- Average Height: 10 to 13 inches
- Average Weight: 14 to 18 pounds
- Coloring: Black or Fawn
- Coat Type: Short, smooth, glossy coats
- Dog Breed Group: Toy Group
- Average Lifespan: 13 to 15 years
Key Personality Traits:
With their squished faces, bulging eyes, and bulky frames, Pugs might not seem like Hollywood material. But the quirky looking little dogs have captured hearts on the big screen. Pugs have played starring roles in blockbuster hits like Men in Black, Milo and Otis, and The Secret Life of Pets.
Their star quality can be attributed to their winning personalities, according to Larry Nathan, founder of the Michigan Pug Rescue, Pug Luv.
“Pugs are clown-like because they are so entertaining and always doing crazy, silly things,” Nathan says.
History and Origin
Pugs are an ancient breed with long and interesting histories. The breed, which can be traced back more than 2,000 years, was once a favorite of emperors in ancient China and ownership of the flat-faced dogs was limited to members of the imperial court. Pugs were often treasured companions for the monks living in Buddhist monasteries in Tibet.
In the 1500s, Dutch traders acquired several Pugs during travels to China and brought the breed to Europe. The Pug developed a royal following in Holland after alerting the Prince of Orange to the arrival of Spanish troops, saving the palace from an attack. The heroic act earned the Pug a role as the official mascot of the House of Orange.
The AKC recognized Pugs in 1885 and the dogs remain one of the most popular breeds in the United States.
Pug Physical Characteristics
Pugs are compact, almost square, in shape. Members of the AKC “toy” group, Pugs are just 10 to 13 inches in height and weigh between 14 and 18 pounds.
Their massive round heads; large, globe-like eyes; large, deep wrinkles on their short muzzles; and minor underbites are their most prominent features. Pugs also have short bodies, wide chests and tightly curled tails. Their coats are short, fine, and soft and come in two colors: fawn and black. Fawn-colored Pugs have black “masks” on their faces.
Pugs have an average lifespan of 13 to 15 years and spend a significant portion of that time in puppyhood, according to Fred Campos, founder of DFW Pug Rescue Club.
“Pugs are slow to mature and stay puppies for up to four years,” he says. “They act like puppies, biting and scratching and tugging, so Pug puppies are not great companions for very young children.”
Pug Personality Traits
Words like loyal and loving are often used to describe Pugs. The breed, known for being even-tempered, playful, and outgoing makes an excellent four-legged companion—and owners are often so charmed by the breed, it’s common to see multiple Pugs in a home.
“Pugs are like potato chips; you can’t have just one,” Campos jokes. “Most Pug owners have more than one Pug.”
Pugs get along well with their human companions and will happily share their homes with other dogs, cats and even rabbits, according to Nathan.
While it’s hard to argue with the benefits of a loyal, loving lap dog, Pug owners need to be prepared for the potential downside of a deep attachment: Pugs do not like to be left alone for long periods.
“People call them a Velcro dog, because they’re always at your side,” Nathan says. “You’ve got to be prepared to have a dog that always wants to be wherever you are.”
With too little social interaction, Pugs can become anxious and may develop unwelcome behaviors such as barking or chewing.
Pugs must be kept indoors. The brachycephalic breed—a dog with a short snout that can have breathing difficulties—does not do well in hot or cold temperatures. Their smooshed faces also mean that Pugs often snort, snuffle, and wheeze and might keep you awake with their snoring.
Potty training may also be an issue, especially with un-altered male Pugs.
“Males will have a tendency to mark if you don’t get them trained right away,” Nathan says. “If you don’t get them neutered, they will mark [because] they’re marking their territories.”
Pug Care Guide
Providing the right care for your Pugs increases the chances they will live long, happy, healthy lives.
Diet and Nutrition
Like all breeds, Pugs benefit from being fed a high quality food appropriate for their age. These dogs can be voracious eaters so Campos advises sticking with regular mealtimes and avoiding open feeding, explaining, “If you do open feeding with a Pug, they will keep eating; they won’t walk away.”
Exercise and Activity
A Pug might not make the best running partner but these dogs still require exercise.
Nathan suggests daily walks to ensure your Pug gets sufficient physical and mental stimulation. Regular exercise can also prevent your Pug from becoming portly.
Since Pugs are prone to overheating, Nathan suggests walking Pugs in the mornings or evenings and creating opportunities for indoor activities and games like fetch or hide and seek when the temperatures are too hot or too cold for Pugs to exercise outdoors.
