Pugs are a severely brachycephalic (flat-faced) breed.
Pugs are very likely to suffer from serious health and welfare issues due to their physical conformation, including severe breathing difficulties, eye problems and skin problems.
Due to the degree of potential suffering caused by breeding for exaggerated physical features rather than health and function, we strongly recommends owners consider a healthier breed, crossbreed or mongrel.
Pugs are a member of the ‘Toy’ breed group. Toy breeds are small companion dogs, commonly referred to as ‘lap dogs’. Most toy breeds love attention and can be very friendly and affectionate. They don’t require a large amount of exercise.
Pugs are very amiable, playful, confident dogs. They do have a tendency to be stubborn, so training can be a bit more of a challenge. Plenty of practice and patience should overcome this – for training tips take a look at our dog behaviour page.
Pugs integrate well with families and gets on well with young and old people. They need grooming once a week but will need daily cleaning of their facial wrinkles.
Breed-related health problems:
Although some of these health problems are manageable, it’s been identified that it’s in the best interests of the dog to try and selectively breed to decrease the characteristics which cause the health problems.
Some of the characteristics and associated health problems you’ll want to know more about in relation to Pugs include:
- Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) – occurs when the nostrils of a dog are narrowed (stenotic nares) and the soft palate is elongated. These cause breathing problems and symptoms such as exercise intolerance, increased noise when breathing and difficulty breathing. Pugs are prone to this and it is often the cause of their characteristic snoring or wheezing. There are both surgical and medical managements available and you should speak to your vet if you think your Pug is showing any symptoms of BOAS and having any difficulty breathing.
- Joint disorders – such as elbow dysplasia and hip dysplasia – occur when joints don’t develop correctly and cause degenerative joint disease. Bone and joint problems can be managed but there are schemes to screen your dog and see how likely it is that they will suffer from these joint problems.
- Eyelid problems – such as entropion and ectropion – occur in Pugs due to excessive skin over the face and eyes. This skin causes the eyelids to droop either downwards, or in towards the eye, where the skin rubs and irritates the eye, causing problems.
- Pugs can have a prominent eye position, larger eyeballs and sometimes their eyelids don’t close properly when they blink. This makes them more prone to eye infections and corneal ulcers. If you’re worried your Pug is having eye problems, you should speak to your vet straight away.
- Skin infections – Pugs have lots of extra skin, especially over their faces, which folds over and when bacteria builds up in the folds it causes skin fold pyoderma.
- Patella luxation – where the patella or ‘knee cap’ moves abnormally causing lameness. This can generally be corrected surgically.
- Tail problems – the bones in the tail of a Pug can form incorrectly and the tail can become inverted or ‘corkscrew.’ This can cause problems with the nerves around the area and need surgical correction. More commonly the large skin fold around the tail can become infected, called skin fold pyoderma.
- Hip dysplasia – hip joint laxity as a result of poor development, which will eventually lead to arthritis.
- Atopy – hypersensitivity to certain allergens, causing itching and skin trauma.
- Tracheal collapse – a condition where the tracheal rings collapse, obstructing the airway and making breathing difficult.
- Epilepsy – a condition resulting in recurrent fits
- Legg-Perthes disease (Legg-Calvé-Perthes) – blood supply to the femoral head is depleted, causing destruction of the femoral head.
- Hypothyroidism – a condition in which there’s a decrease in thyroid hormone production.
- Distichiasis – a condition in which small eyelashes grow on the inner surface or the very edge of the eye, which can then rub on the surface of the eye, causing irritation.
- Dry eye – Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) occurs when one or both eyes don’t produce a normal amount, or type, of tears. This leads to the eye becoming very dry, which in turn can cause infections and ulcers.
- Pugs have quite large shoulders relative to their smaller hind quarters and pelvic bones. This can mean they have problems giving birth naturally and Pugs often need to have a caesarean section to be able to give birth.
- Intervertebral disc disease – abnormality of the discs that provide cushioning between the vertebrae (back bones).
For some conditions, there are screening programmes available through the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Kennel Club. The Canine Health Schemes allow breeders to screen for a range of inherited diseases, so it’s a good idea to check the parents of any puppy you’re looking to rehome have been screened under these schemes. We’d also recommend discussing the medical history of your potential puppy’s parents and grandparents, and think very carefully before taking on a dog with any of the health conditions listed above evident in the family line.
You can find out more about the Canine Health Schemes on the BVA's website.
Pugs need around half an hour of exercise per day, but never in hot weather as they don’t tolerate heat well and they can suffer with breathing difficulties due to their flat face.
Estimated lifetime cost:
The likely lifetime costs for a Pug are based on estimates calculated using current market prices and include:
- Initial costs of the purchase of the pet
- First vaccinations and booster vaccinations
- Pet insurance
- Flea treatments
The list above does not include veterinary costs if your pet becomes sick or injured, so these average lifetime costs could be even higher.
Insure your Pug with PDSA:
1 in 3 pets need vet treatment each year and vet bills can come to hundreds of pounds. PDSA Pet Insurance can give you peace of mind when your pet is poorly, especially for breeds like Pug's that are prone to certain conditions. PDSA Pet Insurance offers:
- 5 Star Pet Insurance* - from the vet experts
- 4 levels of cover to suit you
- Monthly payment at no extra cost
*Defaqto 5 Star rating applies to our Plus and Premier policies only. Defaqto’s Star Ratings provide an independent assessment of the quality of financial products.
By insuring your Pug with PDSA you’ll also be helping to provide vet care to some of the UK’s neediest pets.