The Pug: An Adaptable and Friendly Compact Breed


So named because his appearance resembles the human fist, the Pug is a playful and comical breed. Throughout history, this small dog has been known as the Mopshond, Dogullo, Caganlino, and Carlin in various countries. Ideal family dogs, pugs easily adapt to lifestyle changes but fare poorly in weather extremes and abhor being left alone. Difficult to train, but perfect companions, this wrinkled pup is a good choice for novice owners.

Highlights

  • Perfect for apartment living
  • A good breed for novice dog owners
  • A good family dog
  • Highly playful
  • Easy to groom
  • Does not like to be left alone

The History of the Pug

Like many breeds with similar appearance, the pug originated in China. It is believed that this small companion dog was first noted as far back as the Han Dynasty from B.C. 206 to A.D. 200.

Seen as a luxury breed that was prized by Chinese royalty, many believe that the legendary “Foo Dog” of China is based on this small dog. It was not only China that saw this companion breed in its early years, however, traces of the pug have also been noted in Japan and Tibet.

It wasn’t until the early 1600’s when China began to trade with Europe that the Pug became a more recognized breed. These first Pugs of Europe were thought to have been brought over from China by Dutch traders.

Similar to their popularity among royalty in China, European royalty took a shine to this flat-faced dog. It wouldn’t be until the early 1800’s, however, that the Pug would become popular in England. It was even later that pugs would appear in the U.S. after the end of the Civil War. Only in 1931 was this ancient breed recognized by the AKC.

Appearance and Vital Stats

Breed Group

The Pug is a member of the “Toy” breed group.

Like all Toy breeds, the pug was bred for companionship and personal entertainment rather than for working demand.

Size

The pug size

The Pug weighs between 14 lbs. and 18 lbs. and stand between 10” and 14” tall. There is little difference in size between male and female dogs of this breed.

As with many other smaller breeds, some unscrupulous breeders of the Pug purposefully breed smaller dogs. These dogs are sold as “unique” teacup, miniature, or toy Pugs, however, they are nothing more than bad breeding practices. There is no recognized miniature version of the pug among reputable breeding circles.

Lifespan

The average lifespan of the Pug is between 12 years and 15 years old.

Health concerns caused by poor breeding can influence this average life expectancy, however, particularly respiratory conditions.

Coat Colors

The pug coat colors

The Pug has a soft, smooth, and fine coat that has a glossy appearance. Although there are various coat colors seen in the Pug, there are only two officially recognized colors: black and fawn. Within these colors, different shades are seen, however, such as apricot and silver fawn.

Tail

The pug tail

The Pug should have a tightly curled tail and it is preferred that it be doubly curled. The short tail is held up and over to the side over the hip.

Ears

The pug rose ears

The Pug has small and soft ears that come in two recognized varieties. These include the rose and the button ear. The rose ear (pictured above) is smaller in size and makes the head of the dog look larger. The button ear (pictured below) is larger, the fold of the ear sits level with the head and the ear falls to the cheek level. Of the two ear types, owners generally prefer the button ear.

The pug button ears

Personality

Trainability

The Pug can be a difficult breed to train, particularly when it comes to housebreaking. Like many smaller dogs, the Pug is also often reluctant to use the bathroom outside when it is raining which can be difficult to overcome.

As far as obedience training, the Pug is a relatively slow learner, but with perseverance can be well trained. Combined with a low potential for wanderlust, a low tendency to bark, and a moderate prey drive, the Pug can be a challenge but is certainly not the most difficult breed to train.

Playfulness

A very playful dog, the Pug is always ready to play a game but must be the center of attention. If he feels that he is not being “included” or his people walk away to leave him to play alone, he will abandon the game. Companionship comes first for this pup.

Apartment Living

Apartment life doesn’t bother the Pug and he’s a good choice for anyone with limited living space.

Although smaller spaces don’t bother him, it is important to emphasize socialization for the Pug if you intend on living in a smaller community. This means exposing him to strangers, children, and other animals at a young age.

Compatibility with Children and Pets

As noted above, socialization is particularly important for this breed. If properly socialized, however, the Pug does well with children and other pets.

While many small breeds can be snappy with children due to their fragility, the Pug is a much hardier breed and loves to horseplay. It should be noted, however, that the Pug’s energy supply is limited and unlike larger breeds, he cannot play all day.

It’s also important for children to recognize the Pug’s limitations when it comes to temperature extremes. Due to their flat face as well as their short coat, the Pug does not fare well in very cold or very warm environments. This limits outdoor play and results in shorter playtimes to avoid this dog from getting overheated or too chilled.

