Pug: Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners



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The pug is a jovial dog with a round and wrinkly head, a short nose, a stout and sturdy little body, and a curly tail. This adorable small dog is charming, good-natured, energetic, and playful. The pug is a little dog with a big personality, so it is ideal for those who want a compact but active companion dog. The even-tempered demeanor of this breed makes it a good choice for families with children.

Breed Overview

Group: Toy

Height: 10 to 13 inches

Weight: 14 to 18 pounds

Coat and Color: Smooth, short double coat in fawn or black

Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

Characteristics of the Pug

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

Click Play to Learn More About the Jovial Pug

History of the Pug

The pug is one of the world's oldest breeds of dogs, with a history dating back to at least 400 B.C. There is much debate over the true origins of the pug, but it is generally believed that the breed originally came from China. The pug may be related to the Pekingese, though some believe the breed descended from the bulldog or mastiff. Pugs were once companions to Buddhist monks in Tibet, which may explain why they are such loving, upbeat creatures.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, pugs became popular among European royalty. They were brought by King William II and Queen Mary II from the Netherlands when they ascended the throne of England. They appear in paintings made by Goya of Spanish nobles. Napoleon's wife, Josephine, had a pug that carried secret messages to Napoleon in prison. Queen Victoria had pugs, as did her descendants, King George V and King Edward VIII. A new wave of pugs and Pekingese were brought back 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 pug was first registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1885 and has continued to gain popularity.

Duke and Duchess of Windsor with pug
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Pug Care

The pug has a short, soft hair coat with a tendency to shed. Basic routine grooming with regular brushing is generally sufficient for the breed. Extra attention should be placed upon keeping the pug's facial folds clean to prevent infections. Wipe out the debris with a damp sponge or baby wipe and then dry the area thoroughly. Frequent bathing may be recommended if your pug has any allergies or other skin issues.

Pugs are happy dogs that often respond well to training (especially because they tend to be food motivated). At the very least, teach your pug basic commands and be sure to get it used to being handled. Pugs often have a stubborn side. Therefore, untrained pugs can be difficult to deal with in situations like handling for nail trims or paying attention to you when there are distractions. Trim the nails regularly to keep them short and comfortable for your pug.

Pay attention to oral hygiene and brush your dog's teeth at least a couple of times each week to keep its gums and mouth healthy. Be aware that they often have dental problems with crowded teeth and may need more frequent dental cleanings at the veterinarian.

Pugs have to burn off some energy and need a moderate amount of exercise. A nice walk and active play will be good for your pug. Be sure not to over-exercise your pug, especially in warmer weather. The pug's short muzzle makes it harder for this breed to cool down through panting. Pugs are prone to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, even in cooler temperatures. Do not leave your pug (or any dog) unattended in a vehicle, even in cool weather. When traveling by air, it is best for a pug to travel with you in a carrier in the passenger compartment.

They aren't known to be barkers but you will hear plenty of funny pug noises, including snoring and episodes of reverse sneezing.

Their long history as companion dogs has contributed to the pug being friendly to all, but socialization is still an important part of raising a dog. Exposing your dog to other people, dogs, and small animals in a variety of situations will help the dog feel more confident and not shy, fearful, or aggressive.

Pugs are a good choice for a family with children as they love kids and kids love them. They are small enough to play with kids but not so delicate that they are at risk of injury. It is always good to ensure children treat a dog with respect and don't handle the dog roughly. Pugs also are usually good with other dogs, cats, and other small animals.

Pug puppies
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Pug swimming
fongleon356 / Getty Images 
Young girl playing with pug
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Common Health Problems

Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions, though some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed. These include:

pugs as pets illustration
Illustration: The Spruce / Kelly Miller

Diet and Nutrition

Pugs should be fed two meals a day of up to 1/2 cup of dry dog food at each meal. The amount needed will depend on the dog's size, activity level, age, and other factors. This will change throughout the lifespan of your dog. You will need to resist overindulging your pug and giving human food as a treat. Pugs love to eat and it is easy for them to become overweight or obese. This can reduce their life expectancy and contribute to the development of many health conditions. Be sure to monitor your pet's weight and discuss it with your veterinarian to get recommendations to keep your dog healthy.

  • Infrequent barkers

  • Small but sturdy size

  • Family friendly pets that are especially good with children

  • Prone to overeating

  • Needs extra cleaning in face folds

  • Snorts and makes other nasal noises

Where to Adopt or Buy a Pug

As pugs have grown in popularity, so have the number of pug breeders. It's imperative to work with a reputable pug breeder that can provide an accurate health history and healthy dogs, and it's best to avoid buying a pug at a pet store. There are local pug rescue groups located around the country.

  • The Pug Dog Club of America is a good place to start to find reputable breeders.
  • Pug Partners is dedicated to re-homing and rescuing pugs in need. They link to pug rescue groups across the United States.

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, and rescue groups to learn more.

If you are interested in similar breeds, look into these to compare the pros and cons:

Explore more dog breed profiles to find the right dog to bring home.