The pug is a toy dog with a wrinkly, short-muzzled face and curled tail. The breed has a fine, glossy coat that comes in a variety of colors, although often black or fawn, and a compact square body with well-developed muscles. Known in ancient China as lo-sze, pugs as breeding animals may have contributed to the English Bulldog, the modern Pekingese and the King Charles Spaniel. Pugs were brought from China to Europe in the seventeenth century and were popularized in Western Europe by the House of Orange of the Netherlands, and the House of Stuart. Pugs remain popular into the twenty-first century, with some famous celebrity owners. A pug was judged Best in Show at the World Dog Show in 2004.
Pugs can suffer from a variety of health issues, including overheating, obesity and some genetic disorders. Two conditions in particular, necrotizing meningoencephalitis, which is an inflammation affecting the brain and its membranes, and hemivertebrae, which can result in paralysis, are particular concerns for the breed. Care must be taken to clean the ears and the facial skin folds of these dogs.
While the pugs that are depicted in eighteenth century prints tend to be long and lean, modern breed preferences are for a square cobby body, a compact form, a deep chest, and well-developed muscle. Their smooth and glossy coats can be fawn, apricot fawn, silver fawn, or black. The markings are clearly defined and there is a trace of a black line extending from the occiput to the tail. The tail normally curls tightly over the hip.
Pugs have two distinct shapes for their ears, “rose” and “button”. “Rose” ears are smaller than the standard style of “button” ears, and are folded with the front edge against the side of the head. Breeding preference goes to “button” style ears.
Pugs’ legs are very strong, straight, of moderate length, and are set well under. Their shoulders are moderately laid back. Their ankles are strong, their feet are small, their toes are well split-up, and their nails are black. The lower teeth normally protrude further than their upper, resulting in an under-bite.
The breed is often described as multum in parvo, or “much in little”, alluding to the pug’s remarkable personality, despite its small size. Pugs are strong willed but rarely aggressive, and are suitable for families with children. The majority of the breed is very fond of children and sturdy enough to properly play with them. Depending on their owner’s mood, they can be quiet and docile but also vivacious and teasing.