Care

Feeding

The Pug does not eat a great deal and can be satisfied with ½ cup to 1 cup of good quality food daily. This total amount should be divided between two meals.

A relatively low-stamina breed and a lover of food, it is very common for the pug to become obese. Care should be taken to provide adequate exercise as well as not to overfeed.

Grooming

The short double-coat of the pug sheds much more than most people would realize. To reduce the amount of hair shed indoors, the Pug should be brushed a few times weekly.

Bathing should be done no more than once a month to avoid over drying the skin and coat.

While bathing should be minimal, it is important to thoroughly wash and dry the facial folds of this breed daily. The folds of the face can not only trap moisture and bacteria, but they can also trap food. A warm washcloth and clean towel will help to keep facial folds clean and dry and free from infection and odor.

The Pug can have problems with their ears as they fold over, trapping moisture and heat. Care should be taken to gently clean and dry ears any time they get wet as well as a few times monthly to prevent build-up of wax, dirt, or moisture.

The Pug requires regular nail trims since they are mainly “house dogs” and do not spend much time outdoors. Where other dogs naturally grind down their nails while walking outside, the Pug does not.

Lastly, due to the unique bulging nature of the Pug’s eyes, you must always take care to keep them protected. During bathing, soap can easily irritate the eye and various types of activity can also lead to eye damage.

Exercise

Although the Pug has a relatively low stamina, they do have bursts of energy which are easily managed with two short daily walks daily. If extreme weather does not permit walks, the Pug can just as easily be entertained with indoor games of ball or doggy playdates.

As a small dog with certain exercise limitations, the Pug can very easily become obese so Pug owners must sometimes get creative with exercise ideas.

Health

The Pug is prone to quite a number of health conditions that are both a virtue of their anatomy as well as the result of poor breeding.

Respiratory Difficulty

Most notably, the Pug suffers respiratory difficulties and sensitivity to extreme temperatures as a result of their flat face. The flatter the face, the more difficult it is for a dog to catch their breath or breathe normally. Most often this is a result of excess tissue in the airway or nostrils that are simply too narrow for adequate breathing.

Corneal Ulcers

Corneal ulcers result from the Pug’s large protruding eyes and are often due to injury to the eye itself. Dogs with corneal ulcers may squint, have red eyes, or have excessive tearing. If you notice any signs of eye discomfort it’s important to seek veterinary treatment immediately. Left untreated, corneal ulcers can lead to blindness.

Dry Eye

The Pug’s eyes also lend themselves to frequent dry eye. Dry eye can be caused by various health conditions and should always be evaluated by a vet.

Legg-Perthes Disease

Legg-Perthes disease is seen frequently in small breeds and happens when the supply of blood to the head of the femur is reduced. This reduction in blood flow causes the bone to disintegrate. It is most common to see signs of this disease between 4 and 6 months old. The only treatment for Legg-Perthes Disease is to surgically remove the diseased bone and create a new joint.

Similar Breeds

French Bulldog

French Bulldog

Compared to the Pug, the French Bulldog is a much less frequent shedder but has a much shorter life expectancy. As opposed to the Pug life expectancy of 12 to 15 years, the French Bulldog has an average life expectancy of between 9 and 11 years. Of the two breeds, the French Bulldog stands slightly taller between 11 and 13” instead of the Pug’s 10 and 11”. When it comes to weight, the French Bulldog is a much heavier dog weighing between 22 and 28 lbs. compared to the 14 to 18 lbs. of the Pug.

Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier

Like the French Bulldog, the Boston Terrier is a minimal shedder in comparison to the Pug. The Boston Terrier, however, has a slightly longer life expectancy than the Frenchie, but still not as long as the Pug. On average, the Boston Terrier lives between 10 and 14 years. The Boston Terrier is also a much taller dog, standing between 15 and 17” tall. The Boston’s weight, however, is much more varied and can fall anywhere between 10 and 25 lbs.

Pekingese

Pekingese

Although both hail from Chinese origins, the Pekingese differs from the Pug quite drastically to the trained eye. The Pekingese has a longer coat that is much thicker than that of the Pug. Despite the difference in coat length, the Pekingese is only a moderate shedder where the Pug is a constant shedder. While the life expectancy of these two breeds is similar, their size is not. The Pekingese stands between just 6 and 9” tall and is slightly lighter at between 12 and 14 lbs.

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