Pug

The Pug is a toy breed developed in the Netherlands and Great Britain, that likely originated in China.  This breed has long been famous due to its connections with the nobility, both in Asia and Europe.  Although the breed suffers from a number of health difficulties as a result of its unique face, it remains one of the most popular breeds in America and in much of the world.  The Pug goes by many other names including the Mops, Mopsi, Carlin, Carline, Doguillo, Pug Dog, Chinese Pug Dog, Dutch Bulldog, Dutch Mastiff, the Miniature Mastiff, Lo-Chiang-Sze, and Lo-sze.

Breed Information

Breed Basics

Country of Origin: 
Size: 
Small 8-15 lb
Medium 15-35 lb
LifeSpan: 
12 to 15 Years
Trainability: 
Difficult to Train
Energy Level: 
Medium Energy
Grooming: 
Rarely
Protective Ability: 
Good Watchdog
Hypoallergenic Breed: 
No
Space Requirements: 
Apartment Ok
Compatibility With Other Pets: 
Friendly With Other Dogs
Friendly With Other Pets
Litter Size: 
3-7 puppies
Names: 
Mops, Mopsi, Carlin, Carline, Doguillo, Pug Dog, Chinese Pug Dog, Dutch Bulldog, Dutch Mastiff, the Miniature Mastiff, Lo-Chiang-Sze, Lo-sze

Height/Weight

Males: 
14-18 lbs, 9-12 inches
Females: 
Same

Kennel Clubs and Recognition

American Kennel Club: 
ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council): 
CKC(Canadian Kennel Club): 
FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale): 
KC (The Kennel Club): 
Toy
NZKC (New Zealand Kennel Club): 
UKC (United Kennel Club): 
History: 

 

The Pug’s history is something of a mystery.  These dogs have long been associated with the nobility of both the Netherlands and England, but most agree that these dogs were originally native to China.   At one time it was theorized that the Pug may have descended from English Bulldogs or from the Dogue de Bordeaux, however these theories have been largely abandoned, especially as Pugs were known to have been present in China during the 1800’s.  However, much of what is said about the Pug’s origins is speculative, as the breed was created centuries before organized records of dog breeding were kept.

 

The Pug is thought to be one of the oldest of all dog breeds.  Most experts believe that the Pug was first bred as a companion dog to the royal family of China’s Shang Dynasty.  If this is the case, the Pug has been around as a distinct breed since prior to 400 B.C.  Records from around this time describe the Lo-Chiang-Sze or Foo, which has traditionally been associated with the Pug.  Confucius described short-faced dogs in his writings that were created sometime between 551 B.C. and 479 B.C.  He described how these dogs accompanied their masters in their chariots.  The first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, destroyed all records of the Pug, including all scrolls and depictions, at some point during his reign from between 221 and 210 B.C.E.  Partially as a result of this record destruction, the exact origins of the Pug have probably been lost in time. 

 

The breed almost certainly shares a very close relationship with the similar Pekingese.  Initially, it was thought that the Pug was developed by the Chinese and then crossed with long-haired Tibetan dogs such as the Lhasa Apso to create the Pekingese.  However, most recent research suggests that the Pekingese is in fact the older breed, having been the one to have descended from the original Tibetan dogs brought to China.  Recent genetic evidence in the form of DNA studies has also confirmed that the Pekingese is the older of the two breeds.  The most prevalent current theory claims that the Pug was either developed by breeding the shortest haired Pekingese or by crossing the Pekingese with a shorter haired dog.

 

However and whenever the Pug was first developed, it became a prized possession of the Chinese nobility.  Only persons of noble blood or monks were allowed to own these animals.  Eventually the breed’s name was shortened from Lo-Chiang-Sze to simply Lo-Sze.  Very early on in the breed’s history, it spread from China to Tibet, where is became a favorite companion animal in monasteries.  The high regard which the Pug was held was demonstrated by the Emperor Ling To, who ruled from 168 to 190 A.D.  He ranked most of his possessions, and he ranked his female Pugs alongside his wives in importance.  He also declared that his dogs would be guarded by armed men and fed only the finest meats and rice.  The punishment for attempting to steal one of Ling To’s Pugs was death.  Over a thousand years later in the Yuan Dynasty, 1203 to 1333, it became customary to parade all of the Emperor’s animals.  The Pug was placed in the parade immediately after the lions.  Many believe that Marco Polo was the first European to see Pugs during his travels in the Orient.  It is very possible that he first witnessed Pugs in such a parade.  From China and Tibet, the Pug also spread to the neighboring nations of Korea and Japan, as well as possibly Mongol and Turkish lands.

