History of the Pug
The origin of the Pug as a breed probably begins in ancient China,
although it certainly didn't look the same as today's dogs. Dogs known
as "short mouthed" dogs are described in writings that date to about
600 B.C. and were probably the forerunners of the modern breed that we
call the Pug. Emperor Kang Hsi, about A.D. 950, commissioned a
dictionary of all the Chinese characters, and in it there are two
references which could describe the Pug: "dogs with short legs" and "a
dog with a short head." By the 1300s there were three main types of
dogs that are identifiable as founders of breeds of today: the
Pekinese, the Japanese Spaniel, and the Pug.
It wasn't until the latter portion of the 1500s and early 1600s that
China began trading with European countries such as Portugal, Spain,
Holland and England. Small dogs presented as gifts returned from the
Orient with the traders, and thus began the rise of the Pug in
popularity in Europe. The Chinese had often interbred among the three
types of dogs they favored, and so many times breeders would find a
long hared Pug among a litter of puppies, as well as white spots on
By the early 1900s, a book called Dogs in China and Japan had been
written. This book drew heavily upon the experience of Wang Hou Chun,
a servant who had bred and worked with the dogs in the Emperor's
Imperial Palace for seventy five years. He used the term Lo-Sze to
describe the Pug, noting that the differences between the Pug and
Pekingnese were that the Pug always had a short coat, and very supple,
elastic skin. Because of the short coat, the Pugs forehead wrinkles
were more noticeable, and the Chinese were always looking for wrinkles
in certain patterns similar to Chinese letter characters. The most
highly favored character that the Chinese looked for was the three
wrinkles that together denoted the word, "Prince." Many Oriental Pugs,
though, had a great deal of white on their bodies, and some were
almost entirely white. These white and pinto spotted Pugs are
documented in Europe as late as the end of the 1800s, but the lines
that produced them were eventually allowed to be lost.
The Pugs that were traded to Europe seem to have first landed in
Holland, possibly as a result of the famous trading company, the Dutch
East India Company. The Dutch named the breed Mopshond, which is still
in use today. Pugs were known to be within the household of William
III and Mary II when they ascended to the throne of Great Britain in
1688. Black pugs are known to exist in the 1700s thanks to William
Hogarth's painting of one in House of Cards (1730). The artist was a
proud owner of pugs (a trait that seems to continue through to today),
and depicted many in his paintings so that there is an excellent
visual record of the Pugs appearance dating back 250 years.
The Pugs popularity spread throughout Europe, with the breed referred
to in France as the Carlin, in Spain as the Dogullo, at the same time,
they were Mops in Germany and the Caganlino in Italy. In France, the
breed was popularized by Josephine Bonaparte, owner of the Pug named
Fortune. Goya painted Pugs in Spain in 1785, showing the breed with
cropped ears in his paintings.
By the turn of the century into the 1800s, Pugs became more
standardised as a breed, with colors separating and settling into the
contemporary "fawn" or "Isabella" and black colors. It is also known
the the "black mask" was in place by now, too, as the breed had been
referred to as the "Dutch Mastiff" from time to time, harking back the
masked face of the much larger Mastiff breed.
The late 1800s saw the beginning of dog shows in England, and Pugs
were first exhibited in 1861. The stud book began in 1871, and there
were sixty-six Pugs in the first volume. The English Pugs developed
mostly along the lines of two strains: the Willoughby and the Morrison
lines. Each had consistent breeding traits, and the lines existed for
many years as competitors.
Willoughby Pugs were developed by Lord Willoughby d'Eresby and had
what is today considered a "smutty coat" because it had a mixing of
fawn and black hairs in it. The color has been described as "stone
fawn." The heads of these dogs were almost entirely black and they had
wide traces, and even saddle marks on their backs (dark patches of
hair shaped like the saddle of a horse). Their bodies were thin, and
leggy. Mops and Nell were two prominent Willoughby Pugs that can be
found as ancestors in Pug pedigrees even today.
Morrison Pugs, in contrast, had rich apricot-fawn colored coats and
stocky, cobby bodies. The trace on their backs was very light brown
rather than black, and the coats had few, if any, black hairs in them.
