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Pug

All about the Pug

Diet
Lifespan 12-15 years
Weight 6-8 kg
Height 25-33 cm
Temperament Cheerful, lively, loving
Common colours

What are Pug's like?

Pugs are pretty unmistakable pooches thanks to their squashed faces, and have become hugely pup-ular in recent years along with other smooshy pups like the French Bulldog. They make cheeky and cheerful pets, and these deeply loving dogs are happy to be the centre of family life. They don’t need a lot of exercise but they do need regular grooming to keep them looking and feeling their best.

Pug

Breed overview

Despite their recent pup-ularity, the Pug is a very ancient breed. Bred to be a devoted companion dog, Pugs are paw-fectly suited to cuddling and have a gentle and charming paw-sonality to match. And with those squashy chops, they’re near irresistible to snuggle!

Those adorable squashed faces were deliberately bred into the breed because that was the fashion centuries ago. Nowadays, those flat faces, wrinkles, and rolls of skin are their trademark and as beloved as ever. If being smooshy wasn’t enough, they also have expressive little faces, large eyes, and round heads, adding to their cute appeal.

Being a flat-faced or “brachycephalic” breed does mean that Pugs are prone to a few health problems, and can’t tolerate heat very well. So if you’re looking for a canicross companion, a Pug won’t be able to keep up.

Small, sturdy, and stout, the Pug packs a surprising amount of strength under all that loose skin, but they don’t have a lot of stamina so they won’t be going on hikes with you. Daily walkies and playtime are a must though to keep these playful and lively dogs fit and active, and to help prevent them from piling on the pounds.

Breed history

Where do Pugs come from?

Pugs have existed for thousands of years and were originally kept as companion dogs in the Imperial Court of China. They have been living in the lap of luxury since 400 BC, but they could be even older. These lapdogs were so highly prized, some even lived under the protection of dedicated guards! As well as living the high life, Pugs were pup-ular companions for monks, and many Pugs could be found in monasteries throughout Tibet.

There is some debate about what dog breeds Pugs are descended from, and it’s largely believed that they must be related to the Pekingese. Pugs and Pekingese do look very similar, as a Pug looks like a Pekingese with a haircut! They are both from China and have existed for thousands of years, but whether one breed descended into another, or they had a shared ancestor, is lost to time.

Fawn Pug with black mask

What were Pugs bred for?

Throughout the centuries of their breed history, Pugs have only ever had one job. They were bred to be companion animals, and have been unwavering in their love and loyalty to this day. You could think of them as paw-fessional snugglers!

Pup-ularity in Europe

Dutch traders are often credited with introducing the Pug to Europe sometime in the 16th Century, as they took a paw-ticular fancy to the flat-faced Fido. “Mopshonds” as the Dutch called them became a hit with their royal family and even became their official dog after saving the life of the Prince of Orange.

The story goes that the prince, William of Orange, was sleeping in his tent in a war camp in France, when Spanish assassins came in the night. His Pug “Pompey” raised the alarm, barking and jumping on his master until he woke up, and the assassins were caught. Delighted by his devoted little dog, the prince made the Pug the official dog of the House of Orange.

Almost 100 years later when William III of Orange came to claim the English throne, he and his wife brought a pack of Pugs with them. By then, Pugs had spread throughout Europe and were a firm favourite of many royal households and featured in many paw-traits and paintings with their aristocratic owners.

Right royal favourites

The House of Orange wasn't the only royal household with a love of Pugs. Josephine Bonaparte, wife of Napoleon, had a little Pug called Fortune who had a few “tails” to tell.

Fortune allegedly carried messages between Josephine and her family when she was imprisoned during the Reign of Terror, as the Pug was the only paw-son with visiting rights to see her. Later, when Josephine married Napoleon, the dog became a point of contention on their wedding night as she insisted the dog had to sleep in the bed too, much to Napoleon’s chagrin! (As they say, love me, love my dog!)
Queen Victoria was barking mad for these little dogs and bred a line of her own. During her reign, Pugs became increasingly pup-ular here in the UK.

During this time, many Pugs looked leaner than the modern Pug, with longer snouts and legs. By 1860, more Pugs were imported from China and these pooches had the wrinkly, squashed face and stout bodies we know and love today.

It’s believed that the pup-ular Pug was bred with the King Charles Spaniel at some point in the 19th century, giving the modern King Charles Spaniels their squashed faces.

By 1885 Pugs were a recognised breed by the Kennel Club, and the next year, black Pugs were introduced to the UK. They’ve been a pup-ular pet ever since and the rest, as they say, is history!

