Your cart is currently empty.
Pugs 101: A Complete Guide for Prospective and Current Pug Owners - PawSafe

Pugs 101: A Complete Guide for Prospective and Current Pug Owners

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

Fawn Pug standing on lawn

Pugs have captured the hearts of dog lovers around the globe with their expressive faces and affectionate nature. This small dog breed is renowned not only for its endearing wrinkles and big, soulful eyes but also for being an excellent companion in various living environments, from bustling city apartments to quiet suburban homes.

In this comprehensive dog breed guide, we delve into the essential aspects of owning a Pug, from understanding their unique care needs as a brachycephalic dog breed to appreciating their social temperament, which makes them great family dogs. Whether you’re considering a Pug puppy for sale or looking to learn more about pug care and temperament, this article will provide you with valuable insights and practical advice.

To enhance our exploration, we will refer to the expert knowledge of Wilhelmina Swainston-Goodger, whose book on the history and origins of the Pug offers an in-depth look at how these delightful dogs have evolved and enriched our lives. Join us as we uncover everything from the joys of living with a Pug to the practicalities of pug eye care, shedding management, and more, ensuring you are well-prepared to decide if a Pug is the right dog for you.

Pug Key Points

  1. Pugs are easily recognized by their short, square bodies, deep wrinkles, and large, expressive eyes. Their compact and cobby stature makes them instantly endearing.
  2. Pugs are known for their sociable and loving nature. They thrive on human companionship and are excellent with children and other pets, making them ideal family dogs.
  3. As a brachycephalic (flat-faced) breed, Pugs are prone to breathing difficulties and other health issues related to their facial structure. Owners need to be mindful of their special care needs, especially in hot or humid weather.
  4. Pugs love to eat, which can easily lead to obesity if not carefully managed with a proper diet and regular exercise. Obesity can exacerbate other health issues, so maintaining a healthy weight is crucial.
  5. While Pugs do need regular exercise to stay healthy, their activity needs are relatively low compared to other breeds. Short daily walks and playtime are sufficient to keep them in good shape.
  6. Pugs require regular grooming to manage shedding and keep their skin healthy. Special attention is needed for cleaning their facial wrinkles to prevent infections.

The Pug Profile: Physical and Personality Traits

Close up of rare black Pug showing classic Pug physical traits

Pugs are little charmers with a big presence, sporting distinct wrinkles and big, expressive eyes that make you fall in love at first sight. They’re compact and sturdy, typically weighing between 14 to 18 pounds (about 6 to 8 kilograms), making them perfect lap dogs. The Pug’s coat is fine and glossy, coming in shades like fawn and black, each adding a unique touch to their adorable looks.

Although they aren’t in the breed standard, there are a number of different types of pugs that are interesting (although also controversial), like:

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), Pugs should look square and cobby from every angle. They’re described as having “multum in parvo,” which means “a lot in a little,” referring to their muscular build packed into a petite frame. Their large, round heads and those irresistible big, dark eyes play a huge part in their appeal.

Pug Temperament

Personality-wise, Pugs are total sweethearts. They’re known for being friendly, outgoing, and absolutely loving. They have a playful side that brings a lot of laughs and a loving nature that makes them great buddies for kids and other pets.

Brachycephalic Breed Characteristics

Being a brachycephalic breed, Pugs have that cute, squished face which can make breathing a bit tough for them. This means they really need to stay cool and comfy, especially when it’s warm out. Their wrinkles, as cute as they are, also need some TLC to keep them clean and infection-free.

Pug owners often say that looking after these unique needs is totally worth it for the amount of love and fun their Pugs bring. Regular check-ups and keeping on top of their care can help your Pug stay happy and healthy. 

Owner Experiences

Above all, Pugs are known for their darling personalities. Pug owners can’t help but gush about their pets. One owner shared, “Our Pug, Milo, isn’t just a pet; he’s part of the family. He loves being in the thick of things, whether it’s snuggle time or welcoming the kids home.” 

Another added, “Pugs are fantastic with families. They’re so patient and gentle with kids, and they keep us laughing with their playful antics.”