 

During the Age of Exploration, European navigators began to sail around the world.  In the 1500’s, Dutch and Portuguese traders began to trade with China and Japan.  It is generally believed that some of these Dutch traders acquired the Pug, which they called the Mops.  They brought these delightful and unique companion dogs back to the province of Holland.  Once in Holland the breed quickly once again became a favorite companion of the nobility, becoming the treasured pets of the House of Orange.  During this time, the Protestant Dutch provinces were fighting a series of wars to gain independence from Catholic Spain.  In 1572, an assassination attempt against the Dutch King William the Silent was foiled when his loyal Pug Pompey awoke him.  In gratitude, the Pug became the Official Dog of the House of Orange.  In 1688, the English named Prince William of the Netherlands as their King, and he and his wife Mary brought their Pugs with them to England.  These dogs wore orange collars to represent the House of Orange at the coronation ceremony. 

 

The Dutch Mops became the English Pug, and became quite fashionable throughout British lands.  It is unclear where the name developed, but it is thought to come from one of two Latin words, Pugnus or Pugnaces Britanniae.  Pugnus was the Latin word for fist, and may describe the Pug’s face.  Pugnaces Britanniae was the Latin word for the English Mastiff, which closely resembles a gargantuan Pug.   The English were largely responsible for refining the Pug into the more modern-looking breed.  It is thought that the English crossed the Pug with the Toy Spaniel, which is why the English Toy Spaniel has a Pug-like face.  From England and Holland, the Pug became popular across Western Europe.  This breed was commonly owned by the upper-classes of Spain, Italy, and France.  Many artists depicted the Pug in their works, perhaps most famously the Spaniard Goya and the Englishman William Hogarth, who owned a series of Pugs.  A very famous self-portrait of Hogarth with his Pug Trump hangs in the Tate Gallery of London.  Around 1736, the Pug became the secret symbol of the Mopsorden, or Order of the Pug, a secret society led by the Grand Master of the Freemasons.

 

By the end of the 1700’s, the Pug was one of the most popular companion breeds of the European nobility, although it had begun to fall out of favor in England due to the popularity of the Toy Spaniel and the Italian Greyhound.  In Italy, it became fashionable to dress Pugs in matching shirts and pantaloons.  Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife Josephine owned a Pug named Fortune.  It is said that when the two first were married in 1796, Napoleon would not let the dog in their bed.  Fortune supposedly bit Napoleon on the leg, and one of history’s most brilliant generals shared his bed with a Pug from that point on.  When Napoleon and Josephine were imprisoned, Josephine used Fortune to transmit messages to her husband by hiding notes underneath his collar. 

 

The English Queen Victoria greatly favored Pugs, and she kept a number of them including Olga, Pedro, Minka, Fatima, and Venus.  She was also an avid breeder of Pugs, and her involvement with dogs in general helped lead to the foundation of the Kennel Club in 1873.  Prior to 1860, Pugs were considerably taller, thinner, and longer snouted than modern day animals, and looked like a miniaturized version of the American Bulldog.  In 1860, French and English forces took control of the Chinese Forbidden City during the Opium Wars.  A great deal of loot was carried back to England, including the Pekingese and Pugs with short legs and considerably shorter muzzles.  These dogs were quickly bred with existing English Pugs and more were imported from China.  Prior to this time, Pugs were almost exclusively tan or fawn with black markings.  In 1866, the Lady Brassey imported solid black Pugs from China and popularized them throughout Europe.  For much of the 1800’s it was common to crop the ears of Pugs, although that practice was banned in England in 1895.

