Pug Breed and Health Information
The pug is known as the Dutch Mastiff. Along with the Shih Tzu, the Pug has been used as a companion to Chinese royalty centuries ago. This mischievous little fella is also considered the mascot of the Royal House of Orange in Holland.
Below, we will go over some of the important details about pugs such as their health, characteristics, history, grooming, care information, and others.
The pug is muscular despite its small size. They come in three different colors—all black, apricot brown, and silver. A distinctive feature is their black face mask. Pugs have a huge head and a pair of big sparkling eyes.
Their goofy looks make them quite adorable. Their wrinkled brow allows them to make very human-like facial expressions. They can look really sad, absolutely happy, and daringly curious with the faces that they are able to make. They have delighted their owners for centuries with their expressive looks—no wonder Chinese emperors loved them.
The Pug has a compact body that it is physically well-proportioned. It has a very strong gait though it can be a bit jaunty too. Their hind quarters roll downward, slightly.
One of the most distinguishing features is the Pug’s “face mask.” It’s a black marking on the muzzle which can also be found on the ears, forehead, and cheeks. Another distinguishing feature is the wrinkles that are characteristically deep.
Pugs don’t get any heavier than 20 lbs. The males usually weigh about 14 lbs. while the female pugs can weigh as much as 18 lbs. Pugs usually grow up to 10 to 14 inches tall measured at the shoulder.
It is believed that the name “pug” is derived from the Latin word for fist. If you look closely, this dog’s face and head looks like a clenched fist. However, the pug is anything but violent.
They are actually big clowns at heart and carry themselves with an air of royal dignity—that’s what you get for spending time in royal courtyards in the mysterious far East.
They love to play and are very loyal. They tend to crave attention. In fact, they love to be around humans. It has been said that pugs will be heart-broken if left on their own.
Pugs actually don’t need a lot of exercise. However, exercise should still be a part of their regular routine. Just like any other dog they too need to release a lot of energy.
You can take your pug out for a walk even at a brisk pace if you want. However, the walk should last an average of 20 minutes and not any longer. You can also allow your Pug to roam free in a fenced yard or a secured garden.
Never leave your Pug outside unsupervised.
Some activities are not recommended for this dog breed due to their size and structure. For instance, jumping, running up and down stairs, and leaping on and off chairs may cause some serious injuries.
Be careful during summer when you take your Pug out for fun and play. They can get hot pretty quickly in hot weather. They shouldn’t lie under in sun for too long. Give them plenty of shade and water. During hot days it is best to walk your Pug a little in the morning and then another walk in the afternoon.
Pugs don’t like damp and rainy conditions. You should get them a coat during winter. Windy days may be bad for your Pug’s eyes as well since debris can get into them fairly easily. You should always have travel with water bowls ready since they require plenty of water, especially when they’re outdoors.
Remember that pugs are friendly, outgoing, and clownish. They are low activity toy dogs and they love to spend a lot of time indoors. Keep that in mind when you schedule your dog trainings.
Pugs respond well to positive reinforcement which helps them understand and learn basic commands easier. Consider litter box training, since it suits them well. Use plenty of treats, since pugs are basically couch potatoes and love to have snacks from time to time. Use snack time as teaching moments.
Pugs may have difficulty trying to concentrate on one thing. They’re just too playful—so be patient. To help keep them from being distracted you can gently touch the tip of their nose to regain their attention. You can also offer some really tasty treats but don’t overdo it. Use the commands “watch” and focus when using these focusing techniques.
Use positive reinforcement with your Pug. Use basic obedience principles when you train them. Some of the useful commands to teach your dog include Stay, Down-Stay, Stand-Stay, Leave It, and Sit. Remember this rule of thumb—every obeyed command should be rewarded one to two seconds after the dog has obeyed correctly. The reward can be a combination of a treat and praise at first. This allows your Pug to associate the reward with the command that was obeyed. This process should be repeated over and over. You can try giving the command and then minus the treat (i.e. just praise) to test if your Pug has remembered the command perfectly.
Pugs are just like other toy dogs—their small bladders mean that they need to go eliminate more frequently than other dogs. Sometimes they need to do their business every hour or every other hour. Pups need to go out for their thing every 20 to 30 minutes.
Since you may not always want to be disturbed every single time, a good solution would be to get a litter box and potty train your pug using that. It doesn’t need to be huge—just big enough for the size of your Pug.
You can cover the litter box with artificial grass and use disposable puppy pads which you can buy at the store. The pads are relatively cheap so don’t worry too much about the cost. Just remember to replace the pads as often as necessary.