Key stats

MaleFemale
Size:Small (Toy)Small (Toy)
Average Height (Withers):28-33 cm25-30 cm
Average Weight:6.3 - 8.1 kg6.3-8.1 kg
Lifespan:12-15 years12-15 years
Coat:ShortShort
Hypoallergenic:NoNo
Sheds:YesYes

Pugs are pretty unmistakable pooches thanks to their squashed faces, and have become hugely pup-ular in recent years along with other smooshy pups like the French Bulldog. They make cheeky and cheerful pets, and these deeply loving dogs are happy to be the centre of family life. They don’t need a lot of exercise but they do need regular grooming to keep them looking and feeling their best.

Fun facts about Pugs

What do you call a pack of pugs?

A group of pugs is called a “Grumble”.

Meaning in the wrinkles

Allegedly, breeders were trying to get the wrinkles on their Pug’s faces to look like the Chinese character for “Prince”.

What’s in a name?

There are a few ways Pugs supposedly got their name. One theory is that it’s from the Latin “pugnus” meaning “fist” because that’s what those wrinkly faces looked like.

Another theory is that it’s because Marmoset monkeys were called “Pug monkeys” and were popular pets a few hundred years ago. People thought these wrinkly dogs had faces like those monkeys and so they became “Pug dogs”.

Pugs had their own secret society

After the Pope forbade Catholics from becoming Freemasons, a couple of Roman-Catholics created their own secret society called The Order of the Pug. To enter, you had to wear a dog collar and scratch at the door, and other members would bark at you as you were initiated.

You also had to kiss the “Grand Pug’s” bum as a sign of loyalty. (Luckily it was just a porcelain Pug statue!) Unlike many secret societies, The Order of the Pug allowed women to join. They picked the Pug as their symbol because they were a sign of loyalty and trustworthiness, as well as a symbol for the revolution in the English government at the time.

Modern influencers

Pugs were pup-ular with royalty, nowadays, they might as well be! Doug the Pug is the second most famous dog on the internet with 4 million followers on Instagram alone.

Pug puppies

Bringing a Pug puppy home is exciting, and these little butterballs will undoubtedly bring a lot of love and laughter into your life. Socialising your Pug puppy from day one is im-paw-tent to build their confidence and to help settle them into family life. It also helps to make the most of their stable, sociable nature and ensures your pooch is happy to meet new people and pets without confrontation as adults.

Fawn and black Pug puppies

You must take care of all Pugs, but especially puppies. This is because of their large, exposed eyes. If you have any children in the house, you have to make sure they know how to play with a puppy safely to avoid accidents that could harm them or the pup.

When are Pug puppies fully grown?

Your Pug puppy should reach their adult size by the time they are 9 months old. By then, they should be their adult height and length, but they might not look as stout or weigh as much as older Pugs because their muscles will continue developing until they’re 1 year old. By your puppy’s first birthday, they will probably be their full size and weight. Pugs are prone to weight gain though, so make sure they’re not filling out too much!

Are Pugs easy to train?

Generally, Pugs are happy to learn and about average to train, so training them isn’t a walk in the park but it isn’t difficult either. However, getting them to obey can be a little trickier, as they often have a bit of a stubborn streak and would rather do things on their terms!

Pugs can be won over easily with a treat though, as these little dogs are very food motivated. (Just make sure not to overindulge them as this can lead to obesity.) Provided you have a tasty reward and lots of praise to give, your Pug should be paw-fectly happy to follow your lead.

Are Pugs easy to house train?

Pugs aren’t the easiest dog to housetrain. Small breeds typically take longer to housetrain than larger breeds simply because they have small bladders and can’t hold everything in for long. Pugs can be a bit stubborn too, which can hamper training. However a Pug puppy can be housetrained, you just need to be patient and persistent. Treats will help too since these little guys can’t resist a snack!

Crate training can help speed up housetraining a puppy. Avoid using puppy pads because this will slow down your training and get your puppy used to peeing and pooping inside. You can read more top tips on toilet training here.

Paw-some Pug names

Trying to sniff out a pa-some name for this prince of pooches? We have 1000 girl dog names and 1000 boy dog names to help you find the paw-fect name for your Pug!

Pug temperament

Pugs have a paw-some temperament that sums them up as a princely companion dog, and they are bursting with character. They’re also summed up by the phrase “multum in parvo”, in other words, they’ve got the paw-sonality of a big dog packed into the body of a little dog.

