Symmetry and general appearance are decidedly square and cobby. A lean, leggy Pug and a dog with short legs and a long body are equally objectionable.
Since Pugs lack longer snouts and prominent skeletal brow ridges, they are susceptible to eye injuries such as proptosis, scratched corneas, and painful entropion. They also have compact breathing passageways, leaving many prone to breathing difficulties or unable to efficiently regulate their temperature through evaporation from the tongue by panting. A Pug’s normal body temperature is between 101 °F (38 °C) and 102 °F (39 °C). If this temperature rises to 105 °F (41 °C), oxygen demand is greatly increased and immediate cooling is required. If body temperature reaches 108 °F (42 °C), organ failure can occur. Their breathing problems can be worsened by the stresses of travelling in air cargo, which may involve high temperatures. Following the deaths of Pugs and other brachycephalic breeds, several airlines either banned their transport in cargo or enacted seasonal restrictions.
Pugs can suffer from necrotizing meningoencephalitis (NME), also known as Pug dog encephalitis (PDE), an inflammation of the brain and meninges. NME also occurs in other small dogs, such as the Yorkshire Terrier, Maltese, and Chihuahua. There is no known cure for NME, which is believed to be an inherited disease. Dogs usually die or have to be put to sleep within a few months of onset, which, in those susceptible to this condition, is typically between six months and seven years of age. This breed, along with other brachycephalic dogs (e.g., boxers, bulldogs), are also prone to hemivertebrae. The curled tail of a British bulldog is an example of a hemivertebrae, but when it occurs not in the coccygeal vertebrae but in other areas of the spine, it can cause paralysis. The condition occurs when two parts of a spinal vertebra do not fuse properly while a young Pug is still growing, resulting in an irregularly shaped spinal cavity which can put pressure on the spinal cord
Pugs, like other short-snouted breeds, have elongated palates. When excited, they are prone to “reverse sneezing” which causes them to quickly (and seemingly laboriously) gasp and snort. The veterinary name for this is pharyngeal gag reflex and it is caused by fluid or debris getting caught under the palate and irritating the throat or limiting breathing. Reverse sneezing episodes are usually not harmful, and massaging the dog’s throat or covering its nose in order to make it breathe through its mouth can often shorten a sneezing fit.
Some pugs are also born with stenotic nares which can also inhibit their breathing. In serious cases, the pinched nostrils make breathing even more difficult for this breed and put added pressure on the larynx. In some cases, the dog could pass out from blocked airways. If this happens, one should inquire with their veterinarian whether or not surgery is needed to modify the breathing passages.
Eye prolapse is a common problem among Pugs and other brachycephalic breeds (see brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome) and can be caused by a trauma to the head or neck, or even by the owner using a tight leash instead of a harness. While the eye can usually be pushed back into its socket by the owner or by a vet, veterinary attention is usually advisable. If the prolapse happens on a regular basis, the Pug might require surgery.
Happy-go-lucky and full of energy, the Pug is a vivacious, fun-loving breed, with loads of personality packed into a small package. Pugs are often called “shadows,” as they love to glue themselves to their owners’ sides and stay close to the action. While they do have a stubborn streak, they are generally not aggressive, and despite their small frames, they are stout little dogs, making them great pets for families with children. When they are not napping (which happens frequently), Pugs are almost always charming, animated and ready to play (or eat). Pugs do best in homes where they receive plenty of attention and are treated like members of the family, and in turn, they offer heaps of devotion and affection.
Due to their small size and rather lazy nature, Pugs do not require a lot of physical activity to stay healthy and in-shape. A daily walk around the neighborhood or a romp in the backyard should easily meet these dogs’ exercise requirements; in fact, too much exercise can exacerbate Pugs’ tendency to wheeze. While Pugs do love to play, especially with children, it is important to prevent them from jumping off high surfaces like sofas or other furniture, since doing so can cause joint damage. Since they do not require much exercise, Pugs make great companions for those who live in apartments or homes without large backyards, including the elderly.
Since Pugs are stubborn, independent and smart enough to get bored quickly with repetitive exercises, they are not always easy to train. With their silly, distracting antics added to the mix, training a Pug may seem downright impossible at times. Thankfully, Pugs are exceptionally eager to please their owners, and owners who are consistent and patient can usually train their Pugs to exhibit the desired response to his or her prompts. Heaping praise upon them can also help tremendously, since they thrive on attention from their owners. It is also very important that owners do not inadvertently praise behaviors that, while cute, are not the point of the training exercise. This breed is very fond of food and treats, so using treats as rewards may provide some additional motivation for dogs that are especially strong-willed. Working with Pugs during the first six months of their lives is crucial where training is concerned, as it is much more difficult to change dogs’ behaviors after this point. Some owners express concern about how long it takes to house-train Pugs, but puppies of this breed do not develop the muscle strength to control their bowels and bladder completely until they are around 6 months old. As with other commands and skills, Pugs learn to house-train with plenty of positive reinforcement in the form of treats and praise.
