How to find a pug
February 24, 2005 10:23 AM   Subscribe

Someone I know wants to get a dog, more specifically a Pug. We've looked online at breeders, but the dogs cost more than $900, is there a place I should be looking, animal shelters, rescue societies? And if the pug is through a breeder, how do I know the breeder is reputable? I wouldn't want to spend more than several hundred dollars.
posted by patrickje to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Call up your local shelters and first ask if they have any pugs currently, and if not, could they notify you when they do? That would be my first try.
posted by agregoli at 10:31 AM on February 24, 2005

Talk to pug rescue to see about getting one through them.

Talk to a pug rescue group about good breeders in your area. Also, go to a dog show or two and talk to pug owners / breeders there.

Any pup from a good breeder (ie, a not-puppymiller and a not-backyard-breeder; someone who's careful) will probably cost $600+. And they won't be making any money on the deal; health checks and such are expensive, and any decent breeder will be doing lots of health checks on their breeding stock.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:37 AM on February 24, 2005

Keep an eye on You can search by breed and zip code.
posted by amarynth at 10:40 AM on February 24, 2005

I'd check this website to see if there is a pug rescue in your area. We got our dog who is a pug/long hair chihuahua mix from a local resue group here in Orlando and love her like one of our kids. Great dog with lots of personality.
posted by white_devil at 10:41 AM on February 24, 2005

Be prepared for reputable breeders to be wary of you if you are overly concerned with purchase price. It costs a lot of money to breed dogs properly (health checking the parents, earning titles on them to prove they are worth breeding, medical care and feeding of the mother and puppies, etc.), and a breeder who charges substantially less than the "going price" for a breed (it varies depending on how easy to breed the dogs are, litter size, etc.) is one to avoid, because they are in all likelihood skimping on proper procedures somewhere along the line. A reputable breeder will also be cautious about placing a dog with an owner who is overly worried about purchase price for the simple reason that properly caring for a dog, especially as a puppy, can be expensive (you'll need two rounds of booster shots, stool sample testing and possible deworming, and training expenses in the first year at very least) and they want to ensure the dogs they breed are well cared for.

There are breed-specific rescue groups for most breeds, I don't know where you are located, but a Google search for "pug rescue" and your location should find you many. Pugs are a popular breed, and the more popular a breed is, the more end up in rescue. Do some research into assessing shelter dogs if you plan to get one from a shelter (rescues are normally a better choice, since they carefully assess all their dogs before accepting them, and do not accept dogs which are unlikely to be placeable) - remember that many/most dogs end up in a shelter for a reason, and it's most often a behavioural issue that their previous owners were unable/unwilling to deal with.

Here are some sites with good information about what to look for in a breeder. Go to some dog shows, meet some Pug breeders, learn about the breed. Pugs are lovely dogs, I hope your friend finds one (and can put up with snoring).
posted by biscotti at 10:41 AM on February 24, 2005 [1 favorite]

For one thing, pugs are fairly expensive dogs. There's no getting around it and often times, you do get what you pay for (in terms of breeding and health issues, etc... ). In my experience, it's damn near impossible to find one via shelter or rescue society. There's an organization called Pug Rescue that a friend of mine worked with, but it's not very easy to "get a pug".

When I got my pug a few years ago, I did as much research online as I could (I'm at work right now, otherwise I'd provide a few links) and asked around to friends that had pugs or friends of friends, who were enormously helpful with questions I had regarding a specific breeder's reputation. Always do the footwork when you're looking for a breeder. By all means actually visit the breeder, ask questions, check out the conditions of the living space and the pugs' quarters.

All I can suggest is make yourselves as educated and involved as possible. If it takes a few months, just sit tight and wait it out until you find the perfect place and dog. And pugs rock, so best of luck!

And, since I've been slow to post...what the others have said!
posted by zombiebunny at 10:47 AM on February 24, 2005

Well, here's the thing with purebreds. You essentially have two options:

1. Breeders registered with the American Kennel Club.
2. Everything else.

Option number one is going to cost, yes, somewhere between 800 and 1200 dollars, depending on things like if it's show quality. About twenty years ago, my parents got a Bichon for $300, and even accounting for inflation, that was an incredible price. We only got it because my grandmother was still breeding Rotties at that time, and was friends with the breeder. That and the dog wasn't show quality. Dogs from registered breeders will look better, live longer, and be far healthier during their life.

Which brings us to number 2. Option two - humane societies, pet stores, rescue societies, etc - are going to be cheaper, yes. But you get what you pay for. These dogs are generally severely inbred, runts, abused, and sometimes all three. They won't live as long and they'll have scads of expensive health problems. And keep in mind that, with Pugs, even dogs from certified breeders are going to have problems. There is just no way to avoid sinus/respiratory problems with pugs. That scrunched-up face, cute though it can be, always creates problems. Always.

None of this is 100% of course, you can get bad dogs from breeders and good dogs from puppymills. But things are far more likely to turn out the other way. So if you want a dog from a breeder but you don't want to shell out a grand, then you network and you wait. Make friends with breeders, hang out at dog shows, etc. Be willing to travel to pick up your puppy; we had to drive to Illinois to pick up Kipling. Eventually, some breeder will have a dog that isn't show quality, or there will be some other circumstance and you'll be able to get it for less. It may take a few years, and it will take a lot of work, but that's the only way I know of to do it.

