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Pug Dog Breed Information: Facts, Traits, Pictures & More

Are you thinking of adopting a Pug, but not sure if it's the perfect dog breed for your family? Pugs have always been a popular breed. In this article, we take a look at why they are so popular, as well as some facts, traits, and more!

Emma Braby Picture

Last Updated: June 7, 2021 | 14 min read

Pug Standing on Tree Branch

The Pug is another big dog personality packed into a teeny weeny body. With his squished face, roly-poly bod, and curly tail, he is instantly recognizable. His nickname is the ‘Dutch Mastiff’ (yes, you read that right … a Mastiff!), and he is one of the loudest canine snorers on the planet. He is adorable, full of fun, and affectionate with his crew.

The Pug has always been a popular breed, and in this article, you’ll find out all the reasons why. But just because he is popular doesn’t mean that he is the right dog breed for you and your lifestyle. Even though these pups can be laid back and accepting, they carry a stubborn streak and can also be very independent when they choose.

So, think the Pug is the perfect dog breed for you and your family? Let’s jump headfirst into breed 101. But be warned! By the time you’ve read this guide, there’s a good chance you’ll be contacting a reputable breeder near you to welcome a new puppy into your home!

Breed Overview
    • weight iconWeight14-18 pounds
    • height iconHeight10-13 inches
    • lifespan iconLifespan13-15 years
    • color iconColorsFawn, Black, Apricot
  • Child Friendliness
  • Canine Friendliness
  • Training Difficulty
  • Grooming Upkeep
  • Breed Health
  • Exercise Needs
  • Puppy Costs

Breed History

Small Dog With Tongue Out
The Breed’s origins are rooted in Chinese royalty.

The Pug is an ancient dog breed that is believed to have originated from China around 400 B.C. The Chinese royalty and other rich nobles fell in love with flat-faced breeds, such as the Pug, the Chin, and the Shih Tzu. So much so, that the breed was kept under close guard. For centuries, no one except the royal family and their delegates was allowed to keep a sacred Pug dog.

That was until the Dutch visited China in the 16th century and took a handful of the best specimens back. Legend has it that the Pug of the royal House of Orange saved the Prince’s life by barking at a Spanish troop attacking the palace. When William and Mary of Orange traveled to England to assume their monarchy, they took their beloved Pugs with them.

Over time, the breed became popular with the masses. Through dog shows, our love affair with him spread across the globe, which has earned him different names. He is called a Mophond and the Dutch Mastiff in the Netherlands, Mopsi in Finland, and Doguillo in Spanish-speaking countries. He was nicknamed the Dutch Mastiff because of his similar wrinkles, coat colorings, and stocky shape that resembled a Mastiff.

Pugs were bred to be companion dogs and great little watchdogs too. He serves the same purpose today and makes an all-round fantastic family pet. The breed has consistently found itself in the top 30 favorite dog breeds in America. He has starred in hit-movie roles such as Men in Black, and Doug the Pug has 4 million followers on Instagram. You never know, your pup could be the next Doug.

Temperament

Small Fawn Colored Dog in Park
Known as a great family dog, the Pug gets along with just about everyone.

The Pug is another small-sized dog that is full of character. He is bold and brave and not afraid to take the lead in life. This is fine, but just as he knows, you’re his boss. He is a fun playmate and sturdy enough for a little bit of rough with the bigger dogs. Just be sure to keep him in check. His never-ending want to showoff can become a bit annoying for those who want to relax.

His love to play means that he is a lot of fun. He makes a great canine sibling for young and older children. He’s also a good match for playful dogs. He might not be able to keep up because of problems caused by his flat face (which we’ll discuss later). Thankfully, despite being a livewire, he also loves to lay back. You’ll often find him with four paws to the sky snoozing the afternoon away. Just be sure to invest in earplugs. This dog is one of the loudest snorers in the canine world.

He’s also really affectionate too, which makes him a great cuddle buddy. He is small enough to sit in your lap but also wrinkly enough to snuggle into. Pugs hate to be left alone, and they’ll likely struggle with separation anxiety if you leave them for too long.

