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Pug: Dog Breed Info, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

anxious pug

Height: 10-14 inches
Weight: 14-18 pounds
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Colors: Fawn, black, silver-fawn, apricot, and brindle
Suitable for: Families or individuals looking for a small dog with a big personality
Temperament: Loving, playful, confident, and at times, more than a little stubborn

Pugs are wonderful small dogs that thrive in the company of humans. Often described as being part clown and part dignified companion, Pugs have a unique look and friendly demeanor that has been winning the hearts of their owners for centuries.

While Pugs are believed to have originated in China, their exact origin is largely unknown, as all official records of the breed where destroyed by Emperor Qin Shi Huang sometime between 221 and 210 B.C. We do know that they have had a long and distinguished history in ancient China, where they were known as lo-chiang-sze and bred as lap dogs by Chinese monarchs. There are several references to the breed existing in Chinese texts from as far back as the Chou Dynasty, between 827 and 782 B.C.

Pugs were first exported from China to Europe sometime in the 16th century by the Dutch East India Trading Company, and these captivating little dogs soon spread across the continent. Today, the once regal Pug has become an exceedingly popular breed across the world.

Divider 1Pug Puppies

tiny pug - pug puppy
Image Credit: Free-Photos, Pixabay

Despite being an exceedingly popular dog breed, Pugs aren’t for everyone, and you should spend time researching the breed before jumping in and buying one. Although they are not difficult dogs to look after in terms of grooming and exercise, the breed does come with a few challenges.

First and foremost, it is important to understand that throughout your Pug’s life, they will act like an intelligent and likable child. Giving little thought to what they are doing, your Pug will get into all the things they shouldn’t, will have a stubborn streak like that of a naughty toddler, will carry on with silly antics that will both make you laugh and cry and will always be looking for you to spoil them with treats and mountains of attention.

As puppies, Pugs are notoriously difficult to housetrain, and on a cold, wet day, you’ll likely struggle to get even the best-trained Pug to go outside to toilet. Pugs are also expert and consistent beggars, and learning to say no to their sad, pleading expression is a necessity and something that you’ll need to work on from the start. If not, you’ll create a demanding little monster that will quickly grow to an unhealthy weight.

Keep in mind that Pugs are people dogs. They need people around all the time and don’t do well if they’re left to their own devices for long periods.

When it comes to the Pug, however, rescuing a shelter dog is something that you should seriously consider. Pugs can be testing when they’re young, and far too many end up in shelters because their owners give up on them within the first 12 to 18 months of their lives. Usually, there is nothing at all wrong with these pets; all they need is a patient and loving owner who is committed to training them and giving them the time and attention that they need.

Rescuing a dog may just save the life of a dog in need — and save you a few dollars in the process.

It is important to research the breeder of your choice before purchasing a puppy. A great place to start is with the Pug Dog Club of America, which maintains a list of breeders that are in good standing with the American Kennel Club. They also have an excellent webpage on breeder selection.

Divider 83 Little-Known Facts About the Pug

1. They were treated like royalty.

It is a well-known fact that the Pug was a favored lapdog of many ancient Chinese emperors. What is less well-known is that these little dogs were themselves treated like royalty, with some of these pampered pooches being given their own mini palace in which to reside and dedicated guards to protect and care for them.

2. A group of Pugs is not referred to as a pack.

Unlike most other dogs, a group of Pugs is not referred to as a pack, but rather as a grumble. The term comes from the Dutch name for the Pug, the mopshond, a name that translates “to grumble.” If you’ve ever heard the vocalizations of a Pug, it is quite an apt name.

3. Pugs are the official dog breed of the Dutch House of Orange.

According to legend, in the year 1572, during the Eighty Years’ War against the Spanish, the Prince of Orange, William the Silent, was asleep in his tent when assassins infiltrated the Dutch camp. Before the assassins had time to enter the prince’s tent, William the Silent was woken by his Pug’s barking, and the would-be assassins were captured. Ever since, the Pug has been the official dog breed of the House of Orange.

smiling pug
Image Credit: MishuHanda, Pixabay

Divider 3

Temperament & Intelligence of the Pug 🧠

Pugs are known for their massive personalities and can, at times, be a real live wire whose antics will have you crying in laughter. They’re also exceptional manipulators, and one look into their big sad eyes is often all it takes for a Pug to win somebody over and convince them to hand over their food.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, they are smart little dogs, but they can be quite strong-willed or even a little stubborn. These traits can make them quite a challenge to train.

