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What Should I Know Before Getting a Pug?

Written by Anna Hollisey


Happy Pug smiling at the camera

The wide-eyed, wrinkle-nosed Pug is one of the most distinctive dog breeds in the world. It’s the epitome of a canine companion, becoming extremely attached to its owner; but the Pug is usually delighted to socialize, too! These comic and incredibly affectionate dogs make exceptionally good pets for the older or more sedentary owner, requiring very little but love. 

Pugs are mischievous, curious, and entertaining – and that’s a recipe for fun! Once you’ve owned one, the Pug will probably be your favorite for life. It’s a lap-loving breed with moderate exercise and grooming requirements. Owners say that their Pugs have excellent communication skills, especially when they’re trying to get something that they really want…

  • The largest of the toy breeds, Pugs are undeniably characterful dogs! Beside their distinctively sturdy, wrinkled look, Pugs are known to have comic personalities and a range of endearing expressions. 
  • They’re perfect at-home companions. They were literally bred to be adored. Pugs are perfect for older and busy people. They’re small dogs with big hearts, and they’ll follow you everywhere they can (… which can cause a tendency to have separation anxiety). 
  • Chilled. Pugs love cuddles on the couch (ideally with a paw or back resting against yours – they’ll fit in a lap if they can) and their size makes them suitable for smaller homes and apartments. They need short-to-medium walks (avoiding overexertion) and will usually walk happily on a leash. 
  • Pacifists. Pugs won’t generally start a fight, although they can be tetchy if their favorite food is under threat. They’re staunch little guard dogs who’ll stand in front of their owners when necessary. 
  • Stubborn? Me? Pugs have always been pampered, and this may suit you; but if you’re hoping for an intensively obedient dog, best look elsewhere. Pugs are exceptionally skilled in getting what they want (or don’t want), and quickly learn methods to communicate this. But you’ll need to teach them some rules. Pugs respond quite well to positive reward-based training; keep it fun and don’t punish. 
  • They’re not destructive, they don’t bark excessively, and they don’t dig… but the one habit displayed by most Pugs is attachment. If you’d like to teach them to spend time alone, start when they’re young and consider using a crate. But don’t use crate-time as a punishment – unless you want to begin a battle of vengeance (see note above). 
  • Pugs love people and children – if they’re socialized while they’re young, your pug will spread their love around – enjoying meeting other dogs, adults and kids. They’re naturally curious and generally interested in whatever you’re doing. 
  • Pugs have a reasonable life expectancy of around 11-15 years. 

From Chinese Emperors and Tibetan monks to Dutch, French and British royalty, many world leaders have owned noble little Pugs. And we’re so glad that they did!

First bred in ancient China, the Pug was treasured. Puppies were gifted to traders who’d won favor at the palace, and they took the dogs to Japan and Europe where their popularity spread and multiplied. Over in England, Queen Victoria adopted a Pug and in France, a trustworthy Pug carried messages to Napoleon from his wife. 

Wherever they traveled, Pugs attracted admirers; it was only natural that the US population would fall in love with them too. The American Kennel Club acknowledged the breed in 1885 and Pugs have been among our favorites ever since. The Pug Dog Club of America notes: 

“He is not so popular as to be common nor so unknown as to be rare.”

They’re not diggers, hunters, or working dogs. Originally bred as companions, the Pug’s purpose hasn’t faltered; they love nothing more than doing exactly what their human is doing. Delighted to recline on a royal armchair, Pugs have even been seen accompanying their owners to church – like Princess Catherine the Great’s collection of Pugs.

There’s undoubtedly something very special about the twinkle in a Pug’s endearing eyes. 

Although their coats are short, Pugs are known for shedding plentifully. So you’ll want a decent brush or glove for frequent grooming. Keep your brushing sessions short and fun! Two or three times a week will help to keep your Pug’s coat sleek. 

Then there are the wrinkles. You’ll need to care for your Pug’s skin, which can become dry or itchy if dirt gets trapped in the crevices. Get to know your dog’s folds and wipe them out regularly – your vet can recommend medicated cleansing wipes. 

Pugs have also been known to suffer from seasonal allergies, which will typically affect their skin: look out for paw-chewing. Dry skin caused by an allergy can generally be treated with antihistamines. 

You’ll also need to know that the Pug is a brachycephalic breed/learn/dog-lifestyle/brachycephalic-dog-breeds-what-owners-need-to-know, prone to breathing difficulties because of its short nose and restricted airways. It doesn’t mean they can’t breathe but it means they’re at risk if they get too hot or exhausted and struggle to pant. 

Pugs aren’t suited to hot climates or long-distance runs. They should also be leashed using a harness, rather than a collar which puts pressure on the trachea. 

Those big, wide eyes can also become affected by health issues, from dry eye and ulcers to proptosis. Monitor your pup’s eyes carefully and take them to the vet if you notice anything unusual; many problems can be quickly resolved but some can be very serious. 

Pugs can be prone to putting on weight and they love a tasty treat. Of course, their devoted owners love to feed them all the best bits of dinner. Sadly, these treats can quickly add up, turning your young pup into a dog who has difficulty getting around. It’s a big problem for the little Pug. Obesity puts extra pressure on their joints, which can become stiff and troublesome. To keep your Pug active and healthy, don’t over-indulge them… then you can expect a long and very happy life with your fabulous companion.