184 THE PUG INFLUENCE ON THE BROAD
THE PUG INFLUENCE ON THE BROAD-MOUTHED BREEDS
The Legacy of Pug Blood
"...the bulldog was too slow for fighting...he could not get a mouth on quickly. Again, you must not confuse him with the modern creation, for man has so improved the short nose that these poor brutes can now hardly pick up their own food."
Denying the Facts
The surest way I know of antagonising Bulldog and Pug breeders is to remind them of the Pug-Bulldog crosses once conducted in their two breeds. Bullmastiff owners too are usually far from pleased at any suggestion that the ancestors of their breed might well have had Pug blood in them. Of course breed historians will usually believe what they want to believe. But I see much to admire in the character of the Pug and the Bulldog and see no stigma in admitting such cross-breeding. But did the Pug-Bulldog cross really happen? What is the evidence?
The 'Bull Cross'
In his "The Illustrated Book of the Dog" of 1879, Vero Shaw was in no doubt, as these quotes illustrate: "With reference to the Pug as it at present exists...It is in many of the inferior large-sized specimens that the Bull cross is so plainly evident...the results of the cross are frequently disfigured by being out at shoulders and by badly-carried tails...Nor are such experiments likely to benefit the Bulldog, for Pug blood is in its turn plainly visible in some of the breed, especially the fawn and fallow-smut ones, which one comes across. Another trace the Bulldog often leaves behind it in the Pug is in the carriage of the ears...modern breeders in some instances have availed themselves of a Bull cross in hopes of improving their strain in certain qualities."
Shortening the Face
Sydenham Edwards, in his great work "Cynographia Britannica" of 1800, wrote in his chapter on Bulldogs that the small "Dutch mastiff or pug-dog was much in fashion" during the time when bulldogs were most needed, and "that possibly by accident or design" it had been used to "improve the bulldog". As both 'Stonehenge' and Buffon record, the French referred to pugs as small bulldogs. Thomas Bell, writing in 1837, described the Pug-dog as a smaller variety of the Bulldog. If you look at Hogarth's so-called Pugs, you see signs of non-Pug blood and the famous painting of a heavyweight 'Pug' at the National Trust property Dunham Massey depicts a brindle dog, not a colour found in Pugs in Britain. 'Stonehenge' in his "Dogs of the British Islands" of 1878, records: "...both strains (i.e. Willoughby and Morrison Pugs) have been crossed with the Bulldog, with a view to enlarge the skull and shorten the face."
”Mated with a Pug'
'Bred for Fancy'
From 1840 the breed of Bulldog changed from a mainly white, rat-tailed, thick-eared, broad-mouthed, strongly muzzled, hard muscled canine gladiator into a very different animal. In his authoritative "Dogs: Their History and Development" of 1927, Edward Ash wrote, on the Bulldog: "When bull-baiting and dog-fighting ended, the dog was bred for 'fancy', and characteristics desired at earlier times for fighting and baiting purposes were exaggerated, so that the unfortunate dog became unhappily abnormal. In this translation stage huge, broad, ungainly heads were obtained, legs widely bowed were developed, and frequently the dog was a cripple. Then gradually the desired points were rounded off and the transition stage had passed. How these changes of type were obtained is difficult to say."
‘The Old Sort'
Penalty of Human Whims
The pursuit of fad breed points is a curse in any pedigree breed and the Bulldog has suffered more than most. In one decade a well out at shoulder front is desired, in another a grotesquely undershot jaw is all the rage and then the great essential is a mass of wrinkle. The degree of wrinkle on the contemporary Bulldog is not historically correct. Wrinkle on a pug is a breed feature. Misguided breed fanciers used these words in the Bulldog standard of 1875: "The forehead should be flat...and the skin upon it and about the head very loose, hanging in large wrinkles." I know of no portrayal of a bull-baiting dog with large wrinkles on its forehead. At the turn of the century, the Kennel Club recognised Toy Bulldogs and authorised classes for them. These dogs had to weigh less than 20lbs and some weighed as little as 13lbs. If you look at photographs of specimens at that time such as Leda, Little Monarch, Bite, Little Jemima and, especially, Champion Harpton Floss, then the influence of the Pug can be seen quite clearly. Unadmitted cross-breeding was not confined to Bulldog and Pug breeders, who should not be stigmatized for so doing. It is the denial of such activity that is tiresome; many many pure-bred dogs of today come directly from the skilful blending of the genes of more than one breed.
Use of the Pug
In Germany, the Pug was bred with the Pinscher in order to shorten the face of the latter. This may have been to broaden the mouth of the Pinscher (a word linked to our word 'pinch' and literally meaning a dog that nipped). In her valuable book "The Pug Handbook" of 1959, Wilhelmine Swainston Goodger records: "It is therefore safe to assume that the 'traces' (i.e. the darker spinal marking) of Mastiffs, Bulldogs and even Terriers...are due to the use of the Pug, the only naturally short-faced dog known in Europe at that time, in cross-breeding to shorten the muzzles of other canine types." Mastiff fanciers should take note that early pictures of mastiffs (e.g. Buffon, Bewick, Reinagle and Howitt) show that the breed was only beginning to emerge as a distinct breed rather than a common type in the late eighteenth century. The dogs depicted are not fawn in colour, do not have black masks and are not facially wrinkled. Bulldogs did not feature the fawn or fallow-smut colouring until late in the last century. Pugs have been silver fawn or apricot fawn for at least three centuries. Pugs have long been expected to have large deep wrinkles, beauty-spots or black markings on their cheeks (three hairs on each spot was once considered to be highly desirable) and diamond-shaped folds on their foreheads.