Pugs are also known to have a few peculiar habits, including:
  • They are quite nosy

If you own a Pug, you should expect that they will want to be with you all the time, and much like a young child following their parent around the house, a Pug will always be getting under your feet.

  • They are food-driven

The best way to get a Pug to do something is to offer them food. These dogs will quite literally do anything you want if there is a snack involved.

Be aware, though, that Pugs are also smart enough to know that if they hold out for a while when you want them to cooperate, they might get a snack. So, use snacks sparingly, or you may find your Pug starts deliberately ignoring you just to get some food.

  • Pugs love paper

Much like a cat, Pugs love playing with paper. They will pull on toilet rolls if they can reach them, they’ll swat and tear up tissues, and they will take great pleasure in shredding your newspapers.

  • Pugs are always talking

When you own a Pug, you are going to get plenty of commentary. These little dogs can make an amazing array of sounds, all of which they will use to get your attention or complain about something, and of course, they love to grumble.

  • Pugs don’t like rainy weather

Many pugs simply won’t go outside if the weather is bad, not even to toilet. So, even when your Pug is house trained, you should expect that there will be a few accidents inside on a rainy day.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Yes, Pugs are great family dogs that get on exceptionally well with all family members, including young children. In fact, Pugs don’t just tolerate kids, they genuinely love being around them. Pugs have an advantage over many other breeds when it comes to kids because due to their size, they are easy for a child to hold on their lap and are not too big for young children to play with safely.

Of course, it is still important to supervise children around a Pug. However, this is generally more for the Pug’s protection than for the protection of the child. Pugs, particularly when they are puppies, can be injured if thrown or dropped from the height of your average couch, and their large eyes can also easily be injured if poked.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

Yes, Pugs usually get on with other household pets. That said, they can easily become jealous and may start pouting if they feel like you are ignoring them and spending too much time with your other pets.

Keep in mind, though, that while a Pug may not mind other animals, if you have a large dog, they might see your small Pug as a plaything for them to chase, a situation that will likely not end well for your Pug.

pug puppy
Image Credit: kandykandoo, Pixabay

Divider 4Things to Know When Owning a Pug

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

As an owner of a Pug, one of the most important things that you can do to positively impact the health and wellbeing of your pet is to ensure that your dog gets a complete and nutritionally balanced diet. This includes not just your dog’s main meals but also all the snacks that you give your pet throughout the day as either a treat or reward.

Far too many dog owners fail to consider the treats that their dogs eat, and don’t adjust the main meals they feed to take account of these between-meal snacks. With highly active breeds, you might be able to get away with this, but with a small, moderately active dog like a Pug, keeping track of this extra food can be the difference between having a healthy dog and one that is significantly overweight.

When it comes to your dog’s main meals, you have two basic options to choose from. The first is to feed your dog fresh home-prepared meals, and the second is to purchase a commercially manufactured dog food.

If you decide to prepare your Pug’s meals yourself, you should take the time to research all the options available to you. You should also consider what will be involved in preparing these meals, as you could easily end up spending several hours each week preparing your Pug’s food. We strongly recommend that if this is the way you want to go, you also seek the advice of your dog’s vet, as they will be best placed to tell you exactly how to ensure that your pet gets all the nutrients that they need.

Fortunately, in today’s modern society, if preparing all your dog’s meals yourself seems a bit much, there is a wide range of commercially produced dog foods readily available. The pet food industry is a multi-billion-dollar business, and over the years, much research has gone into formulating specifically prepared, wholesome, nutritious, and well-balanced food for dogs.

As far as commercial dog foods go, there are essentially two different types to choose from, canned, or “wet,” food and dry dog food. Canned dog food typically contains fewer preservatives than dry food, as the canning process itself preserves the food. However, this type of dog food does have high water content, and you do end up paying more. The main advantages of canned food are that it is quite easy for your Pug to chew and thanks to the high-water content, easy to digest.

Dry dog food, or kibble, on the other hand, is more convenient to store than wet food, and as it is available in large bags, you will need to make fewer trips to the store. The main advantages of dry dog food are that it doesn’t spoil as easily as canned food, you’re not paying for all the water that you get in wet food, and eating kibble is quite good for your dog’s teeth.

