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So you want a pug? But what do you need to know about this adorable breed?
If you want a comical, playful, compact companion, a pug might be the right breed for you.
Pugs are fine for novice owners. They’re sweet, happy dogs who never met a stranger. So if you’re outgoing too, a pug could be a good fit.
Read on. I’ll tell you the positive–and negative–traits of the breed to help you determine whether a pug’s the right dog for you.
25 Facts About Pugs: What’s Good About Them and What’s Bad About Them
1. Pugs Are Classified as Toy Breed Dogs by the American Kennel Club (AKC)
Pugs are happy, outgoing dogs who love everyone. To them, strangers are just friends who they have yet to meet.
They are very affectionate and good with respectful children, other friendly dogs, and dog-friendly cats.
So if you want a big dog in a small package, a pug may be for you.
2. They Don’t Require a Lot of Exercise
A couple of short walks a day when it’s cool out and some indoor play will help keep a pug fit.
Pugs love to snuggle on the sofa with their people. But you need to make sure that they do get some physical exercise because they tend to put on weight easily.
They’re very playful and intelligent, so add some enrichment activities and games into their daily repertoire.
Puzzle toys will help prevent boredom. With a pug, make sure that any puzzle toy that you choose won’t irritate his eyes.
But most of all, pugs enjoy being around people.
3. Pugs Were Bred To Be Companions
If you’re looking for a hiking, running, or swimming partner, a pug isn’t the dog for you.
Although energetic, they wouldn’t be able to keep up with you and would overheat. And they don’t usually make good swimmers.
But if you’re seeking a friendly dog who will accompany you on walks during cool weather and go on adventures like the pet store, visiting friends, or dining outdoors, a pug can be a great companion.
Just be sure not to feed him your delicacies–they tend to easily put on excess weight.
4. Pugs Are an Ancient Breed, Devoted to Their People
Pugs were bred as companions for the ruling families in China, dating back to the Han Dynasty in 206 B.C. They were so cherished, they were guarded by soldiers.
Some historians believe that they are related to the Tibetan Mastiff.
Dutch traders in the 1500s returned to Europe with some pugs.
Legend has it that a pug named Pompey saved the life of the Prince of Orange by barking, alerting him of the approach of assassins.
In 1572, pugs became the official dog of Holland’s House of Orange.
Pugs accompanied William and Mary of Orange when they arrived in England to assume the Monarchy. Pugs then became popular in England,
The breed later became popular throughout Europe and were depicted in postcards, paintings (even wearing clothes!), and figurines during the Victorian Period.
Pugs entered the United States after the Civil War. The AKC recognized the popular breed in 1885.
By the turn of the Century, interest in the breed waned. Dedicated breeders kept the breed going and the Pug Dog Club of America was formed in 1931 and was recognized by the AKC that year.
5. What Does “Pug” Mean?
The theory is that the name came from the latin word “pugnus,” which means “fist.”
Although pugs are docile, it was believed that their wrinkled muzzle resembles a clenched fist.
Another legend is that pugs were so prized by the Chinese because their wrinkles resemble good luck symbols in the Chinese language.
A group of pugs is called a grumble.
6. Pugs Are Popular
They are 35th in AKC popularity out of 287 breeds.
Because they are so popular, make sure you get one from a reputable breeder or rescue. Dogs from puppy mills or back yard breeders tend to have health and behavior problems.
7. Pugs Require Little Coat Maintenance, But They Are Heavy Shedders
If you want a pristine home, a pug may not be for you unless you constantly clean up after their shedding coat. Although they have short hair, they shed year-round.
They need only occasional baths when they have a doggy odor or if they become dirty. Usually a monthly bath will suffice.
You must keep his facial fold dry to avoid moist dermatitis. And check his prominent eyes regularly to be sure that nothing irritates them.
8. Recognized Pug Colors
- Fawn (most popular)
Both have a black mask.
9. Pugs May Appear Pugnacious, But Actually Have a Sweet Temperament
Pugs are sturdy, with a square, cobby, muscular body with a deep chest and a curled tail. Their flat muzzle appears to be more comical than threatening.
