The pug lives to please, loves attention, acts the clown but still carries itself with dignity, say the breed experts at the American and Westminster kennel clubs. These sweet-natured dogs often get along with everybody---including children and cats---and are equally adept at playing and lounging around in their owner's lap.
Dog experts don't agree on every point of the pug's history, as evidenced by the differing views of the American and Westminster kennel clubs, but some facts are not in dispute. The pug, one of the oldest breeds of dog, originated in Asia---probably China---before the Christian era. Estimates of the date of origin range from 700 to 400 B.C. The breed appeared next in Japan and Europe, becoming a favorite of royalty. It was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885. Always bred to be a companion dog, the pug has had just one job over the centuries: to entertain and delight its owner.
The American Kennel Club uses the phrase "multum in parvo" to describe the pug, which means "a lot of dog in a small space." The dog has a sturdy, square form, with a "desirable" weight of 14 to 18 pounds, according to the AKC's breed standard. Coat colors are fawn, silver fawn, apricot fawn or black. The pug has a large head and prominent, dark eyes, with a dark mask on its face and a short, wrinkled muzzle.
Both the Westminster and American kennel clubs agree that pugs make good family pets, with a friendly, outgoing and playful nature. These dogs are small, but they are not delicate. The AKC calls the pug even-tempered and loving, and Westminster praises the dog's uninhibited and comical personality. Pugs do shed, says the AKC, but their short coat needs little care. Pugs adapt well to different environments, including small apartments that offer minimal exercise, the AKC says.
Pugs are generally healthy and hardy, according to the Pug Dog Club of America. Obesity is common for this short and chunky breed, a problem that can trim its life span. The club says pugs will eat past the point of being full and "act hungry" even when they aren't. The dog's ears and wrinkled face must be kept clean to avoid infection. Some pugs may need surgery to help them breathe easier, since pinched nostrils can accompany the breed's pushed-in mug. Healthy pugs should have no trouble living at least until the mid-teens, says the pug club.
When purchasing a pug from a breeder, press the breeder about the medical history of the pug's line. Choose a breeder whose line has had minimal airway problems. If you want a dog to keep outside, do not get a pug. The breed, which was bred to be indoors, has a low tolerance for heat, cold and humidity.