Grooming and Nail Care
Although Pugs don’t require professional grooming, the little shedding machines do need regular brushings to remove dead hair. Cleaning the folds in their faces is an essential part of the grooming routine. Campos recommends using a damp cloth to remove dirt at least once per week. “If you don’t, dirt can build up and they can get an infection,” he says.
Pugs should also have their nails trimmed regularly to keep them from becoming overgrown, which can cause pain.
Pug Health Issues
Pugs are prone to several common health problems.
Obesity: Research found that Pugs were diagnosed with obesity at more than twice the rate of other dog breeds.
“When you go to the pet store to buy pet food…the bag for the weight management food has a Pug on it,” Nathan says.
Pugs that are overweight or obese are at higher risk of developing other health issues, including diabetes and heart disease. Obesity also increases the risk of heat intolerance and anesthesia risks.
Respiratory Diseases: Pugs, like other brachycephalic breeds, are prone to a disease known as brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome or BOAS. The symptoms include loud snoring, exercise intolerance and fainting; it also shortens their lifespans and increases the risk of sudden death. It’s caused by deformation of the upper airways that causes the soft tissue to collapse, creating an obstruction. BOAS is often linked to poor breeding, according to research published in the journal PLOS One.
Eye Problems: The bulging eyes that give Pugs their adorable appearances can also cause problems. In addition to putting Pugs at risk for eye injuries such as scrapes and punctures, their protruding eyeballs are also prone to dry eye. The condition, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, causes the tear glands to produce too little moisture, which can cause sore, itchy eyes.
Pugs with dry eye may have discharge in their eyes or may squint or paw at their eyes due to discomfort. Nathan notes that over-the-counter or ointments are often sufficient to alleviate the symptoms.
Interesting Pug Facts
Pugs have starred in several Hollywood blockbuster films, including Men in Black and Men in Black II.
Hollywood celebrities can’t resist the Pug’s charms. Jessica Alba, Gerard Butler, and Billy Joel are all Pug owners.
A Pug named Winston was the first dog in the United States to test positive for the coronavirus. He had a mild case and recovered in a few days.
Although the breed is called “Pug” in the United States, it is also known as Lo-Sze in China; Mopsi in Finland, Doguillo in Spain; and Mophund in Holland.
Popular Pug Mixes
Thanks to their good-natured personalities and adorable appearances, Pugs are often mixed with other breeds.
Some of the most popular Pug mixes include:
- Chug (Pug and Chihuahua)
- Puggle (Pug and Beagle)
- Hug (Pug and Husky)
- Daug (Pug and Dachshund)
- Porgi (Pug and Corgi)
- Bugg (Pug and Boston Terrier)
- Pugapoo (Pug and Poodle)
Pug Adoption Tips and Things to Consider
Before adopting a Pug, Campos suggests researching their temperaments, exercise, and grooming needs to be sure it’s the right breed for your family.
Your local shelter might have a Pug or Pug mix available for adoption on occasion but breed-specific rescue groups like DFW Pug Rescue Club, Michigan Pug Rescue, Mid-Atlantic Pug Rescue, and Pug Partners of Nebraska are often a better bet for finding an adoptable Pug.
Although adoption fees tend to be higher than those at county animal shelters, Nathan notes that Pugs available for adoption through rescue groups are fully vetted and often live in foster homes where they learn basic manners that increase their chances of adoption.
Expect to submit an adoption application and provide veterinarian information for a reference check.
If you are considering welcoming a Pug into your life, there are certain frequently asked questions that might come up in your research. Here’s some additional information you should know about Pug dogs.
How Long Do Pugs Live?
The average lifespan of a Pug is 12 to 16 years.
Do Pugs Shed?
Yes. Pugs are known to shed and require regular brushing to remove dead hair and reduce shedding.
Are Pugs Hypoallergenic?
No, this is not a hypoallergenic breed.
How Big Do Pugs Get?
The average Pug is 10 to 13 inches in height and weighs 14 to 18 pounds.
Are Pugs Smart?
Yes, Pugs are intelligent dogs that respond well to training.
Can Pugs Swim?
No. Thanks to their large, square bodies and short legs, Pugs are not considered good swimmers.
With their big eyes and squished faces, we can’t get enough of these cuties. Browse our collection of Pug pictures to see just how adorable these dogs really are.