If you are a gregarious person, a pug would be a great companion. A well-bred, socialized, and trained pug never met a stranger.
The breed standard describes them as even-tempered, charming, stable, dignified, playful, with an outgoing, loving disposition.
10. Pugs Are Small Dogs
They stand at 10 to 13 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 14 to 18 pounds.
11. Pugs Are Great Travel Companions
Pugs go with the flow. They are adaptable and are just happy to be where you are.
Comical, quizzical, and downright adorable, if you travel with a pug, people are sure to follow. So you–and your pug–will make new friends.
With smaller dogs–especially brachycephalic ones–I recommend walking them in a harness.
12. Pugs Can Live in the City, Suburbs, or Country
Pugs are quiet dogs who rarely bark. They will only bark occasionally to alert you to something unusual. So they can easily live in attached housing.
The only thing that you have to be concerned about is making sure that they aren’t exposed for any length of time to temperature extremes. They can quickly overheat.
So if you live where it’s often very hot, just make sure that your pug is walked during the coolest part of the day. And that he’s only taken out for potty breaks during the hottest part of the day.
Some pug parents even train their pugs to use potty pads.
13. They Have Long Lives
If you want to have a dog who will be with you a long time–and who doesn’t–a pug is a great choice. They have a life expectancy of 13 to 15 years.
14. Pugs Hit the Big Time: Fun Facts
- Frank, the talking pug in the Men in Black movies, was played by animal actor Mushu
- A pug named Otis in the 1989 movie The Adventures of Milo and Otis was originally known as “Poosky” in the original Japanese 1986 version called The Adventures of Chatran
- Percy the pug is in Pocahantas
- Doug the Pug on Instagram had more than 13 million followers. In 2019, he was even awarded a People’s Choice Award for Animal Star.
- Some pug aficionados even have parties where they dress up like their dog and have pug parades. They love to meet other pug parents.
- In the 1814 novel Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, the hero’s mother, Lady Bertram, owned a pet pug who she thought more of than her children
15. Their Flat Faces Cause Them To Be Prone To Certain Problems
Pugs are a brachycephalic breed, which means that their head is both broad and short, resulting in small nostrils, long palates, and a narrow trachea.
This can lead to brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome, which can result in severe respiratory distress.
They are also at risk in extremes of temperature–too cold or too hot– and humidity.
So, if it’s too hot out, make sure that your pug relaxes inside comfortably in the air conditioning and only goes out for a quick potty break.
Even if it’s too cold out, just take him out for potty breaks not long walks.
They also are prone to snoring and snorting, so get ear plugs if your pug sleeps with you.
As a short-muzzled breed, they are also prone to a reverse sneeze in which the dog snorts and gags for no more than a minute or two to clear mucus.
Though not harmful, a reverse sneeze is frightening to hear.
Because of a flat muzzle and large, protruding eyes, a pug is also prone to eye injuries.
So be careful when playing with him or even walking him that he doesn’t brush up against something that can cause an injury.
16. They Have Other Potential Problems To Be Aware of
Make sure that you get your pug from a reputable breeder or rescue group. A poorly-bred pug can be prone to many health problems.
Pugs can be prone to the following health problems:
- Patellar luxation
- Necrotizing Meningoencephalitis/Pug Dog Encephalitis (NME/PDE), for which there is no known cure
- Hemivertebra, which can cause paralysis
- Back problems
- Hip dysplasia
- Nerve degeneration later in life
- Skin conditions, including yeast infections, staph infections, walking dandruff caused by a small mite, and demodectic mange
- Eye problems including corneal ulcers, proptosis, progressive retinal atrophy, entropion, distichiasis, and dry eye
- Breathing problems if overweight
- Legg-Perthes disease
- Vaccination sensitivity
A UK study published May 18, 2022, about the health of pugs, Health of Pug dogs in the UK: disorder predispositions and protections, found that, because of certain health issues when compared to other breeds, “the Pug breed can no longer be considered as a typical dog from the perspective of its disorder profile.”
Concern about the future of the breed led to the conclusion that there are “many critical health-related welfare challenges to overcome for pugs.”