Some Pugs have a tendency to make noise, whether barking, yapping, snorting, grunting or otherwise. Owners can discourage excessive “yappiness” with early training, and some Pugs actually make excellent watch dogs, so long as they are trained properly about when barking is appropriate. Pugs love food, and begging can easily get out of hand if family members are in the habit of feeding their dog from the table or offering scraps from plates. It is important that owners only offer treats (especially “people” food) after the dog performs a specified action, like sitting. They can also feed the Pug before the rest of the family eats, which makes the dog less likely to beg. Given Pugs’ short statures and tendency to do cute things, it is important that their owners do not inadvertently encourage undesirable behaviors by laughing or giving in to their Pugs’ demands.
Pugs are occasionally referred to a “wash and go” breed. This terminology refers to the fact that their coats do not require any de-tangling or fancy trimming. This breed is not prone to excessive drooling or body odor, so frequent shampooing is unnecessary. It is best to start grooming these dogs when they are young, so that they grow accustomed to the process. Regular brushing is not only good for the dog, but the act of brushing and stroking can help with bonding and development of trust between dog and owner. The process of grooming includes occasional bathing, thorough brushing, wiping of the ears and facial wrinkles and a monthly toenail trimming. Grooming the short-haired coat of a pug is quite easy. Ideally, the smooth coat is brushed or combed several times a week with a firm-bristled brush or de-shedding comb, and the creases on the dog’s face are cleaned daily. Daily cleaning of these facial wrinkles helps to prevent skin problems and infections within the folds of skin. Hypoallergenic pet wipes are a great tool for this job and are formulated specifically for a dog’s sensitive skin. It is wise to shampoo these dogs only when necessary, as their skin is prone to dryness and is easily irritated. The grooming is often completed in about twenty minutes, but more frequent brushing is required during shedding season.
Chinese origins. In ancient times, Pugs were bred to be companions for ruling families in China. The pet Pugs were highly valued by Chinese Emperors, and the royal dogs were kept in luxury and guarded by soldiers. Pugs later spread to other parts of Asia. In Tibet, Buddhist monks kept Pugs as pets in their monasteries. The breed has retained its affectionate devotion to its owners since ancient times. The early history of the Pug is not attested to in detail; it is widely believed that the breed is of Oriental origin. China is the earliest known source for the breed. Similar dogs were popular in the Imperial court during the Song Dynasty.
16th and 17th centuries. Pugs were popular at European courts, and reportedly become the official dog of the House of Orange in 1572 after a Pug named Pompey saved the life of the Prince of Orange by alerting him to the approach of assassins. A Pug travelled with William III and Mary II when they left the Netherlands to accept the throne of England in 1688. During this period, the Pug may have been bred with the old type King Charles spaniel, giving the modern King Charles Spaniel its Pug characteristics. The breed eventually became popular in other European countries as well. Pugs were painted by Goya in Spain, and in Italy they rode up front on private carriages, dressed in jackets and pantaloons that matched those of the coachman. They were used by the military to track animals and people, and were also employed as guard dogs.
18th century to present day
The English painter William Hogarth was the devoted owner of a series of Pugs. His 1745 self-portrait, which is now in London's Tate Gallery, includes his Pug, Trump. The Pug was also well known in Italy. In 1789, a Mrs. Piozzi wrote in her journal, “The little Pug dog or Dutch mastiff has quitted London for Padua, I perceive. Every carriage I meet here has a Pug in it.” The popularity of the Pug continued to spread in France during the eighteenth century. Before her marriage to Napoleon Bonaparte, Joséphine had her Pug Fortune carry concealed messages to her family while she was confined at Les Carmes prison, it having alone been given visiting rights.
In nineteenth century England, the breed flourished under the patronage of Queen Victoria. Her many Pugs, which she bred herself, included Olga, Pedro, Minka, Fatima and Venus. Her involvement with dogs in general helped to establish the Kennel Club, which was formed in 1873. Queen Victoria favoured apricot and fawn colours. Queen Victoria's passion for Pugs was passed on to many other members of the Royal family, including her grandson King George V and his son King Edward VIII. Many responded to the breed's image of anti-functionalism and diminutive size during this period.
In paintings and engravings of the 18th and 19th centuries, Pugs usually appear with longer legs and noses than today, and sometimes with cropped ears. The modern Pug's appearance probably changed after 1860 when a new wave of Pugs were imported directly from China. These Pugs had shorter legs and the modern-style Pug nose. The British aristocrat Lady Brassey is credited with making black Pugs fashionable after she brought some back from China in 1886. Ear cropping was made illegal in 1895.
Pugs arrived in the United States during the nineteenth century and were soon making their way into the family home and the show ring. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1885. The Pug Dog Club of America was founded in 1931 and was recognised by the American Kennel Club that same year. In 1981, the Pug Dhandys Favorite Woodchuck won the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in the United States, the only Pug to have won there since the show began in 1877. The World Champion, or Best in Show at the 2004 World Dog Show held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was a Pug named Double D Cinoblu's Masterpiece.