Breed Group: Toy
Sometimes calm, sometimes playful, but always good-humored, the Pug displays its eastern roots with a thoroughly delightful ying and yang blend of comedy and dignity. With their large expressive eyes and cocked head, they have a myriad of endearing facial expressions. Sturdy and playful, they make a great child’s playmate. Small enough for apartment living and to be readily transported, a Pug makes a good companion for the elderly. Peaceful with the world, and seeking to be close without being obtrusive, they charm everyone else in between. They co-exist reasonably well with other dogs and most other pets– many cats find the breed fascinating. One of the few times a Pug will bark is in their role of watchdog at which they excel. Although they take time to accept strangers, they are not a guard dog. Relatively serene both inside and out and masters of napping, Pug owners need to make sure they get enough exercise to avoid going from their naturally barrel-chested physique to obese. The dog in the picture associated with this breed description has crossed that line. Like many breeds with short muzzles, they snort and snore. Gassiness can also be a problem. Many are difficult to housebreak, especially in rainy climates.
The Pug is a small but sturdy dog. Although they usually lack an underbite, with their wrinkled pushed-in face Pugs are somewhat reminiscent of a bulldog. They stand 10 to 11 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 14 to 20 pounds. Their short coat comes in the colors of apricot-fawn, silver, or black with light colors more common. Give them a quick brushing every day to minimize their above average shedding. Like most breeds with short muzzles, Pugs suffer as temperature and humidity increases. They should be protected from overheating, especially when playing, as they can quickly suffer a heat stroke. They will naturally seek out shade or air conditioning if it is available. They do much better in cool weather.
Spending additional effort socializing the breed pays off with a more confident dog. Use only positive training techniques as Pugs are sweet, tender-hearted dogs that are crushed by harsh training methods. But even though they bring out parental feelings in many people, they should not be coddled. They are about average in training difficulty except when it comes to housetraining which takes patience and consistency– crate training helps. They do well in almost any living situation and make a fine choice for a first-time dog owner.
With three in five dogs suffering from Hip Dysplasia and another three in five suffering from Elbow Dysplasia, the breed has two serious genetic health problems. Another 8% are affected by patellar luxation. Other genetically based skeletal problems include Legg-Perthes Disease, and either a Cleft or Elongated Soft Palate. Problems with their eyes such as Distichiasis, Ectopic Cilia or Entropion are not uncommon. To avoid infection, keep the skin folds on their head and tail clean and dry. Pugs gain weight easily. Don’t over-feed them and make sure they get enough exercise. When picking a puppy, choose one with no evidence of stenotic nares, bulging eyes, or crowed facial features. Pugs have a lifespan of 12 to 14 years.
According to the American Kennel Club, Pugs rank 12th in popularity with about 22,000 dogs registered each year.
The Pug is the only breed in the toy group to descend from Mastiffs. They originated in China in pre-Christian times, where they were prized and pampered by the Chinese Emperors. At times they even had their own military guards. Dutch traders brought the breed from the far east to Holland in the 16th century, probably by way of the Dutch East India Trading Company. By the 18th century, the breed was established in France. During the reign of terror, Napoleon’s wife Josephine used her Pug to carry messages to her husband after they were both imprisoned in 1794. Pugs were introduced to England during the 19th century. The breed became so popular there they replaced the King Charles Spaniel as the favored dog of royalty. It was the English that created the refined dog we know today.
Pug owners of note include Actress Ann-Margret, Napoleon’s wife Josephine, dowager empress of China Tzu Hsi, Woody Harrelson, Jason Priestley, Sally Jessy Raphael, James Thurber, Voltaire, and Victoria, Queen of England. The national (U.S.) Breed Club is the Pug Dog Club of America.