Pug Owner’s Guide

Pug Dog Breed Guide

Pugs are one of the oldest dogs breeds in existence today. Their signature scrunched face, bulging eyes and snorts make them such a lovable companion to own today. Read all about this amazing breed in our owner’s guide! Topics Covered:

A Brief History of Pugs

Pugs originated in China during the Hang Dynasty from 206BC to 200AD, however evidence of pug-like dogs were also found in Ancient Tibet and Japan. The breed is said to have relation to the Tibetan Mastiff.

Pugs were beloved and prized dogs of Chinese emperors where they lived in luxury and were guarded by soldiers. They were bred to be lap dogs and companions of Chinese royal families.

In the 1500-1600s China began to trade Pugs with European countries and the first arrival of the breed in Europe was by Dutch traders who named the dog ‘Mopshond’. Pugs quickly became a favourite breed amongst European royalty. Many iconic figures were known to own Pugs including Marie Antoinette and Josephine Bonaparte.

Pugs have been known by different names across different countries. For example, they were named ‘Carlin’ in France, ‘Dogullo’ in Spain, ‘Mops’ in Germany and ‘Caganlino’ in Italy. Though it is suggested the current breed’s name ‘Pug’ came from the Latin word ‘Pugnus’ which translates to ‘fist’ as the Pug’s scrunched snout and face is said to resemble a clenched fist.

It is unknown the exact time pugs arrived in Australia; however, they are known to be one of the first pure breeds to be kept in the country, with agricultural records listing Pugs exhibited in 1870. Today, the Pug still maintains the original job they were bred for, to be a trusted and loyal companion for their owners.

The Pug Personality

The motto often used to describe Pugs is ‘multum in parvo’, translating to a lot in a little, meaning there is a lot of personality in one compact, stout package. The ‘clowns of canines’ Pugs are goofy, child-like, and playful, with a great sense of humour.

Born to be a companion and lapdog, they thrive of human affection and attention, always a loyal member of the family unit. They love to be with their owners as much as possible whether it’s relaxing on the couch and watching a movie, going for a walk or snuggling up in bed. As a result, a Pug may become very unhappy if left alone for prolonged periods of time.

Pugs are also highly intelligent however wilful, and therefore can have a stubborn side which often comes out in training. Do not expect them to hunt or retrieve voluntarily, as this is not typically in their nature.

The breed is a great watchdog but are not known to be ‘yappy’, making it easy to live in smaller or confined spaces. They often greet visitors with a quick and short bark, before allowing them inside with their signature snorts and grunts.

Pug Size

Pugs are a small dog breed. Male pugs typically reach an average height of 30-36cm and a weight ranging from 6kg to 9kg (14-18 pounds). While their female counterpart generally stand around 25-30cm tall, and weigh around 6kg to 9kg (14-17 pounds).

Pugs like other small dog breeds, will reach their adult height quickly and will finish growing around 9 months old.

Pug Common Health Conditions

  • Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS): This respiratory issue occurs commonly in Pugs, due to their reduced skull length and excessive soft tissue in their oral cavity which obstructs Symptoms include struggling to breathe, snoring, snorting, poor exercise tolerance and sleeping upright.
  • Eye Disease: Due to their large protruding eyes, Pugs run the risk of damaging them, by accidently running into things and bumping them. Symptoms include squinting, eye discharge, discoloured spots and rubbing at the eyes.
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (Also known as ‘Dry eye’): This condition causes reduced tear production, resulting in sore, ‘dry’ eyes. Symptoms of this include dull or dry appearance, thick discharge as well as squinting and pawing at the eyes.
  • Skin Infections: Skin folds on their face and body mean that Pugs are prone to skin infections. Symptoms include red or brown smelly skin, licking paws and rubbing of the face.
  • Hemivertebrae (Spinal Deformities): Pugs are genetically more prone to be born with spinal deformities which can cause damage, instability or disability. Dogs that have these conditions should not be bred. X-rays are needed to detect the disease.
  • Obesity: Pugs can easily be overfed, resulting in obesity. This can cause joint problems, digestive issues and metabolic diseases such as diabetes. Ensure they have a balanced diet and avoid giving the excessive treats.
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How to Care for Your Pug

Pugs are a relatively low-maintenance dog breed. A quick 30-minute walk daily or playing with them in the garden for half an hour, can help them to maintain good health. However, they are not strong swimmers, so exercise should be kept to dry land.

