By, Katy Cable-TWR /A 4 min read
Most of my followers are PUG-OBSESSED like I am, but for those joining The Weekly Runt interested in adding a Pug to your family, I want to educate you on some important facts about this special breed that should come with the buyer’s manual. I don’t want anyone to be "unpleasantly" 😳 surprised!
I never originally wanted a dog. I actually dreaded getting one! And then I was introduced to PUGS! Now I know why people who love pugs say, "Its not just a dog, it's a PUG!" They are darling. They are hysterical. They tug at your heartstrings and just like that you’re hooked and have to have one.
First of all, no two pugs are alike. Don't assume that magical, snuggle bunny pug on your neighbor's lap or that comical pug dressed up on YouTube is what you're going to get. Pugs, like all dogs, vary greatly in their temperament, energy, intelligence, and independence. Personalities range from go-with-the-flow to I'm-in-charge-of-everything. That being said, there are some generalizations that tend to be SPOT ON:
PUG PUPPIES: If I'm lucky, every day at work I might have the opportunity to help out new pet parents shopping for their first puppy. Usually, the puppy is cuddled in their arms dozing in and out of sleep. Just like a new sleeping baby, that in the blink of an eye turns into a high-energy toddler on the move, the same holds true for puppies. Warn as I do, these parents are usually astounded when all too quickly that same puppy is a whirling dervish of energy. They snuggle for 30 seconds and then are off again to race around the house, leaving a trail of destruction in his or her path. Pug puppies are no different from any other puppy. Expect nipping, chewing, gnawing, jumping, pulling on your pant legs, shoe destroying, and lots of mayhem.
Here's the reality. The only puppy that is a couch potato is a SICK puppy. Most are bundles of non-stop energy. You likely won't have a couch potato pug until at least the age of three, and your pug may NEVER be a couch potato. Pugs from reputable breeders are more likely to have the typical pug temperament eventually, but even they will be little spitfires as puppies. If your puppy is from the internet, a pet store, a newspaper ad, or rescue, then it's up for grabs what kind of temperament you may end up with. You might luck out and get a pug that has the solid and stable temperament that is the signature of the breed, but you might also end up with a pug like my Olive who has deep-seated issues that take diligent, loving, consistent, training to transform.
One of the best ways to wear a puppy out (or any busy dog) is to engage them in activities that make them work and think. This is why I cannot say enough about obedience classes! It will be money and time very well spent. Classes are a great way for both of you to bond, socialize and learn. One hour of training can really take the edge off of a busy new pup!
A high-maintenance breed: Don't get me wrong. I love my pugs, but they are, without a doubt, a high-maintenance breed. They need and want a lot of attention. Pugs are and were bred for the sole purpose of being companion animals. They need people. If you’re going to be gone for long periods of time and/or be too tired to engage with your pug when you get home from work, then a pug likely isn't the dog for you. And pug puppies are developing and learning. They need stimulation, guidance, time, and attention. Any puppy left crated for six to eight hours will be absolutely manic by the time you get home. You will need you to devote the remainder of the evening to them. And definitely have someone available to care for them during the day. Pugs are often referred to as a "VELCRO DOG" so if you don't want a dog that is going to be wherever you are all the time (including in the bathroom), then rethink getting a pug.
Housetraining: Pug puppies will not be house trained in a month or two. It might possibly take six months. Some pick it up quickly, but most take much longer before they are completely consistent and reliable. And most pugs won't ask to go out. Pugs generally will not just go outside and do their business while you relax comfortably on the couch enjoying a cappuccino. If they are outside, you'd better be outside with them. Most will not potty outside without your company and encouragement. (Actually, the only thing they probably will do without your fanfare is EAT!)
While some pugs can hold their bladders all day while you're at work, most can't and shouldn't be expected to. So if you're contemplating a pug (or small breed dog) then be sure that you can afford to have someone come in and let the dog out or make an 'approved' spot in your home for them to go. Punishing a pug (or any dog) for an accident is not an effective method of house training. Rubbing the dog's nose in the mess and yelling "No!", "Bad Dog!" and other choice words, will likely create a dog who becomes a sneaky excreter and fearful of your behavior. You must use praise and positive reinforcement to house-train. There are many good books, articles and trainers to help you with house-training issues if needs be. Pugs are very adept at figuring out what you will and will not tolerate, but they also like to test the limits. You don't need to be a dictator, but all dogs want to know what the routine is and like a predictable world.
PUG-ALICIOUS PUGS: Pugs have a variety of unique quirks that drive some people bonkers. They can be nosy, inquisitive, and often right under foot. Most are tremendously and dangerously food driven and will consume things that you don't consider edible. -I'm not kidding. They will eat poop, grass, rocks, coins, packaging, and basically anything they can get in their jaws around. They especially love Kleenex and toilet paper. It is your most important job to pug-proof your home in order to avoid tragedy! I never trust a pug around any food source, garbage can or even cabinets that they can reach. In my home, trash cans sit up high on cupboards, gates are installed, cabinets are locked, and chairs are pushed away from table tops. If there’s a possibility they can get where the food is, even a sedentary pug will muster up the energy to "table surf!" -I have many ER vet bills to prove it. And it's not just tables. I've had contents of entire trash cans devoured. Things I never knew lived under the bed and old food left in a jacket pocket or a backpack have been devoured in a NY minute.