As great a companion as pugs are, it’s important to take into consideration these potential health issues. If your pug gets them, they can be expensive–and some are even deadly.
A friend of mine who I traveled with to dog shows had a well-bred, seemingly healthy, pug named Rosie.
Rosie suddenly became ill one day. Even though my friend took the dog to the best specialists, they couldn’t save Rosie, who was diagnosed with PDE.
Fortunately, my friend had other pugs who did not have the disease, which is thought to be inherited.
And I’ve trained many pugs over the years who were basically healthy.
It’s probably wise to get health insurance when getting a pug. But make sure that the policy covers injuries as well as inherited diseases.
17. Check Their Eyes Regularly To Avoid Problems
Because they tend to get many eye problems and injuries, check their eyes regularly for redness or irritation every day.
Their eyes are so prominent they’re prone to problems from dust, pollen, low humidity, or even injuries when playing.
18. Pugs Tend To Put on Weight
Pugs can easily become obese. So don’t give in to that comical, pleading face looking up at you as you dine. And also watch how many treats he gets.
19. They Tend To Have Dental Problems
As is true with many brachycephalic breeds, pugs are more likely than some breeds to experience dental problems. They also can have an underbite.
So regular teeth brushing and veterinary care can help prevent dental disease.
20. Pugs Are More Expensive than Many Breeds
Because of the size of the neonatal skull relative to the birth canal, they often require a C-section for the puppies to be born.
And the National Breed Club recommends the following tests for the breeding parents:
- Eye exam by a board-certified ACVO ophthalmologist
- Necrotizing Meningoencephalitis/Pug Dog Encephalitis (NME/PDE)
- Patellar Luxation
21. They Make Great Therapy Dogs
Because of their stable temperament and love of people, pugs often make great therapy dogs.
22. Pugs Need Positive Reinforcement Training
To remain the happy, loving, outgoing dogs they are meant to be, they require training that uses positive reinforcement (treats, praise, petting, play).
They are intelligent, sensitive dogs who need consistent training. They love to be with their people so, if you keep training fun, a pug can learn quite a lot.
I used to go to dog shows with a friend who showed her pugs in competitive obedience.
Her dogs even attained the highest titles–doing scent work, retrieving a dumbbell over a jump, and responding to hand signals. And they even placed sometimes!
23. Pugs Are Versatile
Pugs are intelligent and can learn competitive obedience, rally, tricks, barn hunt, nose work, and FASTCAT (luring).
The sky’s the limit as long as you make sure that they don’t overheat or perform in extreme cold or heat.
24. Socialize a Pug So That He Doesn’t Develop Behavior Problems
Pugs are naturally friendly and curious with stable temperaments. But, to reach their potential, they should be socialized to all that they will face in everyday life.
25. There Are Valuable Resources To Find a Great Pug
You may decide to get a pug from a breeder or rescue one.
- For rescue information for pugs, contact the Pug Dog Club of America
- For breeder referrals, contact the Pug Dog Club of America or the American Kennel Club
I’m thinking about getting a pug but have two children. Do you recommend this breed?
Pugs can be great with respectful children. They love people and participating in family activities.
It’s crucial that everyone interacting with the dog–including children–be careful to not damage his eyes or back. So no roughhouse or pushing on his spine.
Are pugs generally healthy dogs?
If you get a pug from reputable breeder who does the appropriate health screenings of the breeding parents, he should be healthy.
If you get a rescued pug, you can probably already see his health status and if there are current issues.
Just be aware of the potential health problems (listed above) that some pugs have. And ask your breeder or rescue about them.
I have two friendly dogs, a golden retriever and a Maltese. Are pugs friendly with other dogs?
Yes. A well-bred, socialized, and trained pug should be friendly with other dogs.
Pugs can be great companions for the right family. They’re friendly and have a stable temperament. And they don’t require a lot of exercise.
But they are heavy shedders and are prone to a number of health problems to be aware of before making your decision.
Do you have a pug?
Tell us about him or her?
If you don’t already have one, has this blog post helped you decide whether or not to get a pug?
Tell us about it in the comments section below.
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