He is a very vocal pooch who will bark at passers-by, knocking visitors, and floating dust particles. And invading Spanish troops if you are unlucky to have those around! If you aren’t a fan of a lot of barking, you might be better off looking for another doggy breed. This feisty Foo dog will do his best to protect you and your family, despite his very unalarming appearance. He’s a great watchdog for sure.

Size & Appearance

Two Differently Colored Dogs Outdoors
These pups can range in both size and appearance.

The Pug is instantly recognizable. There probably isn’t a dog lover in the world that would mistake a Pug for another dog breed. He is short and squat, and unlike most other dogs, he doesn’t really have that much shape to his frame. The Pug’s breed standard describes him as square and cobby, and a leaner dog is objectionable.

He measures between 10 to 13 inches tall and weighs between 14 to 18 pounds. They are a part of the toy group because of their tiny status. He has a large and round head, with not much of a muzzle, thanks to his flat face.

His eyes are also large and protrude from his skull. He has a short back, which is level, and his tail is tightly curled. If your Pug has a double-curl, this is seen as the perfect tail! His ears are thin and triangular shaped, which fall to the level of his eyes. Pugs have lots of skin wrinkles, and this is his most distinct feature that makes him super cute.

Coat & Colors

Three Different Colored Dogs
There are two colors that meet the breed standard, with fawn coated dogs potentially having apricot and silver tones.

The Pug has one of the silkiest coats on the planet. It is soft, sleek, and super shiny. It is short in length, and it is really dense. His (mostly) double coat sheds moderately throughout the year and surprisingly heavily during the shedding seasons. We say mostly, and that is because some dogs have a single coat. Black-colored pups are the most likely to have a single-layered coat.

They are typically either fawn or black in color, and these are the only two colors accepted in the show ring. His muzzle is always black, which is obviously more noticeable on the fawn-colored dog. His ears are usually black too. The fawn-colored pup can also have apricot or silver tones. Very rarely will you find a white-colored Pug. But be warned, these are often albino or leucistic dogs, which have health complications.

Exercise Requirements

Lazy Dog in Bed
Don’t expect the most energetic of dogs with this breed.

The Pug is both energetic and lazy, all rolled into one. We hate to use the word lazy, but this breed really can be lazy! He is often a medium-energy pooch, and once he gets going, he will play until he can’t breathe. But many owners say that it can be a struggle to get him going! Some dogs will laze about on the sofa all day if you let them.

Overall, he will need between 30 to 45 minutes of exercise a day. His exercise doesn’t need to be intense, and ideally, it shouldn’t be because of the complications his flat-face poses. But fun it should be! Strolls around the neighborhood or forest are all an adventure to him, especially if he gets to strut his stuff. Doggy parks are awesome, and he is bound to make friends! Just keep an eye on his breathing. Don’t worry, we’ll explain this all in the health section.

To prevent further breathing difficulties during exercise sessions, we advise getting a harness for your Pug. These will take the strain away from his neck and displace the pressure safely across his chest and shoulders. Harnesses are also handy to scoop him up when he is too excited to come back to you.

He will also like to play at home in between his outdoor exercise sessions. Interactive toys are a great way to spend time with him and have lots of fun. For those times when you cannot spend too long playing with him (yes, adult life is so boring, right?!), be sure to have toys to hand. Whether he is a destructive chewer or light player, a food-dispensing toy is bound to go down a treat!

Living Conditions

Dog in Dog House
This breed is adaptable and can thrive in a variety of different living situations.

The breed is popular with apartment dwellers and small homeowners because he doesn’t take up that much room. If he is lucky enough to have access to a private yard, make sure it is secure. Because he will be off on the hunt for someone to bark at and snacks to hunt down.

He is suited to families of all kinds, be that young couples, singletons, older families, or those with young children. Be sure to teach young children how to play nicely with him; after all, he does have feelings. But his square and stocky frame means he is sturdier than most other toy dogs making him a great toy dog sibling for young children.

When it comes to other dogs, he is mostly friendly. He can be a little barky and unsure initially, but he will come out of his Puggy shell after a while. All Pugs love to be the center of attention, and he’ll fit right in. He will bark at visiting cats and other animals because he is the boss of his yard. But, again, he is happy to live with other animals, and they’ll be as thick as thieves in no time.

Training

Puppy in Training
These pups have a stubborn streak, and can be challenging to train.

