Pugs: Just the Facts

If cute is in the eye of the beholder, are Pugs just the cutest little dogs or not? The breed originated in China over 2000 years ago, probably from the Tibetan Mastiff. After numerous generations, the breed was downsized to the Pug we know and love today.

1. Where did the name “Pug” come from?

Well, it certainly wasn’t because the breed is Pugnacious. Many think that it comes from the Latin word “Pugnus” which means fist. With all the wrinkles, their face can easily look like a clenched fist.

2. Why all the wrinkles?

According to the American Kennel Club, the Pug’s wrinkly face was an attempt by breeders to emulate the Chinese character for “prince” (王) So, next time you run into a Pug, look and see if they have “prince” written across their forehead.

3. What was the original purpose for Pugs?

Pugs were one of several species that were bred to be companions for the royals in ancient China. They were sweet, even-tempered lap dogs that were highly valued. They lived a life of luxury–sometimes even being guarded by soldiers.

Today, they are still that same dog, easy-going, following their human parents around the house, begging to sit on their lap for tons of affections.

4. When did Pugs find their way to Europe? 

The first Pugs came on Dutch trading ships in the 1500s. They quickly became the favorite of many of the royals there. More Pugs were brought to English in the 1860s after the British invaded China. The dogs that they brought back were much more like the Pugs of today and were bred with Pugs already in England.

5. Who are some of the famous Pug parents in history? 

Aside from the Chinese Emperors, there are many. William of Orange and Mary, who took the throne of Great Britain in 1688 were the proud parents of Pugs. It is even said that a Pug warned William of approaching Spanish soldiers, saving his life. In France, Marie Antoinette had a Pug as did Josephine, Napoleon’s wife. Across the English channel, Queen Victoria loved Pugs so much that she spent a lot of time breeding them.

6. What about Pugs in pop culture? 

Pugs appear in paintings by the 18th century English artist William Hogarth as well as a 1785 painting by Goya.

In Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen, Lady Bertram, one of the characters had a Pug, and in the book, she was described as “thinking more of her Pug than her children.”

Who can forget Frank the Pug in Men in Black 1 and Men in Black 2? In Breakin’ All the Rules, Jamie Foxx’s character Quincy Watson gets dumped but ends up with his ex’s Pug Rufus. And who can forget the wonderfully cute Otis in Milo and Otis?

7. What are Pugs like in real life?  

Well, whoever came up with the saying, “A dog is man’s best friend” probably was the proud human parent of a Pug. Pugs are not whiny, yipping little dogs. They are calm, dignified best friends.

If they have a fault, it is that they love their human parents too much and follow them around the house wanting to be held and petted. Their favorite place, you got it, is on your lap.

8. Do Pugs have any annoying habits?  

Well, maybe. They like to eat… a lot. With those big brown eyes staring up at you while you are at the table, how can you not give your furry baby a few table scraps? Just remember that they tend to be overweight, limiting their treats and taking them for regular walks (use a safety reflector vest to keep your Pug safe). Enticing your Pug with play, such as tug with rope toys, can also keep their muscles toned and burn excess calories.

They also have a habit of snoring. Since they love being with you, and most will beg to hop into bed with you at night, this annoying habit can be a problem, but if their snoring wakes you up, remember that cute little wrinkly face is the cause of the snoring, and all will be right with the world again.


Fact: Pugs Live Up to Their Reputations, Plus Some! 

While Pugs might not be perfect, they are about as close to the perfect canine companion as you can get. If you are lucky, a Pug puppy will adopt you, and before long, your Pug partner will be the first thing you see in the morning and the last as you drift off into la-la land at night.

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