This line is much more in line with the modern Pug of today. Punch and
Tetty were the foundation dogs of the Morrison line. It's not uncommon
to hear dogs referred to today as "Willoughby" or "Morrison" type -
referring to the darker color of the Willoughby, and the lighter color
of the "Morrison."
A major impact on the Pug breed in the 1800s occurred when, in 1860,
two Pugs of "pure" Chinese lines were brought to England. These two
dogs, Lamb and Moss, produced a son named Click, and Click..well, he
clicked! Click was bred many times, and his blood helped to mix the
Willoughby and Morrison lines making Pugs a better breed overall and
shaping the modern Pug of today as we know it.
Appearance of Today's Pug
Looks are what a Pug is all about. This man-made breed was created
just to look like they do. Pugs are not French Bulldogs with fallen
ears, and they're not miniature Mastiffs or Bullmastiffs. They're
really not related to the Shar-Pei. About the closest thing to a Pug
(besides another Pug) is a Pekinese and that's to be expected with
their similar histories.
Pugs in the United States are classified as a Toy Breed, even though
they are usually the largest of all the Toys. Pugs should weigh from
14 to 18 pounds, which makes them very sturdy dogs in the Toy Group.
While they are described by weight, the dogs have to be in proportion
to their height and bone. The body of the Pug is similar to that of a
Bulldog, but not as large or as overdone. Their overall appearance
should be square: the height from floor to top of withers should be
equal to the length from the sternum (breastbone) to rump.
The Pug's head is the most unique and readily identifiable feature.
The head itself should be round when you look at it from the front.
From the side, the face should be flat without too much or too little
chin. Pug eyes are round, dark, expressive and full of life. Their
ears are set widely on the head, and there are two accepted types of
ears: rose and button. Button ears fold over with the fold of the ear
level with the top of the skull, and should not hang lower than the
corner of the eye. Rose ears appear to be smaller and fold with the
inner edge of the ear against the side of the head. The rose ear tends
to give the head a smaller, more rounded appearance. Ears must be
black all over. Wrinkles on the Pug head should be deep and easy to
see because inside the wrinkle the color is darker than outside. One
large over the nose wrinkle is preferred.
The other major identifiable feature of the Pug is his tail. The tail
is set up high on the back, and should be curled tightly. The double
curl (two complete loops) is the ideal tail that breeders try for, but
a single tight loop or twist is acceptable. It is uncharacteristic of
the breed to have a floppy loose tail that bounces over the Pugs back,
or a Pug who carries his tail uncurled.
Pugs basically come in two colors: fawn and black. Either is
acceptable, although the blacks seem to be harder to come by. Many
times over the years the fawns have been called, "apricot fawn,"
"silver fawn," "stone fawn," etc. in an attempt to differentiate them,
but they are all still just fawn Pugs. Apricot fawns will have a peach
or apricot tint to the coat that can have an almost clear, cream
colored base coat. The other fawn coat has a mixing of black-tipped
guard hairs in it, making the dog appear darker and "cooler" in color.
All of these colors are acceptable - it is only the very dark
coloration over the entire body of the dog that is considered "smutty"
and undesirable. Either color can have a few white hairs on the chest,
and both colors will turn grey in the muzzle as they age.
Why A Pug?
People seem to think that getting dog these days is just a matter of
choosing one that looks cute to them. With so many different breeds of
dogs being portrayed unrealistically in movies (Milo and Otis comes
to mind, as does Homeward Bound and Pocahontas, etc.) it's easy for
people to think that dog ownership today is simple, a snap, a breeze,
and that they'll have loving intelligent companions for the rest of
Pugs are cute - if you love them, you think they are the cutest breed
around. People who consider them ugly just don't see the beauty in the
Are you looking for a dog that will make you laugh? Then a Pug
may be good for you - they are natural clowns and show offs. Are you
looking for a dog that is good with children? Then a Pug may be good
for you as they seem to consider children to be "pug-sized" people.
Are you looking for a dog as a companion to your kids, to run after
them on their bikes up the street? You should pass on Pugs - their
sensitivity to heat and small size makes that almost a certain death
Do you want a small watch dog for an apartment situation?
MAYBE a Pug can work - but it's not usual. Most Pugs won't know a
stranger in their entire lives, let alone recognize a burglar.
