What Kind of Temperament Do Pugs Have?

If you are considering getting a Pug, whether it’s your first dog or not, there must be a few concerns, such as cost and health issues, but ultimately on a day to day base you want to know, will your new dog get along with you, your kids, other animals and other people. How will the daily interaction and life in the household be? How will the Pug behave? You are really wondering:

What type of personality and what kind of character does a Pug Have?

The short answer would have to be, that a pug has a friendly disposition and is highly affectionate. They have plenty of personality and will get along with people, children and even the ear pulling of babies. They can be stubborn at times but their temperament and energy will usually be aimed at cuddling and playfulness. The Pug has been bred for the purpose of being a companion dog and great companions they are.

Pug are generally good natured and happy to please. But this bulky little bundle of joy is not one dimensional and has a lot of character, quirkiness in abundance and some behavioral issues you may find less endearing.  Now that we have laid down the general idea of how a Pug behaves, let’s look at the fine print and see what life with a Pug is really all about.

You brought home a Pug Puppy

As far as puppy cuteness goes, Pug Pups are definitely some of the cutest you can find. Few people can resist those big eyes and squashed nose on a puppy. It’s a good idea to have your pup meat and socialize with people children, other dogs d cats. His natural curiosity and playfulness need interaction with others to be developed and manifested. To a young Pug, it will come naturally. Reality will kick in the first time you find a puddle where it shouldn’t be. It this point you will want to start potty training and you will also be introduced to one of the breeds less adorable traits.

Pugs know what they want, yes, they are stubborn.

Pugs know what they want. In most cases, this may correlate with what you may want and then all is wonderful, but when your will and the pugs happen to be different some persuasion will be necessary. Pugs are sensitive to your voice and actions so the use of force or shouting will not be received well. The Pug will genuinely be deeply hurt if you raise your voice or arm at him. Potty training will also be your introduction to the world of negotiation with your Pug.

Pug Training

Pugs have a bad rap for being stubborn and difficult to train. They are not that much more difficult, just different. It is true that they are opinionated and indeed will not follow you blindly as some other dogs do. However, Pugs do crave attention and love and do want to please. It is this trait that you need to learn and negotiate with. Repetitive actions and exercises that may work with other dogs may bore your pug, who will easily be distracted. Pug training may take a bit longer than other dogs, it’s a bit of a dance of aligning his will with yours.

So how do you bridge that gap?

In a sense, over time, much like the ‘taming of the shrew’ you will fail if you try to force your Pug to your will. What will work is winning her over. You will have to speak to their wants and needs. Food in General and treats, in particular, speak loudly to a Pug and will be your strongest tool of negotiation. One other thing they crave is you love, attention, and approval. Positive reinforcement will be the second tool. In the beginning, treats will be the approval they seek and your way of showing right from wrong but over time you will be able to replace the treats with compliments, but it will take time, persistence and endurance. It is important to be consistent with commands and reaction. Pugs don’t really respond to commands, but through repetition of terms and, they will learn to understand what you want and will oblige.

Working dogs

Some breeds accompany humans and were bred and e to specific tasks such as hunting, retrieving, a and even attacking. Pugs were bred for over a century to be companion dogs. They were lapdogs for emperors and royalty. This is what they do, and they are good at it. Your lap and your sofa are their natural habitat. Your family is theirs. If you are looking for a dog to plat ‘Go fetch’ with, a Pug might not be the right pick.

Affectionate with Family

Probably their most dominant trait is their affection to the humans in their life. A pug will happily run to any member of the family with any hint of playfulness or cuddling, will always be close to a family member when at home and will hardly ever leave you alone in a room, in fact, they have a tendency to sit right on your foot or in touching range.

Tolerating babies and children

Their affection for the family doesn’t end with the one (probably you) who feeds and cuddles with but will be extended to children and babies. Babies lack the motor skills for gentle petting and will often just slap them on the face or grab those velvety ears and yank. Older children will find it amusing to torment the little creature, hug it, lift it grab its legs etc. Most Pugs will play along and may even seem to enjoy it.

How are Pugs with other dogs and animals?

Pugs take their curiosity and playfulness to people into the animal kingdom. Pugs don’t think of themselves as small dogs, therefore they would be fine playing with dogs that could literally wrap their mouth around them. They have no problem with smaller dogs, although they seem to look down at them. Pugs are fine with cats to (not all cats are fine with Pugs) and will display friendly curiosity towards most animals. In most cases I have seen the only creatures’ pugs don’t get along with are the ones who don’t want to get along with them

Do Pugs get aggressive?

Pugs crave love and positive attention and are people pleasers by nature. It takes a lot of effort to get an aggressive reaction from a pug. If you try to take its food you can expect a growl and a stern look, and with a rough play you may actually be able to force a nip, but even then it would feel more like a pinch than a bite. In general, even when abused by children, Pugs will usually default to backing out of a situation and not attack. The same goes for other dogs or cats. A Pug will usually not be the aggressor, and if attacked will be the one to retreat.

How do they fare in apartment homes?

