The Pug

The pug is a 'toy' (very small) breed of dog, stocky, square, and thickset with a curled tail. The round head is massive with a wrinkly short, blunt, square shaped muzzle. Pugs also go by other names such as: Chinese pug, Dutch bulldog, Dutch mastiff, Mini mastiff. Pug puppies are often called Puglets.


Originating from either China or Tibet they were reportedly kept by Chinese Emperors during the Shang dynasty (before 400 BCE) and Tibetan Buddhist Monks, if this is true, then we all know where those 'treat-me-as-a-king-characteristics' most Pugs seem to possess come from. Known in ancient China as 'lo-chiang-sze' or 'foo' (ceramic foos, transmogrified into dragon, with their bulging eyes are similar in appearance to the pug), they may have been
responsible for both the modern Pekinese and King Charles spaniel. They were popularised in Western Europe in the 16th Century by the House of Orange of the Netherlands where in 1572 a pug named Pompey saved the life of the Prince of Orange by alerting him to the approach of assassins, and the House of Stuart of England, Ireland and Scotland. While the pugs appearing in eighteenth century prints tended to be long and lean, modern breed preferences are for a square, cobby body, a compact form, a deep chest, and well-developed muscle. Pugs were painted by Goya in Spain, and in Italy they were dressed in matching jackets and pantaloons while riding up front with the coachman on a private carriage. They were used by the military to track animals and people, and were also employed as guard dogs.

They were known to have been bred by Queen Victoria in 19th Century England. Her involvement with the dogs in general helped to establish the Kennel Club, which was formed in 1873. Victoria favoured apricot and fawn colours, whereas the aristocrat Lady Brassey is credited with making black pugs fashionable after she brought some back from China in 1886.

Appearance and Nature

Height:  Dogs 12-14 inches (30-36 cm.) Bitches 10-12 inches (25-30 cm.)
Weight: Dogs 13-20 pounds (6-9kg.) Bitches 13-18 pounds (6-8kg.)
The breed has a fine, smooth, glossy coat that comes in a variety of colours, fawn being the most common but they also come in apricot, silver or black. A black pug was Frank the Pug in the film Men in Black. There is also the rarer white pug which gets its coat via breeding or albinism. The silver coat is very light in colour, absent of black guard hairs with a very dark head, and no clear delineation at the mask, and dark forelegs. They have a compact square body with well-developed muscle with the tail normally curling tightly over the hip.

Pugs have two distinct shapes for their ears, 'rose' and 'button'. 'Button' ears are preferred by breeders with 'rose' ears being smaller and folded with the front edge against the side of the head. The legs are very strong, straight, of moderate length, and are set well under. The lower teeth normally protrude further than their upper, meeting in an under-bite.

They have been described as multum in parvo ('much in little'), describing the pug's remarkable personality despite its small size. The Pug is keen, with a happy-go-lucky attitude. Animated, peppy and spirited, they are loyal, loving and affectionate with their families. They make perfect pets for families as they are strong willed but rarely aggressive. The majority of the breed is very fond of children and sturdy enough to properly play with them. They can be quiet and docile but also vivacious and teasing depending on their owner's mood. They can make good watchdogs, they are always alert and sometimes yappy.

Playful, lively and rambunctious, they are sure to keep you laughing. Highly intelligent, they bore easily without variety in their training. They can be a bit willful if they sense they are stronger minded than the humans around them. Pugs are sensitive to the tone of your voice, so harsh punishment is unnecessary. They need an owner who is calm, yet firm, confident and consistent with the rules.

Health and Care

The UK Kennel Club puts the average lifespan of a pug at 10 years.

The Pug is good for apartment life. It is relatively inactive indoors and will do okay without a yard. Cannot withstand hot or cold weather and should be kept indoors at a comfortable temperature.
Pugs have large, expressive eyes and a wrinkled face with a long tongue. Care must be taken by the owner to clean their ears, and the folds of skin on their face. They can suffer from a variety of health issues, including overheating, obesity, pharyngeal reflex and two fatal conditions which are necrotizing meningoencephalitis and hemivertebrae.

Since pugs lack longer snouts and prominent skeletal brow ridges, they are susceptible to eye injuries such as proptosis and scratched corneas and painful entropion. They also have compact breathing passageways, leaving many unable to breathe properly or efficiently regulate their temperature through evaporation from the tongue. A pug's normal body temperature is between 101 °F (38 °C) and 102 °F (39 °C). If the temperature rises to 105 °F (41 °C) they are no longer able to cope with cooling themselves and their oxygen demand is greatly increased, and requires cooling down immediately. Over 108 °F (42 °C) the internal organs begin to break down at a cellular level which can lead to severe long term health issues or even death.

Hip dysplasia is a major problem for the breed, with 63.8% of pugs being affected according to a survey performed by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, and they were ranked second worst affected by the condition out of 157 breeds tested.

The pug, like other short-snouted breeds, has an elongated palate. When excited, they are prone to 'reverse sneezing' (Pharyngeal Gag Reflex), where the dog will quickly, and seemingly laboriously, gasp and snort. This is caused by fluid or debris getting caught under the palate and irritating the throat or limiting breathing. Episodes are usually not harmful to the pug and resolve themselves although massaging the dog's throat or covering its nose in order to make it breathe through its mouth can often shorten episodes.

