Some dog breeds are brachycephalic. That means they have a short, round head. These breeds were bred to make their face look as childish as possible. The problem is that this head shape often leads to health restrictions. Shortness of breath and impairments in regulating body temperature are very common. That is why they are at higher risk of heat stroke and pant very much. Dog breeds affected include pugs, bulldogs, boxers and chihuahuas.
It has been observed in pugs in recent decades that this breed characteristic has been increasingly exaggerated and bred – which leads to an increase in disability among dogs. There has been a stress test for pugs since 2009, developed by the Association for German Dogs (VDH).
Now the association with veterinarian Prof. Dr. Ingo Nolte developed a new fitness test for the dog breed. Together with the Federal Veterinary Chamber and the German Veterinary Society, the experts want to ensure that the health of the breed improves. The purpose of this test is to identify dogs that have good stamina and are healthy. The owners can then breed with these pugs, so that the short-windedness does not spread any further.
At four veterinary universities – in Gießen, Hanover, Leipzig and Munich – you can take your pug for free with the fitness test. You will then receive a written confirmation of your dog’s findings.
This is how the fitness test works
First, the animal is examined and photographed. Then it has to give a saliva sample and finally it can be on the treadmill. Now it’s getting sporty: the dogs have to walk for up to 15 minutes. Her heart and respiratory rate are measured. The heartbeat should increase by at least 40 percent, but must not exceed 80 percent compared to the baseline. When the animals are allowed off the treadmill, their saliva is examined again so that the veterinarians can examine it for the stress hormone cortisol.
“We are convinced that with this large-scale study we can create a solid basis for the restoration of the breed and we wish for a carefree future for the proverbially foolish pug,” says the VDH press release.