Basic Pug Information

General Pug Information

If you are looking for a Pug, or want to know more about your Pug, there are some excellent and detailed web sites available. These are wonderful information portals, and one has interactive forums.

PugsCom, the best Pug site for casual owners.

The Pug Dog Club of America, a must for anyone considering showing and breeding their Pug.

Our information page is very general. The intent is to give you an idea what day-to-day life is like with a Pug and explain why breeding is best left to the professionals. This can help you determine if a Pug is right for you.

A booger shower every morning, get used to it.

Pugs have brachycephalic (short-head) skulls, including compressed sinus and oral cavities. They can’t control the fluids that leak from the sinus, they have wet noses, and they wipe their mucus and tears on their people. They also sneeze, part of a canine display of submissiveness, and they do this in greeting and in play. If you wear glasses, plan on cleaning them each time you are close to your Pug. Pugs can also learn to sneeze/blow on cue, even unintentionally, if you laugh or otherwise unconsciously encourage the behavior.

Plan on grooming every day, and not just brushing, but rather repulsive grooming.

As mentioned above, the Pug’s face is short and leaks. All that moisture collects in its wonderful nose and cheek wrinkles, which encourages growth of fungi and bacteria. Deep-wrinkled Pugs may require daily wrinkle cleaning. I use unscented Aloe vera baby wipes, and thoroughly clean the wrinkles until no more brown material shows on the cloth. I follow up with sterile cotton balls to dry the wrinkle. One must not leave any moisture in the wrinkles. Cotton swabs can cause eye damage, if the Pug moves an inch, one way or the other. Paper products can be too coarse for the delicate skin and will leave lint behind. The wrinkles can become dirty again in hours, as Pugs snuffle the floor and attract all kinds of filth to that wet face.

The same goes for those silken floppy ears, they tend to be moist inside. Pugs are prone to ear infections. I use a drying ear cleaner from my veterinarian. Depending on the season, I clean ears one or two times a week. I also clean ears immediately following a bath to remove any bathwater. Excessive head shaking can indicate an ear infection, cause to seek vet help immediately. Some active Pugs will shake toys when playing, and their earflaps snap like whips. The open wounds and scabs that result need treatment with prescription ointment.

Baths are not needed very often. Pugs should only be indoor dogs, so this addresses only indoor conditions. Pugs stay fairly clean. Frequent baths can dry and irritate the skin and as a result, damage the pelage.  I wash my Pugs once a month, on the same day, as they play together and become stinky at the same rate (one double-, one single-coat).  I place mineral oil drops in each eye to create a soap-proof protective film. I put cotton balls in the ears to keep water out, but they don’t always stay in through the entire bath process. One should be sure to rinse at least twice, as any shampoo residue will cause skin irritation. Scrub the rinse out well and test-pet for bubbles again before drying. A Pug needs two towels because of the dense hair. One towel will not do for even a single-coated Pug! I also use a blow dryer on low and warm settings to finish off, and my Pug really seems to enjoy this part. Remember to check your chosen chemical flea control’s instructions: some are ineffective if a bath is given 5 days before and after application of product.

Brushing can be done daily. It’s good bonding time. This helps reduce the shed hairs in your home, and stimulates natural oil production in the skin. Hard single-coats do not require brushing very often, but stroking the coat will loosen shed hairs effectively. Soft double-coats need routine attention, and they look and feel wonderful when tended frequently.

Pugs grow their claws quickly and need them trimmed regularly. This can take an hour, as many Pugs fight this process. It is weary work to train your Pug to accept nail clipping. Some people have had good results using a Dremel tool with a sanding drum bit.

Some Pugs need their anal glands to be squeezed by hand. Squeamish owners can pay a professional groom or vet to perform this procedure. It can be a frequent need, depending on the individual dog.

 If all this grooming sounds like more than you want to deal with, maybe the Pug isn’t the breed for you.

Pugs are prone to eye injury.

Many Pugs suffer disorders of the eye and require daily medication. Pugs should not be walked in tall grass or bushes because these will scratch the eyes. Other web sites go into great detail about eye problems, of which there are many. Only a little skin covers the eyeball, and they have no bony ridges to protect them and hold them in. Eyes can fall out of the socket and need surgery to be saved.

Allergies to foods, grass, and shampoos are common.

Your Pug may surprise you with an unexpected emergency in the form of allergic reactions. Insect bites and stings to the head, neck, or face can be fatal, seek vet attention immediately. Dosing with Benadryl is not enough. Many Pugs have sensitive stomachs and have to switch to a lamb and rice diet or homemade meals.  If your Pug has itchy skin and poor digestion, have your vet run a complete allergy profile.  The last time I checked, a very basic allergy panel ran about US$200+, and I am sure now it's much higher in other parts of the country. Are you prepared for expensive surprises like this?

Pugs were selected and “engineered” to be companion lap dogs.

Leaving a Pug in a boarding kennel for most of the time, or keeping it locked in a kennel at home, away from people, is going against their needs and nature. Pugs deserve to be in homes where the human to Pug ratio is balanced. They are supposed to be on your lap constantly, that is what they were bred for. Research into natural history of domesticated animals reveals that nobility also used lap dogs to warm their abdomens for pain relief. I can attest that a Pug makes a great heating pad, especially in bed, sleeping in the small of one’s back! Pugs desire nothing more than to be at least touching their human. If you work long hours away from your pet, a Pug is not a good choice. They develop psychological disorders when not allowed to do their job of constant companionship. If you can bring your pet to work with you, a Pug is a good choice. They learn to be quiet while you work, and are clean and friendly by nature. Some people are turned off by the Pug’s extreme “neediness”.