Pugs will generally want to be with people, regardless of place. They are not very outdoorsy dogs and will gladly stay home most of the time. They are also sensitive to extreme weather, high humidity or very dry weather, and most pugs hate the rain. Air conditioning the summer and a bed beside the fireplace works just fine. Although some physical exercise and good for them, if it were up to them, they could stay indoors for days. That said, if you are the type to go play in the park, they will be happy to join you and over time can even develop tolerance to jogging.

How much barking should we expect?

Pugs tend to be fairly practical when it comes to barking. They will bark symbolically at strangers at the door and at the neighbor’s cat sitting on the window ledge, but not for twenty minutes straight as some other dogs do.  A Pug will always bark for food, water, and attention.

On top of that Pugs are not very loud barkers and definitely not the type of relentless barkers who can sit by the window and bark at birds for hours. They are not the yappy type who try to compensate for their size by excessive noise. (They don’t think of themselves as small)See the full article on Barking  

Barking is not the only noise a Pug makes

Bugs are known to produce a variety of noises. Part of it is due to the breed being Brachycephalic breed. These are the short-nosed breeds like a bulldog, Boston Terrier, and Shi-Tzu. Do to their squashed nose and the skulls anatomy they objectively have a hard time breathing and are prone to heavy breathing. Snoring is one of the obvious noises you will hear at night, or at daily naps. If you have gone through any physical activity with your dog, expect heavy panting. On top of that there will be crying (helps with begging), sneezing, groaning and yelping. Flatulence has also been known to have been heard…

Can they be left alone at home?

As much as Pugs are usually fine indoors, they don’t like to be alone. Pugs are companion dogs, implying they need company. Pugs have known to sometimes develop separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is a real condition can manifest in a few different ways. Your Pug may bark excessively (which is not typical) to the point of exhaustion. You may come home to find out that your pug has been chewing whatever he could sink his teeth in, in an attempt to relieve frustration and calm down. The behavior can range or switch from depression to agitation and restlessness.

A few ways to help your Pug cope with separation anxiety:

  • Give him plenty of attention before you leave, but not right before you leave, as to not make the connection between the playtime and separation (it may create anxiety every time you play)
  • Limit the are in the house where she can roam or damage and limit external stimulation (you don’t want her to bark at every passing person/ car just because of boredom or frustration)
  • You may want to leave the TV
  • Turn a light on if it’s dark by the time you return
  • Make sure the temperature is comfortable
  • Leave enough food and water

Are they energetic?

Pugs are generally quite energetic, especially around people. If there is a chance to interact with someone they will run around constantly. I often find it hard to just sit and pet her head without her constantly moving and shifting around. If there are children playing it gets even worse, as they seem to be even more energized from the children’s’ motion. The do get bored easily and will try and get someone’s attention.

Pugs will be more energetic as puppies and will mellow down over time. On the mellow side Pugs do tend to spend many hours of the day resting and sleeping and when not stimulated to interact with people can be a very relaxed and laid back dog.

Can Pugs be spoiled

It is very easy to fall for those big begging eyes, and even if you are strong, you have to make sure that the other members of the family don’t easily give in to the Pug. Pugs love food, and seem to have short memory when it comes to their last meal. Walking around the table, begging for scraps and checking who will be the first to brake, is a common occurrence at the dinner table. Going back their training, giving your Pug scraps at the dinner will encourage them to continue doing so and the begging will only grow.

Our Pug already knows she is not going to get anything at the table, so she just sits under the table calmly. However, when we visit my in-laws, she knows my father in-law will eventually give her something and will relentlessly beg him from the minute we sit at the table.

Try to limit treats to be used as positive feedback to desired behavior and not for fun for reassurance of cuteness, she knows she is cute. Remember, giving treats to non-training related behavior creates ‘accidental training’ in that it encourages whatever she was doing at the time.


Pugs have a playful, sometimes even clownish personality, they live for human interaction and will get along with anyone who lets them. They have a lot of personality which includes some stubbornness and attitude but mostly lovable quirks. All they require in return is your love and attention, and they will make a wonderful addition to your family.

If you are a first-time dog owner a Pug could be a great choice. They are so easy to fall in love with, you will probably forgive the rest.

Additional questions

Pugs have short fur. Do they shed?

Pugs do have short hair but it is a ‘double coat’ so there is more there than meets the eye. Pugs do shed and quite a lot.  Read all about shedding and what you can or cannot do about if you live with a Pug, in my article;:

Do Pugs Shed?, Funny you should ask


Can Pug’s eyes pop out?

The bulgy expressive eyes of Pugs do seem sometimes like they could actually pop out. Well, it turns out there is a medical condition (not just for pugs) called Proptosis where an eye can actually dislodge from its socket. The anatomical structure of Pugs’ eye and socket make them more susceptible to such injuries. In many cases though, the eyeball can be put back to its place with full recovery for the eye and eye sight. Read more on this condition, treatment and how to avoid it in my article:

Can Pugs’ Eyes Pop Out? Really?

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