 

It is unclear when the Pug first arrived in America.  However, the breed began to dramatically increase in popularity across the Atlantic after the Civil War.  The Pug was one of the very first breeds to be recognized with the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1885.  The United Kennel Club (UKC) also was quick to recognize the Pug, first doing so in 1918.  The Pug Dog Club of America (PDCA) was founded in 1931, and became the official breed club with the AKC.  The Pug has steadily risen in popularity in America since its introduction.  The Pug has long been a very common breed in America, although never one of the very most popular.  For a number of years the Pug has ranked between 10 and 25 in terms of AKC registrations.  In 1981, a Pug named Dhandys Favorite Woodchuck won Best-in-Show at Westminster, becoming the first Pug to do so.  It is widely believed that one of the primary reasons for the enduring popularity of the Pug is that the breed is small enough to be favored by women, but with a masculine appearance so that it is acceptably manly for a man to own.  Quite a few households have settled a dispute over which breed of dog to own by acquiring a Pug. 

 

Because the Pug has such a unique appearance and charming personality, the breed has long been a popular choice to include in film, television, and art.  Perhaps the most famous fictional Pug is Otis, star of the classic children’s film ‘Milo and Otis’.  This live-action film narrated by Dudley More tells the story of a Pug and a Calico Cat who become best friends and go on a great adventure together.  Another very famous fictional Pug is Frank from ‘Men in Black’, ‘Men in Black II’, and the animated series based on the films.  Frank parodies the strange appearance of the Pug as he is actually an alien in disguise.  Other films with Pug characters include Disney’s animated classic ‘Pocahontas’, ‘12 Rounds’, ‘Marie Antoinette’, ‘The Great Race’, and ‘Dune’.  The Pug has also made numerous appearances on the small screen, including ‘Spin City’, ‘King of Queens’, ‘The West Wing’, and ‘Eastenders’.  The Pug has made appearances in numerous books and novels, and more recently in video games such as ‘Nintendogs’ and ‘World of Warcraft’.  The Pug has long been a favorite of European royalty, and several members of the remaining noble houses of that continent still own Pugs.  This breed has also become a favorite of the rich and famous across the world, with such celebrities as Maria Bamford, Jonathan Ross, Jessica Alba, Hugh Laurie, Jamie Jazz, Valentino Garavani, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gerard Butler, Jenna Elfman, and Rob Zombie all being Pug owners.

 

Bred as a companion dog for perhaps more than 2500 years, this is the task at which the Pug most excels.  Indeed, virtually every Pug on the planet is either a companion animal or show dog, although a very small number are entertainers.  Some Pugs have competed successfully at agility or obedience trials, but in general the breed is less suited to these purposes than more athletic breeds.  As is the case with most breeds, the Pug goes through cycles where the breed is more or less popular depending on the latest trends.  However, the Pug is more immune to large changes in populations, as the breed has a very large and very dedicated number of followers.  In 2010, the Pug ranked 24th out of 167 total breeds in terms of AKC registrations.  In recent years, the Pug has become a very popular choice to cross with other small breeds to create so-called designer dogs.  Perhaps the most popular of all these designer breeds is a cross between a Pug and a Beagle, resulting in a dog known as a Puggle.  While most of these dogs are simply one-time mixes, it is thought that some, especially the Puggle, will eventually become true-breeding purebred dogs.

 

In the last several decades, poor breeding practices have taken their toll on the Pug breed. Because of the Pug’s popularity and small size, it is one of the most common dogs found in puppy mills.  Such places are essentially puppy producing factories, creating dogs for mass consumption with little regard for health, quality, or temperament.  This has led to a number of Pugs having severe health and temperament issues.  It is always extremely important to carefully select a Pug breeder or rescue agency.

 

Appearance: 

 

Thanks to its unique appearance and frequent appearances in popular media, the Pug is one of the most recognizable dog breeds in America.  Even citizens with very little interest in dogs are able to correctly identify them.  As is the case with all toy breeds, the Pug is very short dog.  Although breed standards do not indicate an ideal height for the Pug, most dogs are between 9 and 12 inches tall at the shoulder.  The Pug is definitely heavier than most toy breeds, a result of its stocky build.

 

Breed standards indicate that the ideal weight for the Pug is between 14 and 18 pounds, although these dogs commonly weigh significantly more.  A Pug is definitely small and portable, but is not a breed you would wish to carry around in a purse.  This breed is heavily built, and is very thick and stocky.  Although the Pug’s legs are not especially thick, this breed has been described as a small tank.  The Pug has a very square body.  The tail of the Pug is short and tightly curled over the back.  Some believe that the gender of the Pug determines the direction in which the tail curls. 