Pugs thrive off companionship and therefore should not be left alone for prolonged periods of time or they can develop separation anxiety.

Due to their small size Pugs can live in smaller spaces such as apartments. They are relatively inactive indoors and often spend their time napping for most of the day. As a result of their respiratory issues and short muzzles, Pugs are typically inside dogs. They do not do well in warmer or humid climates as they cannot cool themselves down. Temperatures higher than 29 degrees is known to cause heat stroke which is potentially fatal.

In terms of training, incorporate positive reinforcement and rewards such as treating and enthusiastic praise for the best results. Pugs can be stubborn and have a will of their own providing their owners with some extra challenge.

Feeding Pugs

As pugs are prone to obesity and weight gain, it is important to be feeding them a well-balanced diet. Speak with your local vet team to discuss appropriate food for your pet.

Try to look for food that is of a good quality and has a digestible formula designed for smaller dogs. While dry food is a great option, wet food can also increase water intake. So, a combination of both may be beneficial. Your veterinarian will be more than happy to make some suitable recommendations. The Petbarn Food Finder is also a great tool to discover which puppy food options are available. Explore the options available and discuss with your local vet team the best nutrition choice for your pup.

Pug Dog Breed

Pug Appearance – Colour, Coat & Grooming

Pugs have four different coat colours: black, fawn, silver fawn and apricot. Fawn and black are the two most popular colours. Their coat is smooth and short, however they shed considerably throughout the year.

Interestingly, their coat is double layered with a dense undercoat and a top straight coat. This functions to keep them protected from the elements, acting as insulation to keep warm in cooler climates and cool during the summer. The undercoat is dense with short hairs that has a woolly texture, while the topcoat has longer ‘guard hairs’ which aims to repel moisture and dirt.

To keep a Pug’s coat in perfect condition, you will need to regularly brush them each week to remove excess dirt, debris and dust. This can be done using a medium-bristle brush or rubber grooming mitt. Bathing them monthly is also recommended.

After their monthly bath, it is important to dry their wrinkles using baby wipes or a dry cotton ball. This is because these skin folds are prone to infection if left dirty or damp. If you think your pet has an infection issue, check with the vet team first for advice.

As Pugs do not spend too much time outdoors, their nails do not naturally wear and thus need regular trimming. Their teeth should also be brushed daily to remove plaque and prevent gum disease.

Living with Children and Other Pets

Pugs play well with kids. Due to their sturdy frame, they are also able to play a bit rougher than other toy breeds. Children who prefer an active pet may be disappointed with a Pug as they are not likely to play fetch or chase balls. Regardless of the breed of dog, we strongly recommend supervising all interactions with children and pets.

Pugs usually get along very well with other family pets because of their relaxed temperament, however if you want to be well prepared, read our article on how to introduce new pets into your family.

Pug FAQs

What do Pugs like to play with?

Pugs, unlike other dog breeds, do not often love to play fetch or chase balls, preferring to play with chew toys or squeaky toys instead.

When do Pugs calm down?

Pugs as a breed can be playful, however once they reach approximately two years of age, they will usually begin to calm down. This does not mean they will not be playful or get the zoomies at all, but this will start to happen less as they age.

When do Pugs stop biting?

Like any puppy, Pugs will gnaw on things (such as toys or your hand) to soothe pain or discomfort associated with teething. This should stop as your pup reaches adulthood, but it is important to ensure you replace your hands with a more suitable toy as part of your training.

Why do Pugs smell?

Pugs can sometimes smell due sweat and dirt being trapped in their skin folds. Ensure you bathe your pug regularly and clean these folds to avoid any bad smells or infections.

Why do Pugs have short noses?

Flat-faced dogs such as the Pug have short noses due to selective breeding in order to create ‘cute’ features that people liked. Unfortunately, this can result in breathing problems.

What is a Pug's average lifespan?

Pugs have an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years.

What country do Pugs come from?

The breed originated in China during the Hang Dynasty from 206BC to 200AD.

What were Pugs originally bred for?

Pugs were bred to be the lapdogs and companions of the royal ruling families in China. As a result, they are a very trusting and loyal dog. Pugs were highly valued pets and lived in luxury, guarded by soldiers.

Greencross Vets

At Greencross Vets, nothing is more important than the health and wellbeing of your four-legged friend. If you have any more questions, please reach out to your local Greencross Vets. You can find your local Greencross Vets here .

We are more than happy to help! Or if you’re looking to adopt, find your new best friend with Petbarn adoptions.

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