It’s clear from chatting with owners that Pugs aren’t just pets; they’re companions for life. Their humorous and affectionate personalities make every day a little brighter for those who have them. Whether it’s their comical expressions, head tilts, or their undying loyalty, Pugs leave a paw print on the hearts of everyone they meet

Living With a Pug: Pros and Cons

Pug laying on Laptop showing classic lazy pug behavior a pro of living with a Pug

Owning a Pug can be a rewarding experience, but it also comes with specific considerations. Here’s an updated table that outlines the pros and cons of Pug ownership, incorporating additional factors like health concerns and their suitability for various lifestyles.

Pros of Pug OwnershipCons of Pug Ownership
Family CompatibilityGrooming and Health Needs
Pugs are known for their gentle, affectionate nature, making them excellent companions for families with children. They thrive on human interaction and love being part of family activities.Pugs require regular grooming to manage shedding and keep their coat healthy. Their wrinkles need frequent cleaning to prevent skin infections.
Adaptability to Various Living SpacesExtensive Veterinary Bills
Their small size and moderate energy levels make Pugs perfect for apartment living, retirees, or those with physical disabilities who may prefer a less active pet. Pugs are also relatively quiet dogs who usually don’t bother the neighbors.Pugs often incur extensive vet bills due to common issues like eye problems, breathing difficulties, allergies, and ear infections.
Low Energy and ManageabilityNot Allergy-Friendly
Due to their low energy levels, Pugs are suitable for less active households. They are excellent lap and companion dogs, providing comfort and companionship without requiring extensive physical activity.Pugs are not hypoallergenic and can shed quite a bit, which might not be suitable for people with allergies.
Travel FriendlinessSpecific Health Concerns
Pugs are easy to travel with due to their small size and calm nature, making them great companions on road trips. However, they typically cannot travel in plane holding areas due to their breathing issues.Along with their susceptibility to dental issues, Pugs may require their anal glands to be expressed regularly, which can be an unpleasant and sometimes costly task.

Pug Health and Longevity

Pugs are charming and lovable, but they come with a predisposition to various health issues, largely due to their distinct physical characteristics. Here, we explore some common health conditions affecting Pugs, based on insights from Dr. Alex Gough’s comprehensive resource on dog breeds, which can be found here.

Dental Conditions

Pugs often suffer from dentigerous cysts, more commonly than other breeds. These cysts form around the crowns of unerupted teeth and can lead to significant dental issues.

Dermatological Conditions

Skin issues such as Demodicosis, a type of mange caused by mites, are prevalent in Pugs. This condition often requires long-term treatment and can be inherited.

Breathing Issues 

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) is a critical concern for Pugs. This condition arises from their shortened nasal passages and can lead to severe breathing difficulties. They can also suffer from collapsing tracheas.

Eye Conditions

Pugs are prone to several eye problems, including corneal ulcers and dry eye (Keratoconjunctivitis sicca), largely due to their prominent eyes.

Musculoskeletal Issues

Conditions like hip dysplasia and patellar luxation are common. These can affect a Pug’s mobility and may require surgical intervention.

Neurological Conditions

Pugs are susceptible to issues like Hemivertebrae, where the vertebrae are malformed, and Necrotizing Meningoencephalitis, an inflammatory disease of the brain that can be fatal.

Lifespan and Quality of Life

The typical lifespan of a Pug ranges from 12 to 15 years. Several factors can influence their quality of life, including genetics, the quality of care they receive, and how effectively their health issues are managed.

Best Dog Foods for a Pug

Choosing the right food for a Pug is crucial due to their susceptibility to obesity and joint issues. A balanced diet that is low in calories but rich in nutrients is vital for maintaining their health and vitality throughout different life stages. Below, we’ve outlined some of the best dog food brands that cater to the specific needs of Pug puppies, adults, and seniors.

Pug Puppies

Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Small Paws Chicken Meal, Barley & Brown Rice Recipe

This formula is specifically designed for small breed puppies. It provides an optimal balance of nutrients and minerals vital for growing puppies. The small kibble size is perfect for a Pug’s tiny jaw, and it includes DHA from fish oil for healthy brain and eye development.

Adult Pugs

Royal Canin Pug Adult

Specifically formulated for Pugs over 10 months old, this food helps maintain muscle mass with an appropriate protein content and is enriched with EPA and DHA for healthy skin. The unique kibble shape is designed to make it easier for the Pug to pick up and chew their food, which is critical given their brachycephalic facial structure.

Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Small Breed

This grain-free formula is high in proteins to support lean muscle mass with lower overall fat content to help manage weight. It also includes glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health, which is particularly important for Pugs to prevent mobility issues as they age.