The pug is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. The earliest known sources and evidence for this breed can be traced all the way back to the Song Dynasty in China. That dynasty started in 960 AD and lasted until 1279 AD. That means pugs have been around for more than a thousand years. However, there are historians who say that Pugs actually date back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC)—which means that this breed may in fact be older.
They were originally bred as companion dogs to Chinese royalty. They quickly became favorites of emperors and thus they were treated as luxury items and were even kept safe by royal guards.
As the centuries went by, this breed spread all over Asia. Tibetan monks kept them as companions in their monasteries. They have been characterized by their affectionate temperament, which endeared them to their owners.
The Spread to Europe
It took several hundred years for this breed to reach the western world. Pugs made quick and lovable companions to ruling houses there as well. In fact, in 1572 a Pug by the name of “Pompey” saved the life of the Prince of Orange by alerting everyone to the presence of assassins in the royal court. The Pug became the official dog of that royal house from that time.
William III and also Mary II traveled to England with a Pug in 1688. The royal engagement was their acceptance of the throne of England. Pugs were later seen in many other parts of Europe. Even though they were not really bred for military use, soldiers used them as trackers and at times Pugs were assigned to guard duty—imagine how cute they would look in uniform!
When British troops invaded and overran the Chinese Imperial Palace in 1860 they discovered several Pugs on the premises. The soldiers took them home to England. The Pugs that were brought overseas were interbred with the Morrison and Willoughby lines, which later resulted to the modern Pug as we know it today.
William Hogarth, famous English painter, had a series of Pug paintings in his collection of master works. Hogarth was himself a Pug enthusiast. Other painters and artists have also used the Pug as the subject of their art.
It was under the patronage of Queen Victoria of England when the Pug breed flourished. The queen bred her own lines of Pugs as well. Pugs were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885. The Pug Dog Club of America was established in 1931.
Pug Health Problems
Pugs have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years. They are also prone to certain health conditions like other toy dogs or smaller dogs. Here are 5 of the most common health problems that you might encounter during the life of your pet.
- Respiratory Issues
Respiratory issues are common with smaller dogs due to smaller lungs and respiratory system. One common problem is called Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS)—which occurs when airways are blocked. Symptoms of respiratory issues include your dog gasping for breath and struggling to breathe even after very little physical activity. If this happens, you know that your dog is having problems breathing.
- Skin Disorders
Pugs are allergy prone. The wrinkled folds of skin on their body can also get infected. Make sure to inspect your Pug during grooming time and ask your vet for medications in case you need to treat them.
- Eye Problems
Pugs have really big eyes that can also get infected easily. Their eyes can also get damaged accidentally when they bump into things. If you notice your Pug’s eyes weeping, discolorations on the eyes, or any discolorations or bumps on or around the eyes then take your Pug to the vet for a checkup.
- Bone and Joint Issues
Tiny bones can get broken especially for a heavy set Pug. One common condition is called a Luxating Patella, which is a knee dislocation. You will know if your Pug is hurting because he will lift the injured leg/knee as he walks. Anytime your Pug walks funny or is unusually squeamish that means he is in pain.
Pugs can sometimes experience seizures. One condition to look out for is PDE or Pug Dog Encephalitis—an inflammation of the brain. Check with your vet right away if your dog experiences any seizure.
How to Care for Your Pug
Pugs are low maintenance pets. But they need regular care, which will include the following:
- Daily cleaning of their facial folds
- Regular brushing at least 1 to 2 times a week
- Ear cleaning with a vet recommended solution once a week
- A monthly bath
- Nail trimming time as needed
- Balanced and healthy diet
Nutrition and Feeding for a Pug
Pugs are relatively low maintenance dogs. If you give them just what they need they get out of your hair—well most of the time. They can have fits of separation anxiety just like any dog.
They require some basic care and maintenance. And you have to watch what you feed them. Remember that this couch potato of a dog can get overweight and they will pretty much be happy to eat anything you give them.
Help From Breeders
Your dog breeder or care center will usually provide you with a comprehensive list of foods that you can give to your Pug as well as a very thorough set of feeding instructions. That will usually include several diets as well as meal plans.
You should stick to a planned diet and meal plan to ensure that your Pug doesn’t get stomach upsets or have other health issues. The Pug pup will usually require four meals a day. They have smaller stomachs so usually require more frequent feedings.
You can ask breeders for enough meals to start off with your pup. That will just be a small extra cost but it will be a good investment since you have a clear idea what to feed your pet. It will also help you understand your dog’s routine.
You can cut meals down to two feedings per day once your pup reaches 6 months old. 2 meals a day is somewhat a standard for small toy dog breeds. However, all Pugs are a bit different. This means you may have to figure out if your particular Pug is a 2 meal a day dog or a 3 meal a day dog. If your Pug paws and begs for food after the second meal then that means it needs more.
