Why Do Pugs Have Smashed Faces? And What Does It Mean?

We all know that dogs come in many different shapes and sizes. Some were bred with long noses, but why do Pugs have smashed faces? In this article, we’re going to find out what causes it, as well as what it actually means.

Why Do Pugs Have Smashed Faces?

Pugs, French Bulldogs, Pekingese, Shi Tzu’s and etc are the result of selective breeding to create those “cute” features people love. Their short snouts are also responsible for their flat faces.

According to Kennedy Teng, co-author of Canine Genetics and Epidemiology says that people are favoring dog breeds with shorter and wider heads.

why do pugs have smashed faces

Since there is a demand for these smooshed faced dogs, breeders will continue to breed them. After all, people are willing to pay the high prices for this breed.

So now you’re wondering how are smushed face dogs bred? Well, it’s known as a genetic mutation that is associated with flat face shapes that are common in Bulldogs and Pugs. You can also read this to find out what the Pug was bred for.

What Is Selective Breeding?

Also known as artificial selection, which is used by humans to breed animals and plants to create the desired genetic characteristics. This type of breeding is done with the intention to remove, produce, or preserve specific physical characteristics, health conditions, and mental traits.

Selective breeding is performed through controlled breeding.

Think of it as inbreeding among humans. Inbreeding has been known to increase the frequency of normally rare genes that can cause diseases.

Selective breeding not only causes painful problems but has been linked to several health-related problems. In fact, this breed is predisposed to several Pug health problems.

Scientists have been trying to grasp which DNA roots that are responsible for the physical traits of these smooshed faced dogs.

Are There Any Benefits To Selective Breeding?

Selective breeding is practiced because it enables breeders to remove undesirable characteristics in the next generation of dogs. In fact, many breeders have learned to remove inheritable conditions, subjective flaws, temperament issues, and add or remove colors.

The downside is that this type of breeding can be dangerous for dogs in the long-term.

Genetic Mutation Behind Brachycephaly In Dogs

The Hospital for Small Animals and the University of Edinburgh conducted an analysis of DNA samples that were taken from 374 canines of mixed breeds and pedigrees.

They took three-dimensional images of the canine heads from CT scans that allowed the researchers to get the exact measurements of the dogs’ skull. This allowed them to compare and measure the skulls of brachycephalic breeds to regular dogs.

This allowed them to link DNA variations that were linked to the shape of different shapes of heads. Here’s a look at what the Pug dog skull looks like.

pug skull
The Pug skull is what is responsible for the flat face.

As you can see, the skull is flatter than a normal dog’s skull. This is what causes the Pug to have a flat face.

7 Smushed Face Dogs

Smashed faced dogs have become extremely popular, in fact, there are some other smush faced dogs you should know about.

  • Pugs
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Boston Terriers
  • English Bulldogs
  • French Bulldogs
  • Shih Tzus
  • Boxers

Most people are drawn to these breeds because of their big “puppy dog” eyes. It’s also a known fact that people are drawn to Pugs wrinkles and skin folds.

Health Problems From Selective Breeding

In some cases of selective breeding, it can not only lead to physical problems, but it can also cause a negative impact on the quality of life for these brachycephalic dogs.

According to the veterinary profession, some of these flat-faced breeds can suffer from marked respiratory (breathing), ocular (eye) problems (common in Pugs, Boston Terriers, and Bulldogs), birthing problems (dystocia) in Bulldogs due to their large chest and head, and dental diseases.

Why People Love These Squashed Faced Dogs

Even though people understand about the different health issues related to these flat-faced dogs, these breeds are becoming very popular.

Many dog lovers in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K., according to the Kennel Club. In fact, many people are opting for these flat-faced dogs as pets.

Some people believe that these dogs are becoming very popular because more people are opting for city-living and downsizing their homes, or people are opting for companion dogs rather than a working dog.

Final Word On Dogs With Flat Faces

Pugs have become extremely popular due to their cuteness factor. Personally, I got my black Pug because she was so cute.

There’s nothing wrong with having a Pug, in fact, they make great pets. Just know that you may want to consider investing in pet insurance since this breed is predisposed to several health problems.

I had both a Labrador Retriever and a Pug and I personally didn’t see a lot of vet bills from either breed.

Related Questions

Are Pugs Genetically Modified? Yes, this breed is created through selective breeding, which is a modification of DNA genes.

References and Further Reading

The University of Cambridge – Department of Veterinary Medicine

National Education Humane Education Of Society – Breed Manipulation

If I Science – Josh Davis – Researchers Warn Of Growing Trend for Flat-Faced Dogs

Breeding Business – Lazharichir 2007 – What Does Selective Dog Breeding Mean?

Genetics.uga.edu – Selective Breeding or Artificial Selection

NCBI – Curr Biol 2017 – Canine Brachycephaly Is Associated With A Retrotransposon-Mediated Missplicing of SMOC2


Black Pug Site