The Pug is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. They originated in China, and records show that Pugs were the much loved companions of the Chinese royal family as far back as 400 BCE. They initially spread to Japan, and then to Europe, where again they were very popular with the aristocracy. Napoleon’s wife, Josephine, owned a Pug named Fortune. The Pug breed was taken to Great Britain in 1860 after the British raided the Imperial Palace in Peking, and were first exhibited there in 1866.
Around the same time, this Royal breed made its way to the United States, where the Pug was recognized by the AKC in 1885. These days, the Pug is regularly in the top 20 most popular dog breeds in America.
The Pug has a stocky, square body shape, with their height and length being very similar. They have a short, dense coat which may be black, silver or fawn, with or without a black mask. They can shed fairly heavily, so be prepared to sweep your floor regularly. These big dogs in a small body are only 14 inches, or 36cm tall, and weigh only 20lbs (9kg). Their dark expressive eyes will capture your attention, and you’ll find it hard to resist them.
This breed, like the Boxer and Bulldog, is brachycephalic, which means they have a very short nose, and an under bite. This can cause the Pug to snort, snore and breathe loudly, which is not fun if they like to sleep next to you in your bed. They have folds of skin between their short nose and their eyes, and small ears which are neatly folded and held close to their head. At the other end, their tail is tightly curled over their back.
The Pug has a lot of personality packed into that small body. They are extremely affectionate and love their family, as well as everyone else they may meet. The breed has been described as stable and even-tempered, because nothing seems to disturb them, and they are not at all aggressive. Their happy-go-lucky outlook and exuberant nature make them a pleasure to own.
This breed is extremely intelligent, and enjoys the mental stimulation of regular training sessions. While general obedience classes will teach your Pug good manners, you’ll have a lot of fun with trick training – the playful Pug will learn quickly, and their antics will keep you laughing.
Because of their short nose, the Pug is very susceptible to heat stroke. They aren’t able to pant effectively to keep their body temperature under control. This means that in warm conditions, you should watch your dog carefully and make sure they are coping with the conditions. Heat stroke can be fatal.
These dogs often have narrowing of the airways. If your Pug gains too much weight, they can have difficulty in breathing, and can wheeze and cough. Keep an eye on their waistline and adjust their food intake accordingly if you notice them becoming a little curvy around the middle.
The Pug has sensitive skin, and is prone to allergies. Also, the skin folds around the face and on the tail can become infected, and develop what is known as “skin fold pyoderma”. This usually requires antibiotic treatment.
There is a specific encephalitis, or brain inflammation, that occurs in young adult pugs. There is no known cause for this condition, and no specific treatment. It is thought to be hereditary, but the gene responsible hasn’t yet been identified.
Keep an eye on your Pug’s eyes. They are quite protruding, and are at risk of infection or even a scratch to the cornea. It’s not uncommon for Pugs to have watery eyes from time to time.
If you decide to breed your Pug, keep in mind that this breed often need to give birth by cesarian section, as their stocky head can get stuck in the birth canal. Be prepared for this eventuality, and don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian if you are concerned about your whelping bitch.
The Pug’s short coat is easy to care for, only needing a regular brushing to remove loose hair and dust. However, they are not necessarily low maintenance.
You will need to clean between your Pug’s skin folds regularly to prevent infection, and wipe their eyes regularly. Watch for any sign of infection in the folds – reddening, moisture and itching – and have it treated as soon as possible. Wipe your Pug’s eyes regularly to keep them clean and clear.
The short nose of brachycephalic breeds such as the Pug can result in crowding of the teeth. This means that you will need to brush them regularly, to help to prevent dental disease and tooth decay. Use a small toothbrush and some doggie toothpaste to clean your Pug’s teeth and keep his mouth healthy.
When it comes to exercise, your Pug is quite energetic, and will enjoy a regular walk. Don’t forget their susceptibility to heat stroke, and only exercise them in cool conditions where they won’t overheat.
If the Pug sounds like the ideal dog, you are right. They are wonderful companions for children, because of their even temperament and love of life. Elderly people also love Pugs, because they are laid back, easy to handle, and not too big.
These dogs don’t need a great deal of space, so while they enjoy having a back yard to play in, they are quite happy living in an apartment. If they are kept mostly as indoor dogs then they need to go out for walks regularly to sniff around and explore their environment.
The one thing to keep in mind if you are considering adding a Pug to your family is that they can have above average veterinary expenses. This needs to be taken into account when you are budgeting for your new canine family member. You will also have to invest time in caring for their skin folds and teeth. However if you are happy to do this, you’ll have a charming companion who will love you and your family for around 10 years.