Do you want an easy to train dog? Pugs don't fall into that category in
general - usually they want to please you, but sometimes it takes a
Pug longer than other breeds to understand what you want.
Do you want a short haired dog because it will shed less? Then run, don't walk,
away from the Pug breed. This breed sheds copious amounts, usually
Do you want a dog that's almost human-like in personality?
Then consider a Pug, as Pugs have more personality than they know what
to do with!
So a Pug may not be for everyone, but it may be for you!
Buying a healthy dog is important these days - so many people talk
about "back yard breeders" and those people who "inbreed" their dogs.
You'll find that being an informed purchaser will help you find
caring, conscientious breeders. Breeders who "inbreed" are not
necessarily bad breeders - but they should be able to tell you what
their reasons are for the inbreeding that they do.
Reputable breeders will have some sort of health agreement with you -
they'll want you to take your new puppy or dog to your own vet shortly
after you get it home, so that you know it's doing okay. They should
be knowledgable or at least familiar with the problems outlined here.
Don't be afraid to ask questions of a breeder - good ones will share
knowledge with you so that you understand what the advantages of
buying from them is, but also the risks.
NO BREEDER can ever produce 100% healthy-for-life dogs. Just as in
humans we cannot "breed out" certain problems in our own genetic
makeup, dog breeders can only do their best to work towards limiting
problems in a line of dogs. Line breeding and inbreeding are two of
the tools that, when used properly, can help in identifying and
reducing the health problems in a breed. A good breeder has a purpose
in their breedings and can tell you why a litter was bred - something
other than, "I own both the momma and the daddy."
Health concerns in Pugs center primarily on two areas: their head, and
their legs, although other problems do exist. Pug heads cause problems
because of the smooshed in faces instead of having the normal
elongated face of most dogs. Head problems that are fairly common
* Corneal Ulcers
* Dry Eye
* Eyelids and Eyelashs
* Elongated Soft Palatte
* Generalized Progressive Retinal Atrophy
* Pinched or Undersized Nostrils
Leg problems that occur in Pugs include:
* Hip Dysplasia
* Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease
* Slipped Stifles
Pugs also have a high incidence of demodectic skin mites (often called
demodectic mange), especially when they are still puppies. Mange does
require a veterinary to treat it. Some lines of Pugs do not whelp
their own puppies well, and often require C-section surgery at birth.
Frequently Asked Questions
QUESTION: What's the difference between a Pug and a Chinese Pug?
ANSWER: Absolutely nothing. Pugs are known as Pug Dogs, Pugs, and
Chinese Pugs interchangably. The American and English Kennel Clubs
register the breed as the Pug, as does the International registry, the
QUESTION: Do Pugs really snore that much, or that loudly?
ANSWER: In a word, yes. Almost every Pug snores, and usually it's not
as loud as a person, but it can easily be mistaken for someone
snoring. Pugs snort, snarfle and snore and often will pass a lot of
gas too. Just expect them to be noisy dogs, but not barkers.
QUESTION: Pugs have short hair so they don't shed very much, do they?
ANSWER: Pugs shed tons of hair! Pugs have both a top coat and an
undercoat, with the top coat having long straight hairs and the
undercoat having softer fluffy straight hairs. Normal hair length on a
Pug is about 3/4 of an inch, although they can be longer. Don't let
anyone tell you that Pugs do not shed - they are more interested in
getting you to take one than telling you the truth.
QUESTION: I don't want a dog in the house. Why can't Pugs stay out of
ANSWER: Pugs cannot tolerate high heat and humidity for very long.
Dogs cool off by panting and their long tongues and noses give them
more cooling area. Pugs have virtually no cooling area for their
bodies, so they can (and will) literally over heat and die in less
than 30 minutes outdoors in high heat and/or humidity.
QUESTION: Why do Pugs have flat faces and lots of wrinkles?
ANSWER: Because a long time ago someone decided that Pug faces should
be as flat as possible. The wrinkles are there because the Chinese
emperors wanted lucky symbols on the dogs foreheads, and wrinkles were
the best way to get them.
