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Retro Pug: Complete Dog Breed Guide To The Old Fashioned Retromop - PawSafe

Retro Pug: Complete Dog Breed Guide To The Old Fashioned Retromop

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

Retro Pug

Welcome to the world of the Retro Pug, also called the Wondermop, a distinctive twist on the classic Pug that’s been winning hearts with its old-fashioned charm. This ‘designer dog’ is not just a trendsetter in the canine world but also a testament to thoughtful breeding, aiming to address some of the health issues faced by its more familiar relative. With their longer snouts and robust health, Retro Pugs are breathing new life into the pug lineage.

Comparing the Retro Pug vs. Pug, you’ll notice the Retro’s longer nose—a feature that harks back to the ‘old fashioned’ pugs of yesteryear. This not only gives them a unique look but is also a nod to healthier, more active lifestyles. Whether frolicking on a farm or cozying up in an apartment, these compact dogs bring joy and companionship in a slightly different package.

Before we delve into the details, let’s set the scene for what it means to welcome a Retro Pug into your life, from understanding their endearing temperament to caring for their specific needs.

To get a better understanding of Pugs vs. Retro pugs, we’ve consulted The Pug-Dog – Its History and Origin, the original guide to Pugs before they became the modern dog we know today. 

So, What Is Retro Pug?

The Retro Pug, also known as the Retromop or Retromöpse, is a mixed breed created by crossing a Pug with another longer-nosed small breed dog, such as the Old German Pug and the Parson Russell Terrier. The aim of this crossbreeding is to produce a dog that resembles the old-fashioned Pug, known for its longer snout and reduced risk of health issues.

These dogs are not quite the same as other designer breeds like the Standard Bernedoodle or mini Labradoodle. This is because these dogs are a response to the outcry and concerns over the many health problems that Pugs face. 

In fact, modern Pugs suffer so many issues because of their extremely short noses, bulging eyes and related problems, that many are questioning the ethics of whether they should be bred at all.

The AKC and other official Kennel clubs do not recognize the Retro Pug, since it is still a mixed breed. However, The International Retro Pug Club is a non-profit dedicated to improving the health of Pugs.

So, what is the answer? Well for some Pug lovers, the answer is to breed the modern Pug back to its original, healthier proportions that they used to have. The image below shows a painting of a Pug in 1860, which shows a dog with longer snout and a more natural head:

Compare this old fashion Pug in the painting above to a picture of a modern day pug and you may see why modern Pugs get so much criticism.

By Henry Bernard Chalon - Bonhams London 17 March 2013, auction 20784, lot 99, Public Domain, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=26559438

Now, compare this original image of what a pug used to look like with the modern Pug today and you can see why the modern pug is notorious for having significant more breathing and eye issues:

The Retro Pug is a delightful breed that stands as a symbol of both nostalgia and innovation. Unlike the regular Pug, with its distinctive ‘smushed’ face, the Retro Pug sports a longer snout which contributes to improved breathing and a healthier lifestyle. Breeders have worked meticulously to revive these ‘retro’ features, focusing on a breed standard that promotes the well-being of these lovable dogs.

Their temperament is as engaging as their looks; Retro Pugs are known for their playful and affectionate nature. They retain the sociability of the traditional Pug, making them excellent companions for families and individuals alike. It’s this combination of historical charm and contemporary health-consciousness that’s putting the Retro Pug on the map as a preferred pug mix.

History Of The Pug And Retro Pug

portrait of a happy retro pug dog smiling grey background

The Pug has a long and interesting history that goes back to ancient China, where they were considered royal companions for Chinese emperors. Fast forward to the 16th century, and Pugs made their way to Europe, capturing the hearts of nobility, including Queen Victoria of England.

Over time, Pugs went through some changes, especially in their faces. Breeding focused on creating a flatter face, which resulted in the modern Pug with its cute, squished nose and unique look. But this emphasis on appearance came with some health problems like breathing difficulties, eye issues, and trouble with overheating.

To address these health concerns and bring back the Pug’s older look, the Retro Pug emerged as a deliberate attempt to create a dog that resembles the Pugs of yesteryears. The idea behind the Retro mop is to address the ethical and welfare issues that surround breeding modern Pugs.

It’s important to also point out that critics of this dog say that the Retro pug is nothing more than a backyard bred dog and a simple crossbreed. So, if you are interested in one, it is vital to look for ethical breeders who are genuinely trying to improve the health of the breed.