The breed is described as gentle and charming, with a stable temperament. Pugs have a docile and dependable nature, and they’re loving and sociable enough that they will get along with anyone or anything. With proper training and socialisation, a Pug is paw-fectly happy to live with children and other pets, even cats.

Apricot pug with black mask

Although they are docile, Pugs are cheeky and fun-loving with a mischievous side and will always be trying to sniff out something fun to do. If you’re looking for a playful family member that’s sure to entertain you and keep you on your toes, but still be happy to have a snuggle, a pug might be paw-fect for you.

They can be strong-willed and have a stubborn streak, so getting them to do as they’re told can be a little tricky at times.

Are Pugs good family dogs?

Pugs are definitely well-suited for family life. As long as your Pug puppy is socialised, they should be paw-fectly happy to live with children of all ages and even other pets. They aren’t aggressive dogs nor do they have a high prey drive, so they’re pretty chill characters.

Their gentle and fun-loving paw-sonality means they get on very well with children and are happy to get up to mischief or cuddle on the sofa like any good canine sidekick. Their gentle, docile nature also means they make great companions for anyone really, and make paw-fect matches for active older couples who’d like a pet to keep them company and enjoy a gentle stroll with, but doesn’t have boundless energy.

Can Pugs be left alone?

Pugs are usually paw-fectly fine being left alone for a few hours as long as they are house trained and socialised, and have plenty of toys and activities to keep them occupied.

However, they are a companion breed and a doting little dog, so extended time alone can bring them down in the dumps and they can develop separation anxiety. Just like any dog, a Pug left alone for too long can become bored and bark a lot, or even become destructive and troublesome, chewing the furniture or raiding the bin.

Gradually introduce your pooch to time alone as part of their training, and give them lots of paws-itive activities to stop them from getting bored and lonely. If needs be, try and get someone to check on your Pug and take them out for a toilet break if you know you’ll be out for a few hours.

Are Pugs aggressive?

Pugs aren’t usually aggressive and they’re generally pretty placid pups with a stable temperament. However, every individual dog is different and lack of proper socialisation can make any pooch fearful or aggressive, regardless of breed. Pugs can sometimes become aggressive out of fear if they are intimidated by a larger dog or a stranger. Early socialisation will help to build your Pug’s confidence and ensure they will be paw-fectly happy to meet new people and pooches

Do Pugs bark a lot?

Pugs are prone to barking, but they’re not yappy and won’t usually bark without reason. They are alert and lively so they make paw-some watchdogs and bark to alert you of anything out of the ordinary near your home. Other than barking at anyone at the door, these dogs are generally quiet.

Although your pug won’t be a big barker, they do make a lot of other noises. These short-nosed pups can be wheezy, snuffly, and will snort and snore!

Pug appearance

Pugs stand out in the canine world thanks to their stout bodies and squashed faces. They should look small but solid, with square bodies and broad chests, strong legs, and a surprising amount of muscle. Although square and stout, they shouldn’t be chubby.

Their neck arches and should be strong enough to hold up their head, which looks large in proportion to their body. Their big heads should be nicely rounded but not highly domed, with plenty of wrinkles, and large round, dark eyes. As well as all those wrinkles and round eyes, a Pug usually has an undershot jaw, which is where their bottom jaw is longer than the top, and their bottom teeth go in front of the top teeth.

Pugs can have either a “button” ear which folds forward into a little triangle by their cheeks or a “rose” ear that folds back to reveal the inside of the ear and giving it a rose shape. (Greyhounds often have this ear shape.)

Fawn Pug with black mask

If you have a pale-coloured Pug they should have a black mask on their face, and other defining features on their fur should be black too. For example, any moles or “beauty spots” they have on their cheeks. Otherwise, your pup can be all-black.

The paw-fect pedigree Pug will have short, glossy fur and a high-set tail that should be tightly curled, ideally with two curls.

Pug size

Pugs are a “small” dog within the toy category and stand between 25-33cm tall. Females are usually smaller than males. Their bodies are longer than they are tall, and they’re surprisingly heavy for their size!

Pug colours

You won’t find a rainbow of Pug colours around. Pugs come in a small variety of colours ranging from fawn to black, and they usually have a black mask on their face, even if they have a pale body. Otherwise, they’re all-black. There are about 14 different pug colours, but only 4 are within the breed standard.

The breed standard pug colours are:

Fawn with a black maskApricot with a black mask
Silver with a black maskBlack

Although these are the only Pug colours outlined in the breed standard, a number of other colours are out there. These are non-standard colours and so it’s undesirable for show dogs, but paw-fectly fine for your pet pooch.