QUESTION: With all those wrinkles, what special care do Pug faces
ANSWER: Care of wrinkles in Pugs varies, as some dogs are prone to
holding moisture in the wrinkles, while others do not. In general,
wrinkle care is as simply as using a tissue (don't use a cotton swab
as you can poke too hard with it) and wiping out the wrinkles on a
weekly basis. Pugs, while having no-noses, are some of the nosiest
dogs out there, and tend to gather a lot of grungy stuff (that's the
technical term for it) in their wrinkles. If the wrinkles also trap
moisture in them, then the moisture and grungy stuff combine and the
wrinkles can quickly be infected. This is like having athelete's foot
but on the Pug's face. It needs to be treated and watched for.
QUESTION: How much daily care do they actually require then?
ANSWER: Really not that much. On a weekly basis, you should brush
their coat, keep their faces clean and check their eyes for problems.
Must Pugs take about 20 minutes a week per dog. Monthly, you should
also trim their toe nails, and maybe give them a bath if they need it.
Many owners find using a shedding comb monthly greatly reduces the
amount of Pug hair on their clothes and carpets.
QUESTION: Which is better for just a pet - a male or a female Pug?
ANSWER: In general, males are more laid back, loving and people
oriented than females tend to be. Females, on the other hand, make
better alert dogs (they watch for strange things going on at "their"
house) and are more aloof and independent. If you're looking for a
couch-potato type dog, then a male would be better suited. If you're
wanting a dog who's pretty independent and not as demanding, then a
female is probably better. These are generalities, of course. There
are some males who are independent and some females who are more
people oriented - but for the most part the characterizations hold
QUESTION:How long do Pugs normally live?
ANSWER: Being a small breed, healthy Pugs normally live from 12 to 14
years, but can live for many more. Becoming a Pug owner becomes a
long-term commitment when you realize that you can have a Pug for as
long as your children are going to school!
QUESTION: Do Pugs make good watch dogs or guard dogs?
ANSWER: Not usually. Some pugs may alert you that someone is nearby by
barking gently (Pugs don't bark loudly, in general, because it's
muffled by the lips), but most Pugs are more interested in greeting
new people rather than scaring them off. The look of the Pug often
will scare people - especially if you have a Bullmastiff in the yard
too. Then you can just say that the Pug is a puppy and it grows up
into the Bullmastiff (sorry, that's Pug humor).
QUESTION: Do Pugs really like to dress up in costumes like I see in
all the pictures?
ANSWER: Actually, they usually do. Pugs are very extroverted dogs, and
do just about anything for a laugh from their people. If they discover
that wearing a costume makes you happy, they'll do it. If it gets them
laughter and applause, that's even better!
QUESTION: Pugs are so cute, everyone wants one, and mine cost so much,
I can really make some money if I breed my girl Pug, can't I?
ANSWER: That's very doubtful. The costs of raising Pugs are pretty
high. Start with the breeding: Pugs should be at least two years old,
and need to be tested for eye problems, hip problems, and brucellosis
before they're bred. Your girl should be up to date on all her shots
before you go into this, as well as wormed. Then pay the stud fee,
which is usually the price of a puppy or more. If you ship your girl,
add a few hundred more there too to get her to him and back. Then
there's the waiting time, and hoping she's bred. If she is, consider
that she may require a C-section. Many female Pugs have narrow hips,
and with their big heads, Pug puppies can't fit into the birth canal.
If you're lucky, you'll have an average litter of four or five
puppies. But if they were born by C-section, the dam may not be able
or willing to nurse the pups. So, you'll need bottles and formula, a
way to keep the pups warm, and round the clock feedings for the first
few days at least. Will you have to take a week off from work to raise
the puppies at first? Add that cost into the figures. Then being a
responsible breeder, you will offer a health guarantee on your
puppies, and take them back if anything is wrong with them, yes?
There's much more than putting two dogs together. And rarely do
breeders show a profit in doing so when they count up time and actual
QUESTION: Will everyone tell me my Pug is "so ugly it's cute?"
ANSWER: Yes, probably many times. Some people just don't appreciate
the good looks of a nice pug. Some people don't appreciate Picasso's
Other Names For Pug's
Each European country had a special name for the Pug. Some of its common names were
Ha Ba Gou (Chinese)
Carlin (Old French)
Smutmhadra (Irish Gaelic for stumpy dog)