Pugs can be quite vocal and can be barkers, criers, howlers, moaners and grumblers. You may have watched videos of them singing and saying, "I love you". Mine all cry and sing with joy when I return home after time away. As a breed, they have the widest assortment of noises I've ever heard. And speaking of noises, check out TikTok and watch pugs sleeping. Most snore like buzz saws.
Pugs are referred to as “multim in parvo” meaning “A lot of dog in a small space.” Pugs are tough little dogs that pack a lot of punch in their compact bodies. They are confident and have no clue how small they are. Most will not initiate a fight, but many will vigorously defend themselves or others TO THEIR DEATH if a fight starts. Often, they are hopelessly outclassed in the fighting department and can get seriously hurt if owners aren't careful. To say they are a food driven breed is a huge understatement. Be prepared for possible issues with food aggression and resource guarding. Especially if you have other dogs.
Pugs are not fans of inclement or extreme weather and will resist venturing outside in the cold, rain, snow, extreme heat or wind. They are prone to over-heating extremely quickly due to their "flat-noses.” Keep your environment in mind before getting a pug.
Pug Smarts: While many people perceive pugs as dumb dogs. They aren't. In fact, most are extremely smart. Their outrageous food drive usually makes them fairly easy to train. They make amazing therapy and service dogs. You also won't find better sports about dawning costumes for photos and videos. Although they are loads of fun to dress up and take out, it's often easy to forget they are DOGS. They need to do dog things such as go to parks, meet other dogs, play, and have fun.
P.E=Pug Exercise: While pugs aren't known for being athletic, sporting dogs, there are many, like Surf Gidget The Pug that excel at surfing, swimming, and agility. Some can run like Greyhounds and are fit as fiddles. And while most would prefer to flop on your lap all day, running only to their food bowl at meal time, that isn't good for either of you. It’s best if you both get daily fresh air and exercise.
Pugs can easily get FAT! No matter how much you feed them they will tilt their head’s and act like they haven't eaten in a week, As cute as they look with their barreled chests, thick necks, round faces, and broad shoulders, it is really easy to let them get dangerously obese! Pugs in particular need the right amount of food for their activity level. You significantly shorten their lifespan and quality of life by letting them get obese. (-See my blog on “Dog Pounds” )
Pug health: This, more than any other issue, is often the undoing of many a pug owner. As with any pure breed dog, a plethora of expensive health issues may crop up. DO YOUR RESEARCH on both the breed and where you are getting your pug from. Rescues generally have a good idea of the health issues facing a given dog. -Don't assume that a rescued pug is going to be a health nightmare. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Rescues rehabilitate sick pugs PRIOR to adoption and disclose any known special needs or issues. They stand by their pugs. As do reputable breeders. You do put yourself at risk for expensive health issues with pugs from pet stores, internet ads and the newspaper. These people are out for the sole purpose of making money. They have no consideration for the care snd welfare of animals.
Pugs have issues Be prepared for some degree of health issues associated with brachycephalic (flat faced) breeds. Although not always serious, most pugs suffer from some degree of breathing problems, heat intolerance, dry eye, dental problems, rashes in their wrinkles and skin folds and collapsed tracheas. Although not as common, there is also Pug Dog Encephalitis (PDE) that is pug specific. It is a deadly, awful disease, but thankfully not very common.
Pugs are very sensitive: The have a high rate of allergies with food sensitivities topping the list. Pugs must be fed a high quality diet. Grocery store kibble won't cut it! You can avoid a host of future problems if you feed your pug wholesome, premium food. -And that usually isn’t the food you see on TV commercials. Check any of my food-related blogs for suggestions and watch for my upcoming cookbook with simple, healthy, recipes. Pug nutrition is the number #1 way to promote good health, lower vet bills, and give your pug a longer life.
Ahh-chooo! God bless you! Pugs do a horribly scary thing called Reverse Sneezing. I ran my first pug, Raisin to the ER, TWICE in a complete panic! I was convinced he was suffocating and was politely told it was just a reverse sneeze and all pugs do it. It sounds like they’re coughing, honking and gasping for air all at once. They gaze at you as if they can’t breathe. It can be brought on by stress, excitement and/or allergies. Usually, if you remain calm, pinch their nostrils together and gently blow in their face, they will open their mouths and breathe normally. Take note of when it happens to avoid triggers.
Pug grooming: New Pug owners, myself included, are always surprised to learn that fawn pugs shed like crazy. It's downright astonishing! The good news is they don't need extensive grooming you can't easily do yourself. In addition to shedding, most have dry eye and they get enormous eye goobers. You will also need to regularly clean their nose folds and ears. And then there’s a pugs nails! Pugs are notoriously fussy about having their nails trimmed. You can see some real dramatic behavior around nail clipping in particular. I've known several pugs to start screaming as if they were being killed at the slaughter before the nail trimming even started. I recommend frequent (every 3-5 weeks) nail-trim appointments, and offering CBD treats 2 hours prior.
Pugs are one of the most affectionate, funny and overtly loving breeds you can ever own. But, I don't want anyone blindsided. For me and many others, they're worth every bit of effort, expense, and time they require. I promise you these little clowns will provide hours of entertainment and completely melt your heart. What about you? Do you have a pug? How many of these characteristics do they have?
🐾**If you are interested in getting a pug, I hope you will consider rescuing one in need of a loving home. Message me for rescue groups in your area as well as rescue groups I work with.