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Animals: the pug, the latest fashion accessory in the United Kingdom

Ⓒ AFP – Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS – | Aida Martinez takes a selfie with Mia, star of Pugs & Pals cafe, bar dedicated to pug lovers (“pug”, in English), at Brick Lane, in east London, on October 27, 2017

Totally under the spell of their sullen faces and big eyes, the English made pugs their latest fashion accessory, going as far as sharing cocktails and “afternoon tea” in cafes dedicated to these little dogs.

In trendy Brick Lane in East London, a dozen people stamp their heads in front of the Pugs & Pals cafe. Inside, it barks and it trots in all directions. For the first day of opening this bar dedicated to pug lovers (“pug” in English), a Friday afternoon, it’s a success.

“It’s fantastic to be able to go to a cafe with your dog!” says Sally Afrasiab, 46, happy owner of Dude, 8, wearing a Peruvian beanie and bow tie.

Ⓒ AFP – Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS – | An English girl cuddles her dog in the Pugs & Pals cafe, a bar dedicated to pug lovers (“pug”), in Brick Lane, East London, on October 27, 2017

She is one of those fans who post photos of their pug disguised on Instagram: “he has more clothes than me,” she says with a laugh. “For Halloween, for parties … He loves it! In any case, I do not think it bothers him …”, she adds, glancing at Dude, stoically.

– Petits fours for dogs –

In this cafe, you have to reserve your place in advance and pay 5 pounds (5.65 euros), twice more if you come without a dog. While humans chatter or rave about mutts, dogs sniff their backs, feast on cheese and ham scones … or relieve themselves in a corner.

Ⓒ AFP – Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS – | Pugs & Pals cafe, bar for pug lovers (“pug”) in Brick Lane, East London, 27 October 2017

Lauren Lowe leaves the café, ecstatic: she has just spent an hour cajoling dogs and taking pictures with them. “I love pinks, I’ve been wanting one for centuries but I work a lot so I can not, so I just came here today to see some of them, it’s great.”

Aida Martinez, creator of Pugs & Pals cafe, was waiting for a thousand customers for the first weekend.

Other ephemeral bars dedicated to this breed have already opened in London, Manchester or Brighton. They gathered several hundred people, according to Anushka Fernando, the organizer of these “pop up cafes”.

Ⓒ AFP – Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS – | Danny Baker, PDWRA Volunteer, poses with his dogs at Pugs & Pals cafe, pug lovers’ bar, in Brick Lane, East London, October 27, 2017

“In the UK, we love dogs” and “Pugs have great characters, they are incredibly affectionate and friendly and get along so well with other dogs and kids,” she says to explain this crazy success. .

“In the last two to three years we have seen a huge increase in popularity,” says Gudrun Ravetz, vice president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA). “Many celebrities have them, people find them cute and want the same ones”.

– Star of social networks –

Pugs are also the darling of social networks, like “Doug the pug”, 2.9 million subscribers on Instagram and derivative products galore.

Ⓒ AFP – Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS – | Cakes sold at Pugs & Pals cafe, bar for pug lovers (“pug”) in Brick Lane, East London, October 27, 2017

Their number has almost quadrupled in ten years (10,408 in 2016). The pug became the fourth favorite breed in the United Kingdom, behind the labrador, the cocker spaniel and the French bulldog.

But this mode worries veterinarians.

“People think they are cute with their crushed face and big eyes, but that’s what causes them health problems,” Gudrun Ravetz warns, citing difficulty breathing, eye problems or herniated discs. “Many people are unaware of this and do not inquire about buying a dog, and we urge people not to buy these dogs and postpone their choice to healthier breeds.”

Ⓒ AFP – Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS – | A dog at Pugs & Pals cafe, a bar dedicated to pug lovers (“pug”) in Brick Lane, East London, October 27, 2017

Aida and Anushka provide prevention for their clients.

But the vet remains circumspect. For her, “showing her love to her animal means taking her on a ride, not in a bar”.

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