The modern-day pug is considered to be one of the most popular breeds in the world. In recent years, pug lovers have expanded to include celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Jessica Alba, Tori Spelling, and even the late Robin Williams. But before they graced the homes of today’s rich and famous, these dogs had a rich history that stretched back centuries.
In this article, we share everything you need to know about the original pug breed and how you can care for your pet pug.
Origin of the Pug
Traditional pugs are charming and distinctive dogs; the history of the pug dates back to Ancient China during the Shang Dynasty between 1600 to 1046 BCE. These “original pugs” were known and cherished for their wrinkled faces, curly tails, expressive eyes, and short muzzle. The extreme body shape of pugs allowed them to be compact yet more robust than many other toy breeds.
As such, they were prized by Chinese Emperors who gave them luxurious accommodations and soldiers as their guards. Pugs are also one of the 3 types of short-nosed dogs bred by the Chinese: the Lion dog, the Pekingese, and the Lo-sze, which was also called the ancient Pug. Some people believe that China’s “Foo Dogs” to be representations of these ancient dogs.
During the 16th century, China began trading with Europe; the first Pugs were carried by Dutch traders, referring to the breed as Mopshond, which is what they’re still called today. They quickly became the favorite breed of royalty in various European countries and would go on to play a role in their families. In 1572, the Pug became the official dog for the House of Orange in Holland, when a Pug saved the life of William, who was the Prince of Orange by warning him of approaching Spaniards.
More traditional black pugs also became popular during the 1700s thanks to a Pug enthusiast and famous artist William Hogarth, who portrayed black Pugs in his paintings. In 1860, the British took over the Chinese Imperial Palace and came across many Pugs which they then brought back home. Two of these Pugs, in particular, were bred together to produce Click, an outstanding dog that was bred multiple times to create purebred lines.
Click has been credited for shaping the modern Pugs we know and love today. In the Victorian era, Pugs also became highly popular and were featured in various figurines, paintings, and postcards at the time. Queen Victoria was also a big fan of the dogs who preferred apricot-fawn Pugs and would breed many in her estate.
After the Civil War, Pugs were taken to the United States, where they were recognized in 1885 under the American Kennel Club. In the beginning, Pugs exploded in popularity, but by the end of the 19th century, interest in the breed diminished. Thanks to dedicated breeders, the pug’s popularity came back, and in 1931, the Pug Dog Club of America was recognized by the AKC.
Their flat faces, short legs, small size, and deep wrinkles aren’t the only reasons why they became royal companions — their personality traits are also well-loved among fans. Pugs are generally affectionate and loyal dogs that are relatively easy to care for since they don’t need much exercise and shed less compared to many other breeds. These playful and funny dogs are also adaptable and good with children, which means they can fit in a wide range of environments.
A healthy Pug will have strong legs set under the body with a tail that curls over their hip — they’re also known for their facial wrinkles under a black mask. They have large eyes with a dark color and round shape; these little dogs will weigh between 14 to 18 pounds and will stand 10 to 14 inches high at the shoulders. Fawn is known to be a common color for the Chinese Pug dog but the AKC also accepts black colored Pugs.
You can’t expect a Pug to guard, hunt, or retrieve because they were bred as companion animals which is what they do best. Pugs crave attention and will tend to be a pretty sedentary dog, so it will be happy to sit on your lap while you watch a movie together. However, it’s also a comical and playful dog that will delight owners with its silly antics, but remember that its temperament will be affected by factors such as socialization, training, and heredity.
According to experts, Pugs have a relatively long life expectancy between 12 to 15 years when they get the proper care and love they need. In general, Pugs are relatively healthy but like every other dog breed, they are prone to certain health problems. While not all Pugs may get these diseases, it’s important to know about them if you’re thinking about getting a puppy.
- Cheyletiella Dermatitis: Also known as walking dandruff, this skin condition is caused by small mites and is contagious, so be sure to see your vet if your dog has heavy dandruff.
- Epilepsy: Pugs are prone to idiopathic epilepsy which causes seizures without an apparent reason. If your pup experiences this, take it to the vet to determine the appropriate treatment.
