A Pug is a toy dog breed with a wrinkly face and medium-small body. The word
"Pug" may have derived from the Latin Pugnus (fist); the Pug's face can look
like a clenched fist. Or, in nod to the breed's sometimes rascally nature, from
the character "Puck" of A Midsummer Night's Dream.///
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The breed is often summarized as
multum in parvo ("much in little"), in reference to the pug's great
personality, despite its small size.
Bred to adorn the laps of the Chinese emperors during the Shang dynasty
(1766-1122 BC), in
East China, where they were known as "Lo-Chiang-Sze" or "Foo"
(ceramic foos, transmogrified into dragon, with their bulging eyes are very
Pug-like). The Pug's popularity spread to Tibet, where they were mainly kept by
monks, and then went onto Japan, and finally Europe.
Sixteenth and seventeenth century
The breed was first imported in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth
centuries by merchants and crews from the Dutch East Indies Trading Company.
The Pug later became the official dog of the House of Orange.
In 1572, a pug saved the Prince of Orange's life by barking at an advancing
Spanish onslaught. A pug also
travelled with William III and Mary II when they left the Netherlands to ascend
to the throne in 1688.
This century also saw Pugs' popularity on the rise in other European countries.
In Spain, they were painted by Goya,
in Italy Pugs dressed in matching jackets and pantaloons sat by the coachmen of
the rich, and in
Germany and France Pugs appear several times as footnotes to history.
Eighteenth and nineteenth century
The popularity of the Pug continued to spread in France during the eighteenth
century. Before her marriage at age 15 to Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette owned a
pug named Mops. Before her marriage to Napoleon Bonaparte, Joséphine utilized
her Pug "Fortune" to carry concealed messages to her family while she was
confined at Les Carmes prison as the pet was the only recipient of visiting
In nineteenth century England, Pugs flourished under the patronage of the
monarch Queen Victoria. Her many Pugs, which she bred herself, had such names as
Olga, Pedro, Minka, Fatima and Venus.
Her involvement with the dogs in general helped to establish the Kennel Club,
which was formed in 1873.
Victoria favoured fawn and apricot Pugs, whereas the aristocrat Lady Brassey is
credited with making black Pugs fashionable after she brought some back from
China in 1886.
The Pug has also thrived in democratic circles, arriving in the United States
sometime in the nineteenth century
(the American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1885)
and was soon making its way into the family home and show ring.
While most Pugs appearing in eighteenth century prints tended to be long and
lean, the current
breed standards call for a square, cobby body, a compact form, deep chest, and
well-developed muscle. Their heads, carried on arched necks, should be
substantial and round, the better to accentuate their large, dark eyes. The
wrinkles on their foreheads should be distinct and deep,
especially prized by the Chinese as they seemed to spell out the
character for "prince".
The ears should be smooth and soft, like black velvet and come in two varieties:
"rose" (small, round and folded with the front edge angled toward the mask,
giving the head a more rotund shape) and "button" (level with the top of
forehead and folded at a sharp ninety degree angle). Breeding preference goes to
"button" pugs. The lower teeth
should protrude farther than their upper, meeting in an underbite.
Their fine, glossy coats can be apricot, fawn, silver or black.
A Silver coat is characterized by a very light coloured coat, absent of black
guard hairs. Some unscrupulous breeders call "smutty" pugs silver. A "smutty"
pug typically has a very dark head, with no clear deliniation at the mask, and
dark forelegs. The tail should curl tightly over the hip; a double curl is
The stern expression of the Pug belies its true sense of fun. Pugs are sociable dogs, and usually stubborn about certain things, but they are playful, charming, clever and are known to succeed in dog obedience skills. Pugs are sensitive to the tone of a human voice. While Pugs usually get along well with other dogs and pets, they generally prefer the company of humans and require a great deal of human attention; they may become anxious or agitated if their owner disregards them.
Because they have extremely short snouts and no skeletal brow ridges, Pugs
can easily scratch their corneas accidentally.
Their short noses can also cause them to develop breathing problems.
They are prone to obesity, so they can quickly reach unhealthy weights; it is
therefore important for Pug owners to make sure their pets get regular exercise.
Due to their short snouts, Pugs are vulnerable to temperature extremes. It is
important to make sure that they do not overheat in hot weather, and likewise
they should not be left outside in cold weather.
Pugs can also suffer from a chronic form of granulomatous meningoencephalitis
(an inflammation of the brain) specific to the breed called Pug Dog Encephalitis
(PDE). There is no known cause or cure for PDE, although it is believed to be an
inherited disease. All dogs either
die or are euthanised within a few months after the onset of clinical signs.
Pugs, along with other brachycephalic dogs (boxers, bulldogs), are also prone
to hemivertebrae. The screwtail is an example of a hemivertebrae, but when
it occurs in others areas of the spine it can be devastating, causing such
severe paralysis that euthanasia is a serious recommendation.
Pugs are expected to live from about 12 to 15 years.
- Algy from Rupert Bear
- Monroe from The Life and Times of Juniper Lee
- Otis from The Adventures of Milo and Otis
- Percy from Pocahontas
- Cheeka from commercials for the Hutch cellular network in India
- Frank from Men in Black and Men in Black II
- Cruiser from Legend of the Dragon (TV series)
- Chester & Charles, pets and occasional stars of the webcomic Natalie Dee
- Pakkun from Naruto
- Sophia from The Life and Times of Katrina Waisanen
- Bandit from Johnny Quest
- Bess from The West Wing
- Willie from EastEnders
- In David Lynch's film Dune, Duke Leto Atreides has a pet pug. Its
name is never revealed.
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