The Pug is one of the Top 10 most popular dog breeds in the UK, captivating the nation with its small frame, wrinkly face, and jolly demeanour. Originally from China, this toy dog is exclusively bred as a companion dog and is suitable for all family types.

A Brief History

The Pug is an ancient breed of dog that originated in China, where it was bred as a companion dog for Chinese nobility. Reports of this little dog in Europe date back to 16th-century Holland, where it is believed to have been imported by the Dutch East India Company. Subsequently, the breed became popular with the European courts, with many nobles, such as Joséphine de Beauharnais and Marie-Antoinette, having Pugs as companions. 

The Pug even became the official dog of the House of Orange in the Netherlands, and William of Orange brought his Pugs with him to the UK when he succeeded to the English throne in 1688. There they gained the attention of British nobility. Queen Victoria famously owned several pugs and passed her passion on to her son, King George V, and her grandson, Edward VIII, the Duke of Windsor. Pugs finally made it across the pond to America during the 19th century and the breed was officially recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1885.

Physical Characteristics

The Pug is a small breed dog with a characteristically brachycephalic muzzle (flat face). There is no notable difference between the size of male and female Pugs. In adulthood, Pugs measure between 30 and 38cm at the withers and weigh between 6 and 8kg.

The Kennel Club classifies the Pug in The Toy Breed Group, which consists of small companion or lap dogs.

Body: The Pug has a short body with a broad chest and well-sprung ribs.

Head: The head is relatively large and round with a flat top. The muzzle is short, blunt, and square, with clearly defined wrinkles on the forehead.

Ears: The ears are small, thin, and very soft. There are two kinds: “button ear” which folds forward and “rose ear” which folds over and back.

Eyes: The eyes are dark, relatively large, and round.

Tail: The tail is set high and curled over the hip. A double curl is highly desirable.

Coat: The coat is short, fine, smooth, soft, and glossy.

Colour: The breed standard recognises four colours: Silver, Apricot, Fawn, and Black.

Pug Temperament

The Kennel Club breed standard defines Pugs as even-tempered, happy, and lively. They are also very intelligent and playful dogs, born clowns, who are always cheerful and in good spirits. Extremely gentle and affectionate, Pugs develop a strong attachment to their owners, from whom they don’t like to be apart. They make great playmates for children with whom they love to have fun! However, Pugs are not very athletic and high-intensity activity is not recommended due to their flat face. Despite their small size, Pugs do display a stubborn side which can make them slightly difficult to train.

Do Pugs Get Along Well with Others?

The Pug is a sociable dog breed that gets along very well with other dogs, other pets, and humans. These doggies are quite happy in the company of children and are suitable for all types of families. Pugs don’t usually have an issue cohabiting with cats, either. Nonetheless, be sure to socialise your Pug puppy well from an early age. Being very friendly and sociable by nature means the Pug does not make a good guard dog, but the breed’s tiny size should disqualify them from this role in any case.

Is a Pug the Right Dog for Me?

Yes, Pugs are suitable for everyone! Couples, singles, with or without kids, the elderly...  the list goes on! The Pug may be slightly more suited to homebodies who don't exercise too much, however, as this little dog isn’t cut out for strenuous activity. In general, Pugs are indoor dogs who love being at home with all their creature comforts. Their favourite pastime is taking a nap on the sofa!

Pug Health Problems

The average lifespan of the Pug is between 12 and 15 years, which is about average for a dog this size; small breed dogs are known to live longer than large dogs. However, unfortunately, the Pug is affected by certain health problems, common to brachycephalic breeds. They are especially at risk of respiratory failure and chronic hypoxia. The wrinkles and folds of the face require special monitoring to prevent the onset of pyoderma, a painful bacterial skin infection. Also, pay attention to your dog’s eyes; Pugs have very sensitive eyes which are prone to infection and cataracts. The Pug is also prone to primary epilepsy.

Ideal Living Conditions for a Pug

The Pug is perfectly suited to apartment living! In fact, most dog breeds can adapt to city life, but for the Pug specifically, a small surface area won't matter at all. This is an indoor dog breed that is not very athletic and will be content with short, quiet walks that don’t tire it out too quickly. Of course, the Pug will also be quite happy in a house with a garden. These doggies are highly adaptable and can thrive in the city or countryside alike.

Pug Training

Despite their cute, friendly appearance, Pugs do have a stubborn side. They are quite strong-willed little doggies, which can make training your Pug a little tricky. However, it is still fairly simple, provided you have a good understanding of dog training and are never violent or unfair towards your dog. Begin training your new puppy as soon as you welcome them home, at the age of two months. Base your approach on rewards, not punishment. Reward positive behaviours with healthy dog treats or cuddles, ignore bad behaviour, and above all be patient. Pugs love to please their owners! Take advantage of this trait to get the most out of your little furball. You should always take dog training seriously, even for a small dog like the Pug.


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Diet: What to Feed Your Pug

The dog food that you feed your Pug plays an essential role in their health. First and foremost, understand that you can’t feed a small dog the same way you would feed a large breed dog. Although all doggies have similar nutritional needs overall, it’s important to take the specificities of each individual into account. Also, bear in mind the fact that your dog's dietary needs are likely to change as they get older, and may need adapting according to their age and health condition. Opt for high-quality dog food, whether it's dry dog food, wet dog food, or a mixture of the two. If you can, avoid buying the industrial dog food found in supermarkets, as much as possible. Learn how to decipher product labels to understand exactly what you're feeding your dog, and be sure to choose a healthy composition that contains at least 25 to 28% animal protein. Be wary of added preservatives and other sweeteners. Don’t hesitate to use food supplements for dogs to address specific health problems (upon veterinary advice): prebiotics and probiotics for digestion; green-lipped mussel powder for joint pain; etc.

