So You Want a Pug

A Pug. You just have to have one, and are just not going to rest until you do. You have seen them recently in movies, TV commercials and magazines.

You have decided this just absolutely has to be the breed for you.

Or, is it?

With that movie star package comes the problems associated with this breed. The newness of “cute” soon wears off as medical expenses and care become a reality. Still interested? Here are some facts compiled by owners and rescuers closely associated with this breed.

Pugs demand your time and attention. Key word here is demand. Pugs were bred solely as companion animals. They are “in your face” all the time. Pugs are not satisfied to be pets; they have to be family members. If your schedule is one that requires you be away from your Pug the largest part of the time, this is NOT the dog for you. In rescue we repeatedly see emotional scars left after years of confinement and isolation. If your idea of quality time is 12-14 hours in a crate, you are wrong.

Pugs cannot be left outside for any extended length of time in extreme temperatures. Those short noses and “ran into a wall” faces just do not allow the Pug to heat or cool properly. Left out in weather extremes a Pug can die; and at the very least, suffer severe respiratory and eye problems from exposure. Many Pugs enter rescue with exposure ulcers caused by “dry eye” often resulting in loss of the eye.

Pugs shed all of the time, 365 days a year, each and every year. This hair will stick to every object you have, no getting around it. Black or fawn, they shed. If you have purchased or adopted a Pug and are astounded to discover this, you did not do your research. You will not find a Pug that does not shed. It is just not going to happen.

The more wrinkles the cuter the Pug!! Cute soon fades when the daily care becomes a necessity. These folds of skin are just an invitation to the growth of yeast and bacteria. These areas, along with their ears, must be cleaned regularly.

Stamina is not a word you will find as one of the reasons to consider this breed. While there is a small percentage of Pugs with athletic abilities, and some actually do excel in agility and obedience, most will ask “why bother?”

Health concerns are a given part of this breed. Pugs are born with the strong tendency to develop not only eye and skin problems, but often require knee repair, and corrective surgeries for such problems as too small of nose holes, too long of a palate and the list goes on. Sadly, with the increase in their popularity comes the increase in backyard breeding and puppy mills. We are seeing an increase in pug dog encephalitis, a fatal and breed specific horror. Liver abnormalities are on the rise. Our rescue organization has treated and currently is fostering four dogs with Porto systemic liver shunts.

Housebreaking is not a way of life for this breed. Nothing in a Pug’s world is ever taken seriously for very long, and if housebreaking is expected to be perfect, you will be taking a chance with this breed. That silly personality has a side of stubbornness that is above all. Again, they often take the “you want me to do what and where?” approach to housebreaking.

Interaction with other breeds must be guarded. Pugs just do not care how big the other dog is. Remember this is a breed bred to be a companion. Many an unprotected Pug has been mauled by larger breeds due to their curiosity and attempt to befriend all. Our rescue organization has strong concerns when it comes to placing these Pugs in homes with larger animals of any kind.

Diet in Pugs reflects “they are what they eat.” Pugs are prone to allergies and this includes food allergies. If you feed your dog a poor quality food, the end result may be poor quality health. Pugs have the tendency to gain weight and keep it on, and for a breed already born with a stressed respiratory system, this can prove to be deadly. We see many emaciated Pugs enter our rescue and while our nurturing instincts tell us to make up for lost time, we feed them small amounts frequently through the day to allow their metabolism to adjust. Pugs who gain weight too fast will gain it in all of the wrong places. Weight gain and the building of muscle mass should work together for the best results in returning to a normal weight. The feeding of table scraps not only encourages bad manners, but can result in refusal to eat anything but “from the table” and eat too much of the wrong thing. Various health concerns such as pancreatitis, diabetes, bladder stones and kidney problems are just a few problems that can result from too much of what we may think is a good thing.

Still interested?

If you decide that you want to purchase a puppy, do your homework and do it well. A reputable breeder will require as much from you as you should about them. Check veterinary references, ask about parentage, ask to see the parents when possible. Find out the age of the mother at the time the puppy was born. Will the breeder give a health guarantee and will they take the dog back in the event it is too much for you?

Lastly, consider adopting a rescue. That very reason that brought you to the “have to have one” frame of mind is the very reason that sadly there is an increasing need for reputable purebred rescue organizations. Pugs are just one of many breeds that have become too popular for all of the wrong reasons. Stop the cycle by finishing what someone else started – rescue for the life of the dog.

Used with permission of author Pam Mayes, President, Alabama Pug Rescue and Adoption, Inc.
Alabama Pug Rescue and Adoption, Inc. – Birmingham, AL