Birth defects and genetic disorders plague the Pug breed.

Selecting the right Pug for you is highly subjective. I won’t say never adopt a dog with known health problems, but be sure you are ready to commit to a lifetime of treatment and support. Keep a budget for vet bills. If you are able to rescue and support a Pug with a disorder, it is a great help to rescues and the Pug. Do take care to not bite off more than you can chew.

Several inherited diseases are fatal without surgical intervention. One disorder is neurological and always fatal. Other conditions are painful, irritating, and increase in severity as the pup ages. Careful selection and research of the pedigree can reduce (but not eliminate) the chances that the Pug you buy will have an undesirable genetic condition. If you are going to pay for a dog, of any breed, take the time to research its family and ask questions of the breeder. If you are not allowed to contact the actual breeder, you have reason to be suspicious. Responsible breeders stand behind their product (the puppy) and want to talk to you, to make sure you are the right home for their baby. A pet shop or newspaper classified ad is not likely to let you contact the actual breeder of the dog and ask for details about your Pug’s family health history. A pedigree is half the story, ask if both parents were OFA certified, and tested for genetic disorders. Ask about the puppy’s siblings and past litters, and then ask to speak to owners of those puppies. It sounds rather nosey, but you are better safe than sorry. It is always worth the wait to get a healthy Pug from a good breeder. Don’t just take a salesman’s word for it.

It’s hard to know an inferior-quality Pug when you see it,
because it may be the only Pug you see in person.

This is a concern for those looking to buy a show prospect, or wanting to breed Pugs. A lack of Pugs for comparison is a problem for new “students of Pug” in many regions of the country. Thankfully, the PDCA has created a photographic guide to the AKC Pug breed standard.

Beware of breeders who only send you photos of their puppies and not the parents. Reputable breeders are proud of their breeding dogs, they show photos freely. Pug puppies can be very misleading in person and in photos, showing little to no hint of their flaws at 4-8 weeks of age. They are all precious and perfect at that age! When a show prospect puppy is held back, for instance, it is kept for up to nine months to determine its true form and color. Considering it can take this long for an experienced breeder to assess a quality Pug puppy, it is rather foolish to take a stranger's word that their puppy is "show quality" at 4 weeks of age. This smacks of someone saying anything to make a sale; good breeders never have to rush their show prospects on anyone, they have waiting lists for them! Pugs morph quite a bit during the first year of their lives. If the breeder insists this is a high-price breeding and showing prospect at only a few weeks of age... buyer beware!

If you have trouble comparing the photos to the Pugs you have seen, try photographing Pugs from the side and front, like in the guide. Then compare the photos, and using a ruler, draw straight lines across the back and down the legs to show the ideal. You can teach yourself how to be an “amateur” Pug judge, if you practice with photos online and in books, and memorize the standard. If you are planning to breed, this is merely the starting point of your education. Conformation, or how an animal is put together, should be a major concern for anyone even considering breeding domestic animals. Your aim should be to improve the breed and create more high-quality Pugs, not to make a fast buck. Looking at a recent Pug weight online poll, it appears less than 20% of adult Pugs meet the breed standard for weight. That means about 80% of the Pugs out there are not ideal in at least that one (major) aspect. Look at the standard’s other requirements and then imagine how few Pugs are genuine show and breeding quality. What are the chances that the neighbor’s litter will include a show quality puppy? Now imagine how difficult it is to learn how to recognize the soft and undeveloped aspects of conformation in a puppy. Conformation judging and selection by standard (i.e., color and markings) are responsibilities not to be taken lightly or ignored.

Showing is the widely accepted method to get other experienced Pug breeders’ opinions of your selected Pug. Before you choose your Pug, contact a dog club near you for more information.

If you plan to breed for companion animals, not show, there are already Pug rescues serving many Pugs that were bred this way. They aren’t any less lovable, but they often have genetic disorders that make them difficult to keep comfortable and to adopt. If you start out with the best possible stock for your kennel, you are giving your puppies the best chance for a remarkable and happy life, and enriching the lives of their humans. Isn’t that the point?

Please don’t litter. Spay and neuter your pets. We've had many inquiries about breeding Pugs, over the years. Yes, Li and Mei are very pretty little Pugs, we love them very much, and they are spayed. This surprises most web visitors, but I know their limitations regarding standard and inheritance. Mei is shy, smutty in color, and has a fiddle-front, to begin with... PeiChiLi had generalized Demodecosis as a puppy and has a very roached back.   If you are unfamiliar with these terms and what they actually look like, please consider waiting and learning more before breeding Pugs. We want the breed to be preserved and improved, which is why we are showing our boy: getting qualified judge's opinions at AKC conformation shows, and getting educated about the breed. After *hopefully* finishing (earning the Champion title), our goal is to pursue Obedience and/or Agility titles, as suits the individual. Pugs are meant to be companions, so it is wise to measure their minds, as well as form, before breeding. Yet another step follows: testing for the various health certifications. While all of this is underway, we research pedigrees and MUCH more on our own time, to make informed decisions. This is a serious responsibility and the best should be your only target- aim high or don't breed at all. So many loving, but homeless, pet Pugs are in foster care all over the USA right now, that there is no reason to breed for just pet quality.