12 things you should know before owning a pug
The moment I adopted a pug, my life changed.
I adopted Wilma through a-friend-of-a-friend who needed to find her a home quickly. I instantly fell in love, but with little experience in owning such a breed there were a few surprises in store.
If you are thinking about owning a pug I would recommend doing your research beforehand & spend some time looking after one if you can. They are such an incredibly loyal, fun & loving breed - yes they are cute - but they are not an accessory. Taking on a pug is a hella' lot of responsibilty. I don't know what it's like to have a child, but it's pretty much like having a child*.
*awaits outraged comment from parent*
There are some things to seriously think about before you commit...
1. Your social life will change
Have I told you pugs are the best thing ever & you will want to be with them ALL THE TIME? They are also loyal little things, they will follow you like a shadow & are therefore prone to separation anxiety. It is particularly unfair to leave this breed home alone for long periods, so have a think about how much time you can offer*, or if you can rely on anyone for regular doggy-sitting duties.
*I want to write a separate post about the realities of owning a dog in your early twenties. I think it is an aspiration a lot of young adults have, but the responsibilites are often overlooked.
2. Your clothes will never be the same again
Fawn pugs have a double coat, and therefore malt. A lot. The days of stepping outside in a hair-less outfit are a distant memory. Hoovering will become a daily occurance & you will avoid taking passengers in your car for fear they will step out looking like the Abominable Snowman.
3. They eat like there's no tomorrow
For such a small breed you wouldn't think they have a lot of room for food, but they damn sure MAKE room. Aaaand it goes straight to their waistline. You will need to limit their food intake & measure quantities or they will plump out in no time. Don't give in to their pleading little eyes. They know how to play you...
4. There May be Some grim grooming Required
Pugs have notoriously runny eyes, more often than not there will be a nice juicy eye bogey waiting for you to wipe away/haphazardly rub onto your fresh white t-shirt.
Their facial skin folds need to be cleaned every day*. These cute little wrinkles can harbour some pretty gruesome bugs, especially as pugs submerge their entire face into the food bowl at dinner time. Their ears need a clean too, I use doggy ear wipes.
*There are a lot of techniques to clean a pug's skin fold, but having tried & tested most, I recommend holding their fold back & getting in there with some diluted hibiscrub on a tissue. Make sure you get right to the back of the fold & don't get it in their eyes. Dry it out thoroughly afterwards with a clean tissue. Conclude the session with a treat.
Some pugs may need frequent trips to the vets to empty their *ahem* anal glands (you can do it yourself... but no thanks).
Their claws need trimming every now & then. This is THE WORST thing you could ever do to a pug. They infamously HATE anyone whom dare approach their precious little paws with that monstrous nail clipper & will squirm hell on earth to stop. Yeah.. good luck with that.
5. There may be expensive vet visits
Yes there are some health issues than can come with the breed. Pugs are prone to eye ulcers, epilepsy, skinfold infections, kidney stones, obstructed airways, bad teeth & even acne.
But don't let that put you off, all pedigrees come with certain health problems. Just make sure you get the best pet insurance cover & continue to support responsible breeding from healthy animals (but adopt a rescue if you can!)
6. They DO NOT like the rain
Or water for that matter. No puddles/ponds/hose pipes plz.
7. You hear them before you see them
Because of the pug's shortened snout, they can be quite noisy breathers. And they snore. Loudly. A trait I personally find charming. There's nothing sweeter than the sound of a little piggy pug snorting in search of crumbs on the floor.
8. Your Phone will be full of Pug Photos
They are just so damn photogenic.
9. They aren't great at walking long distances or summer days out
If you picture yourself spending long sunny days walking for miles along the Cornish coastline, dog by your side, then a pug probably isn't the right dog for you. They try their best to keep up, but can tire easily & are more suited to frequent short walks.
A pug's breathing difficulties are heightened in hot weather & should ideally be kept in the shade. NEVER LEAVE THEM IN A CAR, not even for five minutes. They will overheat & die. (Please don't leave them alone tied up outside a shop either, they are just asking to be stolen - or worse still, taken to be used as dog bait.) Plan shopping trips wisely.
10. They have no sense of personal space
Your face? Perfect place to sit.
11. They aren't really 'doggy' dogs
This may just be my pug (as I have seen other pugs chase balls & have a swim), but Wilma has no interest in playing in the park. It is below her. Throw a ball & she will run away from it. She reluctantly has a paddle in the sea if the weather is hot, but there will be no games of fetch & frisby is out of the question.
This is not to say that they aren't fun. When the moment takes them, pugs have a funny 5 minutes & run laps of the lounge. They are partial to a game of chase.
12. You will never be alone again
Private visit to the loo? Think again. Pugs were bred originally as lap dogs to keep Chinese emperors company & they certainly are good at it.
With all of this being said, they are an amazing breed - Wilma makes me laugh every single day & her love is truly unconditional. If you want a pug, please consider putting your name on a waiting list to adopt a rescue pug.
A lot of people are unaware that pugs are often mistreated. They are ridiculously cute, but are victims of their own beauty & exploited as money-making breeding machines. They can be kept in awful inhumane conditions. Always buy from a reputable breeder, or better still, adopt from The Pug Dog Welfare & Rescue Association, Wales & West of England Pug Dog Club Rescue, The French & Pug Dog Foundation or Muffin Pug Rescue.
If you have any questions about pug ownership, ask away & I will happily talk your ear off :)
Pug Mummies & Daddies - is there anything else aspiring pug owners should know?
About the Author
Helen Penny is a gap-toothed illustrator living by the sea in Bournemouth.
She likes her dog a lot