 

The Pug’s head and face are the breed’s defining characteristics.  The Pug is the epitome of a brachycephalic breed, or one with a pushed in face.  The head sits on a very short neck which is so thick it seems to blend in with the body.  The head itself is covered in wrinkles and very round, almost ball-shaped.  The muzzle is very short, perhaps the shortest of any breed.  The muzzle is also very square and wide, seemingly taking up almost the entire face.  This muzzle is even wrinklier than the rest of the face.  Almost all Pugs have a slight under bite, although some have an extreme one.  Pugs have very large eyes, which often protrude quite far from the head.  These eyes are very dark black in color, although quite lustrous.  The Pug has a solicitous and determined expression.  The ears of the Pug are quite small and thin.  They are placed almost level with the top of the skull.  Two different ear varieties are found in the Pug, button ears that are semi-erect and rose ears that drop down and back.  Some Pugs have ears which face forward, others are at an almost 90 degree angle to the top of the head, and some drop backwards.

 

The coat of the Pug is fine, smooth, soft, and glossy.  It is relatively uniform in length over the entire body, but may be slightly shorter over the ears and face, and slightly longer on the tail.  The vast majority of Pugs are fawn in color with black markings.  These markings are well-defined, and should be as black as possible.  All Pugs should have an entirely black muzzle and mask over the eyes, which often form one markings.  Additionally, this breed should always have black ears.  It is also acceptable for Pugs to have smaller black marks on the cheeks and foreheads, as well as a back-trace (a line which extends from the occiput to the tail).  This is the one color and pattern for the breed which is universally accepted by all kennel clubs.  Almost all kennel clubs around the world also accept solid black pugs, which form a sizable minority of the Pug population.  Some kennel clubs, such as the UKC, also allow Apricot and Silver colored Pugs with the black markings common to the Fawn dogs.

 

Temperament: 

 

When considering the temperament of the Pug, one must consider two separate groups of dogs; pugs which have been carefully bred by responsible breeders and those that have been bred to supply dogs for the commercial market.  Pugs from responsible breeders are generally stable in temperament.  Dogs from commercial breeders vary tremendously in temperament.  Many such dogs suffer from major behavioral problems such as aggression, fear, shyness, and hyperactivity.  However, even poorly bred Pugs are generally subject to fewer severe behavioral issues than most similar dogs.

 

As one would expect from its heritage, a Pug is a companion dog through and through, and delights in nothing more than being with its family.  This breed is known for being stable in temperament, generally dignified and calm, but also capable of being silly and clownish.  Most Pugs are generally fine with whatever is going on around them, and take almost everything in stride.  The Pug is perhaps the friendliest and most well-behaved member of the toy family.  Pugs are very affectionate dogs, which will shower their owners with love.  This breed will always want to be right next to you.  Unlike most toy breeds which are generally suspicious around strangers, most Pugs will run up to and happily greet almost all new people.  If someone gives a Pug a treat, they may very well have made a lifelong friend.  The Pug is also likely the toy breed which is most well-suited to children. 

 

The Pug is sturdy and rambunctious enough to enjoy the occasional rough play of children, provided they are careful with the breed’s delicate eyes.  While the most that can be expected of most toy dogs is a guarded tolerance of familiar children, many Pugs love children, often becoming incredibly close friends with them.  The Pug is similarly friendly with strange children as it is with strange adults.  Although the Pug prefers to be with its owners every second of the day, these dogs are somewhat less susceptible to separation anxiety than some other breeds because they enjoy sleeping for so much of the day.  While some Pugs can be stubborn, this breed is a good choice for a novice dog owner.  Always remember that socialization and training are important to every breed.  Some Pugs make decent watchdogs, but this breed makes a very poor guard dog as most Pugs are more likely to lick an intruder to death than to show any aggression. 