These are stubborn little pups that can be challenging to train. He is willful, and if he isn’t in the mood for training, you can be sure that he will not partake. Sometimes this stubbornness can be mistaken for being dumb, but don’t let him fool you. Many times he understands the given commands but chooses not to listen. He isn’t the best dog breed for first-time owners, but at the same time, he isn’t the most difficult. Just make sure that you understand he may never be fully obedient.

To increase the chances of successful training, use the positive training technique. Invest time and effort into learning this simple process and start it as early as you can. The Pug is more than likely going to be motivated by food. Using small treats is great; just be sure not to overdo it because they are gluttonous dogs. No matter how obedient he is, if he’s 50 pounds, he probably won’t be able to come to you anyhow.

Another crucial aspect of training is socialization. This is the process of introducing your dog to the big wide world. From other dogs of all shapes and sizes, other animals, and unfamiliar humans. To loud sounds, busy places, and the vacuum cleaner, he needs to learn that the world is not a scary place. This will build his confidence and transform him into a polite canine companion.

As we mentioned earlier, the Pug hates to be left alone. For dogs such as these, we always suggest crate training. Crates not only keep him out of trouble when you can’t be there with him. But they also provide him a safe and soothing place to be when his humans are out of sight. Research shows that crates can calm anxiety in anxious dogs, and we love them.

Health

Young Dog Running on Beach
This breed is well known for potentially inheriting certain health issues.

The Pug is a relatively healthy dog breed, but he suffers from more health concerns than the average dog breed. He has an average lifespan of 13 to 15 years, and there are things that you can do to improve his quality of life. High-quality nutrition, regular vet visits, and providing him with the recommended exercise will keep his heart and body healthy. The breed is prone to certain health conditions. Here are the most commonly seen in the breed.

Eye Conditions

The Pug and his bulging eyes are prone to various eye concerns. The most common are corneal ulcers, dry eye, and pigmentary keratitis, where black spots appear on his eyes. Proptosis is a condition where the eyeball becomes dislodged from its socket. Distichiasis occurs when the eyelashes grow on the inside of his eyelid. Other common doggy eye conditions such as progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts are also on their ophthalmologist’s list.

If you notice that your pup is itching his eyes, his eyes change in appearance, or they are crusty or excessively wet, take him to your vet. All of these conditions can cause blindness if left untreated. Because his eyes are large and bulge, he is also more at risk of general eye injuries.

Pug Dog Encephalitis

This is a condition that is unique to Pugs. Not a lot is known about this condition, but it is a progressive brain disease that cannot be treated. Affected dogs will suffer from seizures, circle, fall into a coma, and eventually die. Reputable breeders will subject their dogs to a DNA test that will identify carriers. So be sure to ask for this health certificate.

Skin Conditions

The breed has very sensitive skin, and he is known to suffer from various skin conditions. Cheyletiella Dermatitis, which is a mite condition that looks like walking dandruff, and demodectic mange are common. And staph and yeast infections are also common. Hair loss, itchy skin, dandruff, strong odor, and open sores are signs of these conditions.

Brachycephalic Syndrome

All flat-faced dog breeds suffer from this condition. His short muzzle and squished face mean that his throat and airways aren’t the ‘normal’ shape that they should be. This causes difficulties in breathing, which is why you need to be extra vigilant when he is exercising. And it also means he struggles to regulate his body temperature, increasing the chances of overheating.

Nutrition

Small Fawn Colored Dog Eating
Stick to high-quality dog foods made for small breeds with this breed.

This is a small-sized dog, but their eyes are far bigger than their belly! He only needs around one cup of food every day, split into two meals. But if you gave him five cups, he’d gobble it all up and look at you for the next serving. Always follow the feeding instructions according to your Pug’s individual needs.

Many become overweight, and it can lead to serious health concerns. If he does become overweight, switch him to a low-calorie dog food formula and get his couch potato butt off the sofa!

A high-quality kibble will provide a well-balanced diet that will meet the Pug’s nutritional needs. This includes meat protein, healthy carbohydrates, omega fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. He has a puppy, adult, and senior life stage, which requires differing nutrition. It’s also advisable to choose a kibble that is specifically designed for small-breed dogs. This way, the kibble pieces are easier for him to eat.