Senior Pugs

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

 Ideal for older Pugs, this formula offers a careful balance of proteins and carbohydrates to help maintain energy levels and muscle maintenance in aging dogs. It includes L-carnitine for healthy metabolism and omega 3 & 6 fatty acids to support skin and coat health, which can deteriorate in older dogs.

Orijen Senior Dog Food

This biologically appropriate formula provides a high concentration of protein from fresh meats. It’s designed to cater to the natural dietary needs of dogs in their senior years, with limited calorie content to prevent weight gain and fortified with joint-supporting supplements.

Each of these foods provides specific benefits tailored to the life stage of a Pug, ensuring they receive the necessary nutrition to lead a healthy and happy life. When switching your Pug to a new food, it’s essential to do so gradually to avoid digestive upset. 

Pug Daily Care and Management

Pug in bath tub part of Pug care and grooming needs

Proper daily care is essential to keep your Pug healthy and happy. From grooming to feeding and exercise, here’s what you need to know about managing your Pug’s daily routine.


 Pugs are prone to obesity, so it’s important to monitor their diet closely. Feed them high-quality dog food twice a day, using measured amounts to avoid overfeeding. Avoid giving too many treats and be mindful of their caloric intake.


Regular grooming is crucial for Pugs due to their shedding and skin folds.

Wrinkle Cleaning

Clean the wrinkles on their face daily with a damp cloth and a gentle, hypoallergenic cleaner to prevent infection. Dry the wrinkles thoroughly after cleaning to avoid moisture buildup.

Anal Glands

Pugs may need their anal glands expressed regularly to prevent discomfort and potential infections. This is typically performed by a vet or an experienced groomer.

Nail Care

Clip your Pug’s nails once or twice a month, as overly long nails can cause pain and lead to problems walking. This is especially important since Pugs are not an active breed and usually don’t wear down their nails naturally.

Ear Cleaning

Clean their ears weekly to prevent buildup of wax and debris, which can lead to infections. Use a vet-approved ear cleaner and gently wipe the outer ear.

Eye Care

Pugs are prone to eye issues due to their prominent eyes. Keep their eyes clean and check regularly for any signs of irritation or redness.

Dental Care

Brush your Pug’s teeth several times a week, if not daily, with toothpaste formulated for dogs to prevent dental issues.

Coat Care

Despite their short coat, Pugs shed quite a bit. Brush your Pug several times a week with a soft-bristle brush or grooming mitt to help manage shedding and keep the coat shiny. Keep bathing to a minimum and make sure not to let any water in their ears because this breed is very prone to ear infections.

Exercise Needs

Pugs need regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight and to keep their joints healthy. However, their exercise needs are not extensive due to their brachycephalic nature. Here’s some exercise tips for your Pug:


Short walks in the morning and evening are sufficient for Pugs. Avoid walking during the hottest parts of the day as Pugs are sensitive to heat.


Engage your Pug in gentle play sessions indoors or in a shaded area to keep them stimulated and active without overexerting them.

Training Sessions

Short, regular training sessions help keep Pugs mentally stimulated and can also provide light physical activity. Pugs enjoy learning new tricks and pleasing their owners.


While not all Pugs like or are good at swimming, those that do should always be closely supervised and wear a doggy life jacket because their body structure makes swimming difficult.

Incorporating these care and management practices into your daily routine will help ensure your Pug stays healthy and content. Always watch for any signs of distress or discomfort during activities, especially in hot weather, and adjust routines as needed.

Pug Training and Behavior

Pug jumping jump in agility how to train and exercise Pugs

Training a Pug presents unique challenges and opportunities due to their distinct characteristics and intelligence level. Pugs are ranked as the 57th smartest breed according to Dr. Stanley Coren, but they shine with their high adaptive intelligence. This means they are excellent at solving problems, often by seeking help from their owners or reading their emotions. Here are some tailored strategies to manage and train your Pug effectively:

Understanding Their Intelligence

Pugs may not always follow commands like ‘sit’ or ‘stay’ as quickly as some other breeds, but they are remarkably good at understanding and responding to their owner’s emotional needs. This can be leveraged by using emotional cues to guide their training.

Engagement and Motivation

Pugs are motivated by affection and food. However, due to their risk of obesity, it’s important to use low-calorie treats or balance treat-based training with lots of verbal praise and physical affection.

