Pug Breed Highlights

A tan and black pug lying in bed under the covers

  • “Multum in parvo,” a Latin phrase meaning “much in little” is referenced in the American Kennel Club’s breed standard for the Pug. It’s a perfect description of the Pug’s temperament — a lot of charm and personality in a small body!

  • Truly an ancient breed, the Pug is believed to have been around since at least 400 B.C., and were kept as pets of Buddhist monks in Tibet.

  • Pug noises are out of this world — a Pug named Gyoza provided the alien-like sounds for the video game ‘Halo Infinite.’

  • Put a group of these dogs together and you’ve got what’s called a “grumble” of Pugs.

  • Where did Pugs get their unique name? Most likely related to their wrinkly flat face, one theory suggests the name Pug comes from the Latin word “pugnus,” which means “fist.” If you don’t think their face resembles a closed fist, another theory traces the name back to the Marmoset monkeys kept as pets in the 1700s. These monkeys were also referred to as Pugs, who shared similar features and expressions.

  • Pugs have a long history of royal positions. Companions of ancient Chinese emperors, they were also the official breed of the Dutch House of Orange. Napoleon's wife, Josephine, owned a Pug named Fortune, and Queen Victoria of England was a prolific breeder of Pugs.

  • When the Roman Catholic Church banned its followers from joining the Freemasons in the mid-1700s, a secret pre-Masonic group called the Order of the Pug was formed in Germany. The breed was chosen as their mascot because it was loyal and trustworthy. New members were rumored to be initiated into the group by having to wear a dog collar and scratch at the door for entry. They were then paraded around blindfolded while the other members barked loudly at them.

Unique Physical Features

Illustration of a tan pug dog

  • Brachycephalic (flat-face and broad skull)

  • Big round eyes

  • Curled tail (often with a double curl)

  • Wrinkled face and wrinkles along on their back

Unique Personality

Black pug dog illustration

A Pug certainly knows how to prioritize — their people and food are their favorite things! Entertaining and fun-loving, this breed knows how to put on the charm. Their expressive features will attract lots of attention, and they will do anything for treats. Pugs take their job of companionship seriously and want to be close to their people. If you love snuggling up with a snorting, snuffling, and snoring (and often gassy) pup, a Pug is a dog for you.

Preferred Lifestyle

Energy Level

dog energy level - low (couch potato) to medium (mall walker)

With Kids

Icon - outline of a little boy and girl

This breed is sturdy and energetic, making them an excellent choice for families with children.

With Other Pets

Icon - cat and dog outline

When properly socialized as a puppy, Pugs enjoy the companionship of other animals in the home.

Environment

Icon - outline of a house

Pugs make lovely dogs for apartment living and city life but will adapt to any home environment (as long as they are near their people).

Average Lifespan
(Range)

12 to 15 years

Average Size
(Range)

Small:

  • 14 - 18 pounds
  • 10 - 13 inches tall

Breed Group

Toy

Similar Breeds

History of the Pug

A small black pug sitting on a park bench with his tongue sticking out

The Pug can be traced back to 400 B.C., living as a pet of Tibetan Buddhist monks. The Chinese developed a few different dog breeds to act as companions and guard dogs of royalty, and the Pug excelled in this role. A favorite dog of the Song Dynasty in the late 1st century and early 2nd century, Pugs remained a treasure found exclusively in Asia until the 16th century. These flat-faced dogs were known as Lo-sze.

Introduced to Europe by Dutch traders in the 1500s, they became quite popular with royal houses. Reportedly, a Pug named Pompey saved the life of Willam I, the Prince of Orange, when he barked to alert him of approaching assassins. This act led to the breed being adopted as the official mascot of the House of Orange. You can see a Pug resting at the feet of William’s statue in the city of Delft.

The Pug made its way to England with William III and Mary II in 1688, and the breed continued to thrive. Pugs spread throughout Europe and were often referred to as the Dutch Mastiff. Even Josephine Bonaparte, Napoleon's wife, was the owner of a Pug named Fortune.