Pugs are one of several breeds that are more susceptible to Demodectic mange, also known as Demodex. This condition is caused by a weakened immune system, and it is a minor problem for many young pugs and is easily treated. This causes them to catch diseases much more easily than regular dogs do. This vulnerability is thought to be genetic, and breeders avoid breeding dogs who have had this condition.

Pugs living a mostly sedentary life can be prone to obesity, though this is avoidable with regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Pugs can suffer from necrotizing meningoencephalitis (NME), also known as pug dog encephalitis (PDE), an inflammation of the brain and meninges, that also occurs in other small-breed dogs, such as the Maltese and Chihuahua. There is no known cause or cure for NME, although it is believed to be an inherited disease. All dogs usually die or are euthanised within a few months after the onset of clinical signs, which usually occurs anywhere from 6 months to 7 years of age.

This breed, along with other brachycephalic dogs (e.g., boxers, bulldogs), are also prone to hemivertebrae. The screwtail is an example of a hemivertebrae, but when it occurs in other areas of the spine it can be devastating, causing such severe paralysis that euthanasia is a serious recommendation. The condition occurs when two parts of the spinal vertebrae do not fuse properly whilst a young pug is still growing, resulting in pressure being placed on the spine.


Don't let your pug eat whenever they want, pugs will eat anything, even if they are not hungry.  Get them on a feeding schedule right away and stick to it.  As a pug owner, you must show great restraint. Do not indulge him with food, feed appropriate portions, limit treats and encourage exercise. When it is warm out pugs need lots of water, but unless you are there to take them out every 15 minutes, try watering on a schedule as well.  
How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference--the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl. The food that your pug consumes will directly influence their health.  Feeding a pug is a great responsibility; every morsel will determine their overall health.
A pug puppy will need to eat 1 ounce (28.4 grams) of food for each pound he weighs.  For example, 3 ounces (85 grams) for a 3 pound (1.36 kg) puppy.  Your puppy should eat 3 times a day. 

An adult pug should eat 1/2 ounce per pound of weight. For example a 10 pound (4.5 kg) pug should eat 5 ounces (142 grams) of food, once per day.

Feeding your pug your dinner or table scraps is very unhealthy as human foods are filled with sodium and other elements that a dog's system can not handle.  Good food to feed your pug is home cooked food.  Easy, healthy recipes are simple, any one can cook them and you can make a whole week's worth in about 1/2 hour plus most of the ingredients in great recipes are foods that you already buy. 

Foods that are healthy and yummy for a pug are:
  • Boiled white breast chicken, lean hamburg, fish, liver and organs
  • Small amounts of rice (white or brown) and pasta
  • Cut green beans
  • Small pieces of cooked carrots
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Courgette
  • Plain and unseasoned chicken broth
Meat should be the number 1 ingredient as dogs must have this protein as their main food source. Vegetables and then starch will round out the meals.  This should be a ratio of approximately 40% meat, 30% vegetables and 30% starch. Always add a dog supplement to your pug's dinner.  Never add seasonings, salt or butter to the food.
The major concern with home made meals is over-supplementing with vitamins and minerals. This is as harmful as deficiencies, so stick to the recommended doses and ask your vet for advice. There is no need to add supplements if you use quality ingredients. Meat should be hormone and antibiotics free. Cooking utensils should be made from glass, stainless steel, aluminium or enamel as to not affect the nutritional content of the food.

A second concern with home-made meals is the texture and palatability. The texture should be such as to exercise your dog's teeth and gums properly. It should not be cut too small, because a major concern with pugs is that they tend to gobble their food too fast without masticating it, which not only may cause them to choke, but also tends to increase the risk for obesity. However, if the food is cut in larger bits, but cooked too soft, it may again increase the risk of choking.

If you choose to feed your pug manufactured food choose a food with the least amount of fillers.

An ideal solution would to feed your pug two small meals a day, one home-cooked and one of dry food; the first one guarantees enough variation and freshness in your dog's diet, the second one helps you to cover all required supplements within the right limits and keep your dog's teeth and gums exercised and tartar-free. Fractioning the same amount of food over several meals is recommended with gluttonous breeds, such as the pug, but is not always feasible to fit into our tight schedules.

Fresh, cool water should be left for your pug at all times.  The temperature, amount of exercise your dog has, and the type of food that you feed your dog will all affect the amount of water he or she needs.  You may feel that having no limit to the amount of water your pug drinks will lead to many trips outside for your dog to urinate.  However, housetraining your pug is all part of the package and limiting your dog's intake of water can be very dangerous.

There are medical issues that will cause a pug to drink water excessively.  The most common begin canine diabetes.  The general guideline to water is that your pug dog will drink 1 cup (0.24 litres) for each 5 pounds (2.25 kg) of body weight.  For example, a 10 pound (4.54 kg) pug will drink about 2 cups (0.47 litres) of water per day.  If you notice that your pug is drinking twice the amount of water for more than 2 days, it is strongly recommended to take your dog to the vet to make sure that there are no medical issues.