Just like bulldogs, pugs are also considered a brachycephalic breed because of their short muzzles and their flat faces, which create squishy-ness and adorable-ness that many people love.
As of February 2022, Norway banned the breeding of English Bulldogs and King Charles Cavaliers "due to the numerous 'man-made health problems'" experienced by both breeds (Source: Norway Bans Breeding of English Bulldogs and King Charles Cavaliers). One of these "man-made health problems" include brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), which is characterized by "narrowed nostrils, ulceration of the eyes and skin fold infections; those posing the lowest relative risk included heart murmurs, fatty lumps, aggression and wounds" (Source: Study: Due to 'Severe Health Issues,' Pugs Cannot be Considered ‘a Typical Dog), which is common in Pugs, Frenchies, English Bulldogs and King Charles Cavalier.
According to one study recently conducted in the UK, BOA Pugs were specifically at "higher risk for specific conditions (BOAS) associated with their shortened snout, but the recent study conducted by The Royal Veterinary College concluded that pugs faced critical health welfare challenges and "that the Pug has diverged substantially from mainstream dog breeds and can no longer be considered as a typical dog from a health perspective" (Source: Health of Pug Dogs in the UK: Disorder Predispositions and Protections). Due to these health issues, some animal welfare groups are campaigning to ban the breeding of Pugs and Frenchies in addition to English Bulldogs and King Charles Cavaliers.
As an animal lover, particularly a lover of smooshy-face dogs, this makes me sad. I would never want any living being to be in pain, but also have to wonder about how the average individual takes care of their animal. Poor breeding practices absolutely exist, but so does very poor health care that most people rely on, which embraces a one size fits all approach and fails to look at each animal individually. For instance, why does a yorkie receive the same amount of vaccine as St. Bernard? I'm not arguing that brachycephalic breeds are at a higher risk of certain disease, but am simply questioning how humans are addressing it.
-Written by Erica L.