If you have the time and the budget, you can try feeding your pooch homemade dog food or a BARF diet. Homemade dog food is food that you prepare yourself from cooked meat and vegetables. This type of diet gives you complete control over what goes into your dog’s bowl. The BARF diet, on the other hand, consists of raw meat, raw eggs, and cooked vegetables. Be careful when choosing vegetables for your dog, as some human foods are particularly toxic to dogs (like garlic and onion, for example). Always seek advice from your vet before changing your dog's food or implementing a BARF diet.

Pug Care and Maintenance

  • Vaccines: between £30 to £60 for the first injection series, plus annual boosters

  • Dog food: from £20 to £50 per month for high-quality dog food

  • Monthly budget: minimum £50 per month

Thanks to their short coat, grooming your Pug is pretty straightforward and does not require a big investment on your part. Outside of moulting periods (spring and autumn), brush your Pug regularly, a few times per week. Up the frequency of brushing to once a day during moulting periods. While brushing, check that your pooch does not have any parasites hidden in their fur. Remember to regularly apply antiparasitic treatments as well, to prevent your dog from getting infested with fleas and ticks. This will also help to avoid skin problems. You only need to wash your dog once or twice a year unless they get particularly dirty. The Pug's big, round eyes need a little more attention. Clean them regularly with saline solution. The folds of your Pug’s face should also be cleaned habitually to prevent infection.

Pug Price

The average price of a Pug puppy is between £1000 and £2500 in the UK. This price difference can be explained by various factors. Dogs intended for exhibition or reproduction, or that come from a champion line, often go for a higher price. You also have to consider the laws of supply and demand; demand for the breed greatly influences the price. The more popular the breed, the longer the waiting list to adopt, and the fewer puppies available for adoption. Breeders can therefore afford to charge more. Buying a purebred dog always involves a significant budget, which not everyone has. But there are other options if you’re looking to adopt a dog. Avoid puppy farms and black-market breeders which, although cheaper, often provide their puppies with poor living conditions which can lead to health and behavioural issues in the long run. Instead, why not call your local dog shelter or animal rescue centre, where you may just find a Pug or other toy breed dog in need of a loving home.

Pug Sleep

Pugs are definitely not suited to sleeping outdoors. They need to sleep inside the home, in a dog bed adapted to their size. This dog breed is sensitive to both heat and the cold. So, leaving your Pug out at night would pose a great, unnecessary danger to their health. Being a small and popular breed, you could also risk having them stolen from you in the night. Malicious persons would have no trouble running off with a small dog like the Pug! Create a sleeping area for your Pug in a quiet spot, such as the corner of the living room. Your dog needs to be able to rest without fear of being disturbed. If you have children, teach them to respect your dog's sleeping habits. We don’t recommend allowing your dog to sleep in your bedroom with you, as this can lead to them developing an over-attachment to you and, subsequently, suffering from separation anxiety.

Games and Physical Activities for Your Pug

The Pug is far from energetic or active. These doggies do not have great stamina. On the contrary, too much exercise is actually dangerous for your Pug, especially when the temperature starts to rise. This doesn't mean that your pooch doesn't need to stretch their paws, though. It’s important to take your Pug out every day to allow them to poop, stretch their legs, and meet new people.

At home, make sure you have enough games and toys to occupy your dog in your absence. The Pug is an intelligent little dog, who loves brain games like puzzles. It's important to never leave your Pug alone for too long, however. Like all dogs, they need regular interaction and will quickly become unhappy without it, and develop problematic behaviours such as chewing on the furniture and barking. Boredom in dogs can also lead to depression, which will have serious consequences on the health and wellbeing of your Pug.

Pet Insurance: Protecting Your Pug

Pet insurance is not compulsory for a small dog breed like the Pug. This dog breed is not considered a dangerous dog breed, like the Pit Bull, for example. However, taking out a pet insurance policy for your dog helps to cover you in the event of accident or illness. Accidents can happen quickly and you would be held responsible for any damage or harm caused to a third party by your dog. Even if your dog is small and not likely to cause serious harm, it could get away from you and be the cause of a traffic accident. Pet insurance is a great way to make sure you're not hit with any nasty surprises. Most home insurance policies offer the option to include animal liability insurance. You can also purchase third-party public liability dog insurance for extra protection.

Additionally, due to their small size and squashed brachycephalic face, Pugs are subject to certain health problems. Pet insurance for your Pug is a great way to make sure they get the healthcare they deserve throughout their life. Vet fees are not standardised in the UK, so veterinary costs can quickly add up. Health insurance for your dog works the same way as it does for you: you pay a monthly premium to an insurance company and, in return, they reimburse you for any veterinary expenses.

In any case, before deciding on a particular contract, make sure to shop around for quotes and assess which best suits your circumstances. Then, take the time to read the fine print to ascertain the type of services offered, as well as the reimbursement rate, limits, and eligibility or exclusion clauses. Some insurance companies may refuse to insure dogs that are too old, too young, or already sick. Likewise, insurance companies may refuse to reimburse costs incurred for certain diseases, genetic or hereditary diseases in particular. So don't wait for your Pug to get sick or old before taking out pet insurance for them, or you may risk them not being properly taken care of.