Pug dog breed characteristics, origin and care

Pug characteristics

  • Size: Small
  • Traits: Affectionate. Lively. Lovable.
  • Maintenance: Medium maintenance, brush coat 1-3 times a week
  • Best suited to: Families and seniors or anyone looking for a constant companion.

Cute as a button, the pug is a showstopper with its prominent eyes, stocky body and wrinkled, expressive face. Affectionate, wilful and spirited, this dog is a good fit for any fun-loving family.

If you are seeking an alert and lively dog that also loves a good snuggle, a pug might be the right pooch for you.

Where I’m from

The pug originated in China over 2,400 years ago where they were the prized possessions of Emperors. These pampered pugs lived in luxurious lodgings as beloved lapdogs. The first pugs came to Europe in the late 1500s with traders from the Netherlands, and became popular pets for aristocrats.

Many notable people throughout history owned this loyal breed. Before her marriage to Napoleon Bonaparte, the imprisoned Joséphine was only allowed one visitor - her pug named Fortune. Fortune carried concealed messages to her family. In 1572 a pug named Pompey saved the life of the Prince of Orange by alerting him to the approach of assassins!

What I look like

Pugs have a stocky, short and small body, which is quite sturdy. Big, bulging dark eyes sit on a flat wrinkly face and round head. Generally, their black muzzles have small teeth that meet in an adorable underbite. The wrinkles around their eyes give them an expression of concern. Pug's ears are velvety, dark, and folded down, and they have a tail that is double curled at the end. Pugs have a short coat that is soft and smooth, and comes in shades of black, fawn/apricot and silver.

The shape and size of the pug has changed dramatically over the centuries, and breeding for specific body and head shapes has lead to health issues in some pugs.

How I act

Pugs are high-spirited dogs with tons of personality packed into a small package. Often referred to as “shadows", pugs stick like glue to their owners' side and like to be where the action is. The breed does have a wilful streak but are generally not aggressive dogs. Although they are small, they have a stout frame, which makes them a great pet for families with small children. Pugs also get along well with other pets.

Stubborn pugs can be challenging to train. Luckily, they are eager to please so if owners are patient and consistent, they can usually train their dog to listen to their commands. Socialisation and training should begin young to ensure a well-behaved pet. Praise, praise, praise is the key. Pugs love their treats, and can be bent to anyone's will with a tasty reward.

Pugs often don't develop the muscle strength needed to control their bladder and bowels until they are 6 months old. When house-training a pug puppy, use lots of positive reinforcement such as praise and treats.

Walking a pug around the neighbourhood each day or playing in the backyard will meet the dog's requirements for exercise. Take care though.. Too much exercise can actually exacerbate the Pug's tendency to wheeze.

Looking after me

Pugs can prone to a number of medical conditions. Their soft palates and pinched nostrils makes them susceptible to brachycephalic syndrome, which causes breathing problems especially in humid or hot weather or if they become overweight. In addition, Pugs can become overheated in the summer and need to be kept cool with air conditioning, shade and lots of cool, fresh water.

They may also suffer from Pug Dog Encephalitis (PDE), a skin disorder called Demodectic Mange, hip deformities, dental issues, eye injuries and dry eyes.

It is advisable to check the temperament and medical history of a puppy's parents and view veterinarian clearance certificates to ensure you get a healthy dog, though not every ailment can be predicted. Be very wary of uncertified 'backyard' breeders.

The lifespan of a pug is 10-12 years on average.

It is important that a pug has a high quality, healthy meal of dog food twice a day as per packaging instructions and maintains a healthy weight. Pug owners need to show restraint when feeding their beloved companion because they are at risk for obesity. It is important you limit the amount of food you feed them, remove uneaten portions until the next feeding time and encourage your pet to exercise.

Pugs do not require fancy grooming or detangling. They also don't suffer from body odour or excessive drooling. Grooming a pug includes occasional baths, monthly nail trimming, and daily wiping of their facial wrinkles and ears. Pug skin is easily irritated and prone to dryness, so they should be bathed only when necessary.

Am I the pet for you?

Pugs are best for families or seniors and are great house pets. They get along with everybody, especially people who give them plenty of attention. Since they require little exercise, they are great in apartments or houses with small backyards.


  • When pugs are not taking a nap (a frequent occurrence with this breed), they are animated, charming, and waiting to eat or play. Pugs are perfect in homes where they will be treated as a member of the family and get loads of attention. In this environment, they will become extremely loyal, affectionate, and devoted to their owners.
  • Since the pug is small in size with a lazy nature, they do not need a lot of exercise to stay in shape and healthy. This makes them a great pet for living in an apartment or with the elderly.
  • Pugs can be good watchdogs as they have a healthy bark but are not 'yappy'.


  • Pugs require constant company, so are not ideal for people who are not home much, unless they have a companion pug to play with.
  • Pugs have thick coats that shed year round, so be ready to clean up after them.
  • Pugs may require a lot of medical attention to maintain their health, so ensure you are prepared for potentially high veterinary costs.

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