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Pug Health Guide


This is educational information only and is not intended
to replace advice or treatment from your veternarian.

Please discuss any health problems or concerns
you may have with your own veternarian.


Pug Orthopedics


While Pugs tend to be sturdy little dogs, they can face some serious problems with their bones and legs.

HEMI-VERTEBRAE - This is a condition involving deformed, misshaped vertebrae or bones of the spine. It is commonly seen in all of the short-faced breeds like Pugs, Bulldogs and French Bulldogs. Some animals will have a few odd vertebrae and be completely normal. Others will start having problems between 4 and 6 months of age. The puppy may have a staggering, uncoordinated, weak gait. Some puppies get progressively worse and some actually become paralyzed. There is a study being conducted in England on this condition but right now we don't know much about why some dogs have trouble with this and others don't. Some specialists recommend spine surgery to stabilize the affected area but each case must be carefully evaluated.

HIP DYSPLASIA - Pugs are second only to Bulldogs with the amount of hip dysplasia in the breed (approximately 62%). There are many factors, including genetics, environment and nutrition that contribute to this deformity of the hip joint. Research on larger breeds has shown that switching to adult food early in a puppy's life (12 to 16 weeks), avoiding supplements and keeping the puppy thin as it is growing will minimize its chance of being affected. Even though many Pugs are affected, most are able to lead normal, healthy lives even with the problem, unlike some of the large and giant breeds, who require surgery to get around easily.

LEGG-PERTHES - This is another disease involving the hip joint and is seen in many of the toy breeds. In this disease, the blood supply to the head of the femur (the large rear leg bone) gets compromised and the head of the femur that connects to the pelvis starts to disintegrate. This usually is first noticeable in puppies 4 to 6 months of age as they start limping and getting muscle atrophy of the leg. The surgery to help the puppy involves cutting the diseased head off of the femur so it is no longer attached to the pelvis. Scar tissue comes in and forms a "false joint" and the puppy is usually pain free.

LUXATING PATELLAS - This involves the stifle or knee joint of many of the toy breeds and even some larger ones. The patella or kneecap usually rides up and down in a groove on the front of the knee. With this condition, the kneecap slides to the side (usually the inside) and the joint is unstable. When the kneecap is out, the dog may limp and carry the leg. The dog can often stretch his leg back and pop the patella back in himself. Some dogs are normal when young and develop this with age. Many dogs live their lives with this but some require surgery to deepen the groove and reposition the patella so it stays in place. One or both legs may be affected.