Breed Spotlight: Pugs
September 20, 2023

Breed Spotlight: Pugs

Originating from China, the pug Breed is part of the toy breed group known for its cheeky, playful and friendly character. They are thought to date back to 400BC and to this day they remain trendy in the UK, ranking at number 13 of the most popular breeds in 2023.

Pugs are a Brachycephalic breed, and sadly have a bad reputation due to their short noses and potential problems with breathing. However, ethical and reputable pug breeders are committed to bettering the breed by establishing ways to improve the health of their dogs.

The Pug’s motto is ‘multum in parvo’ (a lot in a little) so if you are considering this dog breed, read on to find out if this dog is right for your home.

Breed Spotlight: Pugs


Records indicate that the Chinese bred three distinct varieties of short-nosed dogs: the Lion dog, the Pekingese, and the Lo-size with the latter being referred to as the “Foo Dog” corresponding to the ancient Pug breed.

Historically, Pugs were bred as companion dogs for the wealthy; they were sometimes even used as prized possessions of Chinese Emperors and often guarded by soldiers! They lived a life of luxury and royalty, but would always return the royal treatment to their owners.

Legend has it that a Pug saved the life of a Prince in Holland’s Royal House of Orange, alerting him to an impending attack through its barking, soon after he became their infamous mascot! When William and Mary of Orange arrived in England, their Pugs played a vital role in the breed craze that swept Britain.

With the influence of English breeders, the Pug became refined and evolved into the more sophisticated Breed we recognise today. This breed was officially recognised by the Kennel Club in 1885.

Breed Characteristics

Pugs remain companion dogs (for all, not just the wealthy) to this day due to their loving and affectionate nature, often forming strong bonds with their human family members. But it’s not just their owners that get to experience their charm. Pugs tend to be pretty social and therefore welcoming to strangers, everyone is their best friend in their eyes. Essentially, they live to love (both ways). Because of their friendly and sociable nature, they are also very good with children, as well as dogs. However, early socialisation should always be carried out to ensure they get along well with others.

They are an intelligent breed but do not necessarily have the same requirements as other breeds, mental challenges and interactive toys tend to be adequate. Pugs are also very adaptable, responding well to various living environments including apartments, just as long as they receive enough attention, exercise and love.

Pugs overall are known for their playful and clownish behaviours, often entertaining their owners with their cheeky antics. They thrive on human companionship and attention, forming deep emotional bonds with those around them. Bear in mind, that individual Pugs may have their own unique personalities and whilst these characteristics are common, they can vary from one dog to another. It’s important to provide proper care, training and socialisation to ensure a well-adjusted and happy Pug.

Lifestyle and Healthcare

Pugs will happily snuggle with you on the sofa all day, but they also love their food which means they are prone to obesity. If owning this breed, you must monitor their diet and provide regular exercise to keep them at a healthy weight. While they don’t require extensive exercise, they do benefit from daily moderate exercise; a combination of walks and playtime in the garden will do the trick.

Pugs have a relatively long lifespan of 12-15 but just like all other breeds, you must consider potential health concerns that they are prone to:

Eye Problems: Pugs are prone to various eye problems, including corneal ulcers and dry eye. Regular eye examinations by a vet are crucial to detect and address these issues early.

Breathing problems: Brachycephalic breeds like Pugs often suffer from breathing difficulties due to their flattened faces. This can lead to conditions like Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). Not all Pugs will have severe BOAS but it’s important to be aware of potential respiratory issues and consult with a vet if you notice any breathing problems.

It’s also worth noting that Pugs are not tolerant of warmer weather due to their short face, also known as Brachycephalic (more on that below). Their shorter noses can lead to breathing difficulties in high temperatures, so it’s essential to keep them cool and avoid vigorous exercise during warm or humid weather to prevent overheating.

Coat and Grooming

The Kennel Club breed standard colours of the Pug include fawn, apricot, silver and black. There are other non breed standard colours, however it is advised only to select a dog that fits within the breed standards.

Pugs are known for their shedding, so be prepared for regular hair around the house. However, their grooming needs are relatively low-maintenance, requiring a monthly grooming session to keep their smooth, short-coat looking its best. To maintain their glossy coat, regular brushing to remove loose hair is essential, and remember to trim their nails when necessary. Baths are typically only needed if they get particularly dirty, so infrequent bathing is the norm for Pugs.


There is a lot of stigma surrounding Pugs and other Brachycephalic breeds due to their short noses and potential breathing problems. However, at Paws in Work we are not breed biassed and we truly believe that all dogs deserve the same opportunities in life; especially early on. That’s why, we enrol many Brachycephalic dogs on our socialisation programme.

Socialisation is an important aspect of every puppy’s early development and helps them to grow into confident, social, resilient dogs. Without proper socialisation, dogs are more likely to become fearful and display unwanted behaviours, and there’s an increased chance of them being relinquished to rescue shelters.

Our breeder partners are thoroughly vetted prior to working with us, and must share the same ethics and values as us about their puppies. They are committed to bettering their chosen breed, by establishing ways to improve the health of their dogs/puppies. One of our Pug breeder partners even measures her puppies’ noses with rulers in an effort to extend their snouts through breeding lines, over many years!

It's crucial to keep in mind that the majority of dog breeds have specific health issues linked to their breed. Our emphasis is on educating our audience about the proper care for all breeds, rather than avoiding them due to potential health challenges they might face.

Training and Socialisation

Early training and socialisation are essential for all dogs to foster well-rounded and obedient pets. Pugs are eager to please, which can make training more manageable compared to some other breeds. Consistent and positive reinforcement-based training methods tend to work well with them. Due to their sensitive nature, remember to be patient when you train and socialise your Pug.

Pugs thrive on social interaction, so it’s no surprise they tend not to enjoy being left alone for extended periods of time. By doing so, it can lead to unhappiness and behavioural issues. Providing companionship and attention is fundamental to their wellbeing.

How can Paws in Work help?

Our socialisation programme contributes to the early development of puppies, helping them grow into confident, sociable adult dogs, helping reduce the likelihood of later displaying aggressive or anxious behaviours. Throughout this process, our trained and experienced staff closely monitor the puppies within a safe and controlled environment.

We continuously evaluate and enhance our socialisation programme to ensure that the pups we partner with derive the utmost benefit from their time with Paws in Work. While we cherish working with all dog breeds and hold no breed bias, we exclusively collaborate with ethical and reputable breeders who share our commitment to the wellbeing of puppies.

Breed Spotlight: Pugs

Get in touch today

We believe that early socialisation for Pugs is vital for their confidence and helps alleviate some of the future separation anxiety they may possess. We are always looking for reputable breeders to add to our network for future socialisation.

Have you got a litter of Pugs you would like to socialise with Paws in Work? Get in touch today with our puppy welfare team to find out more!

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