Pugs are intelligent dogs, but can be prone to health issues.

“Multum in parvo“ – this well-known Latin phrase aptly describes the Pug, as in its small body there really is “a lot of dog”! With its incomparable humour can charm, coupled with intelligence and depth, the Pug always provides its owner with plenty of entertainment.

Characteristics of the Pug

The Pug is one of the clowns of the dog world. It is not only its funny face with the deep wrinkles, flat snout and big black eyes that make people smile, but above all its extraordinary sense of humour. Every day this dog will come up with new follies to make its master laugh! The Pug is unbelievably playful and very lively, despite its short legs.

Even if you don’t trust it to carry out obstacle runs, complete games of skill or keep you company on bike rides, it will always be a jolly companion. The Pug can also be a dignified dog that enjoys some peace, sleeping a lot and snoring away in its bed, on the couch or on its owner’s knee. However, this dog breed cannot be described as a lap dog – one minute it may be calm and lethargic, but the next it will be lively and spirited, racing around after something that has caught its attention. The Pug will wag its tail vigorously, snoop around the house and generally be extremely happy. This breed is always happy, friendly and open-minded when meeting people and other animals. It is a big-hearted breed that loves its owner more than anything, and always wants to be together.

The Pug will follow you at every turn and prove to an incredibly faithful companion, although it can also be stubborn if it does not get its way or feels it isn’t getting enough attention! At times like this, your Pug can throw the biggest tantrums and give you the cold shoulder, but it will soon be back to entertaining you. Barking and aggressive behaviour are completely alien to this happy little breed, although this can result in it underestimating aggression or danger in other situations. Even when intimidated, the brave Pug rarely shows fear, perhaps because it knows that it is classed as a Molosser and is therefore related to the Great Dane!

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Even at first glance, you can see that there is a lot of substance to this little dog. The Pug is extremely compact and its squat body is strong and muscular. Its straight-backed physique is square and should not be low or leggy. The “substance” in this dog should not be confused with being heavy or overweight, as the FCI breed standard suggests an ideal weight of 6.3-8.1kg. Although the standard does not give exact withers height indications, it should not exceed 35cm.

In relation to its small size, the head of the Pug seems rather large. The short snout and flat black nose with large, wide-open nostrils are characteristic of the breed. The requirement for a compressed nose and thick nasal fold that completely obscures the nose was removed from the standard in 2010, and excessive wrinkling on the bridge of the nose is classed as “torture breeding” in some countries. Neither the nose nor the eyes must be significantly impaired by the large deep wrinkles. The round eyes, which are dark in colour and have a gentle, slightly distressed expression, must not stick out since the 2010 breed standard changes.

The Pug’s small ears should fall forward, with the tip of the ear being close to the round head. In addition to this so-called “button ear”, which is preferred by the breed standard, “rose ears” are also allowed, which fold back to show the interior of the ear. The smooth, short and shining coat is all in one colour and can be found in four different shades according to the breed standard: black, silver grey, apricot and light fawn. The pattern on the head, mask, forehead spots and moles on the cheeks should be a clear contrast to the basic colour. They should be clean and as black as possible. In addition to these approved shades, there are “hobby breeders” who do not stick to the standards, instead trying to bring out different colour variants. In rare cases, Pugs can be found in brown, sable, merle or brindle. However, these colours will not be recognised as pedigree English Pugs.

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What are the origins of the Pug?

Although the Pug is considered to be an English breed by the FCI standard, its roots are in China, where it was bred more than 2000 years ago. This is why the FCI still place the Pug within the Molosser breed group.

Holding a Pug in the Chinese Empire was a real privilege, with the breed considered to be an “imperial dog” and, as such, only allowed to be owned and touched by the Emperor himself. These dogs enjoyed a very luxurious life, often being protected by bodyguards. A pug was only given to the people if it could not be used for further breeding, although even in this case the cost to buy the imperial dog was considerable. The dogs came to the Netherlands in around 1500 with the Dutch East India Company, spreading to numerous European noble houses and becoming a popular dog for rich ladies.

During industrialisation and the decline of the noble houses, the Pug soon became forgotten.

It is only due to the British breeders that the Pug did not die out completely, making a comeback in around 1900 and quickly spreading again around the world. Although prejudices have been established over the years that the Pug is lazy, boring and greedy, its popularity remains with many people.

Breeding and health issues

Prospective buyers will still pay a high price for a pedigree Pug. This money is well-invested if you buy thorugh a registered and recognised breeder, and you will receive a healthy, strong-minded Pug who should not cause you a great deal of expensive issues over the years. Keep in mind that responsible breeders place the health and wellbeing of their animals at the top of their priority lists, only just covering their costs with the price of the puppy. A species-appropriate attitude, analysis before breeding and high-quality nutrition for mother and puppy, as well as supporting the puppy in its healthy development, all cost money for a breeder. Quick money can only be made in so-called “puppy farms”, with dogs being bred without passing health examinations and without proof of pedigree. For the sake of the animal’s health, you should avoid buying a “bargain” Pug. If you find that a pedigree puppy is too expensive for you, there may be a lovely Pug in need waiting for you at a local animal shelter, so take a look around!

Despite the best efforts of Pug breeders to produce healthy, robust dogs, the breed still struggles with various breed-specific diseases. Many of these have been caused by over-breeding of the Pug as a fashion accessory with a flat nose and deep wrinkles. As a result, they can suffer with breathing problems due to the short snout, which narrows the air duct considerably, and this “ideal of beauty” is fought against by breed representatives to this day. The famous snoring of the Pug often stems for a soft palate that is too long and even the eyes, which until recently were meant to be prominent, are often affected by corneal inflammation and ulcers.

The breeding efforts of recent years and changes to the standard in 2010 give hope that these diseases will decline over the coming years.

Pugs have a stocky build with flat faces.

Appropiate pug food

Your Pug’s health does not only come down to its initial breeding, but also to the care you provide and the nutrition you choose. Many diseases can be prevented or at least detected early with species-appropriate care.

Diet will, of course, play a crucial role. Food should contain a high quantity of meat, a small amount of vegetables and a little bit of grain, with sugar being avoided to ensure your Pug receives the necessary nutrients and vitamins. With a balanced diet you can also help to control your Pug’s weight, as this breed is prone to rapid weight gain if fed the wrong sort of food.

It is best to spread your Pug’s food out between three small meals, which should always take place at around the same time. Your dog will quickly get used to these times and to its feelings of hunger before meals. Food should be served at room temperature to avoid stomach problems, and you should ensure your Pug has peace and time to digest after meals before any walks or games.

Learn more about the best food for your Pug and about the species-appropriate nutrition we have to offer!

How should I care for my Pug?

To prevent illness, your Pug requires plenty of care. This breed also needs to be brushed regularly as it has a lot of hair. Ears and eyes should be checked and cleaned, with the wrinkles on the head and face being kept clean and dry. The rest of your Pug’s care is fairly simple: a little bit of space and not a lot of exercise. The Pug will sleep a lot, has no hunting instinct and can easily be taught, thanks to its faithful nature. You should be sure to play with your Pug a lot and try to encourage it to move to prevent lethargy and weight gain. This should include an active daily routine including walks and small games. With the right motivation, the Pug dog breed can be very lively and playful! And if you have the time, your Pug will adore a little nap on its owner’s knee!

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