Short Training Sessions

Pugs have a short attention span, so it’s best to keep training sessions brief and enjoyable. This prevents them from becoming bored and unresponsive.

Problem Behaviors

Common issues include stubbornness and overdependence, which can lead to separation anxiety. Address stubbornness with consistent commands and a firm, loving approach. To prevent overdependence, gradually accustom your Pug to being alone for short periods, increasing the duration over time.

Socialization and Activity Needs

Proper socialization is crucial for Pugs to ensure they develop into well-adjusted adults. Given their sociable nature and need for interaction, here are some tips on socializing your Pug and keeping them engaged:

Early Socialization

Introduce your Pug to a variety of people, animals, environments, and situations from a young age. This helps prevent the development of fear and aggression. Puppy classes can be a great way to socialize your Pug in a controlled environment.

Reading the Room

Utilize your Pug’s ability to read human emotions by exposing them to diverse social situations. This can help them learn to react appropriately in different settings, reinforcing their natural adaptive intelligence.

Interactive Play

Engage in play activities that stimulate their mind and body. Puzzle toys that require them to solve problems to get a treat are particularly good for Pugs, catering to their problem-solving instincts.

Regular Outings

Take your Pug to pet-friendly stores, parks, and events to expose them to different environments and sounds. This builds their confidence and reduces anxiety in new situations.

Family Involvement

Since Pugs are family-oriented dogs, involve different members of your household in training and activities. This helps distribute attachment and prevents overdependence on a single person.

By focusing on these specific aspects of training and socialization, you can harness your Pug’s natural abilities and develop a well-rounded companion. Remember, the key to successful training with Pugs lies in understanding their unique psychological makeup and using it to foster a positive learning environment.

Pug Purchasing and Adoption

three fawn Pug puppies for safe how much do Pugs cost

When deciding to bring a Pug into your life, choosing the right source — whether a breeder or through adoption — is crucial. Here’s how to ensure you’re making the best choice for a healthy and happy Pug.

Choosing a Reputable Breeder

To find a responsible breeder, the Pug Dog Club of America (PDCA) is an excellent resource. Visit their website here to connect with ethical breeders committed to the health and welfare of Pugs. Look for breeders who:

  • Provide a clean, safe environment for their dogs.
  • Perform health screenings on their breeding dogs to check for common genetic problems in Pugs.
  • Allow you to meet the puppy’s parents and siblings.
  • Offer guidance on caring for your Pug and provide ongoing support after you take your puppy home.

Adoption Options

If you prefer to adopt, there are many rescue organizations dedicated to Pugs. Adopting a Pug can be a rewarding experience, giving a dog a second chance at a loving home. Consider these reputable organizations:

Cost Overview

Owning a Pug involves various costs, from initial expenses to ongoing care. Here’s what you can expect:

Initial Costs

These include the purchase or adoption fee, which can vary widely. For a Pug from a reputable breeder, prices can range from $1,000 to $3,000 depending on the breeder’s reputation and the puppy’s lineage. Adoption fees are generally lower, ranging from $250 to $500, covering vaccinations and spaying/neutering.

Ongoing Costs

Veterinary Care – Routine check-ups, vaccinations, and preventative medications. Given Pugs’ health issues, set aside funds for potential treatments related to their breed-specific conditions.

Food – High-quality dog food formulated for small breeds, which can cost around $20 to $60 per month.

Grooming – Professional grooming costs, if you choose to use these services, along with grooming supplies.

Insurance –  Pet insurance is highly recommended to help manage potential high veterinary costs, typically ranging from $30 to $50 per month.

Understanding these costs and planning for them can help ensure that you are financially prepared for the responsibility of owning a Pug, making the journey with your new companion enjoyable and stress-free.


Bringing a Pug into your life is a joyful and rewarding experience that comes with its own unique set of responsibilities. From understanding their health and dietary needs to ensuring they receive proper training and socialization, owning a Pug requires a committed and informed approach. 

Whether you choose to find your canine companion through a reputable breeder or opt for adoption, knowing what to expect in terms of both initial and ongoing costs will help you provide the best possible care for your Pug.

By following the guidelines and tips outlined in this article, you’ll be well-equipped to make informed decisions that ensure a happy, healthy life for your Pug. Remember, a well-cared-for Pug can bring immense joy and companionship to your home, making all the effort truly worthwhile.

Meet Your Experts

Avatar of author

Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.