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Pug Breed Summary

Sweet, Docile, Humorous, Needy Pooches

This breed may be small but is definitely mighty! Especially considering that they originated in China, as far back as 206 A.D., living in luxury accommodation (sometimes even guarded by soldiers!). It’s also thought that the wrinkles on their cute faces bought good luck in the Chinese language! During the 1500’s and very early 1600’s, these pooches were bought to Europe via Dutch Traders, under the name ‘Mopshond’, which is still used to this day. They quickly became favourites of a variety of Royal families in Europe, in particular in Holland, where the Pug became the official dog of the royal family! They became increasingly popular during the reign of Queen Victoria and were often featured in paintings and postcards. The word ‘Pug’ is actually Latin for ‘fist’ and it’s thought this name came about due to this breeds face resembling a human fist!

Kennel Club Group Toy
Lifespan 12-15 years
Height (at the withers) 15-25cm (10-14 inches) (both Males and Females)
Weight 6.3-8.1kg(14-18lbs) (both Males and Females)
Coat Short, Soft, Smooth and Glossy
Colour Silver, Apricot, Fawn or Black. All colours should have Black Muzzles, Masks, Ears, and Facial Spots
Eye colour Brown
Common health issues Breathing Problems; Eye Prolapse; Skin Infections; Hip Dysplasia
Other Names Chinese Pug; Dutch Bulldog; Dutch Mastiff; Mini Mastiff; Mops; Carlin

Known as ‘the clowns of the Canine World’, this breed is well-known for its humorous and comical nature. They love to show off and were originally bred to be lap dogs, thus they love to be with us ‘hoomans’. Without enough human attention, they are prone to feeling at a loss, and becoming depressed, so it’s vital you have enough time for your little guy! One issue with these little guys is that they are very headstrong, making training a little more difficult than with other dogs. But if you do manage to get them well-trained and socialised, they will also get on well with other animals and children. They also make an excellent pet for someone living in an apartment, due to their small size and docile lifestyle. Just make sure to keep an extra eye on them when it gets very hot or cold as this weather doesn’t fit well with their flat faces, and they should be kept inside at all costs.

The Pug has a long and illustrious history. One of three types of short-nosed breeds that were developed by the Chinese, it’s believed that they date back to the Han dynasty, which began in 206BC. Originally bred as companions for the Chinese elite, they were so highly valued that, at one time, anyone who owned a Pug that had not been given to them by the emperor, would be put to death. The royal dogs were kept in luxury, and protected by the palace guards. Over time, the breed spread across Asia, and it is known that the Buddhist monks of Tibet kept them as pets. There is also evidence that the dog was known in Japan. 

Ancient names for the breed included Foo, Fu dog, Lo-Chafing-See, Lo-Chafing, and Pia dog. The name Pug has several possible origins: it may come from the Latin word Pugnus, meaning fist, or it may have been an 18th century nickname for a monkey or dog, perhaps reflecting their mischievous nature. 

It was when China began trading with Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, that the Pug reached the continent. It’s believed that the first Pugs were brought to Europe by Dutch traders. It was they who named the breed Mopshond, a name that is still used today.

This little dog soon became a favourite breed among the royal households of Europe. Some even became intertwined in those families’ histories. The Dutch House of Orange adopted the Pug as their official dog after one supposedly saved the life of Prince William of Orange, when he warned that the Spanish were approaching. William went on to become King William III of England in 4688, and he and his wife Mary II brought their four-legged companions with them. 

Elsewhere in Europe, the Spanish artist Goya depicted Pugs in his artwork, and in Italy they rode on the front of carriages, wearing outfits that matched the coachman’s livery. A Pug was famously used by Josephine Bonaparte, prior to her marriage to Napoleon, to carry hidden messages to her family when she was imprisoned, and Marie Antoinette also owned some. As feisty little characters, the Pug was also used as guard dogs, and in the military. 

Queen Victoria, an avid dog lover, also fell in love with the breed’s charms, and bred many of her own, preferring the apricot and fawn colours. Her grandson King George V and great-grandson King Edward VIII also owned Pugs. 

When looking at paintings of the breed from the 18th and 19th centuries, they appear to have longer legs and noses. The modern appearance of the Pug with its short legs and distinctive nose came about in the 1860s when new bloodlines were imported from China. The black pug became fashionable after Lady Brassey brought some from China in 1886. Pugs were first shown in 1861, and the first stud book was produced in 1871. 

The Pug was one of the first breeds to be recognised by the Kennel Club, thanks to their royal admirers. It didn’t arrive in America until after the Civil War, but was recognised by the AKC in 1885. Although its popularity declined for a while, it is now listed among the top 20 most popular breeds.