Pugs, Much in Little

Pugs, Much in Little

One of the oldest breeds, Pugs have had a prominent influence on artists and royalty, and also played a part in history. Meet the remarkable little dogs that have left a big mark.

p06 pug dreamstime_7556523The Pug is one of the oldest breeds known today, believed to have originated before 400 BC. There is somewhat of a debate over the origin of the Pug. Most researchers agree that the Pug originated from Asia, descended from a shorthaired Pekingese. The breed was popularized in Western Europe by the House of Orange of the Netherlands, and the House of Stuart.

A small, stocky, thickset dog, these breed have big heads with short, blunt muzzles. Their eyes are large, prominent and dark and their thin ears are either rose or button shaped. Coats are soft, fine and smooth and come in apricot, fawn, black and silver.
The breed is often described as multum in parvo, or “much in little”, alluding to the Pug’s remarkable personality, despite its small size.Strong willed but rarely aggressive, the majority of the breed is very fond of children and sturdy enough to properly play with them. Depending on their owner’s mood, they can be quiet and docile but also vivacious and teasing. Pugs tend to have a lazy nature and spend a lot of time napping. They are often called “shadows” because they follow their owners around and like to stay close to the action.


Since Pugs lack longer snouts and prominent skeletal brow ridges, they are susceptible to eye injuries and they also have compact breathing passageways, leaving many prone to breathing difficulties or unable to efficiently regulate their temperature

through evaporation from the tongue by panting.


Pugs catch colds easily and are stressed by hot and cold weather. Their breathing problems can be worsened by the stresses of travelling in air cargo, which may involve high temperatures. Following the deaths of Pugs and other brachycephalic breeds, several airlines either banned their transport in cargo or enacted seasonal restrictions.


Pugs that live a mostly sedentary life can be prone to obesity, though this is avoidable with regular exercise and a healthy diet. The median life span of Pugs is 11 years, which is in line with other breeds of the same size.


Pugs have had a prominent role on art and history. The artist Hogarth had a Pug named “Trump” that he often depicted in his works. The breed became popular during Victorian times in the 19th century.

The breed made its way to Japan and Europe, where it not only became a pet of royalty but the official dog of the House of Orange in Holland.


In France, Napoleon’s wife Josephine had a Pug named Fortune. On their wedding night, when Napoleon refused to allow the dog to sleep in their bed, Josephine told him, “If the Pug does not sleep in our bed, neither do I!” When Josephine was sent to prison she used the little dog to send secret messages to her husband by placing a note under the collar of her Pug.