What to Feed Your Pug
There are plenty of food choices for your Pug. The good news is that they are not a picky eater—well most of them aren’t. However, you should know what to feed and what not to feed your Pugs.
What to feed them:
- Baked potatoes (not raw ones)
- Green beans
- Pig ear chews
- Real beef bone
- Chicken, beef, or lamb meat (raw or cooked)
- Wet dog food formulas (make sure they are formulated and portioned for smaller dogs)
- Dry dog food (pugs thrive on this)
- Healthy carb sources including wheat, soy, and rice (you also have the option to keep your pug’s diet grain free)
What not to feed them:
- Peach pits
- Raw potatoes
- Green tomatoes
- Caffeinated food and drinks
- Small bones and chicken bones
You should avoid these foods completely since they can cause a wide range of diseases to small dogs and they can be fatal. Some of the foods such as onions and chocolate can cause heart attacks and serious illnesses. Remember that chicken bones and smaller bones can also cause choking.
Avoid large sized kibble for your Pug since the big pieces may damage their teeth. You can get smaller bits of kibble or just break the kibble into smaller pieces first before giving it to your pet.
Obesity is an issue for Pugs given the fact that they are not as active as other dogs. On top of that most Pugs love to eat, which means you have to watch their diet like a hawk. You should measure their feeds carefully. Even an extra 10 grams each day can add up.
Most dog food brands have formulas suited to a dog’s life stage. You can choose from puppy, adolescent, adult, and older dog food variants. Make sure to follow the recommended portion sizes especially for smaller dogs.
Pugs love food and they will eat whatever you give them to the last crumb. It is normal for them to come to the dinner table and beg. Don’t make it a habit to drop small pieces of food.
It is also not recommended that you give them snacks in between meals unless it is recommended by your vet or breeder. Even small amounts of calories can eventually end up in excess weight for a Pug.
Chews and Treats
You can give your Pug some chewers and treats especially when they are young. Expect them to be teething and they can turn expensive furniture and shoes into the tastiest chews if they so choose to do so. Not to mention that collector’s items, first edition books, fashionable items and stuffed toys can easily become their favorite.
To avoid the unnecessary costs, you can help them out through this important period of their lives by providing them with cheaper alternatives. Get a chew toy from the pet store. Here’s a shopping tip: buy in bulk. That way you save more money. Get the ones that are sold in bunches and packs.
Grooming Your Pug
Pugs come in different colors as it was mentioned earlier. If you groom your Pug regularly they will stay healthy. These guys love being stroked, scrubbed, and combed. They consider it a personal bonding time and will look forward to it too.
Get a soft bristle brush for your Pug. You can also just use a hound glove—that should do the trick. Grooming for a few minutes each day helps to stimulate the blood flow on their skin.
It’s also the perfect opportunity to inspect your furry friend for wounds, cuts, bumps, or anything that may have gotten stuck on his hairs. Regular brushing also reduces the amount of hair your Pug will shed—though they don’t shed as much as other very hairy dogs. Your pug will shed more during spring and autumn. This shedding isn’t really triggered by the season. It has more to do with the temperature. Colder spring days as well as warmer autumn days can delay the coat change and your Pug will shed less.
BIG TIP: during shedding days, do your grooming outside. That way all the dog hair won’t fall all over the carpet.
Yes, Pugs hate rainy days but they love bath time. This is another alone time with you and they will love all the attention. It is not recommended that you carry your Pug up to a sink when bathing them. Doing that risks the possibility of a fall, which can be bad for your toy dog.
Bathing Tip: You can buy one of those small bathing tables from the pet store. They’re fairly inexpensive and they spare you from the backache of hunching down just to give your dog a bath.
Children and Other Pets
Pugs tend to get along well with other dogs. They are also strong enough to play with children. They can rough house a little if they want to. Just remember that play time for your Pug should be limited to a few minutes. They tend to get hot quickly. Remember to give your dog plenty of water in between play breaks.
Rescue Groups and Breed Organizations
There are a number of Pug organizations and rescue groups. If you want to contact other people who are just as devoted to their Pugs as you are, then you can get in touch with clubs and rescue groups.
There are American Kennel Breed Clubs in every state in the US. There are Pug kennel clubs all over the world as well. Here are a few of them:
- American Kennel Club (www.akc.org)
- Pug Dog Club of America (www.pugdogclubofamerica.com)
- PugHearts of Houston (www.pughearts.com)
- DFW Pugs Rescue Club (www.dfwpugs.com)
- National Pug Rescue Groups (www.pugpartners.com)
- Pug Dog Welfare and Rescue Association (www.pugwelfare-rescue.org.uk)