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Pug

A complete breed guide for Pug dogs

Last Updated 24 February 2022

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Teagan Lever, BVSc (Hons)

'Multum in parvo' or 'a lot in a little' is often used to describe the Pug Dog's exuberantly loving nature. These little guys can be both the life of the party and a (not so softly) snoring lap companion. The Pug's distinctive features and winning personality have made it a longstanding popular breed worldwide.

Contents:

1. Facts about the Pug

2. Pug History

3. Pug Personality

4. Pug Issues

5. Pug Diet and Nutrition

6. Pug Grooming

7. Related Breeds

Further reading

Facts about the Pug

Breed size: Place of origin: Other names:
Toy China Pug Dog
Breed group: Energy level: Weight range:
Toy Group, Companion Dog High 6.4 to 8.2kg
Life expectancy: Tendency to bark: Height range:
13 to 15 years Moderate 25.4 to 33.0cm at shoulder
Drool factor: Social needs: Coat colours:
Low High Fawn with black muzzle or mask and ears or black all over
Shedding factor: Overall grooming needs: Coat length:
High Low Short, fine and smooth

How long do Pugs live for?

On average, Pugs live between 13 - 15 years.

How much do Pugs cost?

Expect to pay between $1500 - 3500 for a Pug puppy. On top of this, it's important to budget for veterinary bills, pet insurance, a good quality diet and regular flea and worming medication. Check out our New Puppy Shopping List for more information!

Do Pugs shed?

Yes! The adorable Pug is considered a heavy shedder. While their coat looks short and smooth, they have a dense double-coat that sheds all year round. Stay on top of shedding with regular bathing and brushing to remove loose hairs. Deshedding brushes such as the Furminator are useful to remove loose hairs before they are shed.

Pug colours include Fawn with black muzzle or mask and ears, or they may be black all over.

Is a Pug a good dog?

Pugs are affectionate and friendly pets and are considered to be one of the safest breeds for young children. They are smart and easily trainable, given plenty of patience and the right rewards!

Due to their small size, Pugs don't need a great deal of exercise, making them suitable for apartment living. They aren't big barkers and will sleep for a large portion of the day. Pugs tend to get along with other dogs and can even be found snuggling up to cats in the same household.

How big do Pugs grow?

Pugs weigh between 6.4 - 8.2 kg, with the males typically weighing more than females. The typical height of a Pug is between 25.4 - 33 cm at the shoulder. Your Pug will have completed the majority of their growth by 10 months of age.

Do Pugs bark much?

Pugs are moderate barkers - they may bark to alert you of something or simply if they are bored or excited. Pugs also make a variety of other noises including howling, snuffling, snorting and snoring!

Pugs with separation anxiety may bark when left alone. As with any breed of dog, when leaving them it's important to ensure your Pug has had sufficient physical and mental exercise to tire them out and prevent excessive barking. For more information, check out How to stop your dog barking.

How do I know which Pug breeder to choose?

Pugs are predisposed to health conditions, most notably Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome. Because of the poor welfare implications of this condition, vets recommend to avoid breeding from Pugs that have shown clinical signs of BAS, or have had any surgical intervention for the condition.

For a full checklist of questions to ask when choosing a breeder, read our vet article How to Find a Good Breeder.

Pug History

The Pug originated in China and is one of the oldest known companion dog breeds, dating back to since before 400BC. In the 1500s Dutch traders brought home Pugs from China and the breed became the mascot of Holland's House of Orange after a pet pug saved the Prince of Orange's life by barking to alert him to approaching Spanish Troops. William and Mary of Orange brought their Pugs with them to England when they assumed the throne, beginning a craze for the pug in Britain. Later, Queen Victoria became a Pug enthusiast, keeping and breeding many of her own.

Today the Pug remains popular around the world and due to their distinctive appearance is often seen in movies, books and advertising. Through years of selective breeding, certain physical charactistics of the breed, such as their short nose, have become more and more exaggerated which has resulted in increased prevalence and severity of some health concerns, the welfare impacts of which should not be ignored. Take a look at the photos below of two pugs from the early 1900s compared with more recent photos to see the changes.

old image of a pug in the early 1900s photo of a pug in the early 1900s
fawn pug black pug

Image credits: Bonfoto

Pug Personality

Not your average lap dog, what the Pug lacks in size he or she makes up for in attitude! Thanks to their distinctive crinkled brow, the Pug is able to display a range of almost human like facial expressions which serve to make them extremely entertaining companions for young and old alike.

