You may have seen Pugs with celebrities and movies. You may actually be considering getting one for yourself your partner or your kids. After all with those big lovable eyes and the clownish demeanor, they are practically irresistible. And then, the thought creeps into your mind; Where’s the catch, there must be something nobody is telling me.
You Wonder if Pugs Actually Make Good Pets?
The answer would have to be an overwhelming YES. Pugs are wonderful companions, they have a lot of character, they are very affectionate and they will get along with kids, babies, strangers and even your mother in law. You will have no problem if you have other dogs, cats, and practically everyone. They are suited for apartment life and you really will be getting ‘A lot of Dog in Small Package’.
Naturally, adding a pet to your home is not going to be all Sunny and Rossie, a Pug is an animal that needs taking care of, it has it’s needed and wants, it may have medical issues and other problem may arise in time. A pet is more than just decoration to your house. Let’s take a look at all the aspects a Pug will bring to your home; The good, the bad and the ugly. Mostly good though…
“A pet or companion animal is an animal kept primarily for a person’s company, protection, entertainment, or as an act of compassion such as taking in and protecting a hungry stray cat, rather than as a working animal, livestock, or laboratory animal. Popular pets are often noted for their attractive appearances, intelligence, and relatable personalities, or may just be accepted as they are because they need a home.” (Wikipedia)
Custom made Pets
Pugs have been recorded through history since Imperial China. They have been bred to be companion dogs for hundreds of years if not more. Revered by Emperors, Royalty, and high society Pugs traits were selected and bred continually to ‘fine tune’ this dog to be the best companions. As the Pug was brought to Europe, the Dutch Royalty adopted the Pug, even adding a story of heroism on the Pug’s part (Who would have thought) when he warned a Prince of his enemies closing in. Later these traits were further refined with British Aristocracy. Gladly today Pugs belong to more than Celebrities and some of us common folks can enjoy Pugs as well. With constant selective breeding, the Pugs maintain and improve on their so wanted features. The size, the temperament, the character, and the look.
Do they fit the bill?
The size is perfect as a lap dog, you are not going to accidentally squash it, yet it is not too big to share a sit with. The temperament and character are that of unconditional love and a constant willingness to be with you, whether you want to play, cuddle or anything else. As far as looks, ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. You find a Pugs face odd or funny, but it’s hard to deny how cute they are and those big round eyes…
No to be over-analytic
Quickly going to the definition of Pet we can see the Pug hits every bullet point. As far as Companionship, Entertainment and even Protection (if you buy the Prince story). Pugs are definitely known for their unique looks and relatable personality. If we were going by Wikipedia alone, the Pug IS pretty much the definition of ‘Pet’.
So where is the catch?
Well, nobody is perfect, and generations upon generations of selective breeding may keep and enhance the positive traits but exacerbate negative ones. This is actually very common with many purebred animals and is exactly why inbreeding is not recommended in humans. Breed medical issues and genetic disease will increase exponentially.
Pugs are a Barychelid breed. These are a family (not necessarily related) with a flat muzzle, squashed nose, and shallow eye sockets. Other members of this ‘select’ group are the Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Shi-Tzus, Pekinese and French bulldogs. This physical abnormality carries a range of typical medical conditions you will not find on ‘regular dogs’.
Eyes and their sensitivity.
A Pug’s eyes are prone to a few problems just because of their shape and how bulgy they are. The eyeball may be get hurt from anything brushing up against the Pugs head during playtime, running through bush or debris. The Eyelid is stretched over the eyeball and anything that gets stuck in there, including dust and hair, may cause irritation which can develop into an infection. The good news is that with proper care and attention these conditions should not deteriorate and cause any long-lasting effects.
Pugs are known to be heavy breathers and just by looking at their nose and compare it to the average dog, you can see that there is a big difference. Pugs will pant after physical exercise and it is not uncommon to even need surgery to rectify their airways.
PDE- Pug Dog Encephalitis
This genetic disease affects the dog’s central nervous system and will among other symptoms cause blindness and seizures. Sadly PDE has no cure and is fatal. About 1.2% of Pugs will die of this disease. The good news is that it is genetic and is only passed within one or two generations. A responsible breeder will be able to totally eliminate PDE within a few generations of breeding. Sadly, there are still a lot of breeders of ‘puppy farms’ or ‘puppy mills’ (selling to pet stores and to the higher bidder) who may not adhere to these ethics.
