Thanks to their charming appearance and cute antics, pugs can be irresistible for many dog enthusiasts. Typically, those little companions have black, fawn, or silver fur. However, in recent years, the white pug, a rare variety, has been gaining popularity.
So, what’s the story behind these snowy little dogs?
In this article, I’ll unravel the intriguing tale of white pugs. From their historical origins to their unique genetics, keep reading for all the details!
What Is the History of the White Pug?
Originating in China, pugs boast a captivating history that spans centuries. This adorable breed made excellent companions for the Chinese imperial court.
It wasn’t until the 16th century that these cute dogs were brought to Europe. Many monarchs were fond of this breed. You can even find portraits dedicated to pugs during that era!
Originally, pugs had longer legs, pronounced noses, and a slimmer build compared to their modern physique. However, over the years, selective breeding practices significantly changed the pug’s physical appearance.
Some of these practices were unethical too! To achieve the desired snowy fur, breeders involved albino dogs. Such a genetic condition isn’t common.
For that reason, the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) only recognizes four pug colors. These are silver, black, fawn, and apricot.
Are White Pugs Rare?
Yes! Purebred white pugs are rare. As you know, white fur in pugs comes from selective breeding practices. Such dogs aren’t pure; genetic material from other dog species goes into the mix.
That said, natural white-furred pugs can also exist, primarily because of two genetic conditions: albinism and leucism.
Here’s a detailed explanation of each:
As you might know, albinism is a rare genetic condition that causes a lack of pigmentation.
Pugs with albinism have mutations in several genes, including the TYR gene. For those wondering, the former produces tyrosinase, a multifunctional enzyme.
Regulating melanin production is one of the enzyme’s primary functions. Inhibition of tyrosine leads to pigmentation loss and, thus, albinism.
Pugs with this condition have distinctive characteristics. These include complete white fur as well as pink nose and paw pads.
The eyes may appear pink. However, that’s due to the surrounding skin. The iris itself is typically blue.
leucism is a partial loss of pigmentation. This condition also happens due to mutation, making it rare.
As you might have guessed, another gene, known as MFSD12, is responsible for leucism. But how?
You see, all dogs have two primary pigments that control their fur color. These are phaeomelanin (red) and eumelanin (black). Different genes modify these two pigments, producing various shades.
MFSD12 causes phaeomelanin dilution, causing the fur to appear white. Dogs with leucism have white fur. However, they still produce some melanin, particularly in the eyes, nose, and paw pads.
White Pugs’ Physical Characteristics and Traits
Like other pugs, the white varieties are short with a muscular build. They have the characteristic curled tail, flat nose, and large, round eyes. As for their coat, it’s short and glossy.
Here’s a brief table giving an overview of the white pug’s physical characteristics and traits:
|White Pug Breed Facts|
|Life span||13-15 years|
|Temperament||Playful, affectionate, easygoing, and occasionally stubborn.|
What Are the Common Health Issues for White Pugs?
Although many people love the cute little bodies, squished faces, and bug eyes of pugs, these distinctive characteristics bring about many health problems. And white pugs are no exception.
Some of the common health issues this breed can get include brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), patellar luxation, and hip dysplasia. They can also develop several skin infections and cancers.
Let’s discuss each condition in further detail!
1. Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)
As you know, pugs are short-muzzled breeds. Because of their short snouts, these dogs often develop respiratory disorders, such as brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS).
This disorder is progressive. It affects pugs’ ability to breathe. Not only that, they can also have difficulties with eating, sleeping, and exercising.
In severe cases, BOAS can shorten the dog’s life span. Unfortunately, you can’t prevent this illness since it’s related to pugs’ natural anatomy.
Some of the common signs of BOAS include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Sleep problems
- Stress and inability to exercise
- Increased risk of high blood pressure and heart stroke
2. Patellar Luxation
Like most toy dogs, patellar luxation is common in pugs. As the name suggests, this disease causes the kneecap to slide. Several reasons can cause this condition, primarily genetics and trauma.
Dogs with sliding kneecaps have a shallow thighbone groove, the place where the patella sits. They can also have misaligned limbs.
In most cases, pugs with mild patellar luxation don’t show any symptoms.
However, as the disease progresses, your dog will show signs of lameness. Other clinical symptoms include an abnormal gait and a lack of enthusiasm in their movement.
3. Hip Dysplasia
While hip dysplasia is common in large dog breeds, it can still happen to pugs. For those wondering, the former is a skeletal condition. As you might know, the hip joint has a ball-and-socket-like structure.
Dogs with hip dysplasia have shallow hip sockets. As a result, the bones’ heads don’t fit properly and rub against them. Not only is that painful, but excessive grinding can cause degenerative joint diseases like osteoarthritis.
If your white pug has hip dysplasia, he will typically show the following signs:
- Lack of mobility and decreased activity
- Difficulty when running, jumping, or climbing
- Abnormal gait
- Loss of hindlimb muscles
4. Skin Infections and Cancer
Pugs are prone to many skin infections, including skin fold dermatitis. Because of their wrinkly appearance, pug folds typically hold moisture, particularly under the jaw. Skin secretions can also accumulate between the folds.
That provides the perfect conditions for bacteria and yeast to grow.
As a result, your dog will start scratching and licking the infected area. You may also notice irritation, redness, and a foul odor. If left untreated, the skin fold can swell and develop pus.
Aside from that, pugs can develop cancer, particularly mast cell tumors, a type of skin cancer.
Some rarer cancer conditions include squamous cell carcinoma.
The problem is that white pugs are more likely to develop the former disease compared to dogs with darker fur. That’s because such dogs are sensitive to light; they don’t have melanin to protect them from UV rays.
As you can see, white pugs have a captivating history, starting from their origins in China all the way to the European royal court.
While selective breeding plays a significant role in developing white pugs, some purebred dogs can naturally have this color due to unique genetic mutations.
Still, pugs are a result of genetic manipulation. For that reason, they develop several health challenges, including respiratory and skin problems.
Despite these hurdles, white pugs continue to win hearts with their playful and affectionate nature!