Provided there is one or many humans on hand to love, Pugs are fairly easy going as far as their home life goes. They are predominantly indoor dogs and are well suited to apartment living. Most pugs are good with children and happy to be either the sole fur child or live with canine companions. Due to their predisposition to heat stress Pugs are not suited to very warm or tropical climates.

Top toy recommendations for Pugs

Pugs are very playful and enjoy a variety of soft and squeaky toys. It's a great idea to rotate your Pug's toys once every so often to prevent them getting bored.

Yours Droolly Muff Pup

The perfect cuddle and play pal, this plush dog has squeakers in each paw plus the nose and belly to keep your Pug interested in playtime.

Chuckit Ultra Squeaker Ball

The small sized Chuckit Ultra Squeaker Ball is perfect for little Pug mouths and features a super fun squeaker too.

Fuzzyard Oz the Emu

With attention grabbing squeakers and long flappy legs, Oz the Emu makes a fun play toy or cuddly sleep companion.

KONG Dental Stick

Made from durable rubber, the KONG dental stick features textured ridges which massage your dog's gums while they chew.

Pug Health Issues

As far as pure breeds go, unfortunately Pugs are one of the breeds most commonly affected by health problems, many of which they are predisposed to due to breeding for specfic traits such as their flat face and curly tail. This list is by no means exhaustive but details some of the more common health problems which may affect Pugs more than other dog breeds.

Brachycephalic airway syndrome

Brachycephalic means 'short nosed', and Pugs are the poster children for brachycephalic airway syndrome, a combination of one or more upper airway defects which ultimately get in the way of normal breathing and panting behaviour. These conditions are seen in as a consequence of selective breeding, particularly for the Pug's flat face.

Their likelihood to have some degree of brachycephalic airway syndrome means that Pugs in particular are highly prone to heat stress. This comes about because dogs are unable to sweat except on the footpads and nose, instead using panting as their main means of cooling down. When the airways are compromised and dogs are unable to breathe properly, panting becomes much less effective, increasing their risk of overheating which can be fatal.

pug dog laying down

Eye problems

That 'bulgy eyed' pug look sure it adorable, but it does leave their eyes more exposed to sustaining traumatic injury, including proptosis (popped out eyeball). As a breed, Pugs also have a predisposition to some other eye conditions which may be inherited including keratoconjunctivitis sicca ('dry eye'), distichiasis (extra eyelashes in abnormal places) and entropion (inwardly rolled eyelid). Signs to watch for include red eyes, increased tears or discharge, holding the eye shut and sensitivity to light. Eye condtitions can head south quickly so if you notice any of these signs it's important to seek veterinary attention immediately.

Skin problems

Skin fold infections

Pugs can develop bacterial or fungal skin fold infections, particularly in the folds around the face or tail. To help prevent infections, clean out the folds in problem areas daily with a damp cloth and dry well afterwards. Pay attention to these areas when drying your Pug after bathing or swimming too.

Demodectic Mange

Pugs are a breed that also seem to be more susceptible than others to demodectic mange. Demodectic mange is a condition where the mite Demodex canis, which can be a normal inhabitant of the canine skin in low numbers, overgrows causing hairloss and secondary skin infection. It is easily diagnosed by a veterinarian using a skin scrape in house; if the mites are present your vet will be able to see them wriggling around under a microscope! Treatment involves medication to kill the mites, alongside treatment of any concurrent bacterial or yeast skin infections with medicated shampoos or antibiotics. Simparica and Bravecto are both effective against Demodex mites so are a great choice for flea and tick prevention for Pugs from 8 weeks of age and up provided they meet the recommended weight guidelines.

Hemi vertebrae

This is a condition which affects some Pugs and is thought to be related to the selection of Pugs with curly 'screw tails'. Essentially a hemi vertebrae is a wedge shaped 'half vertebrae', which causes a twist when it occurs in the lowest, tail part of the spine. Unfortunately sometimes these hemi vertebrae can turn up further up the spinal cord in the lumbar or thoracic area causing compression of the spinal cord which worsens as the dog grows, resulting in symptoms including chronic pain, weakness in the hind limbs, wobbliness and incontinence.

Pug Diet and Nutrition

Pug Puppies

As toy breed dogs, Pug puppies require a nutrient-dense premium diet that is easily digestable. Pug puppies can start to transition to an adult diet between 10 - 12 months of age.

Want to learn more about caring for your new Pug puppy? Check out our other articles:

  • New Puppy Guide
  • What is the best puppy food?
  • 10 Frequently Asked Puppy Questions
  • Common Mistakes Puppy Owners Make

  • When choosing a dry food for your Pug, look for a high quality, highly digestible formula designed for small and toy breed dogs. Aside from containing tailored nutrition to suit the needs of small and toy breeds, these foods may also have kibble which is smaller and easier for Pugs to chew.

