Little is actually known about the history and origin of the Pug dog, but it is certain they originated in China centuries ago. They appear, in stylized form, on many ancient Chinese artworks and were known to Confucius (551 B.C. - 479 B.C.). It appears that Pugs, along with other short-nosed breeds, were the favorite of Chinese Emperors as early as the 1st century.

The breed as we know it today has its origins in England. The earliest Pugs to arrive in England, ca. 16th century, were referred to as Dutch Mastiffs, however, they were no relation to the Mastiffs breed. With the accession of William and Mary the Pug became popular. A painting by Philip Reinagle shows a mature Pug with cropped ears, black mask and a tightly curled tail playing with a smaller Pug who was also cropped. Cropping the Pug's ears, a custom which called for the dogs ears to be cut off close to the head, was followed in England until 1800 when the barbaric custom was discontinued. It was thought that cropping accentuated the wrinkles and puckering of the dog's forehead.

In William Hogarth's time (a famous English painter and engraver, 1697 - 1764, who gained a reputation as a painter of English manners and customs) the Pug was revered by the English aristocracy. No lady of title dared not own the breed.

The Whilloughby family of England is credited with creating the Whilloughby strain of Pugs. Whilloughby Pugs were a silver-fawn color with a distinct dark streak or trace along its back, from the base of the head to its tail, date to 1843 when the Whilloughbys acquired two specimens and bred them. They became very popular and were the rage of England for quite some time. They were so popular that they became the object of thieves who wanted to fill orders for the distinctive little dogs from around the world.

The Pugs we see today are substantially the same as existed during the Georgian period in England with the exception of the cropped ears. The breed has remained purer than many other breeds.

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Pugs are decidedly square and cobby with compact, stout bodies having well decided proportions and a developed muscle structure. The Pug's muzzle should be short, blunt and square. Their bodies should be short and cobby with a wide chest. Their legs strong, straight and of moderate length. Lean and leggy Pugs, as well as those with short legs and long bodies, are not good examples of the breed, but they still make wonderful family pets. The head should be large, round and massive with profuse wrinkles. The eyes, another of the Pug's predominant features, should be dark in color, large, spherical in shape, and bold. Their expressions should be one that projects concern, attentiveness and eagerness. One look into the eyes of a Pug and you will fall in love with them immediately. The mask should be as black as possible, the darker and more defined the better. The ears are small and thin with a soft feeling, almost as if touching black velvet. Two shapes can be found in the ears, the "rose" and "button." The "button" shape, where the ear is folded over, is the preferred shape. The tail should be as tightly curled as possible and up, over the hip. A double curl is highly sought after and considered perfect.

A Pug's coat should be a fine, soft, and short hair. It should be smooth and glossy and can be either silver, apricot-fawn or black. For silver and apricot-fawn colors the dog's mask, muzzle, ears and trace (the line extending along the dog's back from head to tail) should be as black as possible to form as complete a contrast as possible with the dog's coat color.

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Temperament and Sociability

The Pug's temperament is probably one of its most sought after features. In my over twenty-five years association with Pugs I have yet to meet one, whether it be in a friend's home or a stranger walking one on the street, that was not friendly and outgoing even to strangers and little children. Pugs seem to love everyone equally and energetically. They are excellent with children. While they qualify as a small dog don't let that concern you. They are a rugged little breed and hearty when it comes to the rough and tumble play that children can sometimes engage in. They are sensible enough to disappear when the play gets to rough or does not go in a way they expect it should.

I have never heard a Pug growl in earnest. I managed to teach one of ours, Missy, to growl when we played tug of war with a toy, and Padi has been known to growl occasionally when he spots another dog on the street. But their growl is not the type we associate with a dog showing its temper. It's more of a whimper with an attitude.