On the other hand, those that are striving for a healthy pug breed standard will say this about the creation of this dog breed:

The Retro Pug is a modern take on the classic Pug, bred for improved health and well-being. The breed emerged from a blend of love for the traditional Pug and a clear-eyed recognition of its health issues related to its brachycephalic features. German breeders initiated the movement towards healthier Pugs, crafting the “Old German Pug” with features like a longer snout and legs, and less skin folding, enhancing the breed’s vitality.

Simultaneously, the “Retro Pug” or “Retromöpse” came into being, a result of crossbreeding efforts predominantly between the Old German Pug and the Parson Russell Terrier. This aimed to produce a dog with a significant Pug genetic makeup but with healthier attributes—more in line with a conventional canine structure. The breeders prioritized the health and function over traditional breed standards, leading to a diverse range of acceptable colors and physical features like a less tightly curled tail and a longer muzzle.

These developments represent a shift in breeding practices, from focusing solely on appearance to prioritizing the health and quality of life for these beloved dogs. The Retro Pug is thus a symbol of progression in dog breeding, offering a healthier alternativ-e-archive for those who cherish the Pug’s endearing qualities.

Retro Pug vs. Pug: What Does The Retro Pug Look Like?

Panting retro pug out on walk on leash

Retro Pugs come in different shapes and sizes, depending on the specific mix. The aim is to get a dog that keeps the Pug’s charm but with a longer snout and fewer health risks associated with those squished faces.

When it comes to looks, Retro Pugs are a fun mix of their Pug and other breed parents. They might have the Pug’s adorable round head, expressive eyes, and curly tail. Their coat can be fawn, black, tan, silver fawn brindle, or a mix of colors. Some Retro Pugs have wrinkly faces like Pugs, while others have smoother skin.

They tend to have eyes that protrude a bit like the Pug, and you may see signs of Beagle in them, like larger, floppy ears. The image below shows a normal Pug vs. a Retro version.

Side by side image of a normal modern pug next to a retro pug puppy to show differences in skull shape

How Big is a Retro Pug?

In terms of size, Retro Pugs are generally small to medium-sized. They can weigh anywhere between 15 to 30 pounds (6.8 to 13.6 kg) and stand around 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38 cm) tall at the shoulder.

Once again, you can compare the picture below which shows a normal Pug besides a Retro Pug for reference.

Temperament & Personality Of A Retro Pug Dog

calm and happy retro pug adult sitting outside

The trainability, intelligence, and personality of a Retro Pug can vary depending on the individual dog and the mix of breeds involved. Here are some general traits associated with Retro Pugs:

Retro Pugs are typically intelligent and eager to please, which can make them trainable. However, they can also be a bit stubborn at times, inheriting traits from both the Pug and the other parent breed. Positive reinforcement methods, such as rewards and treats, tend to work well in training Retro Pugs. Consistency, patience, and using short training sessions can help them stay engaged and focused.

Retromops are generally considered to be moderately intelligent. They can pick up commands and learn new behaviors with proper training and guidance. However, they may not be as quick to learn as some other highly intelligent breeds. It’s important to adapt training methods to suit their individual needs and abilities.

Retro Pugs often inherit a mix of personality traits from their parent breeds. They tend to be friendly, affectionate, and social dogs, just like Pugs. They enjoy being around their human family members and are known to be good with children. Retro Pugs can also exhibit some of the characteristics of the other parent breed, which may add variety to their personality traits. They can be playful, energetic, and curious, displaying a sense of adventure and exploration.

They may be more prone to chasing small animals than normal Pugs, and display more alertness, with a greater tendency to bark, dig, and roam than regular Pugs. However, this won’t be excessive and these are generally great dogs that fit in with families and dog well with other animals.

Retro Pugs generally have a loving and sociable nature, making them great companions 

The Cost of a Retro Pug

Close up standing retro mop dog

So, how much would you need to pay for one of this new emerging breed?

How Much Does a Retro Pug Puppy Cost?

On average, a Retro Pug puppy could cost anywhere between $1,200 to $2,500, with top breeders charging premium prices for puppies with distinct characteristics or from champion bloodlines. Keep in mind that rarer versions like the black Retro Pug might fetch a higher price due to their uncommon color.

Welcoming a Retro Pug into your family starts with understanding the price tag attached to these charming pups. A Retro Pug puppy’s price is shaped by various factors, including the breeder’s credibility, the puppy’s health screenings, and even the unique coloration or features such as the sought-after retro mop pug’s coat..

