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Buying a pet

Pug: Breed info & health advice

Date updated: 17 11 2017

Pugs are living proof that the best things in life really do come in small packages. Always stealing hearts with their silly sense of humour, life’s never dull with this pint-sized clumsy clown by your side.

Above all else, pugs love to be the centre of attention. Your pug is your number one fan, so expect your little buddy to follow you everywhere! When they’re not playing and tearing around, pugs spend a lot of time napping. So in many ways, this is the ultimate house dog; they don’t need long walks, but don’t like being left on their own for too long, so if you’re out all day expect to come home to a seriously peeved pooch!

With an appetite for mischief comes a definite stubborn streak. House-training a pug isn’t exactly easy. Remember that pugs can pile on the pounds quickly if their diet isn’t monitored - so try to keep treat-based bribery to a minimum!  

Although mostly low-maintenance, it’s important to watch out for the type of health problems that short-faced breeds can be prone to. But with some TLC and a little patience on the training front, the pug is pretty much the ideal companion…

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Stats

Average lifespan: 12-15 years

Weight: 6.35 to 8.16 kg for both males and females

Height at shoulder: 25 to 30 cm

Colouring: usually fawn, apricot or black

Grooming requirements: low-maintenance, but regular brushing is a good idea to keep shedding to a minimum

Average purchase cost: £500-£800

Bet you didn’t know…

  • Pugs have been with us since almost forever. The pug lineage stretches way back; they’re thought to have originated in China over 2,000 years ago! A favourite of the Emperors of China, pug royalty usually lived in their own luxurious pads, sometimes with a bodyguard of soldiers. William of Orange, Marie Antoinette, Josephine Bonaparte, Queen Victoria… they were all pug lovers.
  • A double tail curl is pug perfection. The tail can tell you a lot about what kind of mood your buddy’s in, and your pug will only generally uncurl their tail when they’re sleeping. If it’s quickly swaying from side to side, that’s one happy pug right there!  
  • Pug cafes are a thing. Pugs, coffee, cake - all in one place: we’re sold! The Pop Up Pug Cafe is on a mission to tour the UK turning venues into pug cafes for the day!
  • Pugs even have their own festival. Touring the UK, Pugfest boasts a doggie dash, kissing booth and lots of fun for the whole family (including your furriest member - of course!). 
  • Paris Hilton, Jessica Alba, Kelly Osbourne, Kelly Brook, Professor Green, George Clooney: just a handful of the long list of famous pug fans out there…

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Great for…

Pugs quickly feel at home in any setting - including small houses and flats. If you love the idea of being shadowed absolutely everywhere you go,then a pug is definitely for you.  

It’s not unusual for a pug to sleep for 14 hours a day (or longer). Expect plenty of naps interrupted by short bursts of fun! Most pugs aren’t that bothered by a game of run and catch, so if you’re looking for long walks around the park - or even the occasional game of frisbee, a pug might not be the right fit.

Pugs make great family pets, and love jumping and tumbling around the garden with kids. They’re deceptively sturdy, too - and smart enough to dodge out of harm’s way if needed.

Behaviour & training

They’re only tiny, but they know it - so “little dog syndrome” is rarely an issue with pugs. They also have an almost non-existent prey drive, meaning they’re happy to make friends with any other four-legged family members, including cats.

Pugs love their own family, but might get a bit mouthy when a stranger arrives at the door - at least at first. Once they’ve had a chance to calm down and realise that this is a potential new playmate, everything’s generally cool again.

Separation anxiety can be an issue for a pug left alone all day, so don’t be surprised if your buddy’s been chewing the sofa or yelping for attention while you were out! A nice big indoor play area can help soften the blow (and save your furniture).

These pups are smart - but only on their terms. When it comes to learning new tricks, a pug is definitely on board. But as for house training, be prepared to be on hand with lots of patience and plenty of praise. Crate training can be a big help here; once your pug grows to love their own little chill-out zone, they won’t want to make a mess inside it.

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TLC...

It’s always worth watching your step, so you don’t step on your buddy as he runs alongside you! Little legs mean that both puppies and older pugs can struggle with stairs, so a stair-gate is a good investment.

Two walks a day of around 20 minutes is bang on. Too much exercise can leave your buddy overheated or breathless, while too little can cause weight gain and loss of muscle strength. When out for your walk, don’t use a leash and collar; these are bad news for brachycephalic breeds, as the extra force around the neck can severely impede breathing. An orthopaedic bed can help both with keeping joint pain at bay making sure your buddy can breathe easily when napping.

If those wrinkles aren’t looked after, dry skin, yeast infections and dermatitis can develop. Two or three times a week, give them a once over and clean with a canine wipe. Those big brown eyes also have a habit of getting debris in them; so they’ll need a wipe a few times a week, too.

Pugs tend to shed a lot. A few times each week, give that coat a brush. And even if they don’t look (or smell!) like they need one, a bath is a good idea once every three weeks.

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Common health issues to watch out for…

  • Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS). Pugs are especially prone to this; it happens most often in those dogs where the nostrils are narrowed and the soft palate is elongated. Symptoms can include snorting and grunting when pugs are fighting for breath, as well as a struggle with even light exercise. If your buddy is struggling, you need your vet on board for a management plan, including possible surgery.
  • Eyelid entropion (inversion) and ectropion (out-turning). With so much skin across the face and over the eyes, these conditions are quite common in pugs. Sometimes it resolves itself as a pup gets older. In other cases, surgery is needed.
  • Corneal ulcers. Large eyeballs mean that sometimes a pug’s eyes don’t close properly. This makes them more prone to erosion of the cornea. Signs include a tightly shut eye, inflammation, watering and a pus-like discharge. Ulcers can usually be treated with meds, but surgery might be needed if the ulcer is deep.
  • Skin fold pyoderma. Despite your best grooming efforts, for any loose-skinned dog breed, there’s still a risk of this inflammatory skin condition arising. Most cases will respond will to antibiotics, but for chronic, severe conditions, one option is surgical removal of problem skin folds.
  • Joint and bone problems. Life isn’t always easy for a pug. Hip pain, kneecap abnormalities, disc problems: all are relatively common. Vet input is often crucial for working out the best way for your buddy to live life to the full.  
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