Pugs truly exploded in popularity during the 1800s, due to the breed being a favorite of Queen Victoria, who bred many of her own. Crossing the pond to the United States, Pugs wriggled their way into the homes and hearts of Americans quite quickly. The American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed in 1885. Only one Pug has ever won Best in Show at Westminster — a Pug named Dhandys Favorite Woodchuck took the top spot in 1981.

Changes Over Time

The Pug breed helped in the development of more modern dog breeds, such as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and French Bulldog. Most recently, the Pug was crossed with the Beagle to create a popular designer breed called the Puggle.

This breed has gone through some notable and detrimental physical changes over time. Pugs depicted in paintings and sculptures before the late 1800s show a breed with a much more pronounced muzzle and longer legs. It wasn’t until an infusion of Pugs imported from China in the 1860s that the shorter legs and flatter face became the norm. This period was also when black colored Pugs became fashionable, thanks to Lady Brassey of England bringing black Pugs back home with her from China in 1886.

Pug Behavior and Training

Specifically bred to be a companion, Pugs are eager to please and a joy to train. This breed is very playful, so making training fun and playing games will build a positive relationship between you and your Pug. They’re very food motivated, so care must be taken to not overfeed during training as pugs can quickly become overweight.

TRAINER TIP

Use portions of your Pug’s daily food ration as training rewards, or cut down their regular food intake to balance their training treat intake.

TRAINING MYTH

Many people describe Pugs as being a “stubborn” breed and hard to train. It all comes down to knowing what motivates them and using that to your advantage. Pugs are an inquisitive and confident breed, meaning they might want to explore or chase after a squirrel more than they want to listen to you. With positive reinforcement training methods and consistency, a Pug can be a well-trained member of your family.

Pugs can also be sensitive to harsh scolding or yelling. Punishments, whether verbal or physical, not only damage the relationship between a Pug and their owner but also tend not to work in the long run. Often, it creates long-term behavioral issues. Train your Pug puppy from a young age, and focus on teaching them what to do to set them up for a lifetime of success.

Plays Well with Others?

  • Pugs are a social breed and attract lots of attention from passers-by. It’s essential to give them proper proactive exposure to new sights, sounds, people, dogs, and other animals as a young puppy to set them up for successful social interactions.

TRAINER TIP

Pair meeting new people or animals with high-value training treats or a favorite toy, and keep introductions short and sweet so it doesn’t get overwhelming.


  • This breed is a favorite choice for families with children, as they are quite sturdy for a small dog and playful. Make sure to socialize your Pug as a puppy, with children of all ages, to build their social skills. Young children and dogs should always be supervised, and it’s helpful for a dog to have their own “safe space” where they can go when they need some quiet time.

  • If a Pug has been properly socialized since puppyhood, they do quite well with other dogs and animals in the home. Their playstyle can be rough-and-tumble, so playtime should be supervised to make sure playmates don’t get overwhelmed and everyone is having a good time.
Graphic - bouncing red ball image

Exercise Requirements

Pugs are an active breed and need daily exercise. Their love of food means it’s important to keep them at a healthy weight. Due to their flat-faces and breathing difficulties, it’s essential to make sure they don’t overdo it. A little outside playtime or short walks are a great way to keep a Pug healthy.

Never exercise your Pug in warmer temperatures or when it’s humid outside, and provide lots of breaks and water. They should always be monitored for heatstroke symptoms, which include: rapid panting, drooling, bright red tongue or gums, and trouble breathing.

VETERINARIAN TIP

If a Pug has narrowed nostrils, a component of Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (BAS), some people will elect to have a surgical procedure done to widen the nostrils (and correct other potential anatomical abnormalities of BAS) to improve their dog’s ability to breathe.

Mental Enrichment Needs

Pugs need mental enrichment, not only to stay entertained but also to help prevent separation anxiety. Teach your Pug new tricks, attend obedience classes, join a dog sport, and provide dog puzzles and interactive toys. Feeding our Pug’s regular meals from a food puzzle helps to burn energy and prevents them from inhaling their food too fast. Pug puppies benefit greatly from these enrichment activities, and it helps to prevent unwanted puppy chewing and other behaviors.