The non-standard Pug colours include:

Black and tanBlack with white, tan, or sable markingsBlueBlue with white, tan, or sable markingsBrown
Brown with white, tan, or sable markingsCream without a black maskSilver without a black maskWhiteSable

Sable is a coat pattern where the dog has two separate colours within their fur that show on the strand of hair. Usually, their hair grows pale at the base and darkens at the tip.

Living with your Pug

Where can Pugs live?

Given their small size and low exercise needs, a Pug is paw-fectly happy to live anywhere and they can make great apartment pups because they don’t need a lot of space. However, they are self-appointed watchdogs and will bark at anything passing by, so you’ll need to train them to follow a “quiet” command to avoid pup-setting your neighbours.

How much exercise do Pugs need?

Pugs don’t need a lot of exercise, but they do need a daily walk to help keep them fit and healthy. A Pug doesn’t need more than an hour of walkies a day, and many are paw-fectly happy with just a half-hour stroll around the block. Aim to provide 30-60 minutes of exercise for your Pug every day, plus plenty of playtime and mental stimulation back at home.

When it comes to exercising your Pug, sometimes less is more and you’ll need to make sure you don’t overexert your dog. Because of their brachycephalic faces (those squashed noses), they can struggle to catch their breath. Pugs are also vulnerable to the heat and struggle to breathe in hot weather, so make sure you only walk your Pug in the cooler morning or evening hours come summer and give them some help to keep cool.

How long do Pugs live for?

A Pug lifespan is between 12 to 15 years, making them a relatively long-lived dog breed. One pug called Snookie allegedly made it to 27 years old! This is definitely out of the ordinary, but some lucky pups do make it to their late teens. The average Pug lifespan for a boy dog is 12.7 years though, and 13.2 years for a female.

What health problems do Pugs have?

Because Pugs are a brachycephalic breed with a flat face, they are prone to a few health problems because of their squashed snout and exposed eyes, some of which can be a major issue.

Common Pug health problems are:

  • Obesity
  • Eye problems
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Joint issues
  • Pug Dog Encephalitis
  • Skin infections

Obesity

Obesity is one of the most common health concerns for any breed of dog, and Pugs are prone to piling on the pounds. They’re very easy to pamper and given they aren’t the most active breed, they can become overweight easily which can put extra strain on their little joints and make breathing problems worse. Luckily it’s easy to prevent weight gain by simply feeding your pooch a healthy diet and enjoying daily walkies.

Eye problems

A Pug’s eyes are pretty vulnerable because they’re large and exposed on their flat faces, and only have shallow sockets, so they’re easy to scratch or irritate. It means they’re prone to a range of problems like dry eye, corneal ulcers, and a condition called entropion where their eyelid folds inward. They can also be affected by proptosis, which means their eye can literally bulge out the socket or even pop out.

Breathing difficulties

All brachycephalic breeds are prone to breathing problems, including Pugs. Generally, it means they can struggle to catch their breath if they overexert themselves, and they can overheat easily. They can also develop brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome, which is caused by their anatomy and results in serious breathing difficulties.

Joint issues

Like many small breeds, Pugs can suffer luxating patella (dislocating knee). The breed can also be affected by hip and elbow dysplasia. They’re also prone to Legg Perthes disease which causes their hip joint to crumble. Pugs being bred should be screened for conditions like dysplasia and Legg Perthes, as well as neurological conditions like PDE.

Pug Dog Encephalitis (PDE)

Pug Dog Encephalitis is a serious condition that causes inflammation in the brain and central nervous system and causes seizures. It can also be called “necrotizing meningoencephalitis”. It is progressive and usually fatal. Neurological conditions are one of the largest causes of death for Pugs, and PDE is the most frequently seen neurological problem within the breed.

Skin infections

Those wonderful wrinkles and rolls of skin sadly make the Pug predisposed to skin infections. Dirt and bacteria can easily get trapped in the folds of their skin and cause sores and infection. Plus, it’s nice and warm and dark in those wrinkles, making it the paw-fect breeding ground for bacteria.

That’s why it’s im-paw-tent to clean your Pug’s wrinkles and rolls regularly and make sure they’re thoroughly dried after a bath. Usually, keeping your pooch clean is all you need to do to prevent any problems.

