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The Pug - Breed Profile

Cream coloured Pug standing outside

The Pug is a sturdy, compact dog breed known as the clown of the canine world because they have a great sense of humour and like to show off. Spirited, wilful and affectionate, Pugs behave lovingly toward people of all ages and get along well with other dogs.


Pugs originated in China, dating back to the Han dynasty. They were prized by the Emperors of China and lived in luxurious accommodations, sometimes even being guarded by soldiers. In the early 1600s, China began trading with European countries. Reportedly, the first Pugs brought to Europe came with the Dutch traders, who named the breed Mopshond, a name still in use today.

Pugs quickly became favourites of royal households throughout Europe, and in Holland, the Pug became the official dog of the House of Orange in 1572 after a Pug reportedly saved the life of William, Prince of Orange.

As the Pug's popularity spread throughout Europe, it was often known by different names in different countries. In France, it was called Carlin; in Spain Dogullo; in Germany Mops; and in Italy, Caganlino

Marie Antoinette had a Pug named Mops before she married Louis XVI at the age of 15. Another famous Frenchwoman, Josephine Bonaparte, had a Pug named Fortune. Pugs became very popular during the Victorian era and were featured in many paintings, postcards, and figurines of the period. Queen Victoria had many Pugs, and she also bred them.

Pugs are one of the earliest pure breeds of dog kept in Australia. Though it's uncertain when they arrived, records from the Agricultural Society of NSW show two Pugs being exhibited in 1870.


The Pug looks like a miniature Mastiff with a compact, square body, large bone structure and thick, wrinkly skin. The head of the Pug is short, blunt and large compared to the rest of the body. The moles on a Pug's cheeks are called "beauty spots."

Large dark eyes should not protrude 
from the wrinkled squashed face but simply fill the eye sockets giving the dog an animated expression. The tail is curled as tightly as possible over the hip, with a double curl being considered perfection. 

Even though the coats are short, Pugs are a double-coated breed. Pugs are typically fawn-coloured or black. The fawn colour can have different tints, such as apricot or silver, and all Pugs have a short, flat, black muzzle.
  • Height: Males 30 - 36 cm; Females 25 - 30 cm
  • Weight: Males 6 - 9 kg; Females 6 - 8 kg 

Visit Dogs Australia here, for the full breed standard.


Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training and socialisation.

Personality-wise, Pugs are happy and affectionate, loyal and charming, playful and mischievous. They are very intelligent, however, they can be wilful, which makes training challenging. Crate training is recommended as they are known to be difficult to house train.

Don't expect a Pug to hunt, guard or retrieve! Pugs were bred to be companions and tend to be a sedentary dog, content to sit in your lap as you read a book or watch a movie. Pugs love to be the centre of attention and are heartsick if ignored. 
Their compact package belies a great deal of energy, so expect to be entertained with some goofy antics if your Pug doesn't get a walk or some playtime.

Pugs will need to be kept in an enclosed area as their road sense is poor.


Pugs are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Pugs will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed. Their average lifespan is between 12 and 15 years.

Pug-lying-in-grass-with-tongue-out Due to their flat face, pugs should not be over exercised or become overheated. They need plenty of water and shade in hot conditions or they can experience breathing difficulties and suffer from heatstroke. Pugs are definitely house dogs and should not be kept outdoors. 

Being prone to breathing problems means that pugs should not be allowed to become overweight. Excess fat around the heart can bring about premature death. The wrinkles of the dog should be monitored for skin problems and the fold across the nose should be wiped daily with lanolin or Vaseline on cotton wool.

Eye problems: Because their large eyes bulge, Pugs are prone to a variety of eye problems, including proptosis (the eyeball is dislodged from the eye socket and the eyelid clamps behind it) distichiasis (an abnormal growth of eyelashes on the margin of the eye, resulting in the eyelashes rubbing against the eye); progressive retinal atrophy (a degenerative disease of the retinal visual cells that leads to blindness) and entropion; (the eyelid, usually the lower lid, rolls inward, causing the hair on the lid to rub on the eye and irritate it).

Allergies: Some Pugs suffer from a variety of allergies ranging from contact (environmental allergies) to food allergies. If your Pug is licking at his paws or rubbing his face a great deal, suspect allergy and have him checked by your vet. 

Hemi-vertebrae: Short-nosed breeds, such as Pugs, Bulldogs and French Bulldogscan have misshaped vertebrae. Sometimes, only a few of the vertebrae are affected and the dog is able to live a normal life. Others will stagger and display an uncoordinated, weak gait between 4 and 6 months of age. Some dogs get progressively worse and may even become paralysed. The cause of the condition is unknown. Surgery can help.

Bracycephalic Airway Syndrome: There is an anatomical narrowing at the nostrils, the back of the throat and in the windpipe itself. This explains why pugs often breathe noisily, with sounds ranging from heaving breathing to honking. Light sleepers may want to invest in a pair of ear plugs as pugs wheeze, snort and snore - loudly. 

While the Pug's first love is human attention, his second love is food. These dogs love to eat, eat, eat. This, combined with their small stature, puts them at risk for obesity.


Pug-washed-outside-with-towel-on-his-head The coat is short and smooth however be warned to pugs shed like crazy, especially in summer. Following that, regular brushing and bathing helps keep the coat in good condition and shedding to a minimum. 

A monthly bath is sufficient and the Pug's small size is handy: you can drop him right in the kitchen sink for a bath. The Pug's bulging eyes need special attention. Because they protrude, the eyes are vulnerable to injury and irritation from soaps and chemicals. 

Regular nail trimming is essential
, since these house dogs don't usually wear down their nails outdoors like active breeds do. What requires special attention is the Pug's facial wrinkles. These folds are hotbeds for infection if allowed to become damp or dirty. The wrinkles must be dried thoroughly after bathing, and wiped out in-between baths. Some owners simply use a dry cotton ball; others use commercial baby wipes to wipe out the folds.

Recommended for

Though playful and rambunctious, the Pug is a low-maintenance companion, making it ideal for older owners. Because they are a small, quiet breed and are relatively inactive when indoors, they are a good choice for apartment dwellers as well.
Pugs love kids. Though small, the Pug is not delicate like some toy breeds, so he is a good breed choice for families with children. However, children who want an active pet to retrieve balls or play soccer will be disappointed with a Pug. Adults should always supervise interactions between children and pets. 

For more information on the breed, please visit:

Pug Club of VictoriaPug Club of South Australia 
The Pug Dog Club of NSW

Rescue Groups 

Pugs are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Pugs in need of adoption and or fostering. 
If you'd like to re-home a Pug, please contact:

Pug Rescue and Adoption Victoria
Pugs SOS Inc.

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