Pugs are very loving and loyal friends. While they may, in families, align themselves to one person, they are not traditionally what you might consider a "one person dog" to the exclusion of others. Padi, for example, is definitely a daddy's boy. He willingly spends every moment he can with me rather than Anne. That is as long as Anne is not in the kitchen cooking something. Whenever something is being cooked by anyone Padi then becomes "their" dog for the duration of that cooking time. In reality he becomes the "food" dog. His loyalties, no doubt, are directed at being fed by any and everyone. They, without question, love food of all types and quantities. Even dry and canned dog food!

A Pugs congenial temperament is not limited to just us humans, they are sociable with other animals as well. Whether it's cats (Padi shares our house with three cats), small or large dogs they mingle well and get along with few problems. They are eager to play with animals of all species and can often be found looking to instigate some adventure with one of their house mates.

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Grooming and Daily Exercise

Pugs have two loves in life: their family and food! The first presents no problems, but the second can be dangerous. When it comes to eating most Pugs do not know the meaning of the word enough. They will eat and eat and eat all day long and, as a result, can become overweight easily. You, the owner, must control this to insure that the dogs stays within the guidelines for their age and size. An overweight Pug is an unhealthy dog. Do them a favor and keep them trim and fit at all times.

Daily exercise is one way to keep you Pug healthy and fit. They enjoy long walks and free romps in open areas. Padi loves to run and, especially, chase other animals and children. While they will never play Frisbee with you the way you see other larger breeds do, they will eagerly play a game of fetch with anything they can comfortably fit into their mouth. Even in the house a good game of fetch can be used to keep your Pug in healthy shape.

Brushing your Pugs coat is a good thing (not to steal a phrase from you know who) and will make both you and your Pug happy. Their short-hair coats are thick and subject to quite a bit of shedding. Frequent brushing stimulates the oils in their skin and helps to keep the coat clean and shining. You should brush the coat in both the direction the hair grows (to clean the surface coat) and against the growth direction (to remove and clean the undercoat). I suggest using one of the wraparound blade brushes as they are excellent for removing loose hairs from the dog's coat. I also suggest when brushing your dog in an open area of the yard you do so in an out-of-the-way place as a rather large patch of hair will remain on the ground.

Bathing your Pug can be fun for both you and them. While bathing is not something that needs to be done frequently (providing you keep the dog's coat clean by frequent grooming) an occasional bath is recommended. The first couple of times you bath your Pug be sure to do so with loving and gentle kindness. Doing so will insure that your Pug looks forward to the experience in the future and keeps bathing from becoming a necessary evil chore. When finished bathing the Pug have a couple of clean towels handy and vigorously rub the coat dry. The rougher, it seems, the better. Pugs love a vigorous rubbing and will gladly run toward your towel for more.

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Medical Concerns

Extreme care should be given to your Pug in five main areas: The feet, nails, ears, eyes and respiratory system.

The pads of your Pug's feet should be inspected frequently, especially after any romps in areas where they may be cut or otherwise damaged. The foot pad is an amazingly strong material but, when damaged, it becomes a source of great and annoying pain to the Pug. Quick medical attention is recommended to insure that the pad heals quickly and correctly.

The nails should be trimmed frequently to avoid any problems.

The ears should be inspected and, if necessary, cleaned frequently. The "button" ear type, where the ear is folded over, creates an amazingly wonderful environment for ear mites and ear infections to manifest. Gentle cleaning with an approved ear wash can eliminate the problems before they become serious.

A Pug's eyes can be a source for much trouble depending on the dog. The eyes are large and protrude quite far from the dog's flat face. Combine the protruding eyes with the flat face and you may end up with eye ulcers (small nicks and abrasions) caused by direct contact with other objects. One way to avoid some of these problems is to exercise care when selecting the Pug's food dish. Be sure to select one where the eyes are not exposed to sharp or jagged edges. If possible select a food dish where the dog's eyes, when they place their face into it (which they will do when eating), do not come in contact with any surface of the food dish. If the dog continually is scratching or rubbing their eyes take them to the vet immediately to determine if they have an eye ulcer and have the problem medically treated quickly.