Before you decide to purchase, remember that while the initial cost can give you a ballpark figure, the ongoing expenses of caring for a Retro Pug will accumulate over time.

What Are the Ongoing Costs for a Retro Pug?

Owning a Retro Pug means a commitment to its well-being for the entirety of its life. The ongoing costs encompass a variety of needs, such as high-quality dog food, regular veterinary check-ups, vaccinations, preventive medications for parasites, and grooming essentials—especially for those Retro Mops Pugs whose unique coats may require extra care.

Additional expenses might include pet insurance, which can mitigate the costs of unexpected health issues, and potentially, expenses for addressing the Retro Pug’s unique health concerns, like dental care due to their compact skulls. There’s also the cost of replacing toys and bedding, obedience classes or training, and boarding or pet-sitting services during travel.

The yearly cost of maintaining a healthy, happy Retro Pug can run from $500 to over $1,000, not including emergency medical expenses. When considering a Retro Pug, it’s crucial to reflect on these costs to ensure that you can provide not just a loving home, but also one that can support the breed’s needs throughout its life.

Retropug vs. Pug: Choosing the Right Flat-Faced Friend

While both Retropugs and Pugs share a loveable, playful personality, some key differences might influence your decision. Here’s a breakdown to help you choose:


  • Pug: Pugs are brachycephalic (short-nosed) which can lead to breathing difficulties, overheating, and eye problems.
  • Retropug: The longer snout of the Retropug allows for better breathing and potentially fewer health concerns.


  • Pug: Pugs have a flat face with prominent wrinkles, a curled tail, and come in fawn and black.
  • Retropug: Retropugs have a longer snout, less pronounced wrinkles, a straighter tail, and may have additional coat colors like silver or peach.

Activity Level:

  • Pug: Pugs are generally lower energy and prefer shorter walks and playtime.
  • Retropug: Due to their mixed breed heritage, Retropugs may have slightly higher energy levels and enjoy more exercise.

Consider your lifestyle:

If you live in a hot climate or prioritize a dog with fewer health concerns, the Retropug might be a better fit. However, if you adore the classic pug look and are prepared to manage potential health issues, a Pug could be your perfect companion.

Is a Retropug Right for Me?

Retro mop old fashioned dog lying in sun longer nose

Before welcoming a Retropug into your home, consider your lifestyle and preferences:

Living situation:

  • Do you have an active lifestyle or prefer a laid-back companion?
  • Do you live in a hot climate or have the means to keep your dog cool?

Time commitment:

  • Are you prepared to dedicate time to training and exercise?
  • Retropugs are intelligent and require mental stimulation to prevent boredom.


  • Be prepared for potential vet bills associated with any dog breed.
  • Consider the cost of purchasing a puppy from a reputable breeder.

Research and commitment:

  • Research common Retropug health concerns and potential grooming needs.
  • Owning any dog is a long-term commitment. Ensure you can provide a loving and responsible home for your furry friend.

If you can answer these questions with confidence and the Retropug aligns with your lifestyle, this unique pup could be your perfect match!

How Long Do Retro Pugs Live?

Retro Pugs have an average lifespan of around 10 to 15 years, similar to that of Pugs (Studies show the average pug lives to be about 11 years old). However, individual lifespan can vary depending on various factors such as genetics, overall health, diet, exercise, and quality of care provided.

Health Issues With A Retro Pug Dog

Retro Pugs, like their Pug counterparts, may still face certain health issues despite efforts to reduce them through crossbreeding. They should have less respiratory problems related to brachycephalic airway syndrome. Still, here are some common health concerns that Retro Pugs may encounter:

  1. Brachycephalic Ocular Syndrome and Eye Problems: Retro Pugs may still be prone to brachycephalic ocular syndrome, which includes conditions like dry eyes, corneal ulcers, corneal pigmentation and protrusion of the eyeball. They may also be susceptible to other eye problems such as cherry eye, entropion (inward rolling of the eyelids), or cataracts.
  2. Skin Problems: Retro Pugs may experience skin issues such as allergies, dermatitis, or skin infections. Any skin folds require regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent infections or irritations.
  3. Luxating Patellas and Legg-Calvé-Perthe Disease: Retro Pugs can be prone to orthopedic problems such as luxating patellas (knee joint displacement) and Legg-Calvé-Perthe disease (hip joint disorder), which can lead to limping and discomfort. In fact, studies show that “gait abnormalities” or trouble walking are quite common in Pugs.
  4. Obesity: Pugs, including Retro Pugs, have a tendency to gain weight easily. Obesity can lead to various health issues, including joint problems, heart disease, and respiratory difficulties.
  5. Diabetes and Hypothyroidism: Retro Pugs may be at a higher risk of developing diabetes, a metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar levels. Hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid gland, can also occur in Retro Pugs and may result in weight gain, lethargy, and skin problems.
  6. Allergies and Skin issues: Retro Pugs may be prone to allergies, which can manifest as skin irritations, itching, hair loss, or ear infections.

