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Pugs: Breed profile

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

Known for their squishy faces, soulful eyes, and mischievous personalities, the Pug is an ancient dog breed with roots dating back to 400 B.C. Playful, cheerful, and affectionate, this canine class clown has only ever had one important role - that of a companion animal. 

Originating in China, where they were bred as entertainers and lapdogs for the elite, these sweet-natured dogs have charming people-pleasing natures that have seen their popularity soar. Showing nothing but adoration for their humans, the loyal Pug lavishes its owner with love and wants nothing more than to receive it back in return.

While millions of people around the world have fallen hard for this wrinkly little pooch, flat-faced dogs come with their fair share of issues, all of which are worth carefully considering before you welcome a Pug into your home.

Their squished faces can cause breathing difficulties, the folds in their skin are prone to infection if not cared for correctly, and their bulging eyes put them at risk of blindness. Because of their health needs and their desire to always be with their humans, they do best with owners who can give them the care and attention they require to stay physically and emotionally fit and well. 

If you have the time to invest in a Pug, we promise he’ll invest it back in you ten-fold. Here’s all you need to know about this outgoing and big-hearted dog breed.

How much exercise do Pugs need?

QUICK STATS

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

Say hello to the couch potato of the canine kingdom! The lazy Pug won't be winning any awards for vigorous outdoor activities any time soon and their love of the great indoors means you'll have to encourage them to get moving.

Although they prefer to hang out on your lap and snooze the day away, you'll need to get them out and about to keep them in good shape, just don't 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?

FACTS FOR POTENTIAL OWNERS

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?

GROOMING & HEALTH INFO

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

If you're going to welcome one of these cuties into your life then we recommend the first thing you do is arm yourself with one of the best vacuum cleaners for pet hair because trust us, you're going to need it! 

You wouldn't think it to look at them, but a Pug's tightly-packed fur sheds year-round, and it likes to fly free pretty regularly in the summer months, especially for those that are double-coated.

Thankfully, it's not all bad news. A Pug's coat is easy to manage with regular brushing three times a week, and with a medium bristle brush or rubber grooming mitt at the ready, you'll make 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.