The Mastiff today is expected to have a wrinkled head; in 1878 it was described as having a forehead with "two gentle swells with a furrow between." The Bulldog today is expected to have a "loose and wrinkled forehead"; in 1878 it was required to be "well wrinkled". Bulldogs before 1800 were not well wrinkled; mastiffs before 1800 were not noticeably wrinkled. An examination of Bulldog skulls in the British Museum (all from dogs born prior to 1936) showed they had longer jaws than modern bulldogs. Geneticists tell us that the short muzzle is dominant, that crosses involving the Bulldog are liable to produce extreme variation in size and that crosses involving giant breeds are liable to produce excessive loose skin. The Mastiff, the Bullmastiff and the Bulldog share origins and genes; they have been interbred as breed-types for centuries. The Pug has a wholly separate origin and, despite once being called the Dutch mastiff, has a different skull conformation from the mastiff group. The blending of Pug and Bulldog blood brings together entirely different ancestries, totally different historic functions and essentially different anatomies. The Pug has maintained its distinct breed type over at least four centuries; the Bulldog does not even resemble its own ancestors, especially in the muzzle.
It would be most unwise to look at a fawn Bullmastiff or Bulldog displaying a 'diamond' on its forehead, beauty spots on its cheeks, a very short black-masked face and muzzle and a 'trace' or darker spinal hair from occiput to tail and not link it with an alleged Pug cross in the last century. It is deceitful and foolish to pretend that the Pug-Bulldog cross did not happen. Respected writers with the standing of Vero Shaw, Sydenham Edwards, 'Stonehenge', Rawdon Lee and Robert Leighton have testified that it did and such a cross is genetically significant. The Pug legacy affects the breed of Mastiff too. Writing in Our Dogs in 1933, expert Edmund Oliver lamented: "Yet there are, unfortunately, fanciers today who strive after a short Pug face, with heavy wrinkle, under-hung jaw and layback, without realising that these qualities should be among the worst faults...the craze for the very short foreface became accentuated after the year 1900 and has done more harm to the breed than any other specialist fad, by encouraging outside crosses." He would be sad that such head construction persists to this day. He was not the first to spot this regrettable feature.
Pug Type belongs to Pugs: Untypical Muzzles
In his critique on the Mastiff classes at the Birmingham Dog Show that appeared in The Kennel Gazette of December, 1890, TW Allen wrote: “With very few exceptions the exhibits were of excellent type and quality…we come first to Lord Stafford, to whom I awarded first prize…His muzzle is very massive, but in this case I should prefer greater length…his appearance inclining somewhat to ‘pugginess’.” This did not prevent him from awarding this exhibit the first prize (he later reported on this dog’s splayed feet! Is it any wonder that such faults persist?) When I see Bullmastiffs with the head structure of a Pug, I despair. No 'holding' dog could survive without length as well as breadth of muzzle. And when I hear that hoary old tale, used to justify muzzle-less Bulldogs, of how this feature was necessary to enable the dog to go on breathing whilst gripping a bull, I laugh out loud. If this were so, firstly, why don't the old prints of bull-baiting contests show muzzle-less baiting dogs, and, secondly, why didn't the dog-fighting breeds of the world take advantage of such a feature? I do see Mastiffs with short muzzles in British show rings; it gives a coarse, ignoble look to a breed with a naturally lordly manner. In his British Dogs of 1903, WD Drury recorded: "...this lack of interest in the breed is to some extent attributable to these dogs having of late years been bred with abnormally short muzzles, the result being that many of the characteristics of the breed have been changed. Faults, such as short bodies, short legs, straight hocks, and bad hindquarters have been far too common."
It is not historically correct to breed Bulldogs, and certainly not Mastiffs or Bullmastiffs, with the truncated muzzle that has long been a feature of the Pug. Pug-faced Pugs are not anomalous. Pug-faced Bulldogs and Bullmastiffs are and do not fit the breed mould; such a feature is leading both admirable breeds away from their own blueprints. Show ring judges have a role as the guardians of breed 'type' and must be watchful less misguided or ignorant breeders allow the physical characteristics of a different breed to develop insidiously into an acceptable feature in their own breed. I rather like Pugs but I'd prefer the pug face to remain where it belongs, on Pugs and not on Bullmastiffs or Bulldogs. Our precious breeds of pedigree dog must be perpetuated as identifiable individual breeds, each with its own typical characteristics; that surely is the whole point of pedigree dog breeding.
"No longer did anybody dispute the merits of 'Brutus, the shortest-faced dog in London', as the (Bull)dog was named."
"The shortening of the jaw and the anterior part of the skull in short-nosed breeds has the effect of distorting the airway; the soft palate is prolonged to the point that it interferes with breathing...and the nasal sinuses are shortened, giving rise to chronic sinusitis and more serious respiratory infections...most of these breeds (i.e. Pugs, Bulldogs) suffer dental problems because the upper and lower jaws are not equal in length and the jaw is so short that the teeth are overcrowded...Many of the short-nosed breeds have difficulty getting born at all."
"From one extreme breeders have gone to the other, and the national dog in many instances is not possessed of those characteristics of which he always figures as the emblem. Excellent as an example of distorting nature by patient inbreeding...he is a manufactured article - a mass of show points."