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The Latin phrase multum in parvo – meaning “much in little” – is often used to describe Pugs. Why? Because this charming, playful, people-loving breed is a lot of dog crammed into a small body. Pugs are expressive, funny, loyal, and sweet. To know a Pug is to adore one.

Basic Pug Facts

Pugs belong to the companion classification of dogs. Despite their stocky, muscular build, they are part of the toy group. Fully grown, these pups are 10 to 12 inches tall and weigh between 14 and 20 pounds. The average Pug life span is 12 to 15 years. With their gentle, playful personalities and sturdy bodies, Pugs make great canine companions for families with small children.

Breed History

Pugs are one of the oldest dog breeds around. Some enthusiasts claim they can be traced all the way back to the Shang Dynasty, which ruled China from 1600-1046 B.C. While Pugs did originate in China, most people agree that it was likely closer to 400 B.C. – which is still quite impressive!

They were considered to be good luck because their forehead wrinkles resembled the Chinese character for “prince.” Emperors kept Pugs as lapdogs, and they were often guarded by their own soldiers and even given small castles.

Top 6 Historical Pug Facts

A lot happened between 400 B.C. and the 19th century when the breed finally made it to the United States. Here are some of the highlights:

  • In ancient times, Pugs kept Tibetan monks company in their monasteries.
  • Portuguese traders brought the breed to Holland in the 16th century.
  • In the Netherlands in 1572, a Pug named Pompey famously saved his famous pet parent – William the Silent, Prince of Orange – from Spanish assassins by barking to wake his master.
  • In 1688, William III and Mary introduced Pugs to England when they arrived to claim the throne.
  • Josephine Bonaparte, Napoleon’s wife, used her Pug to deliver messages to her family while she was imprisoned.
  • In the early 19th century, Queen Victoria popularized the breed. She dearly loved her many Pugs, including Olga, Pedro, Minka, Fatima, and Venus.

What’s in a Name?

No one is certain where the name Pug originated. Some think it comes from the Latin pugnus, meaning “fist,” because the Pug’s sweet, smooshed profile resembles a human fist. Another theory is that Pugs were named after “pug monkeys,” a term of endearment used for marmosets – they were frequently kept as pets in the 18th century and have a similar facial structure. Still others speculate that the name evolved from Puck, the mischievous fairy from "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

Attributes

Pugs are an incredibly distinct breed in terms of appearance. These shorthaired dogs have a sleek, double-layered coat that comes in a variety of colors, including black, fawn, silver fawn, and apricot.

Pugs are square and thickset with round, flat faces, deep wrinkles, large dark eyes, and velvety ears. They have moles called “beauty spots” on their cheeks, a thumbprint-shaped mark on their forehead, and a black trace that runs down their back.

Pugs also have a classic underbite, which gives them a comical, faux-grumpy expression. An underbite might not cause any problems, but can be an issue if it interferes with the dog’s ability to eat or causes injury to the soft tissues in the mouth. In this case, your veterinarian might recommend orthodontic treatment.

Pug Temperament

In terms of personality, you couldn’t ask for a more likable pup. Pugs are incredibly friendly people pleasers who have a great sense of humor and love showing off. They even seem to enjoy being dressed in adorable costumes. Pugs have a serious side, too. They are very affectionate and intuitive to their pet parents’ emotions. If left alone for long periods of time, Pugs can get anxious or depressed.

Although they’re small, Pugs can be dependable watchdogs. They are welcoming to strangers when their pet parents approve, but they still know how to guard their castle. Pugs aren’t “yappy” dogs and are fairly inactive, which makes them great for apartment dwellers. Although what they lack in yapping, they make up for in other sounds…like wheezing, snorting, and snoring!

Grooming & Care

Do Pugs shed? You better believe it! Although they have short, glossy coats, these wrinkly wonders are heavy shedders. You’ll need to brush your doggie daily with a rubber curry brush. Aside from the shedding, Pug grooming is relatively low-key.

Bathe your pooch as needed, and trim their nails every few weeks. However, you do want to take extra care when it comes to those adorable wrinkles, especially your Pug’s deep-set nose roll. Thoroughly clean and dry inside the folds using these wrinkly dog care tips to avoid infection. In addition, Pugs are prone to dental issues, so your pal may need more frequent dental cleanings.

Pug Parent Tips

Be aware that Pugs are brachycephalic dogs, meaning that their flat faces naturally constrict their airways. Your pup will get winded easily and have a tough time regulating their body temperature. Even a pleasant summer day can lead to dangerous heat exhaustion. Pugs do much better when living in an air-conditioned home with plenty of access to shade and water whenever they do head outdoors.

If you’re planning a vacation, consider your pooch’s needs. Some airlines actually ban Pugs from the cargo space due to their difficulty regulating body temperature. As brachycephalic dogs, Pugs also struggle with swimming, so if your vacation involves a beach, make sure your li’l buddy stays clear of the water.

Pugs are naturally a little lazy and typically sleep 14 hours a day. They also adore food and have irresistible begging skills, so it’s important to monitor your Pug’s weight to avoid obesity. While they can’t go jogging or partake in any strenuous exercise, Pugs do need to maintain a fit lifestyle. Try taking your furry friend on two short walks a day. Take breaks if your pup seems pooped.

Training

Pugs are curious and intelligent, but can be obstinate, so the sooner you begin training, the better. Crate training is typically most successful in terms of housebreaking, and enrolling your canine companion in puppy classes at 10 to 12 weeks is ideal. Make sure to approach all training in a supportive and loving way. Pugs are sensitive little pooches, and severe training may hurt their feelings. A little treat here and there or an extra cuddle for incentive couldn’t hurt!

Common Health Issues

The breathing concerns associated with Pugs are probably the most well-known health issue they face. These can include pinched nostrils, elongated soft palates, and reverse sneezing fits. Unfortunately, this lovable breed is also prone to:

Eye injuries:

Those big round eyes are vulnerable, and your Pug may suffer from proptosis (a bulging, dislocated eyeball), scratched corneas, conjunctivitis (pink eye), or a painful entropion (muscle spasm that causes the eyelid to fold inward).

Orthopedic conditions:

Sixty-four percent of Pugs end up with hip dysplasia. They are also prone to dislocated kneecaps and a hip deformity known as Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, which causes their rear leg bone to degrade.

Breed-specific disorder:

Pug dog encephalitis (PDE) is a serious condition that occurs when the brain and meninges become inflamed. It can cause seizures and even death.

Even minor veterinary visits come with a price tag. Is your Pug covered? An ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan can help you focus on care and not cost when it comes to your squishy-faced sweetheart. Get a free quote today!


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