A photo collage of three fawn pugs who are standing up

Our Pets

Pug dog breed profile

Here’s the download on this little dog breed.

Whether your dog is a purebred pug, or a pug mix, learning about this breed can explain a lot about your pet’s personality, habits and overall health. Or maybe you're looking to adopt a pug and want to do a bit of research first — we can help with that.

Pugs are small pups with big personalities — even their curly tail shows they’re a lot of fun. Our on-staff veterinarian, Dr. Aliya McCullough, explains everything you need to know about this dog breed. 

What’s the average size of a pug? 

Pugs’ bodies are small and compact, and they’re usually around 10 to 13 inches tall, Dr. McCullough explains. And since this dog breed is so small, they’ll usually weigh anywhere between 14 to 18 pounds. 

What do pugs look like? 

This dog breed is brachycephalic, meaning they have a flat face. Pugs' fur is short and smooth (but they do shed) and grows in black, silver, fawn or apricot, Dr. McCullough says. If you're allergic to pet fur or dander, you'll want to ask your doctor for a solution before bringing a pug home. 

Pug temperament

“Pugs are known to be gregarious and fun but also have calm and quiet times,” Dr. McCullough shares. If you have multiple pets in your home, you can likely guarantee that a pug will get along great with their new siblings. They make great family pets, too, because of how friendly they are. However, it’s always a good idea to remind kids how to interact with pets safely.

“Every dog is different,” Dr. McCullough reminds us. “Teach children how to respect a dog’s boundaries by safely approaching and handling dogs.” 

Pugs' quiet nature, small size and preference for low-energy activities make them great dogs for apartment living, too. And speaking of laziness, pugs will likely prefer to sleep on the couch instead of high-energy exercise but won’t mind an occasional walk or play session.

And remember, this dog breed doesn't do well in the heat, so keep them inside and don’t encourage intense exercise during hot and humid weather (especially during a heat wave). 

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What health issues do pugs face?

Like all dogs, pugs require daily care to keep them in tip-top shape. Dr. McCullough recommends these pug-specific care tips:

  • Brush your pug’s teeth daily to promote good dental health. 
  • Clean the skin between their wrinkles (and make sure it’s dry). 
  • Use a harness instead of a neck collar for their daily walks to encourage better breathing. 
  • Wash your pug’s food and water bowls daily. 

Although your great care should provide your pug a beautiful, healthy life, there are some more serious health conditions that are specific to the breed you should be aware of. However, knowing about them will encourage informed conversations with your veterinarian about prevention or treatment if they ever appear. According to Dr. McCullough, here are the most common health issues that affect pugs: 

Brachycephalic airway syndrome (BAS)

Because pugs are a brachycephalic breed, it’s common for them to experience breathing issues like BAS. Dogs with this condition have a narrowed windpipe and nostrils, an abnormally long soft palette that can get sucked into their airway while breathing and structures near the voice box (or larynx) that can also be pulled into their airway while breathing. 

These features can cause an obstruction in a pug's airway and lead to respiratory distress, Dr. McCullough explains. This can make breathing challenging for pugs, especially during warm weather or exercise. 

Symptoms of BAS include noisy breathing, the inability to exercise, snoring, high-pitched wheezing, gagging, restlessness, blue-colored gums and tongue, high body temperature and collapsing. 

“Brachycephalic syndrome is treated with surgery to correct the abnormalities,” Dr. McCullough adds. “This condition is hereditary and passed on from parent to puppy.”

Eye issues

This breed is also susceptible to eye issues, like corneal ulcers or dry eye. Corneal ulcers can cause eye pain, squinting and discharge, while dry eye limits the number of tears, which can lead to pain and inflammation and make their eyes more susceptible to infection from bacteria or viruses. 

Talk to your veterinarian about prescribing topical eye drops to cure corneal ulcers. Unfortunately, there's no cure for dry eye — it requires lifelong treatment (typically daily eye drops).

Skin allergies

Pugs are prone to skin allergies, which can cause itchiness and lead to licking, chewing, rubbing, loss of fur, recurring skin and ear infections and hives. "Skin allergies are treated with allergy medications, prescription diets and topical shampoos, conditioners, sprays, mousses and skin supplements," Dr. McCullough explains.

Ear infections

Unfortunately, pugs are also susceptible to ear infections, which cause shaking, itching, rubbing, discharge and a foul-smelling odor from the ears. Your veterinarian can recommend the right treatment plan, but dog ear infections are commonly solved with topical ear medication, pain medicine and sometimes allergy medications if the ear infection stems from an underlying allergy. 

Obesity

Because of their lounge-around nature and love of food, pugs are susceptible to obesity. Therefore, you should talk to your veterinarian or trainer to ensure your pup is eating the proper diet and getting enough physical activity throughout the day.

Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease, which is a disease that affects a pup’s teeth, is common in pugs. Symptoms of this condition are gingivitis, tartar, bleeding in the mouth, decreased appetite, dropping food and bad breath. It’s usually treated with a comprehensive oral assessment while your dog is under anesthesia. 

Adopting a pug

Are you interested in adopting a pug, pug mix or any pet at all? We think every pet deserves a home and encourage you to check out our shelter partners. Pugs are a popular breed. So it's common to find them in rescues or shelters — and there are even pug-specific rescue groups that you can research. 

The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo.

Photo by Sneaky Elbow on Unsplash

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