Grooming

Dog Getting Bathed in Tub
Establish a regular bathing and grooming routine to help keep dog hair under control.

Despite having a short and smooth coat, they don’t have the easiest of grooming needs. His short coat is moderate to heavy shedding. Some dogs have a single-layered coat, and Pugs shed much less than the double-coated pooches. When the shedding seasons come around, they will drop the excess hair, commonly known as blowing his coat.

The breed is prone to various skin conditions. It’s advised to wash him with a shampoo made for sensitive dogs. Unless, of course, he has a skin condition that requires a medicated shampoo prescribed by your vet. Only wash him once every 8 to 12 weeks. Do not bathe him more than this because you risk upsetting his skin pH levels and irritating his already sensitive skin.

His skin rolls are a breeding ground for bacteria. Warmth and sweat equal skin fold dermatitis and other skin conditions mentioned above. There are pet-safe skin fold cleansers, but cleaning in between his rolls with warm water with a clean cloth will suffice if done regularly.

If he has really sensitive skin and lots of rolls, he might need his rolls cleaning daily. But some dogs will only need this three times a week. It is an individual need, so be sure to speak to your vet if you are unsure.

The breed has a tiny mouth, and his teeth are tightly packed together. For this reason, it’s also really important that you brush his teeth several times a week to prevent periodontal diseases. Considering how many eye problems this pup has, get into the habit of checking his eyes for any changes every time you groom him. Thankfully, if you get him used to his grooming schedule from an early age, he will love the attention.

Breeders & Puppy Costs

Small Fawn Colored Puppy
Expect to pay upwards of $1,500 for a puppy from a reputable breeder.

This is an in-demand doggy, and with this comes positives and negatives. The positives being that there are many good breeders out there, but there are also many bad ones. You need to sort the good from the bad and get your Puggy detective cap on. A great place to start is with the AKC’s list of recommended Pug breeders.

Look for a breeder with years of experience that will meet you in person with the puppies and their mum. As well as providing you with health certificates and all the information you need. If they can do all this, and the environment is clean. AND you get a good feeling, the next step is to choose your puppy.

The average price of a puppy from a reputable breeder is around $1,500. This can be much more, depending on the puppy lineage and reputation of the breeder.

The poor-quality breeders will breed ill and sick dogs, focusing on quantity over quality. The puppies’ health from puppy mills is usually very poor, so please avoid them at all costs. Considering the breed suffers from more health concerns than some other breeds, you need to do everything you can to bring home a healthy pup.

Rescues & Shelters

Fawn Colored Senior Dog Outdoors
Consider rescuing from a local shelter if you aren’t totally set on adopting a puppy.

There are many Pugs in rescue shelters across America, so why not consider adopting one? Head out to your local rescue center, and start your search there. You are more likely to find an adult dog rather than a puppy, but the initial cost will be much lower.

If you cannot find a dog that fits your family, fear not! There are many dedicated rescue organizations that focus on rehoming of this breed specifically. The Pug Dog Club of America lists many rescues state by state, so this is a great starting place. If you are open to a mixed breed, consider a Puggle or a Chug, both mixed breeds with a Pug parent that can end up at rescue organizations.

As Family Pets

  • This is a fun dog who loves to be the center of attention.
  • He needs 30 to 45 minutes of exercise every day, and lots of fun play.
  • The breed also loves to snooze, so you can count on him for plenty of cuddle time.
  • He is initially aloof with strangers but quickly warms up to them.
  • Thy are very vocal dogs who will bark the house down if you let them.
  • He hates to be left alone, so he needs company for most of the day.
  • He is great with children of all ages and other family pets.
  • The breed has a high grooming schedule that will need daily attention.
  • He isn’t the most obedient of family dogs.
  • His charm and personality make up for it.

Final Thoughts

The Pug has a big personality packed into a small frame. He is part of the toy dog group, but thankfully he is sturdy enough to play with dogs of all sizes and kids of all ages. He is a well-balanced dog who is polite, friendly, fun, and calm in the home. Just be sure you have the time for his grooming and the patience for his sometimes lazy and greedy demands. As well as lots of earplugs for the snoring and barking! Hopefully, now you can see just why he has always been so popular. His squishy face is enough to brighten anyone’s day!

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