 

Pugs are almost as tolerant of other animals as they are with people.  Most Pugs are very accepting of other dogs in particular.  This breed is not especially dominant and has low levels of dog aggression.  Pugs seem to especially enjoy the company of other Pugs, and almost every Pug owner will tell you that once you get one Pug, you will almost certainly get more.  It may be unadvisable to keep Pugs with significantly larger dogs, because this breed has eyes which are very easily injured.  This breed is also very accepting of non-canine pets, and has a very low prey drive.  While any dog that has not been properly socialized will chase cats and other animals, a properly trained Pug is probably going to leave household pets completely undisturbed.  Many Pugs actually make friends with cats and other creatures.

 

Although a loving and affectionate companion, the Pug is far from the easiest dog to train.  If you are used to training Poodles or Labrador Retrievers, training a Pug will likely prove very frustrating.  While Pugs are certainly not deliberately willful in the manner of many terriers or hounds, they can be incredibly stubborn.  This breed just is not overly motivated to learn, or do much of anything for that matter.  A Pug’s training difficulties are generally not the result of it wanting to do its own thing; they are the result of it not wanting to do whatever you are trying to teach it.  This does not mean that Pug is incapable of learning; it just means that you have to take extra time and effort to train them.  This breed is incredibly sensitive to tone and volume of a person’s voice, so harsh training methods are unnecessary. 

 

While Pug’s respond best to reward based training, they are very likely to decide that getting a treat is not worth their performing a trick which you are intending to teach them.  However, it is incredibly easy to socialize a Pug and to teach it good manners.  If you are looking for a breed that will quickly and easily become a well-mannered and friendly companion and maybe a few very simple tricks, a Pug is probably one of the best options available.  If you are looking for a dog which will win obedience and agility trials, or could perform complicated tricks or Frisbee stunts, you should definitely look else.  All toy breeds are more difficult to housebreak than larger breeds as a result of their smaller bladders.  However, the Pug is considerably easier to housebreak than most toys.

 

Much like most brachycephalic breeds, Pugs are generally low energy dogs.  Almost all Pugs will be satisfied with a daily stroll.  This breed does enjoy an occasionally brief romp off leash, and will engage in some energetic games.  However, the Pug tires easily and such games are unlikely to last more than 15 minutes.  While it might be unfair to describe the Pug as a couch potato, adult Pugs do spend the majority of their time asleep.  Pugs are one of the best choices for relatively inactive families.  This dog also adapts to life in urban environments better than almost any other.  This does not mean that a Pug will be fine with no exercise.  Every dog must have its exercise needs met.  Unexercised Pugs may become bored and destructive, although probably not to the extent that some dogs will.  Additionally, the more exercise that a Pug gets (up to a certain point dictated by their breathing difficulties) the healthier the dog will be.  Some Pugs enjoy having a task such as an agility course.  However, most Pugs are perfectly happy without purpose-oriented exercise and many probably prefer not having a job.

 

Pugs are less susceptible to problems common to most toy breeds.  The Pug is certainly not a yappy dog.  Most Pugs rarely bark, although they can make capable watchdogs.  You are less likely to receive noise complaints about a Pug than most other breeds.  Additionally, Pugs are less likely to develop severe cases of Small Dog Syndrome than most toys.  This condition is a result of owners not disciplining small dogs in the same manner which they would large dogs.  This results in dominant, aggressive, and out-of-control animals.  Pugs which are not trained properly can develop this condition, although generally not to the extent to which some breeds will.  Untrained Pugs may develop possessiveness issues, where they guard toys, food, and even pieces of furniture or entire rooms.  These problems should not develop if owners properly train their dogs from a young age.

 

The Pug’s unique face is responsible for a number of behaviors which some owners find highly undesirable.  Pugs do not bark very much, but they are certainly not silent dogs.  Pugs wheeze and snort almost constantly, along with very loudly panting almost the entire time that they are moving.  This is also one of the most infamous snorers of all dogs.  If you have a Pug in the home, you will hear doggy snoring for most of the day, often for hours on end.  What most owners find the most displeasing is the breed’s flatulence.  Pugs pass gas quite frequently.  The noise and smell of these releases can be extremely offensive and embarrassing.  For a very small dog, a Pug can clear a room very quickly.  Pugs also drool and slobber.  This breed is one of the messiest drinkers of all breeds.  If you or a family member are especially embarrassed or uncomfortable about snoring and other bodily functions, a Pug is not the right choice.