Attention to and your awareness of the Pug's respiratory system is essential. Many problems can result because of the flat face profile and you should be aware of their condition continually, especially in aged Pugs. Constricted windpipes are not uncommon and require medical intervention immediately.

Another condition you should be aware of, also due to the Pug's flat profile, has to do with the forming of the brain stem to the spinal cord. Some Pugs, perhaps because of inbreeding or some other reason, have trouble in correctly forming the connection between the brain stem and spinal cord. There is no way of knowing this until a problem develops. We have lost two dearly loved Pugs to this problem. One at six years old and the other at only six months. While losing a Pug is a heartbreaking experience for anyone, it is not sufficient to keep you from bringing one into your home. If you bring one into your home you will be more than willing bring another, and another and another.

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Anyone owning a Pug naturally wants to breed them to create more just like "mama" or "papa." What could be better than having a house full of the little buggers running underfoot?

Before deciding to breed a Pug insure that the health of the dog is excellent and that they don't have any bad health problems that they could pass onto the puppies. While the purists of the breeders would suggest you not mate your Pug unless they have more good qualities than bad, the average person who breeds a Pug does so out of love for the dog and not purity of the breed. If your Pug has deficiencies look for a mate with the qualities to compensate for your Pug's deficiencies. However, there is no guarantee that this will be successful.

If you own the female Pug wait until she is about two years old and has experienced at least two "heat" seasons. An average "heat" season lasts about twenty-eight days. It is the second and third week, when there is sufficient vaginal discharge, that is the best time to breed your Pug. While one breeding may be enough to impregnate your Pug it is suggested that two matings occur several days apart to improve you chances of success.

The gestation period will be between 58 and 65 days. During this period diet and exercise are important. You may not actually be aware whether or not your breeding was successful until the end of the gestation period. You may notice no changes in the Pug's behavior at all so don't be discouraged if you see no signs of the pregnancy. Toward the end of the gestation period the Pug may become lethargic and not want to engage in its normal exercise regimen. Gentle exercise, such a a good walk, is recommended.

You should prepare something for the dog to give birth in, what is commonly referred to as a whelping box. It should be comfortable and large enough for the mother and her expected puppies. While you may go to great lengths to do this keep in mind that it may not be used for its intended purpose. I have found that the mother will choose her preferred place no matter what you do short of chaining them to the whelping box. Even if it is not used for the actual whelping, it will be handy to keep the pups safe and confined once they are born.

When whelping time arrives, usually proceeded by an unusual period of twenty-four hours without eating and a two-degree drop in her normal body temperature, pay close attention to her actions and motions without disturbing her to much. If there appears to be an effort to deliver the pups with no success wait an hour. If at the end of the hour no pups have arrived call a vet at once. If a pup arrives observe the mother's actions closely to insure that she removes the amniotic sac surrounding the puppy. If necessary you may have to do this for her. Delivering these puppies is a strenuous exercise for the mother and your help may be required. You should be willing to dive in and help at anytime and if you feel you are not capable of jumping in then be sure someone is there who can help if necessary. If the mother fails to bite the umbilical cord you must cut it using scissors about one inch from the puppy's navel. If it bleeds tie it with a silk thread.

Following the birth of each puppy there should be an afterbirth. Insure that each birth is followed by an afterbirth and, if not, contact a vet to remove the afterbirth from the birth canal. The mother may eat the afterbirth.

With the birth of each puppy insure that the amniotic sac is removed and that any mucus is removed from the puppy's nose and mouth. A brisk rubbing with a small towel will help stimulate the puppy. Place the puppy, alive and kicking, near the mother's tummy and help it find a teat to enjoy its first meal, mommie's milk.

With the first successful arrival all you have to do now is wait for the second, third, fourth or however many are due to come. You will feel like the proud parent yourself and you will develop a closeness with the mother and her puppies that cannot be found through any other means.

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Things You Should Know Before Owning A Pug
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