Regardless of how you choose to feed your dog, keep in mind that as with most things, you will pay more for higher quality dog food. It is always advisable to buy the best quality dog food that you can afford.

Exercise 🐕

Pugs love being exercised, but like many humans, they will get lazy if they don’t get out and move about regularly. Ideally, you should get your Pug into the habit of taking a long daily walk, playing fetch, or even just running around in the yard with your kids early in their life. Unfortunately, Pugs put on weight easily, and keeping them active is one way to help prevent that.

Even a stubborn Pug who prefers the lounge can be motivated to get active with a couple of small treats. All it takes is for you to hide a few snacks around a large room or in your yard, and you’ll be sure to have your Pug up, sniffing about, and chasing down their treats in no time.

Just remember that Pugs like a routine. So, if you are going to get into a habit of walking, try to do it at the same time every day. Once it becomes part of your dog’s routine, you’ll have no trouble getting them up and out the door.

Remember that Pugs are intelligent dogs, and they need mental stimulation as much as they need physical exercise, so it is advisable to vary the route that you take on your walk to make sure your Pug gets to see and sniff new and interesting things each day.

A word of caution, though: Pugs don’t do well in hot weather. Their scrunched-up faces and shortened noses tend to make it harder for them to breathe than some other dogs. So, if you live in a warm or tropical climate, it is advisable to exercise your Pug early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the worst of the heat.

side view pug
Image Credit: Pexels, Pixabay

Training 🦮

When it comes to training your Pug, the most important thing to remember is to be patient. Dog training is never a simple task, and when you have a dog as stubborn as a Pug, you know that you are going to be in for a challenge. That said, it is possible to train a Pug to a high standard, and anybody who really makes an effort with their Pug will be able to get their dog to master all the basics and probably a few little tricks as well.

  • House Training

The first thing that you will need to start working on when you bring your Pug home is house training. Getting a Pug to go outside to toilet can be a bit of a challenge. In all likelihood, if you have a new Pug puppy, you are going to be cleaning up “accidents” quite a bit.

Introducing your dog to crate training from an early age will help. Pugs, like all dogs, quickly come to see their crate as their safe place, their bed, and their den, and as it is a natural instinct for them not to urinate or defecate in their den, your Pug will learn to hold their need to toilet while they are inside.

Establishing a consistent daily routine will also help, as dogs typically need to toilet after eating. So, by scheduling your Pug’s eating times, you will also start to help them schedule their toileting as well.

On average, you can expect an adult pug to need to go out to toilet three to four times a day. A puppy, however, will need to toilet significantly more often.

  • Obedience Training

It is possible to train a Pug to quite a high standard. It’s not going to be easy, but with patience and consistency on your part, your Pug will eventually get the hang of obedience training.

Pugs don’t respond at all well to abusive or aggressive treatment. The key to training a Pug is to start slowly with just a few basic commands and not to move on to anything more tricky than “sit,” “stay,” and “come” until they have mastered these basics.

To help speed up the training process, you might want to investigate clicker training. This is a process in which you use a handheld device that makes a clicking sound to help condition and reward your dog during training. Pugs tend to respond well to clicker training, and a quick internet search will bring up plenty of articles explaining more about how it works.

Grooming ✂️

Compared to many other dog breeds, Pugs are quite low maintenance when it comes to grooming. This due largely to their short coats and the fact they tend to spend most of their time inside and as such, stay quite clean.

However, Pugs shed frequently, and you need to be prepared to have dog hair everywhere in your house. It will get over your clothes, your floors, and your furniture. One way to reduce this is to brush your Pug. So, while they don’t really need it, it may be in your best interest to regularly groom your Pug, anyway. Ideally, you should aim to give your Pug a good brush once or twice a week, as this will help remove most of their loose hair and save you time cleaning up.

As well as brushing, you will also need to ensure that their nails are clipped regularly and their teeth brushed with canine toothpaste about once a week.

Health and Conditions ❤️

From the moment that you buy your Pug, you will be their primary healthcare provider. You will become the one who knows what is normal for your pet, when they are acting out of character, and when they aren’t at their best. It will be your observations and “gut instinct” that will determine when something is wrong with your dog and when they need to see a vet. It is a significant responsibility, not one that you should take lightly, as your pet’s life will quite literally be in your hands.

