With distinctively wrinkly faces, short muzzles and curled tails, the pug’s popularity has seen them become a common feature in dog parks and Instagram feeds.
But one pug with features that are a little different has captured attention online. Nola, who is almost a year old, lives in the Netherlands with owners Gerjanne and Elieke Bijker. She is a “retro pug.”
With a longer muzzle, large floppy ears and a full curly tail, it’s clear that Nola isn’t like the pugs we’re used to seeing today.
“Her mom is fully pug and her dad is half pug and half beagle. Which makes her 75 percent pug and 25 percent beagle,” Nola’s owner Bijker told Newsweek. “Because the modern pugs are so overbred, they now cross pugs with other dog breeds. This way pugs can go back to their original and healthy state.”
In 2016, research by Australian veterinary scientists from the University of Sydney who analyzed 180 dog breeds over a period of 28 years, from 1986 to 2013, found a myriad of health problems facing the pug breed.
As breeds increase in popularity, so too do health issues. Bill Lambert, a spokesperson for The Kennel Club told Newsweek: “Breeding dogs with overly flat faces can contribute to serious health complications—but sadly it is something that has developed in some examples of these and other flat-faced breeds over the years, often driven by profit, fashion and celebrity influence, because it is perceived to look cute.
“We must move away from this trend and puppy buyers can do this by seeking responsibly bred pugs, and stopping and thinking before making a decision,” he added.
Nola the retro pug is closer to the original breed’s look, before increasingly flat faces were bred through generations.
On TikTok, more than 5 million people were amazed at her look and praised her owners for advocating for the healthy breeding.
“When you cross a pug with an other dog breed, that’s what is called a retro pug. But you can also call Nola a puggle,” said Bijker. “With Nola you can see that she has a healthy nose and enough space in her head. With pugs it’s also common to cut off their tails, but Nola still has her curly tail.”
Nola has also been tested for common hereditary diseases and illnesses among pugs and beagles, but she is clear of them all.
Pugs also often have issues with breathing as a result of their flat faces and scrunched up noses—but her retro credentials mean Nola doesn’t face these issues either.
“She can easily walk 5km and is a very active and energetic dog,” her owner said.
Millions of TikTokers shared their reactions to Nola’s classic looks. One commenter said: “I actually like this version much better. This kind of pug is way cuter.”
Another wrote: “Retro pugs are so much more cute than through bred pugs, why don’t people like the little snout feature?”
Others said that it was “the only pug I’d accept,” while others called to bring back the “more authentic” version of the pug.
“We started this account as a joke, because we thought she was cute. But then we got a hate comment and we decided to make a video to respond to the hate comment,” said Bijker.
“We didn’t expect it to go viral, but we got a lot of sweet comments. We noticed that people didn’t really know that there were also healthy pugs that looked like Nola. It inspired us to make more content with Nola to educate people and inspire them to make better choices when it comes to overbred dog breeds.”
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