 

Grooming Requirements: 

 

Pugs have very low grooming requirements.  This breed should never require professional grooming, only regular thorough brushings.  Pugs are shedders.  There is perhaps no toy breed which sheds as much as the Pug.  These dogs will cover your carpets, furniture, and clothing with hair.  Pugs are also very heavy seasonal shedders.  Twice a year, Pugs virtually leave a trail of hair wherever they walk.

 

Although the Pug’s coat requires little maintenance, this breed does require a great deal of extra attention to its face.  A Pug must have its wrinkles regularly and carefully cleaned out.  Otherwise, food, water, and other detritus will get lodged in there causing irritations and infections.

 

Health Issues: 

 

Unfortunately, the Pug is regarded as an unhealthy breed.  Most experts claim that the biggest concern for potential Pug owners is the breed’s health.  The Pug suffers from a number of health conditions, most of which are the result of the breed’s unique face.  As is the case with many small breeds, Pugs tend to live for a very long time, 12-15 years on average.  However, many suffer from discomfort during those years.  Additionally, health surveys of Pugs in the United Kingdom have indicated that the life expectancy of Pugs in that nation only have a life expectancy of 10 years.  One of the reasons that Pugs suffer from so many health defects is that most Pugs are descended from a very small number of dogs which were smuggled out of the orient and regularly interbred.  A recent study conducted by the Imperial College of London concluded that the 10,000 Pugs in the United Kingdom had the genetic variation of only 50 dogs.

 

The brachycephalic face of the Pug creates a number of breathing problems.  Simply put, the Pug has ventilation issues.  Pugs are often short of breath, and cannot handle extended periods of exercise.  It is not uncommon for Pugs to collapse due to shortness of breath.  Pugs catch cold more easily than other dogs, and frequently become ill.  Pugs also commonly suffer from allergies or chemical sensitivities.  It is advised that Pug owners refrain from smoking or from using chemical cleaners.

 

Pugs are very intolerant to temperature extremes.  This short-coated dog cannot handle extreme cold and should be put in sweaters and booties in wintry conditions.  Pugs should also be quickly dried after baths to prevent them from developing chills.  Somewhat surprisingly, Pugs are even more incapable of handling heat.  The short snout makes it very difficult for them to take in enough air to cool themselves off.  Pugs get heatstroke much faster and in cooler temperatures than almost any other breed.  This condition is often rapidly fatal for them.

 

The large, round head of the Pug causes the breed additional problems.  Pugs suffer from a rare disease known as Pug Dog Encephalitis or PDE.  PDE commonly strikes Pugs from the ages of 6 months to 7 years and is generally fatal.  Veterinarians are still attempting to discover the cause of this disease, which is essentially always fatal.  Some experts consider PDE to be a form of Necrotizing Encephalitis which is also found in other toy breeds.  Female Pugs have a tremendous amount of difficulty whelping.  The large heads of baby puppies simply don’t come out of such a small dog very easily.  The majority of Pug births are the result of caesarian sections, although this is not generally as necessary as in the case of English or French Bulldogs.

 

The bulging eyes of the Pug are very susceptible to injury.  A very large number of Pugs lose their eyes to accidents.  These eyes are also very susceptible to almost every major canine eye problem, including entropion and cataracts.  A disturbingly large percentage of Pugs eventually become blind due to eye problems.

 

Obesity is perhaps the most common Pug health problem.  These dogs are generally inactive, and in fact cannot get too much exercise as a result of their breathing difficulties.  Unfortunately, Pugs also like to gorge themselves and will eat as much as they can.  Obesity leads to a whole host of other health problems, as well as increasing the severity of others.

 

A list of the many health issues experienced by the Pug includes:

 

  • Shortness of breath
  • Susceptibility to colds
  • Numerous allergies
  • Numerous chemical sensitivities
  • Anesthesia Sensitivities
  • Cold intolerance
  • Chills
  • Heat Stroke
  • Whelping difficulties
  • Pug Dog Encephalitis (PDE)
  • Obesity
  • Eye Injuries
  • Scratched Corneas
  • Cataracts
  • Entropion
  • Keratites
  • Corneal Ulcers
  • Blindness
  • Hemivertebrae
  • Luxating Patellas
  • Back Injuries
  • Back Pain
  • Arthritis

 

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