A Funny-Looking Dog

The warm days of summer are upon us, and no one feels the heat like a Pug. So, if you own or are a fan of Pugs, Bulldogs, and other brachycephalic dogs, we’ve got the newsletter and science jewelry for you! Of course, dog lovers and curious genetics folks will find this interesting too.

pug skull necklace in sterling silver

A Dog’s Nose Knows

Humans live in a visual world. Dogs, on the other hand, live in a scent world. The average dog has hundreds of millions of olfactory receptors (up to 300 million in some professional-sniffing pups), and they can smell things miles away through clothing, suitcases, and even concrete. Humans have a measly 6 million olfactory receptors. So our sense of smell is not our most robust sense, to say the least.
But a dog’s nose isn’t just for smelling things. It also helps them cool off. When a dog pants, it brings cool air in and allows heat to dissipate via its palate, keeping the brain from overheating. Therefore, the longer a dog’s snout, the easier it can cool off. This cooling mechanism, or lack thereof, is why Pugs and other brachycephalic dogs are more prone to heatstroke in the summertime. It’s also why many airlines do not allow these dogs to fly in the cargo hold during hotter months.

Wolf vs. Pug

Have you ever wondered why a Pug is so different from a Belgian Malinois? You don’t see that kind of physical difference in horses, cows, cats, or other domesticated animals. The reason is that dogs have a slippery genome. Repeating sequences in their DNA create these widely varied physical traits, such as snout length. Five repeats of a sequence get you a Malinois. Ten repeats get you a Lhasa Apso. Fifteen repeats get you a Pug. This slippery genome is only found in the Canidae clade – think foxes, jackals, coyotes, and wolves.
The funny thing is that once you move outside this family, this slippery genome characteristic disappears. You don’t find it in other carnivores such as bears or raccoons. So when humans selected dogs for tameness, they inadvertently got all sorts of fun things along with it, like floppy ears, curly tails, and funny noses.

The Pug Skull Necklace

The Pug’s skull shows how a few extra repeats can make a huge difference. So, whether you love the Pug story or its genetics, we’ve got the science jewelry piece for you. Our pug skull necklace is perfect for dog lovers, taxidermists, vet techs, and starry-eyed pre-vet students. So, purchase it for yourself or a friend. And this summer, don’t forget to give your flat-nosed friend lots of shade and cool air.

written by Science with Evie


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