Canine Hip Dysplasia
This is another genetic disease, where the ball of the hipbone and its socket are not properly developed. It’s a common condition with many breeds and especially large and giant breeds. (Did I mention that Pugs think they are a large dog?). A Pugs hips are relatively small, even compared to its own shoulders, and birth, for example, can always be risky and may require C-Section.
Sensitive skin and allergies can also plague Pugs, but good nutrition can solve most of these.
Prone to pampering
Not really a medical condition, but may become one. Pugs have been pampered for generations, that’s what happens when you are bred by royalty. This is not an educational article and I know how hard these little ones are to resist, however when it comes to food, we may have a problem. Pugs like food and will often use these soulful eyes as a tool, or a weapon if you will, to advance their feeding agenda. In other words, Pugs will use their cuteness to beg for more and more food. Combine that with their tendency to become overweight and we may actually have a medical problem or at least a condition which will exacerbate other medical issues.
A lot of good things can be said in praise of Pugs’ personality, but just as intelligence carries opinions, a strong character may also come with stubbornness. Pugs are known to stubborn, but you must also remember that Pugs aim to please, so there is always a place for negotiation and bargaining.
When it comes to training your pug, you need to remember that stubbornness we just mentioned and find ways not to face it head-on. Some say that Pugs are difficult to train. In most cases, it just takes persistence and slightly different approach then what may work with other dogs. Pugs have their own wants and opinions, however, there is nothing they crave more than your affection, reassurance, and treats. Scolding or punishment usually don’t work with Pugs in an educational manner and they are just hurt by it. You can tell by the look in their eyes. A combination of positive reinforcements and repeatability will usually get the job done.
If you work from home you (and your Pug) are in luck. As mentioned, Pugs are companions and cannot comprehend why you would want to leave them and go. Being stubborn the may also act upon being left alone and this may be another that may need some extra attention and training.
Animals make noises, there is no way around that (well you can get fish but it’s not the same). All dogs bark, Pugs are actually pretty good when it comes to barking and are what I consider ‘Functional Barkers’. They will rarely bark for no apparent reason and will never go into a long session of barking at some cat across the street or a bird sitting on a tree (as some dogs do). They are also not ‘yappy’ like some smaller dogs who seem to try and compensate for size with volume. Pugs tend to use barking as a form of communication with their best buddy, you. The may give a bark or two if they want o go out, if the water bowl is empty and if they think meal time has arrived. They do think there are more meals a day than there actually are but still within reason. You will get the occasional badly timed barking but usually, it’s nothing extreme. See more on barking and noises in ‘Do Pugs Bark A Lot? How Noisy Are They?’
Other noises, however, are where Pugs excel. Sneezing, yawning, growling wheezing, snoring and a few more noises I am not exactly sure how to describe. Most of the time they are fairly adorable or funny, but if you are a light sleeper or are quickly annoyed by heavy breathing, may be a problem. Unlike other behavioral quirks, breathing is not something a dog can be trained not to do. Overweight Pugs will be worse and in extreme cases, medical intervention may be needed but in most cases, it’s just something to get used to.
Some dogs shed more than others
Some say I have left the worse for last (My wife would surely). Pugs shed copious amounts of hairs. I am not going to try and sugar coat it (Pun intended). You are about to have hair on the floor, on couches, on your clothes, and in your bed. Whichever room or piece of furniture your Pug has access to will have hair on it. Pugs have a dense double coat (Just like Huskies and Eskimo dogs have, for the harsh winter), and a relatively short hair life cycle. Some people say they shed seasonally, in the winter, spring summer and fall. Since they are mostly house dwellers the season has little effect on their shedding. Yes, you can deal with the situation in a number of ways, from Robot vacuum cleaners, through various brushes and cleaning gadgets to a routine of brushing your pug and maintaining a healthy coat and skin, but eliminating Pug hairs from your home is going to be impossible. If you are open to the idea we have plenty more ideas and solutions in ‘ Pugs Shed? Funny You Should Ask’, and in our ‘recommended Gear ‘page.
Care and attention
To sum it up, a Pug is a wonderful dog and could be a great addition to any household or family. However, bringing any dog home is not something to be taken lightly, and probably more so if it is a Pug. A pug will think of himself as one of the family and will demand the appropriate attention and care. Dog shelters are full of dogs left by good people who had good intentions but did not do their homework only to be overwhelmed by what it takes, physically, mentally and financially to care for a dog.