Pug is a dog breed with an incredibly long lineage dating back to ancient China and they were brought to Europe in 16th century. But i would be very curious, if the people who brought them to Europe in 16th century would recognize the Pug we have today, because they look very very different.
Like all animals, dogs evolve and change over time, but some breeds experience more rapid transformations due to selective breeding. And Pug is a great example.
Pugs were not bred for any specific working purpose, they are just our companions. And since there is a demand for companion dogs to be as cute as possible, breeders started selectively bred Pugs to have flatter faces, more wrinkles and larger eyes. They are basically trying to make Pugs look similar to human infants.
However, this has drastically altered their appearance. Historic photos reveal that past Pugs were leaner, more athletic, and had longer legs. While they might not have been as cute as today's Pugs, they were undoubtedly much healthier.
The current breeding standard causes many unnecessary health problems, such as various breathing difficulties and overheating due to the flat face, encephalopathy or various eye issues. Pugs are also prone to becoming obese. These health issues are a consequence of prioritizing appearance over well-being.
[Appreciating Modern Pugs]
This is not intended to insult modern day Pugs. We all know their charming personality. Pugs have super playful, loving and outgoing temperament, perfect for companion dog. And even modern day Pugs can be active companions and there are even individuals that compete in agility! And i think that is very important for the dog, to keep them active, to keep them moving. They should not lay on the coach all day long doing nothing.
The Pug is famously nicknamed "multum in parvo," meaning much in little, or a big personality in a small body. While their appearance may have changed, their spirit remains intact. The Pug's endearing personality is what captures our hearts the most.
It is also important to notice, that Pugs are not the only breed that radically changed over time. Bulldogs, Bull Terriers or German Shepherds look very different in historic photos as well. And just like the Pug, it is not a change for better.