Pug: Breed Profile, Health, and History

pug lying down on floor

The Pug… ahhhh what a sight. With their wrinkly little faces and adorable snores, it’s not hard to see why they’re popular pets. But did you know they’re actually one of the oldest dog breeds around?

Find out more about where these adorable companions originated from, what they love and hate, and what health issues you need to watch out for in our Pug breed profile.

Where the Pug originated from

Pugs are an ancient breed, with roots dating back as far as 400 B.C. according to the American Kennel Council.

Pugs originated in China, where they were bred to be companions to royalty and the wealthy. They were also kept by Buddhist monks in Tibet. Hearing that these wrinkly bundles of joy were bred specifically to be companions is probably no surprise to anyone who owns a Pug. While they’re far from working dogs, they’ll be your best friend for life.

From China, Pugs were then brought to Japan and eventually to Europe. Throughout history, they’ve been owned by notable and powerful figures like Prince William of Orange (who founded The Netherlands as we know it) and Queen Victoria.

So, Pug owners have definitely earned bragging rights. After all, your furkid was once reserved only for royalty!

Pug physical appearance

The Australian National Kennel Council breed standards for Pugs say they are “decidedly square and cobby” with a relatively large, round head. They belong to the Toy group, so are small in size and weigh 6-8 kilograms.

Pugs can be silver, apricot, fawn or black in colour, though fawn and black are the most common colours.

Pugs have ears which are “”thin, small and soft like black velvet.” Did you know they actually have two kinds of ears? The first is the ‘button ear’ where the ear flap folds forward and completely covers the ear opening. The second one is the ‘rose ear’ which is a small drop ear which folds forward but less so, and shows part of the inner ear.

The dog in the middle of the below photo has a rose ear, while the other two have button ears.

three pugs lying in a row

How long do Pugs live?

The average lifespan for a Pug is around 12-15 years. However, each dog is different and lifestyle factors can make a huge difference to their expected lifespan.

Our advice, no matter the breed of dog, is to always consult with your vet to take a proactive approach towards managing your dog’s health, diet, and lifestyle. Plus, regular check ups and consultation with your vet helps to contribute to improved vet mental health.

Pug personality and character

Thinking of getting a companion dog? If you’re looking for a dog who’s intelligent, loving, and friendly, then a Pug might be right up your street. They’re generally quiet and calm, and are laidback characters. This means they’re not prone to behaviours like barging, digging, or excessive chewing.

Though they’re playful and enjoy a game of tug from time to time, Pugs have fairly low exercise needs. If you’re one for the occasional stroll but don’t have any desire to get up at 6am for a run or a hike, your Pug will happily snuggle in bed with you and enjoy lazy weekends. In fact, they love sleeping and will want to be permanently attached to either a bed or couch – alongside you, of course.

Pugs also get on well with other dogs as well as kids and are sturdy and well-built enough to handle a little bit of rough and tumble. Though they’re small, they’re not frail. That said, read our article on kids and dogs to help foster a good relationship between the two-legged and four-legged children in the house.

What about their quirks? Pugs thrive on human attention and will be your most loyal friend. This means they don’t handle being left alone well. They’re sensitive and become easily attached so can suffer from pet separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. If you spend long hours away from the home, a Pug might not be the best choice of dog. And if you’re a light sleeper, keep in mind that they snore with the best of them.

Pugs can also have a stubborn streak, and it often manifests itself when you’re toilet training them. Read our advice on toilet training if you’re planning on getting a Pug.

What health issues do Pugs have?

It’s no secret purebred dogs can sometimes have health issues. Some breeds are known for this more than others.

Though Pugs have a good expected lifespan, there are a few conditions you need to watch out for as a responsible Pug parent.

First off, they’re prone to obesity, which can contribute to diabetes in dogs. Some low-intensity exercise and a carefully managed diet can help to control that. So back away from the high calorie treats, even if the puppy eyes are telling you not to!

Pugs also have very short muzzles. It’s part of their appeal and is very cute, but means that they struggle with hot and humid weather. If you live somewhere temperatures soar, you need to keep a close eye on them as they suffer heatstroke quite easily.

These same short muzzles make them prone to respiratory and breathing issues including Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS). Keeping them from overheating and ensuring they stay at a healthy weight can help to manage some of these problems.

Read about more health problems that Pugs are prone to here.

Dog insurance

Seeing as dogs don’t have purses or wallets, it’ll be yours that foots the bill for any medical treatment. To help put your mind at ease, consider a dog insurance plan for your Pug.

Paired with a good vet and proactive lifestyle management, you can help your dog to live a long healthy life.

How would you, like to proceed?

How would you, like to proceed?