This summer, Swedish judge Åke Cronander awarded a pug an Excellent rating at a show in Sweden in spite of the fact that it was evidently in respiratory distress. He also participated in a televised debate where he stated that he had never seen a dog with breathing problems in the show ring. Following the posting of the video on social media and subsequent complaints, some Swedish owners of show pugs have attempted to claim that the dog was making “anxiety sounds” – as if that would be a good thing! They also list “pug-friendly” judges on their web site – one assumes that will be judges who are prepared to accept a gasping, snorting (and often overweight) dog as normal and award the owners an “Excellent” accolade.
Our own KC is keen to remind potential judges that they are not vets and consistently talks about lameness as if it were the only health problem that was patently evident. They seem also prepared to ignore the fact that surgery for stenotic nares in barchycephalic dogs is not uncommon and does not prevent them being shown and bred from. The UKKC lists the pug in its highest category for concern (Category 3 Breed Watch) and makes veterinary checks and reporting of concerns by judges compulsory. This does not seem to have resulted in a significant move away from distressed dogs.
To its immense credit, the Swedish Kennel Club (SKK) has made breathing problems a specific focus for concern and is currently investigating Åke Cronander’s decision, having also published a statement expressing their concern. They are also revising breeding guidelines and health advice for all bracycephalic breeds, including revising the puppy health certificates which must accompany all dogs sold by SKK members to put more emphasis on dogs’ constitution. The SKK are working in conjunction with vets and considering whether to make their breeding prototcol and veterinary certificate mandatory. In addition, they are embarking on a training programme for their judges and on an education programme for the public.