Grooming a Pug

How to groom a Pug

Silver Pug

Given their short fur, it can be surprising for Pug paw-rents to find that their pooch requires a moderate amount of grooming. Although they don’t need to have their fur trimmed or styled, Pugs need regular brushing and washing to strip dead hair from their coat and to keep their wrinkles clean.

Brushing your Pug every few days is im-paw-tent to maintain their coat condition and to help minimise shedding. You can get a de-shedding comb that helps to remove the dead hair from their coat and it’s one of the best things you can do to help reduce the amount of fur your Pug sheds. If you take your pooch to the groomer you can also ask them to strip the dead hair from their coat too.

Bathing your pug should help to keep them clean and to control shedding. A good scrub and a towel dry will help to loosen and lift out some of their dead fur. Many Pug owners like to bathe them once a month, but you can leave it for longer if your pooch seems clean.

Bathing more often than once a month can strip their fur and skin of natural oils, drying them out and making them more prone to shedding and skin problems. After bathing your Pug, you’ll have to take extra care to make sure they’re completely dry. This is because if their rolls and wrinkles are left damp, it can create sores and lead to infection.

Some owners have their Pug groomed and clipped, but this isn’t necessary. Pugs only have short hair anyway, and their thick double coat is what protects them from getting too hot or cold and clipping them will make them even more vulnerable to temperature changes.

Wash those wrinkles

Cleaning their wrinkles regularly is im-paw-tent because dirt can get stuck in there and these areas are dark and warm making them the paw-fect bacteria breeding ground. All you need to do is get a damp cotton pad or a dog-safe baby wipe and run it under their skin folds, then use a tissue or similar to dry them off thoroughly. Cleaning their wrinkles every day will help to prevent your pooch from becoming smelly or succumbing to skin infections.

Other routine hygiene

As well as bathing and brushing your Pug, you need to carry out a few routine hygiene tasks. The most im-paw-tent of these is checking and cleaning their eyes and ears. Their big bug eyes are quite vulnerable so you should check them and clean any debris or discharge daily. Your Pug’s ears should be checked once a week. You can clean their ears with a cotton pad in a similar way you would clean their wrinkles to keep them clean and help to prevent infection. You can also buy a special solution to use to clean their ear canals every few weeks.

A Pug needs their nails trimmed from time to time just like any other dog. Your pup hardly needs a pedicure, but you should check their claws every few weeks and trim them as needed. Take the time to check the condition of their pads too, and make sure there’s nothing stuck in there or any sores between their toe beans.

Like many other small breeds, Pugs are prone to dental problems. To be honest, dental problems are one of the most common health problems for all breeds of dog and 80% of dogs will have periodontal disease before the age of 3. However, regularly brushing your dog’s teeth can seriously reduce their risk of dental issues such as plaque, tartar, and cavities. Yet most dog paw-rents (78%) don’t think their dog will ever have a dental problem and a similar number of owners have NEVER brushed their dog’s teeth!

Brushing your Pug’s teeth a few times a week with a toothbrush and dog-safe toothpaste will help to prevent most oral health issues, which means fewer vet visits and vet bills. Plus it’ll also keep that dreaded dog breath at bay!

Do Pugs shed?

You might think that a Pug won’t shed a whole lot because they are a small dog with short hair, but you would be sorely mistaken. Pugs have a dense coat and shed pretty heavily and continually. These pooches shed all year round, but more so seasonally when they shed their summer coat to grow a thicker winter coat or shed the winter coat to grow a thinner summer coat.

Most Pugs have a double coat so there is more hair to shed, and their hair is short so it completes the growth cycle sooner, which means it dies and sheds more often. There is an exception with black Pugs, as they typically only have a single coat of hair so they shed less than other colours of Pug.

There are other reasons why your Pug might be shedding more. A Pug puppy will shed a lot while they transition into their adult coat. Additionally, if you have a female dog who hasn’t been neutered, she will shed more during hormonal changes such as during her seasons. Poor diet and dehydration can also affect the quality of your Pug’s coat and increase shedding.

There are ways to help control your Pug’s shedding though. Regularly brushing and bathing your dog will help to remove dead hair, while feeding them quality food and ensuring they stay hydrated will prevent poor coat condition and dry skin which can increase shedding.

Are Pugs hypoallergenic?

No, Pugs are not hypoallergenic because they do shed a lot. If you have allergies the best thing to do is to spend some time with the breed you like to see if their pup-set your sensitivities.

All dogs shed some hair, dander, or drool which are paw-tential allergens. Even a hypoallergenic breed like a Bichon Frise still sheds, they just shed significantly less and the dead hair tends to stay within their coat.

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