It’s important for Retro Pug owners to be vigilant about their dog’s health, provide proper veterinary care, and adopt preventive measures to minimize the risk of these health issues. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and maintaining a healthy weight can also contribute to their overall well-being. Early detection and prompt veterinary attention are crucial for addressing any health concerns that may arise.

Caring For a Retro Pug Dog

So, are these high-maintenance dogs? Let’s look at what you need to know about caring for one of these dogs if you welcome them into your home.

Training & Exercise

A Retro Pug needs training and exercise to stay healthy. Getting to know its needs is key to keeping it happy and fit.

The following table summarizes the recommended training and exercise for a Retro Pug:

Training & Exercise Needs Of A Classic Pug DogDescription
Activity LevelRetro Pugs are only moderately active. Walks will help keep them in shape. They need at least 20 to 30 mins of daily activity, with extra playtime.
VitalityThey must be active due to their tendency to gain weight, breathing problems, and other health issues.
Grooming RequirementsRetros are low-maintenance. Brushing once or twice a week, depending on coat type, is enough. If they have wrinkles, make sure to clean them daily to avoid skin-fold pyoderma.

Remember that Retro Pugs still may have brachycephalic skulls so physical activity can be hard for them. Keeping them cool during exercise is essential. Also, use positive reinforcement techniques for training to keep your pet motivated.

Suggested workouts: walking, swimming, playing with toys for Dental care such as rope toys. Avoid strenuous activity.

Feeding And Nutrition Requirements For A Retro Pug Dog: The Best Food For A Retro Mop

Caring for a classic Pug breed can differ from one pooch to another. To feed your Pug right, consider its body shape, body weight, age, health, and exercise level

Since Pugs can be prone to obesity, it is essential to monitor their food intake per meal. Offer only high-quality pet food that satisfies their dietary needs. Furthermore, make sure they have access to clean drinking water always.

Our advice? Abstain from offering your classic Pug human food or too many treats, as this could lead to weight gain or stomach issues. Stick to pet-specific diets with an appropriate balance of protein, carbs, fats plus the necessary vitamins and minerals.

Grooming And Maintenance Of A Retro Pug Dog

When it comes to looking after your retro pug dog, there are some essential steps you must take. Grooming and maintenance can help prevent health problems and keep them looking their best. Here are five tips for caring for your retro pug:

  1. Brush their coat using a soft-bristled brush made for dogs.
  2. Trim their nails monthly or as needed with guillotine dog nail trimmers.
  3. Clean their ears with a pad soaked in an ear-cleaning solution doggy ear wipes every week.
  4. Bathe them with a mild dog shampoo formulated for sensitive skin once a month and make sure to dry them properly.
  5. Check their teeth for signs of decay or gum disease, brushing them with canine toothpaste. Use an oral hygiene additive in their water.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are Retro Pugs Healthy?

Retro Pugs aim to reduce some health issues associated with modern Pugs, but they can still be prone to certain health problems. Common concerns include brachycephalic ocular syndrome, eye problems, skin issues, orthopedic conditions, obesity, diabetes, hypothyroidism, allergies, and more. Responsible breeding and proper care are crucial for their well-being.

Are Retro Pugs Good With Other Pets?

Retro Pugs have unique personalities. They can be great with other animals if trained properly. But, their socialization skills can change this.

To make sure they get along, socialize them from a young age. Teach them good behavior around other animals. Supervision is important because Retro Pugs are a small breed and prone to injury.

Every pet has its own character, so results may vary. Introduce them slowly and observe.

Final Thoughts On The Retro Pug Dog Breed

The Retro Pug Dog Breed is something special. Dog lovers love them for their look, character, and personality. They are bred to resemble the original Pugs with longer noses and less extreme features. Although they are not yet a recognized breed, they may be the future for Pugs as a healthier option to purebreds.

Meet Your Experts

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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.