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Pugs: Breed profile

Portrait of a Pug against grey background
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You can't forget a face as distinctive as a Pug's and that is part of what makes them so endearing. Wrinkly and short-muzzled and colored silver or apricot-fawn with a black face mask, or all black, they were brought to Europe from China in the 16th century and have been the subject of many paintings over the centuries. Interestingly, in China, they were so revered that they had their own quarters inside the royal palaces and were waited on by their own staff.

Yet they are also a controversial breed due to the high level of special care and attention they require to stay healthy. Their squished faces cause breathing difficulties, they are known to die in heat and humidity, and their wrinkles are prone to chronic infection. So should you avoid them? Whether you feel comfortable and have the time to give them the high level of care they need is certainly something worth weighing up, but if you feel able to take that on then your Pug will reward you by being a loving, mischievous, and adorable companion. 

How much exercise does a Pug need?


Life expectancy: 12-15 years
Average weight: Male: 14-18lbs / 6-8kg
Female 14-18lbs / 6-8kg
About the same as: A five-month-old baby

Pugs love being indoors and won’t win any awards for their activity levels. Given the choice, they'll sit on your lap for hours and be perfectly content that they're close to you, but that doesn't mean you should indulge their couch potato tendencies. 

Although they are indoor dogs, you will need to get them out and about to keep them in good shape, but the key is not to overdo it. A Pug's flat face means their nostrils are too small and this causes them to suffer from Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome, meaning they quickly get out of breath. So watch out for signs they are tiring and be especially careful in very hot or cold weather.

During the hottest parts of the day, avoid the outdoors and focus on short bursts of indoor play with a variety of the best dog toys. Look for toys that pugs can grip in their small jaws, squeaky toys and balls which always go down well. 

Pug dog sat on sofa

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Are Pugs easy to train?


Suitable for: People who want a loyal and fun companion who will never leave their side
Not suitable for: Anyone who wants an active dog to explore the great outdoors with
Temperament: Playful, Loving, Attentive, Quiet, Sociable
Shedding: Heavy

Since Pugs are eager to please and love to be the center of attention, you shouldn't have too many problems training them – so long as they don't become distracted, that is. Experts suggest tapping them gently on the nose, saying “watch” and moving your finger to your nose to keep them focussed, then rewarding them with a tasty dog treat

With their attention held, training them to follow basic commands then starts to become much easier, but one area where you may struggle more is housetraining. That is when Pugs are at their most stubborn, and it can take as long as a year to get them to control their bodily functions. This is made worse by the fact they are small and have less capacity in their bowel and bladder.

What do Pugs eat?

Pug dog and food bowl

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Give a Pug food and he'll eat it. Then continue eating. And eat some more. There's just no satiating a pug's desire to eat, so you have to be strict from the beginning because this breed can pack on some serious pounds if you're not careful. 

The general advice is to give them between a half to a full cup of the best dry food containing the correct proportion of minerals, vitamins, calories, and trace elements spread over a couple of meals each day. 

As always with small dogs, keep treats to a minimum and ensure those snacks are healthy. Try carrots, cucumber, green beans, strawberries, and raspberries for sweet treats that are also nutritious and low in calories.

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The temperament of a Pug

Pugs love humans, so they are perfect companion dogs. They're a joy to have around the house, they get on well with other animals and children, and they don't need many hours of play, sleeping for about 14 hours a day. 

They're not completely lazy, though. Although you're not going to have them fetching sticks and running with you in the park, Pugs are highly intelligent, happy, and loyal, and they'll get under your feet whenever you move around, essentially becoming your shadow. 

When they do break free, they can have a real mischievous side to them, but it's hard not to fall in love with it. Known as the clowns of the canine world, Pugs love to show off and it’s not unusual for them to get themselves in trouble around the house when their curiosity gets the better of them.

Do Pugs shed a lot?


Amount Of Shedding: High
Easy To Groom: Yes
General Health: Good
Potential For Weight Gain: High

You’ll need the best vacuum cleaner for pet hair at the ready if you’re welcoming a Pug into your home because this breed sheds their tightly-packed hair all year round, and it's a particular issue in the warmer months, especially for double-coated dogs. 

The good news is, it is manageable with regular brushing three times a week, and a medium bristle-brush or rubber grooming mitt or glove makes light work of the task. 

Bathing is also useful, but do be sure that you dry a Pug properly to prevent infection within the folds. You should also regularly brush a Pug's teeth – adults have 42 of them crammed into their tiny mouth, so good dental health is important to prevent infections, gingivitis, and plaque build-up.

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Pug health problems

Pet pug in a veterinary clinic

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Pugs can suffer many genetic health issues, and you'll likely find yourself visiting the vets more often than you'd like. 

We've already touched on some of the problems that Pugs tend to be susceptible to, such as breathing difficulties, and the risk of infection in between their folds of skin. But they are also prone to hip dysplasia, and many will suffer eye issues because their peepers are so prominent. Watch out for dry eye, corneal ulcers, and cataracts, particularly as they get older. 

If the top of this fur-kid wasn’t enough of an issue, their tail also requires monitoring as it can be prone to fractures, and to top it all off, these little sweethearts are also prone to catching colds fairly regularly. 

While it’s important to be aware of the issues a Pug will likely face in its lifetime, there’s plenty of good news with this breed too. With the proper love and care, Pugs can live for up to 15 years, making them the perfect choice for someone looking for a long-term companion.  

Should I get a Pug?

Cute, charming, mischievous, and fun-loving, Pugs make the most wonderful companion animals. Laid-back and flexible, this breed is happy anywhere from the country to the city and gets along beautifully with children and other pets. Their hilarious antics will provide you with a frequent source of amusement and brighten up even the cloudiest of days.

That being said, there’s no getting around the fact that Pugs tend to suffer from a lot of health issues, which can make them a big commitment. They’re also natural couch potatoes and so are not ideal for anyone with an active lifestyle who wants a dog to hike or run with. Their snoring isn’t ideal for light-sleeping humans either. Other breeds to consider include the French Bulldog, the Pomeranian and the Chorkie. 

If you’re content with a short stroll each day, can give a Pug plenty of care and attention, and love the thought of having a second shadow who will shower you with love and loyalty for all of their days, then the affectionate Pug could just be the perfect forever friend.