A small, round faced dog with a flat muzzle, wide set eyes and flopped v ears, sits happily on a pebbled beach.


Pugs: famous for their funny faces and charismatic personalities, these small house dogs love being part of the family. Their distinctive flat faces and skin folds can be attributed to the breed’s Chinese ancestry, where such characteristics were very popular (see the Shar Pei, for another example).

Prospective owners and borrowers should be aware that Pugs are prone to breathing problems due to their short snout. Extra care should be taken in hot weather as these problems will be exacerbated in the heat. Researching the potential health issues involved with brachycephalic dog breeds (i.e. those with a short snout) is a good idea before looking for a puppy or contacting breeders.

This article will be useful if you:

  • want to learn all about the breed, whether you’re an owner, prospective owner or a borrower.

The BorrowMyDoggy community is home to over 5,000 of these special pups - so it seems sensible to pull together some unique insights for your enjoyment.

Minnie has a pale tan coat but darker muzzle, ears and patches around her eyes. She has a short nose, stocky figure and large eyes.

Breed description

These small dogs have a distinctive wrinkly appearance, with a short-muzzled face and curled tail. Their coat will be one of the following colours: fawn, apricot fawn, silver fawn or black. The fawn varieties should have a clear black mask and a faint black line extending from the back of the head to the tail. Their typical life span is 12 - 15 years and they usually stand at between 25 - 30cm at the withers.

Olive is a black, short-haired puppy with a short nose and floppy ears. She's half covered by a human's denim jackets

The breed was favoured by William of Orange (of the Netherlands), who was accompanied by a faithful pug when he came to accept the English throne in 1688. Around 150 years later, Queen Victoria developed a real passion for the breed which led to their wider popularity. Royalty clearly enjoyed their company as much as many families do today.

Other royal dog breeds include Corgis, Pomeranians and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. More recently, the breed seems to be a favourite of several celebrities which helps them maintain their popularity with younger crowds.

Both dogs are tan and white with darker muzzles, eyes and ears. They are heavy set with short noses

Fun fact

According to Phil Maggitti, author of ‘Pugs’, the breed became the official dog of the House of Orange after an assassination attempt was averted by the dutiful barking of a little dog called Pompey. Woof!

Health issues

Sadly, these pups aren't the healthiest dog breed around. As they are brachycephalic, breathing problems are common and there is an increased risk of eye prolapse. Other small brachycephalic dog breeds include the:

Brachycephalic breeds have shorter airways but a similar amount of palate tissue to breeds with longer noses. This can, unfortunately, lead to some serious respiratory issues. For example, you may hear them snorting and becoming breathless - particularly in hot weather and when they get over-excited.

The black Labrador is about twice the height of his Pug friend as they both sit in the back of a car

How much exercise do they need?

They should only need 40 minutes to an hour of exercise per day, according to the UK Pug Dog Club and the Kennel Club. Shorter walks and playtime are usually best to ensure breathing problems aren’t exacerbated. They tend to be adventurous and energetic in short bursts. It’s best not to encourage too much high speed playing or expect too much of these doggies - you’ll hear them getting out of breath fairly quickly. For example, Eleanor, owner of Bruiser, says:

"Bruiser only needs a couple 15-30 minute walks a day as he's only little and gets out of puff quite easy. He prefers being low key, cuddling on the sofa or following me around our house."

They can also become overweight fairly easily so keeping an eye on the balance of food and exercise is important.

A chubby, pale dog with dark muzzle and ears is looking over her shoulder at her human

What about temperament?

We can’t deny it - they are pretty great little pups. They tend to be:

  • good with children, strangers and other dogs;
  • sweet natured;
  • sociable; and
  • generally enjoy family life.

They’re full of character and personality and are often referred to as “shadows” because they love being around people. Our community seem to love being around their Pugs just as much. For example, owner, Courtney says:

"Pablo is a sweet-natured boy with a huge heart. His favourite things are to wag his tail, spin around in circle, snuggle up in your lap or on the sofa behind your shoulder with his head on you. He wants to be as close as possible to people he loves."

Their affinity for being around humans means they are a great candidate for borrowers - they appreciate the extra love and attention they can get when their owners are otherwise engaged.

Borrower Alex says, “helping take care of Maximus definitely filled that dog void”.

Maximus has a wrinkled face that looks like an old man. He has some impressive whiskers too.

They also love to cuddle and climb all over you - these tactics make them one of the funniest dog breeds to spend time with - personal boundaries are not their thing.

Annette Conn, author of The Dog, says “they love being the centre of attention and are very communicative with their snuffling and grunting dialogue and wide range of comical expressions”. This reference to snuffling and snorting will be familiar to owners - and to anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting one of these funny characters.

Flash’s owner, Jayson, gives a lovely description of Flash’s temperament:

Flash [has] the ego of a labrador and the energy of a greyhound...He loves his walks in the park and gets along with other friendly dogs and children.
Flash is chewing on a cigar shaped treat while lying on grass

Owner, Lucy, give some fun facts about her pup’s personality - another pug that seems to think he’s a labrador… We see a theme emerging!

  1. Bug likes to lick you, the air, the floor, the windows etc... He's just a licker.
  2. Bug thinks cats and dogs are the same species
  3. Bug likes to play with other dogs in park and is very good at making new friends.
  4. Bug sleeps a lot and always snores.
  5. Bug thinks he's a labrador
  6. Bug is hilarious and you can't help but smile when your with him

Are they easy to train?

In short - no! Known for their stubborn, independent streak, they aren’t usually the easiest to train. Starting early and being consistent are the key things to remember for successful training. To make sure a Pug dog is a good dog, obedience classes would be a good starting point. Fortunately though, as they're small, a little cheekiness shouldn't cause too many issues. There are lots of dog training resources available for free and usually in local communities, so if you’re having any problems there should be plenty of expert tips and tricks out there for you. In particular, look out for the videos on recall, learning to sit and teaching ‘stay’ which feature Butch Cassidy - a very well trained Pug!

Kelly, owner of Jelly Bean (pictured above) seems to have got her pup trained pretty well - thanks to a veritable love of treats:

“Jelly Bean is 18 months old, she is really loving, loves people, other dogs, children etc, she is a typical pug, tenacious and cheeky, brilliant in the house, likes sleeping, long walks and of course food! (She is a little podgy but we working in it - ha). She is good off the lead and loves nothing more than snuggling up with you.”

To conclude, sit back and enjoy some cute pug antics in action centred on Maximus (featured earlier in this article) and understand why his owner says, “Maximus has lost a lot of weight from all the walks he’s been going on and seems so happy.”

High paws to our lovely community for letting us share these facts and pictures. We hope you’ve learnt some interesting things about the breed and enjoyed examples from the community.

We’d love to hear from you if you have a story about dogs you own or borrow (of any breed). This helps enrich our knowledge of our growing community and better serve its needs - maybe more like Cocker Spaniels, we are eager to please!

  • Borrowers / dog lovers without the time for a dog - if you’re looking to learn more about any breed, why not sign up and start messaging local owners?
  • Owners - need a helping hand with dog care or looking for a local dog walker? Why not reach out to a local borrower, who want to help for the love of dogs, not money.

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