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 who are interested in adding a Pug to your family, I want to educate you on some important facts about this special breed so you’re not "unpleasantly" 😳 surprised!
Believe it or not 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 all of the sudden you're hooked and HAVE TO HAVE ONE. -OR FIVE!
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 singing on YouTube is what you're going to get. Pugs, like all dogs vary greatly in their temperament, energy, intelligence and independence ranging 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, everyday 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 who snuggles for 30 seconds and then is 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! Even with CoVid raging, it may be safe to attend a small, outdoor class with everyone keeping safe distances. Jump on YouTube and check out all the free training videos, or hire a trainer to come to you or meet outdoors, one-on-one if that works better.
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 eight to ten hours will be absolutely manic by the time you get home and will need you to devote the remainder of the evening to them. They 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.
House training: Pug puppies will not be house trained in a month or two or possibly even six. 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, videos and trainers to help you with house-training issues if needs be.
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, screws, anything they can get in their mouths. They ESPECIALLY love Kleenex and toilet paper. It is your most important job to pug proof your home to avoid tragedy! I never trust a pug around any food source, garbage or even cabinets they can reach. In my home, trash cans sit up high on cupboards, gates are installed, locks are secured on cabinets and chairs are pushed away from table tops. I’ve leaned even a sedentary pug will muster up the energy to "table surf!" if they can get to wherever the food is. I have many ER vet bills to prove it. And it's not just tables. I've had contents of entire trash cans ravaged. Things I never knew lived under the bed and in a jacket pocket or a backpack have been devoured in a NY minute.
Pugs can be quite vocal barkers, criers, howlers, moaners and grumblers. You may have watched videos of them singing, "I love you.” Every pug I’ve ever known cries and sings with joy when their owners return home after time away. As a breed, they have the widest assortment of noises I've ever heard. And 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 scuffle 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 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. Most 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 and you won't find better sports about dawning costumes for photos and videos. And while they are so much 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. Pugs are very adept at figuring out what you will and will not tolerate and will 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 Energy: While pugs aren't ideal running partners or known for being athletic, sporting dogs, there are many, like Surf Gidget The Pug that excel at surfing, swimming, agility, run like Greyhounds and are fit as fiddles. And while most would prefer to flop on your lap all day, their only athleticism shown in racing to their dog dish at mealtime, that isn't good for either of you. It’s important to prioritize getting regular exercise together.
Speaking of exercise, Pugs can easily get FAT. As cute as they look with their square, barreled shoulders and chest, and the way they always act like they haven't eaten in a week, 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 last week’s blog on extra “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 the breed and especially on where you are getting your pug. 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. You do put yourself at risk for expensive health issues with pugs from pet stores, internet ads and the newspaper. Though less likely, even reputable breeders who have genetic testing going back generations offer no guarantee that your pug won't have an issue.
Pugs are a sensitive breed. They are prone to a host of chronic health problems such as breathing, eyes, and folds of skin, specific to brachycephalic (flat faced) breeds. In addition, they may also include: luxating patella, dental problems, and collapsed trachea, typically seen in the toy breeds. And then there is the dreaded Pug Dog Encephalitis (PDE) that is pug specific.
Pugs have a very high rate of allergies—food containing grains being a big one. Pugs need a high quality diet. Grocery store kibble won't cut it and you can avoid a host of future problems if you start off feeding your pug with premium food. Check any of my food-related blogs for suggestions. Pug nutrition is my number #1 way to promote good health, lower vet bills and a provide them with a longer life.
New Pug owners, myself included, are always surprised to learn that fawn pugs shed fur like trees shed their leaves in autumn. It's downright astonishing! They don't need extensive grooming you can't easily do yourself but they get enormous eye goobers and need regular cleaning of nose folds, ears and eye areas. And MY GOD are they 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 squealing as if they were being killed at the slaughter before the nail trimming even started.
They also do a horribly scary thing called reverse sneezing. I ran my first pug, Raisin to the ER, TWICE convinced he was suffocating and was politely told it was just a reverse sneeze and all pugs do it.
That being said, Pugs are one of the most affectionate, funny and overtly loving breeds you can ever own. But, I don't want anyone blindsided. To me, 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. Pugs and kisses! -Katy 😘
🐾**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 or check out the following rescues I work with here in So Cal:
The Pug Queen
Pugs and Pals
Pugs and Roses