With their round heads, squashed noses, and wrinkled facial features, Pugs are instantly recognizable. They have a long history dating back to ancient China, where they were first bred to be companion pets 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 the UK after William of Orange (King William III) and his wife, Queen Mary II, became King and Queen in 1688. Pugs arrived in the United States in the 19th century. The breed was first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885.
Pug temperaments 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 behavior, which makes them great company for children and the perfect family pet.
These small, sturdy dogs are rarely aggressive and relatively easy to train.
Pugs are intelligent and sensitive, and they like to please their owners. They can sometimes be strong-willed and stubborn, but they'll respond well to strong, consistent training with lots of positive reinforcement.
Their facial structure means their breathing passages tend to be small and compact. Pugs can have difficulty breathing when exercising and tend to be loud snorers. They can also have problems managing their body temperature, which often leads to heavy panting.
Pug colors and coats
Pugs have short, fine, and glossy fur, and they're double-coated. They come in a number of different colors 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 of exercise each day or a couple of short walks will be more than enough for them.
They shouldn’t be over-exercised, 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 very 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 rather than natural evolution. Their snouts have been reduced in size, which gives them their flat face. Flat-faced dogs like pugs are known as “brachycephalic.”
If you notice your pug squinting, or if their eyes look red and are tearing up, they might be suffering from a corneal ulcer or a corneal injury. All brachycephalic breeds are prone to these painful eye conditions, but they're particularly common in Pugs. Their bulging eyes can easily be injured by dirt and debris, and they aren't protected by a longer snout like other breeds.
In 2022, ManyPets received Pug claims for corneal injuries that ran as high as about $520. We received claims for corneal ulcers that ran as high as about $260.
Corneal ulcers can easily be treated with medication, but they can lead to more serious eye problems and even blindness if left unchecked.
Another eye issue affecting Pugs is entropion (in-turned eyelid) which causes a deformity of the eyelids and resulting discomfort. Entropion also causes dryness in the eye, which prevents the eye from producing a normal amount of tears.
Making a lot of noise while breathing, even when resting
Difficulty breathing and exercising
Difficulty with sleeping (often including snoring)
BOAS can make it hard for Pugs to pant and cool themselves down. This can become a serious problem in warm weather, as they’re at risk of overheating. In 2022, ManyPets received Pug claims for heat stroke that ran as high as about $860.
If you find your Pug is often panting or breathing heavily, you should visit your veterinarian immediately. Your vet can decide whether or not they should be treated for BOAS.
Skin disorders are another common condition in Pugs. This is because of their body shape and their wrinkled skin, which is susceptible to allergies and infections from yeasts and bacteria.
Skin infections often occur in the folds of skin around the face and tail; it’s important to clean the skin between these folds to prevent infection.
Typical signs of skin allergies include scratching and biting of the 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 an irritant found in the home.
Another condition 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 also have an unfortunate reputation for passing a lot of gas. If the smell becomes too strong, you can consider changing 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 particularly prone to hip dysplasia. This is when the ball and socket in the joint don’t fit together or develop properly. They rub and grind instead of sliding smoothly, and the joint starts to deteriorate and lose function. The condition can also affect the elbow joint, 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 patellar luxation (AKA luxating patella). This is when 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.
Hip dysplasia and patellar luxation can lead to pain and lameness in the affected joints. In the long run, these issues can develop into arthritis.
Treatment for these conditions often depends on the severity, but in more serious cases, surgery may be needed. These surgeries don't come cheap. Surgery for patellar luxation can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 per knee. And surgery for dysplasia can often cost more than $3,500 per hip or elbow.
How much does dog insurance cost for Pugs?
Pet insurance for Pugs can be expensive compared to some other dog breeds. This is because Pugs are significantly more likely than many other breeds to suffer from the health conditions we’ve mentioned.
In 2022, the average cost to insure Pugs with ManyPets was $50 per month. By comparison, our average dog insurance cost across all breeds and ages was $37 per month.
Keep in mind, these are just averages based on data from all customer premiums, including the pricier ones. Your pet's age and location will heavily affect your monthly price, and it's possible your premium will differ from the average—learn more about insuring your Pug.
In 2022, the average claim ManyPets received for Pugs was $324—but we received Pug claims that ran as high as about $1,400.
Because of the breed's health issues, it’s a good idea to purchase dog insurance when your Pug is still a puppy. That way, you're far less likely to run into any pre-existing condition exclusions, and your dog will still be covered if conditions develop later in their life.
Some pet insurance companies place annual or lifetime limits on reimbursement — which means you could run out of coverage when you need it, especially if your dog is particularly prone to illness. ManyPets policies don’t have any such limits, and a no-limit pet insurance plan is a great investment for Pug owners.
The main benefit of breed mixing is that it reduces the risk of inheriting some of the hereditary diseases to which Pugs are prone. Some of the most popular pug crosses are:
Puggles make excellent family pets. They combine the skills and intelligence of a Beagle with the playfulness and energy of a Pug.
Jug: A mix between a Pug and a Jack Russell Terrier.
Jugs are a rare mix that have been bred to retain the basic features of a Pug but with a slightly longer nose to reduce breathing problems. Jugs are more active and energetic than Pugs; a trait inherited from the Jack Russell Terrier. Their outgoing personality makes them great family dogs.
Bugg: A mix between a Pug and a Boston Terrier.
Breeders of Buggs have aimed for a physical appearance similar to that of the Pug. Both parent breeds are known for their good nature, and Buggs are usually gentle and friendly. But they're still prone to health problems, as both parents have flat faces and large eyes. They need moderate levels of exercise but are intelligent and have a lot of energy, which makes them great for families and kids.
Playful, loyal, and small, the Chug has some of the best traits of both of its parent breeds. They’re definitely house dogs, just like Pugs and Chihuahuas. A small breed, they have a lot of personality. They can be very confident and behave like much larger dogs.
What to consider when choosing a Pug
When meeting a Pug breeder, make sure they give you 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 longer noses and fewer skin folds, and pay close attention to their breathing when they’re moving or exercising. You’ll want to ensure there is as little airway noise as possible.
Frequently asked questions about Pugs
Are Pugs hypoallergenic?
Definitely not. In fact, they're known to shed a lot of hair.
How many puppies do Pugs have?
The average size of a Pug litter is between four to six puppies, but litter sizes can vary.
Some litters can be as small as one or two puppies. At the larger end of the scale, a litter can be as big as nine or 10 puppies.
Can Pugs be left alone?
Pugs are companion dogs and enjoy the company of their owners. They can sometimes experience separation anxiety.
Pugs shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time, and if they are left alone for longer periods they should be left with plenty of toys to keep them active.
When do Pugs stop growing?
Pugs reach their full size at around nine months but may continue to fill out until they are a year old.
Where does the name 'Pug' come from?
The name most likely comes from the Marmoset monkeys which were also known as Pug monkeys.
Marmosets were popular pets in the early 1700s and their faces look a bit like Pugs' faces.