because fat exacerbates their pre-existing breathing problems due to their flat faces which in turn is due to a breed standard which is inappropriate.

On the topic of breed standards, The Kennel Club have responded to this information by changing the pug’s breed standard to state that although the pug should be ‘cobby’ (not chubby!) meaning a stature which is short and compact their “substance must not be confused with obesity, which is highly undesirable.”

Unsurprisingly, the lead researcher on the study, Dr. Dan O’Neill, is the chairman of the Brachycephalic Working Group of veterinarians, scientists, dog breed clubs and animal welfare organisations who I presume campaign for a change to breed standards and a change in attitude of dog fancy administrators and dog breeders to create dogs which are healthier with more natural cranium’s and longer muzzles.

He said:

“Many individuals in several dog breeds, including pugs, have a high impulse to overeat embedded in the genes, but development of obesity in pugs is not inevitable, it depends on their access to food”. Exactly the point I made in the opening paragraph.

He added:

“Pug owners have the power to improve their dog’s health and welfare by keeping them lean and fit. The research is clear that obesity is the runaway top disorder in pugs and as people turn their attention to their own healthy new year’s resolutions, it is an opportune time to remember that we can also make a resolution to do something that will improve the quality of life for our dogs too. We hope these clear messages will bring about change away from the harmful perception that pugs should be chubby. No dog should ever be obese.”

My thanks to The Times newspaper of Saturday, January 28, 2023 and the journalist Jack Malvern who reported on this.

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