5 Things to Know About Pugs

Pugs are full of personality. Photo: pixabay

1. Key Characteristics of Pugs

  • AKC Group: Toy
  • Height: 10–14 inches
  • Weight: 13–20 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 11–15 years

One of the oldest dog breeds, Pugs are small dogs with round heads, short muzzles and large eyes.

The face is wrinkled — sometimes deeply — and the high tail curls over the back. The short, smooth coat comes in silver, black, fawn and apricot, with a darker mask on the face and dark coloration on the ears.

2. Where Pugs Came From

Proof of the breed dates to around 400 B.C., and it shares similarities with the Pekingese, another short-nosed breed. Pugs were historically a favorite among royals and Buddhist monasteries in China.

Throughout history, several notable people have kept these dogs. Napoleon’s wife, Josephine, used her Pug Fortune to sneak messages to her husband by tucking them under the dog’s collar. A Pug reportedly saved the life of William, Prince of Orange, when he alerted his human to approaching troops in 1572.

British soldiers returned to England with Pugs and Pekingese dogs after invading the imperial palace in Peking in 1860. Pugs were first exhibited in England in 1886 after being registered with the American Kennel Club in 1885.

Pugs’ short coat makes them easy to groom. Photo: Dave Baker/Petful

3. How Friendly Are Pugs?

These small dogs have great personalities. They are:

  • Even-tempered
  • Playful
  • Outgoing
  • Affectionate
  • Eager to please
  • Loyal
  • Highly intelligent

They make good watchdogs but don’t bark excessively, and they respond well to positive reinforcement training.

4. Is This the Right Dog for You?

Exercise Needs


MEDIUM: These dogs need daily walks and/or play to stay fit. They do well in apartments but may be less active indoors.

Watch out — they’re prone to overeating yet still act hungry, so pay attention to food quantity and feeding times.

Grooming Needs


MEDIUM: The short coat is easy to groom once a week, though shedding may be seasonally heavy. The real work is cleaning the ears, folds of the skin, nose and eyes to keep them clear.

Bathe these dogs as necessary and dry them immediately — they are very sensitive to cold temperatures.

In addition to all this, clean the teeth and clip the nails regularly. Note that because of the Pug’s small mouth, tartar buildup may be a bigger problem than usual — talk to your vet about additional ways to reduce it.

Pay special attention to the ears and nose for discharge, and bring any heavy snoring or breathing/wheezing to your vet’s attention.

Health Problems


HIGH: These dogs are a brachycephalic breed (also called short-faced or short-nosed), meaning pinched nostrils or an elongated palate can cause breathing difficulties. Talk to your vet about the surgeries available to treat these issues.

Note that some airlines restrict brachycephalic breeds from flying, so check with your airline before reserving travel. Pugs may also suffer from reverse sneezing.

Sensitivity to heat, humidity or cold is common in this breed. These dogs can also have:

  • Skin problems
  • Allergies
  • Brain inflammation at a young age
  • Eye problems (including inflammation, ulcers and even the eye popping out of the socket!)

As mentioned in the exercise section, they have a tendency to overeat and keep eating as long as food is offered.

Check out Biggie, the winner of the Toy Group at the 2018 Westminster Dog Show:

5. How to Adopt a Pug

Purebred dogs end up in rescues and shelters every day. Check out our adoptable pet search, or check with your local rescues to find a Pug already waiting for a home.

If you do choose to go to a breeder, make sure they don’t display any signs of operating a puppy mill.

Additional Resources

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