Pug: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Pug

 

Anastasiia Shavshyna / Getty Images

The pug is a small toy dog breed from China with a short, smooth coat that can come in black or fawn, a short snout, wrinkled face, and curled tail. They are sturdy little dogs that pack in a lot of personality. Pugs are typically sweet and good-natured, but they have some spunk in them, too. They can adapt to many different living situations, though they prefer climates that aren’t very hot or cold. And they like being with their family as much as possible. The even-tempered demeanor of this breed makes it a good dog for families with kids.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Toy

HEIGHT: 10 to 13 inches

WEIGHT: 14 to 18 pounds

COAT: Smooth, short

COAT COLOR: Fawn, black

LIFE SPAN: 13 to 15 years

TEMPERAMENT: Affectionate, sweet-tempered, playful

HYPOALLERGENIC: No

ORIGIN: China

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Characteristics of the Pug

Pugs generally have a very affectionate and upbeat temperament. Their personalities are marked by their love of people. They don't have a high energy level, but they still love to play.

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs Medium
Playfulness High
Energy Level Medium
Trainability Medium
Intelligence Medium
Tendency to Bark Low
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Pug

The pug is one of the world's oldest dog breeds, with a history dating back to at least 400 B.C. There is much debate over the true origin of the pug, but it is generally believed that the breed came from China. The pug might be related to the Pekingese, though some believe the breed descended from the bulldog or mastiff. Emperors of China treasured the little dog, and they were a highly desired gift.

Pugs began to spread around the world starting in the 1500s. They became popular among European royalty, which sparked more widespread breeding. A new wave of pugs were brought to England after the British overran the Chinese Imperial Palace in 1860. They contributed shorter legs and the modern style of pug nose to the breed.

The American Kennel Club first recognized the breed in 1885. And it is still one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States today.

Duke and Duchess of Windsor with a pug in a garden
the Duke and Duchess of Windsor with a pug Frank Scherschel / Getty Images

Pug Care

Pugs aren't high-energy dogs, but they still need daily exercise. They also require consistent training and socialization to make sure they are well-mannered. And their grooming needs are fairly straightforward.

Exercise

Pugs need a moderate amount of exercise, roughly around an hour per day. A morning and evening walk plus some active playtime should be sufficient. Pugs also love participating with their humans in dog sports, such as agility and rally. And they enjoy puzzle toys to challenge them physically and mentally.

Take care not to overexert your dog, especially in warm weather. The pug's short muzzle makes it hard for the breed to cool itself through panting, which can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Grooming

The pug’s short coat is fairly easy to care for, only requiring basic grooming. Plan to brush weekly to remove loose fur and distribute skin oils. And bathe roughly once a month, depending on how dirty your dog gets. But at least weekly plan to use a soft damp cloth to clean the pug’s skin folds, especially around its face, as they are prone to infection. Make sure to dry the folds thoroughly. 

Check your pug’s nails roughly once a month to see whether they need a trim. And aim to brush its teeth every day.

Training

Pugs typically are eager to please and respond well to positive training methods. They are especially motivated by treats, though it’s important not to overfeed them. Using part of their daily meals for training treats is a good option. Avoid harsh corrections, as pugs are sensitive and will quickly shut down and refuse to participate in training. Begin training from as young of an age as possible ideally with a puppy class, which involves socialization as well. 

Moreover, aim to expose your pug to different people, other animals, and various locations from as young of an age as possible. Pugs are typically outgoing dogs, and having positive experiences in social situations will reinforce their comfort and confidence.  

Pug puppies
jarun011 / Getty Images
Pug swimming
fongleon356 / Getty Images 
Young girl playing with pug
standret / Getty Images 

Common Health Problems

Like many dog breeds, pugs are prone to some hereditary health issues, including:

pugs as pets illustration

The Spruce / Kelly Miller

Diet and Nutrition

Always have fresh water available for your pug. And feed a quality, nutritionally balanced canine diet. It’s common to feed two measured meals per day. But you should always discuss both the amount and the type of food with your vet, as nutritional needs can change with age, activity level, and more. Also, pugs are prone to obesity because they love food. So it’s important to watch treats and other extra food intake to ensure your dog is not overeating.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Pug

Pugs are a popular dog breed. So it’s worth checking local animal shelters and breed-specific rescue groups for a dog in need of a home. If you’re looking for a puppy from a reputable breeder, expect to pay around $500 to $2,000, though this can vary widely. 

For further information to connect you with a pug, check out:

Pug Overview

Pros
  • Infrequent barker

  • Small but sturdy

  • Highly affectionate and family friendly

Cons
  • Prone to overeating

  • Needs extra cleaning in skin folds

  • Can have breathing difficulties

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you think the pug is right for you, be sure to do plenty of research before obtaining one. Talk to other pug owners, reputable breeders, rescue groups, and veterinarians to learn more.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

FAQ
  • Are pugs good family dogs?

    Pugs can make for excellent family pets when they are well trained and socialized. They tend to be tolerant of children, though dogs should always be supervised around young children.

  • Are pugs aggressive?

    Pugs typically are friendly dogs that do not display aggression. They tend to be affectionate with their family and even open to meeting strangers.

  • Are pugs good apartment dogs?

    Pugs can do well living in a small home, such as an apartment, as they don't need a lot of room to run and play. However, it's still important that they get out every day for exercise.

Article Sources
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  1. Pug. American Kennel Club.

  2. Pug Puppies and Dogs. Adopt a Pet.