    Feeding regular wet food meals is a great way to increase water intake for improved hydration and urinary tract health in small breed dogs, so it is also worth considering teaming a high quality canned formula with your Pug's daily dry food.

    Top dry foods for adult Pugs

    The following diets have smaller kibble that is easier for your Pug to pick up, and contain beneficial nutrients to support your Pug's general health.

    Advance Small Adult

    This Australian made formula tailored for adult small and toy breeds is designed to support dental health and promote better digestive function for smaller, firmer stools.

    Royal Canin Adult Pug

    With kibble specially designed to be easy for Pugs to pick up and chew, this premium quality food contains nutrition tailored the the specific requirements of Pugs from 10 months and up.

    Hill's Science Diet Adult Small Paws

    This premium quality, highly digestible formula is designed with your adult Pug's health and wellbeing in mind including a clinically proven blend of natural antioxidants to support immune system health.

    Ziwi Peak Dry Dog Food Mackerel And Lamb

    With fresh mackerel as the primary protein source, this formula is naturally high in omega fatty acids for healthy skin and a shiny coat.

    Top wet foods for adult Pugs

    Highly palatable wet food can encourage fussy Pugs to eat, and encourage hydration.

    Royal Canin Mini Adult Pouches

    With added nutrition to support healthy skin and a shiny coat, this premium quality wet formula is tailored specifically to the needs of small and toy breeds.

    Ziwi Canned Varieties

    Rich in free range New Zealand meats, sustainably sourced fish and green lipped mussel, Ziwi canned foods are packed with natural, wholesome nutrition to suit all breeds.

    Wellness Core Wet Varieties

    These all natural wet recipes are made from wholesome ingredients with no artificial colours or flavours, meat by products or wheat fillers.

    K9 Natural Canned Varieties

    Made in New Zealand from premium meats, seafood, fruits and vegies, K9 Natural's canned varieties are rich in beneficial nutrients to keep your dog healthy inside and out.

    Pug Grooming

    The Pug has short fur which can shed heavily all year round. We recommend brushing regularly with a hair-catching brush or mitt.

    More important than fur care, however, are the grooming requirements of the eyes, nose, and ears.

    Eye care: Due to the skin folds around the face, your pug may develop moist tear staining which can lead to yeast overgrowth. This can become smelly and irritated, especially in hot weather. To combat this, wiping your pug's face daily with a gentle wet wipe such as Absorb Plus Dog Face Wipes.

    Ear care: Pug ears almost seem to be designed for infections. Their ear canal is narrow and heavily folded with cartilage, and the opening is blocked by tightly folded ear flaps. Combined with the pug's inability to regulate heat (due to that Brachycephalic airway of theirs), as well as their predisposition to inflammatory skin conditions, the ear canal routinely becomes a hot, inflamed, moist environment with poor airflow. Yeast and bacteria flourish in this environment, which leads to irritation, smell, and infections. This means, regular ear cleaning is especially important for pugs.

    Try to get your pug used to ear cleaning while they are young, and teach them to associate it with a positive experience such as treats or play. To learn how to clean your pug's ears, we recommend asking your vet for a quick demonstration. It's important to ensure you are able to get the ear cleaning solution all the way down the ear canal.

    If your pug's ears are itchy, smelly, or contain brown or yellow discharge, seek veterinary attention. These signs may indicate an ear infection is present, which requires medicated drops rather than over-the-counter ear cleaners.

    Virbac Epi Otic

    Recommended by vets and gentle on the ears, Epiotic is a must-have ear cleaner for every pug owner.

    PAW Blackmores Gentle Ear Cleaner

    This gentle ear cleaning solution is complete with a soft tip, making it easy and pain-free to administer.

    Absorb Plus Antibacterial Wipes

    Designed specifically for brachycephalic faces, these gentle antibacterial wipes are safe to use daily.

    Kazoo Grooming Glove

    This innovative 'glove brush' is the perfect tool for encouraging bonding while grooming your pug.


    Related Breeds

    French Bulldog

    The French Bulldog is often described as 'a clown in the cloak of a philosopher', due to their mischievous attitude hidden behind their sometimes stern face.

    Boston Terrier

    The Boston Terrier is a playful pet companion with a similar squishy adorable face to the Pug.

    Further Reading

    Want to read more? Check out our other articles:

    Joint Care For Dogs

    Yeast Infections in Dogs

    Dog Boredom Busters

    Premium Pet Food: Is It Worth It?

    Why do Dogs Eat Poo?

    How To Stop Your Dog Scratching