Holding this much responsibility may sound difficult, but the truth of the matter is that for the most part, provided that you look after your Pug’s basic needs and spend time training, exercising, and playing with them, you won’t need to worry too much, as Pugs are reasonably robust little dogs.

The one thing you should always remember, though, is that you’re not alone. Your dog’s vet is your partner in keeping your Pug healthy.

Seeing a qualified veterinarian for a regular check-up is critical for the long-term health and wellbeing of your pet. In this regard, your vet must be somebody who puts you at ease and whom you feel comfortable talking to about your dog and any concerns you may have.

  • Vaccinations

It is vitally important that you keep your Pug’s vaccinations up to date, as a dog that is not immunized is at risk of contracting several canine diseases that can be fatal. You may also be breaking the law if you don’t vaccinate your Pug, as in many places, it is a legal requirement to have a dog vaccinated against the rabies virus.

Your breeder is the first person you should talk to about vaccinations. You will likely find that they will have printed information about the vaccinations that your pet needs and a recommended vaccination schedule when you pick up your puppy. Your vet is also a good person to talk to about vaccinations, and this will almost certainly be something that they will discuss with you the first time that you take your Pug in for a check-up.

  • Spaying or Neutering

The first healthcare decision that you are likely to face with your Pug is whether to spay or neuter them. It is our general advice that unless you plan on breeding from your Pug, you should have them spayed or neutered, as doing so is the best way to avoid unwanted pregnancies and help avoid the nationwide problem of dogs being dumped or handed into shelters.

There are also health benefits to spaying or neutering your dog, and to learn more about these, we recommend that you see your dog’s vet, as they are best placed to advise you on what is right for your dog.

Signs that your Pug is unwell

While you will be the best person to tell if your Pug is unwell, there are a few warning signs that you should be aware of. Always trust your instincts, but if you see your dog suffering any of these symptoms, you should consider taking your dog to see your vet.

  • Excessive unexplained drooling
  • Sudden changes in appetite, leading to weight loss or gain
  • Sudden changes in activity level
  • Excessive drinking of water or increased urination
  • Lack of interest in their favorite activities
  • Sudden stiffness or unsteadiness
  • Unexplained lumps, sores, or growths
  • Red or cloudy eyes
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Sleeping more than normal

Common health conditions

As with all dog breeds, there are several health conditions to which Pugs can be susceptible. Many of these can be avoided or at least greatly reduced through responsible breeding practices.

Minor Conditions
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca
  • Obesity
  • Skin infections
  • Allergies
Serious Conditions
  • Pug dog encephalitis
  • Canine hip dysplasia
  • Elongated palate
  • Patellar luxation

Divider 5Male vs. Female

When it comes to choosing a puppy, some people get quite worked up about whether they are better off getting a male or a female. Regardless of the breed of dog you are looking at (barring one or two exceptions), our advice is that unless you have a particular preference or you plan on breeding from your dog, gender doesn’t matter.

A far better way to choose a puppy is to base your decision on their individual personality. This way of thinking certain holds true for Pugs, as while there is no major difference in temperament between the sexes, Pugs, much like people, have individual personalities. Some Pugs are born clowns, while others are more mellow and serious. Some Pugs always seem to be active, and others just like to laze about. Some Pugs are quite bright, and others, well, are not so much.

Both male and female Pugs are affectionate, and these dogs always love spending time with their families. Apart from a little bit of stubbornness now and then, both sexes will respond well to training if you are patient and consistent with them.

Of course, picking a puppy based on their personality can be tricky, and this is where your breeder can help. While you’ve probably spent no more than an hour or two with the puppies, your breeder has had plenty of opportunities to see how each dog behaves and is best placed to help you select a Pug that is just right for you.

Divider 3Final Thoughts

Pugs are an exceedingly popular breed, and you need only need to spend a short time with one to know why. Yet, like most dog breeds, it can be a bit challenging to raise a Pug, and to do so properly will require plenty of patience, a fair amount of time, and a great deal of love and attention. If you do it well, your Pug will return your affection many hundreds of times over.

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Featured Image Credit: skeeze, Pixabay

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