Can Pugs Have Down Syndrome?

We love our pugs and we want them to experience optimum health possible. Thus, learning the probability that pugs might be affected by certain conditions could make us feel worried. We know that pugs could develop eye and breathing problems, but there’s another condition that is also beyond our control – down syndrome.

Can pugs be affected by this condition? If so, what are the signs and symptoms and how do we properly care for them?

To start with, let us understand what down syndrome means.

What is Down Syndrome?

According to National Down Syndrome Society: “In every cell in the human body there is a nucleus, where genetic material is stored in genes. Genes carry the codes responsible for all of our inherited traits and are grouped along rod-like structures called chromosomes. Typically, the nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, half of which are inherited from each parent. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21.”


Hence, down syndrome is a congenital disorder, usually with a defect that involves the chromosome 21, having an extra copy of that chromosome. It results in physical abnormalities including poor muscle tone, short neck, short stature, small hands and feet, and a broad facial profile.

Down Syndrome in Pugs

Can pugs also have down syndrome? It is good to remember that the chromosomal make up of dogs and humans are different. Humans have 23 pairs, which means a total of 46 chromosomes; while dogs have 39 pairs, a total of 78. Therefore, chromosome 21 of humans is not the same with dogs’ chromosome 21. But this does not mean that dogs do not develop chromosomal abnormalities or defects.

Some vets might say that down syndrome exist in dogs, but due to chromosomal differences of humans and dogs we cannot absolutely call it “Down Syndrome”.

pug chromosomal defect

Signs and Symptoms

In cases of chromosomal defects similar to down syndrome, the puppy usually does not survive for so long. Since the abnormality affects the growth of organs, in most cases, it would be difficult for the puppy to survive. But there are also some cases when puppies thrive. However, we cannot expect a curative treatment for this condition.

How do you know if your pug is affected by down syndrome? Similar to symptoms of chromosomal defects in humans, they have slow growth which of course leads to short stature, short limbs. Due to malformations, a dog with down syndrome can have congenital heart problem. In addition, you will notice conditions such as poor eyesight, poor muscle tone, mental dullness, poor hearing, and thyroid problems. Dogs with chromosomal abnormality might be slow in learning and have slower functioning organs.

Of course, the best way to know whether your dog has a chromosomal defect is to see a veterinarian. Do not hesitate to visit a vet if you see any of the above signs, or if you notice anything unusual with your pug. And above all, shower your pug with extra love and patience.