Common Behavioral Issues

Since Pugs were bred specifically as companion dogs, they are prone to separation anxiety and isolation distress. They can be taught as a puppy that being away from their human is nothing to worry about. Spending some time on this potential problem early on will save you and your Pug many anxious days. Some Pug owners will get a second Pug to keep the first company. This doesn’t always work to help with separation anxiety, but can help with isolation distress.

TRAINER TIP

Any time you leave your Pug alone, pull out a frozen stuffed Kong or another yummy treat toy. When you return (even if only after thirty seconds), put it away until next time. This will help your Pug learn that when you’re gone, awesome stuff happens, and they’ll make a positive association with your absence.

Fun Activities the Pug Enjoys

Little black and grey pug dog illustration

Pugs do well in many different activities:

  • Therapy Dog Work

  • Rally Obedience

  • Trick Training

  • Conformation (dog shows)

  • Small Dog Agility

Pug Coat Type

Pugs have a short, dense, and soft coat. The breed comes in only two colors: fawn (a cream body with a black mask and ears) and black. Black Pugs have a single layer coat, while fawn Pugs can have either a single coat or a double coat. No matter what type of coat a Pug has, they are known to be quite the shedders!

Shedding Level

dog shedding level - 4 of 5 piles of fur

4 out of 5 piles of fur

Grooming Requirements

  • Weekly brushing
  • Regular bathing

TRAINER TIP

Introduce your Pug puppy to the grooming experience from a young age to create a positive association that will make lifelong grooming easy.

Weekly brushing will help keep a Pug’s skin and coat healthy and manage their shedding. Regular bathing is recommended for this breed as well, with special care to keep their face wrinkles clean and dry, to keep the yeast and bacterial populations in check, and prevent uncomfortable and recurrent infections.

Best Brush for a Pug: Bristle brush

Famous Owners of the Pug

  • Rob Zombie (Singer/Director)

  • Jessica Alba (Actress)

  • Hugh Laurie (Actor)

  • Gerard Butler (Actor)

  • Ted Danson & Mary Steenburgen (Actors)

  • Queen Victoria (Royalty)

  • Dennis Quaid (Actor)

  • Anna Faris (Actress)

  • James Taylor (Singer)

  • Billy Joel (Singer)

Famous Pugs

Doug the Pug

Pugs in Books, Movies and TV

  • Percy from Pocahontas

Otis from The Adventures of Milo and Otis

Frank from Men in Black

Non-Endorsement Statement: The social media posts displayed here do not imply any endorsement of these people or products, nor does it imply they endorse Trupanion or our product.

Common Health Conditions for the Pug Breed

Use the chart of Trupanion claims data below to find out what health conditions happen most frequently for Pugs. Every Pug is unique, but understanding what health conditions are likelier to occur can help you be a more prepared pet owner.

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Trupanion member Kelly

Kelly

Groton, CT

Condition: Sarcoma

The Trupanion policy paid: $18,522.39

"My golden Kelly was young when I found a softball-sized lump on Kelly’s left hind leg. Four weeks straight of radiation, six rounds of chemo and checkups every three months, including x-rays and full blood panel were needed. Because of Trupanion, I didn’t have to address the biggest deciding factor that most people face—can I afford this? I can honestly say Kelly is alive today because of the financial support Trupanion provided."

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Axl

Ontario, Canada

Condition: Pneumonia, Hip Dysplasia, Lameness

The Trupanion policy paid: $2,084.01

"At two, our German shepherd Axl was diagnosed with pneumonia. Trupanion took care of all our financial concerns. At four, his hip issues led to pain medications, rehabilitation and rest, which all resulted in improved pain-free movement. I’m so grateful that we chose a plan that not only covers the cost of his treatment but also any physical therapy or rehabilitation he may need."

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Trupanion member Bella

Bella

Ellijay, GA

Condition: Cushing’s disease, tumor, cruciate rupture

The Trupanion policy paid: $15,283.83

"Bella was treated for Cushing’s disease and a pituitary tumor with radiation therapy. Had we not had insurance for her, the decision for her medical care would have been more difficult, as each treatment was expensive. However, because we have Trupanion, these decisions were easier. Rather, we could focus our attention on her treatment and recovery instead of the financial impact these procedures would have on our family."

- Jason P.

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