With their round head, squashed nose and wrinkled facial features, Pugs are instantly recognisable. They have a long history dating back to ancient China where they were first bred to be a companion pet and were popular with Chinese emperors and the wealthy.
Pugs first appeared in Europe during the 16th Century and were developed as a breed in the Netherlands. They became increasingly popular after becoming the official dog of the Dutch Royal House, The House of Orange.
The breed was introduced to this country after William of Orange (King William III) and his wife Queen Mary II became King and Queen in 1688.
Pug temperament and characteristics
Despite being a small breed, Pugs are known for their big, lovable personalities and clownish antics. They were developed to be sociable companion dogs.
Pugs are loyal and affectionate dogs who enjoy interacting with their owners. They’re like little toddlers with their playful and mischievous behaviour which makes them great company for children and a perfect family pet.
These small, sturdy dogs are rarely aggressive and relatively easy to train.
Pugs are intelligent and sensitive and like to please their owners. They can sometimes be strong willed and stubborn but will respond well to strong, consistent training with lots of positive reinforcement.
This facial structure means their breathing passages tend to be small and compact. Pugs can have difficulty breathing when exercising, they are loud snorers and can have problems managing their body temperature which leads to heavy panting.
Pug colours and coats
Pugs have short, fine and glossy fur and they're double-coated. They come in a number of different colours that include:
Despite their short coats, Pugs shed a lot of hair. They should be brushed every week to help reduce the amount of hair in your home.
Pug exercise needs
Pugs don’t need a lot of exercise. They were originally bred as lapdogs and continue to be a low-maintenance companion breed. Half an hour each day or a couple of short walks will be more than enough for them.
They shouldn’t be overexercised, particularly during warmer weather as they can overheat. Games of fetch and tug of war are great alternative activities to help them stay healthy.
Pug health problems
Pugs are incredibly popular but they suffer from several serious health conditions linked to their body shape and facial features.
The appearance of Pugs has changed a lot over the last 150 years and their face today is the result of selective breeding and not natural evolution. Their snouts have been reduced in size which gives them their flat face.
Flat-faced dogs like pugs are known as brachycephalic.
In 2021 the top three health conditions we saw in Pug were:
Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS)
The most common health condition we saw in pugs in 2021 was a corneal ulcer. We paid 237 claims for this eye condition, costing on average £515.88.
All brachycephalic breeds are prone to this painful eye condition, but it's particularly common in Pugs. It's because their bulging eyes can be easily injured by dirt and debris and they aren't protected by a longer snout like other breeds would be.
Your Pug may have this condition if you notice they’re squinting or their eyes look red and are tearing. Corneal ulcers can be easily treated with medication but if left unchecked can lead to more serious eye problems and even blindness.
Other eye issues affecting Pugs include entropion (in-turned eyelid) which causes a deformity and discomfort on the eyelids and dry eye which prevents the eye from producing a normal amount of tears.
If you find your Pug is often panting or breathing heavily, you should visit your vet immediately. They can decide whether or not they should be treated for BOAS.
Skin disorders are the third most common condition in Pugs. Again, it's because of their shape and wrinkled skin, which is susceptible to allergies, as well as infections from yeasts and bacteria.
Skin infections often occur in the folds of skin around the face and tail and it’s important to clean the skin between these folds to prevent infection.
Typical signs of allergies include scratching and biting their skin. You may also notice bumps, rashes and skin sores.
Dermatitis is one of the most common skin issues that affect Pugs. It can develop due to a number of reasons, such as food allergies or something found in the home.
Another thing to watch out for with your Pug is obesity.
They love to eat and if their meals aren’t monitored they can quickly gain too much weight! Finding the right balance between their food intake and exercise is important for maintaining their overall health and weight.
Pugs have a reputation for passing gas (or farting). If the smell becomes too strong, you can always look at their meals and change the food they’re eating but always speak with a vet before making any major changes to their diet.
Pugs along with some other dog breeds are prone to hip dysplasia. It’s where the ball and socket in the joint don’t fit or develop properly. They rub and grind instead of sliding smoothly and the joint starts to deteriorate and lose function. The condition can affect the elbow joint and this is known as elbow dysplasia.
Signs of dysplasia include stiffness in the hips and elbows, lameness and difficulty getting up and lying down.
Pugs can also experience patella luxation. Patella luxation is where the knee cap (the patella) slips in and out of the groove it’s meant to sit in. When the patella dislocates out of this groove, it can stop the knee from extending properly.
Dysplasia and patella luxation can lead to pain and lameness in the affected joints and in the long run, can develop into arthritis. Treatment for these conditions often depends on the severity but in more serious cases, surgery may be needed.
All our policies cover conditions that ended at least two years ago.
Pet insurance for pugs can be expensive compared to other dog breeds. It's because they're significantly more likely to suffer from the health conditions already mentioned.
In 2021, the average cost to insure Pugs with ManyPets was £705.47, significantly more than our average dog insurance cost for all breeds of £474.77.
Because of their health issues, it’s better to start insuring Pugs when they’re puppies. With lifetime pet insurance policies any health conditions and illnesses can be covered throughout their life, for as long as you keep renewing.
Could you get cheaper pet insurance for your pug?
If you've got more than one pug, you might be able to cut costs with our multi-pet insurance. We have a discount of up to 15% for pets on the same policy. (Our multi-pet discount is not currently available on our Value 2k policy).
Choosing to pay a higher excess can help reduce your premiums as well, but it does mean having to pay more yourself if you do have to make a claim.
We also have a MoneyBack option. It'll give back 20% of your premium if you don't need to make a claim, but it'll still be there for you if your Pug does get poorly.
What to consider when choosing a Pug
When meeting a Pug breeder, make sure you're given evidence that the parents of the puppy you want have been health checked. You should always ask to see the results of any health tests before choosing your puppy.
Look at the features of both the parents and their puppies. Extreme characteristics such as a very squashed nose or overly large eyes could lead to later health problems.
Look for Pugs with a longer nose and less skin folds and pay close attention to their breathing when they’re moving or exercising. You want to ensure there is as little airway noise as possible.
Could pugs be banned?
In April 2022, the Blue Cross campaigned for a crackdown on irresponsible breeding of flat-faced breeds, including pugs.