- Pug Dog Encephalitis: This inflammatory brain disease is only found in Pugs and can be fatal. Currently, there’s no way to test or treat it, and will cause dogs to seize, become blind, and send them into a deep coma before dying.
- Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome: This refers to airway abnormalities that are common in brachycephalic breeds or dogs with a flatter face. Problems linked to this disease include smaller nostrils, an elongated soft palate, laryngeal collapse, a smaller trachea than normal, and more.
- Eye Problems: Because they have such big eyes, Pugs are vulnerable to various eye conditions such as dislodged eyeballs, progressive retinal atrophy, entropion, distichiasis, and more.
- Allergies: Some pugs can suffer from different allergies including food and skin allergies. If you see your dog rubbing its face or licking its paws excessively, it may have an allergy so be sure to take it to the vet.
- Hip Dysplasia: Affects all kinds of dogs, including Pugs. Various factors such as the environment, genetics, and diet can lead to deformed hips. Even so, affected Pugs can lead a healthy life when given veterinary help.
- Patellar Luxation: This refers to the dislocation of the knee joint, which causes pain whenever it slides in and out of place. While it can be a crippling condition, many dogs can still live a relatively good life with it.
Even if they’re playful and always up to something, Pugs are very low-maintenance, making them the ideal choice for older owners. They are usually quiet and inactive when inside the house, which makes them suitable for apartment life. They won’t need a great deal of exercise but you can expect them to have plenty of energy to spend, so be sure to take them out for walks.
Feeding Your Pug
The recommended daily amount of food to feed your dog is around ½ to 1 cup of high-quality food each day which should be divided into 2 meals. However, this amount should depend on its age, size, metabolism, build, and activity levels. The food quality will also make a difference; the better its food is, the more it will nourish your dog.
Keep in mind that Pugs love to eat and will also be prone to obesity because of their small size. As such, you will need to restrain how much you feed it and stick to appropriate food portions while encouraging exercise and limiting treats.
Grooming Your Pug
Even though they have short coats, Pugs actually have a double coat and will typically come in black or fawn colors, which can have varying hues such as apricot and silver. Their coats will be smooth and will shed a lot during summer, so they will need regular bathing and brushing to maintain their coats in pristine condition and keep the shedding down. A monthly bath should be enough but depending on your dog’s activities, it may need more.
Be sure to trim their nails regularly since they aren’t very active dogs and it’s also important to clean their ears once every week or so. Their facial wrinkles, however, will need special attention — their folds are prone to infection when they become too dirty or damp. They will need thorough drying after each bath and should be wiped clean frequently — simply use baby wipes or cotton balls to wipe their folds.
Their eyes will also need to be treated gently since they tend to protrude. Just like many small dog breeds, they are also vulnerable to gum disease, so they will need brushing regularly using a small and soft toothbrush along with doggie toothpaste. It’s important to turn grooming time into a more positive experience for your dog by rewarding it with praise but don’t give it too many treats.
What are Retro Pugs?
These are designer breeds that aren’t purebred and are a cross between normal Pugs and the Jack Russell Terrier, which helps to clear the dog of serious health issues that come with typical Pugs. This mixed breed will have a longer snout to cancel out common health concerns that come with brachycephalic breeds. Because they are no longer purebred Pugs, they carry genetic diversity and may look like either of the parent breeds.
Looking for Pug Breeders
If you want to get your hands on pedigree dogs that you can take on a dog show, be sure to look for a responsible breeder. They should be able to show you health clearances that prove their puppies are up to breed standards, and that they have been tested and cleared from particular conditions. Be sure to choose puppies with a playful and curious temperament and always opt to see their parents so you can see what they could be like as adults.
The Original Pug Breed is No Different from Today’s
The pug isn’t your typical dog and is among the oldest breeds in the world. Their humble beginnings from Chinese breeders have taken them to the other side of the world, and they have certainly been perfected through selective breeding. If you choose to have one of these precious bundles in your home, be sure to look at them from the health perspective and ensure that you’ll be able to provide a home that will give them the royal treatment they deserve.