All that said (god this is getting long), there's nothing inherently wrong with option two. Especially if you're willing to pick up an adult dog from, say, the humane society. This sounds callous, but treat it like an used car purchase. Check for obvious wounds or defects or signs of illness while you're "shopping," run him or her to a vet immediately after purchase, and so on. Purebred dogs obtained from sources other than breeders are just as full of adorable, unconditional love as the ones that are.

LASTLY. None of the above applies to mongrels. Mixed-breed dogs are also just as cuddly as any other dog, and by and large have a fraction of the health problems.

Good luck to your friend.
posted by kavasa at 10:52 AM on February 24, 2005

Don't forget that prices vary by region. Here, near Chicago, $900 is right on for a purebred pug puppy that will not be a show dog. If you really want to drive down the cost, try breeders in outlying areas. Pugs are really popular in/near big cities, so you might have better luck far away from them. It would be a nice road trip, but be careful about sending money to distant breeders you have not met.

Also, bear in mind that rescue dogs often come with a host of problems. They may have come from a bad breeder, and thus have serious health concerns. A friend of mine said that his first pug, from a pet store, cost him thousands in health costs, but his second pug, from a good breeder, was perfectly healthy. It might save you some money up front to get a rescue dog, but not necessarily so over the long run.

If you want a reputable breeder, check with the Pug Dog Club of America, they are the national breed club for the AKC. The website is not the best-looking, but you can find reputable breeders in the club by state, so it will help you on your search. Of course, going to a dog show and talking to owners and breeders is a great idea, as mentioned above.

Also, just as an obligatory mention, if your friend is concerned about a few hundred dollars up front, please make sure that they have budgeted accordingly for food, toys, a crate, and especially veterinary costs. Offhand, we spent at least $1,000 on all of these in our first 6 months. There are several good resources out there that discuss the real costs of owning a puppy.

And, assuming all goes well, the best $20 you will spend is on a good puppy-raising book, which you should read BEFORE you bring the puppy home!

(sorry to overlap on anything kavasa mentioned above)
posted by MrZero at 10:58 AM on February 24, 2005

Which brings us to number 2. Option two - humane societies, pet stores, rescue societies, etc - are going to be cheaper, yes. But you get what you pay for. These dogs are generally severely inbred, runts, abused, and sometimes all three. They won't live as long and they'll have scads of expensive health problems.

while i might agree on that for pet stores (most pure bred puppies in pet stores come from puppy mills), i must disagree for humane societies and rescue societies. yes, the dogs can be abused, but in the case of rescue groups (and some humane societies), these dogs are fostered and worked with to determine what physical and emotional issues they may have. they will not place a dog without letting you know what you're in for.

i've worked with rescue groups where you (the adopter) must fill out a variety of forms and have a home visit to determine if you're a fit home.

another idea... if you're friend lives in a largish city.. many breed groups have monthly get togethers (there's a pug one here in sf -- i think that they meet in dolores park). they can attend and meet a good number of local owners and ask them questions.
posted by heather at 11:04 AM on February 24, 2005

Seconding what heather said about rescue dogs. My parents have rescued a couple of purebred boxers, and the experience has been amazing. The people from the rescue basically place the dog that fits your family best. They will certainly be knowledgable about the breed and the behaviors of a specific rescue dog, and your friend will be able to get a great pug for a reasonable price (our boxers were about $250/each, mostly to cover shots and so on). The only thing is that rescues are often not puppies - which can actually be a bonus, because they won't need to be housebroken! And there's the added bonus of "saving" a dog without a family.
posted by katie at 11:12 AM on February 24, 2005

I have a purebred rescued pug. I've had her for 10 years now and she is very much like my child. I would have to say though that as much as I love her, it's been pretty challenging. She had some behavioral issues specific to her abuse that I was unprepared to deal with in the beginning. We've worked through it and have a happy household now but I really wish I had done some more research and spoken to actual pug owners before I brought her home. I had no idea how much they shed for example. Or how easy it is for them to "become" obese. Pugs are an awesome breed but there are downsides and I think it's best to try and be aware of all the facts good and bad before committing to adopting an animal. As for price, it seems that reputable breeders in my area do charge around $750-900 but that's a drop in the bucket compared to all the costs associated with a lifetime of pug care. Good luck!
posted by yodelingisfun at 11:52 AM on February 24, 2005

Athough I have no experience with dogs from pug rescue groups, in my former life as a journalist I researched the puppy mill system quite extensively and am currently the "owner" of a wonderful four year-old black male pug.

I want to strongly echo what kavasa says. The physical and mental health of any dog is strongly determined by its genetic background, breeding and whelping conditions. The main advantage of an AKC- or CKC-licenced breeder is that they will maintain certain standards and are committed to the health of the breed. While dogs from other sources may come from such conditions, they likely don't and have suffered because of this.

I am no pure-breed snob; I think dogs of every background can be wonderful companions. However, I think it is fundamental that people adopt the dogs that suit themselves and their lifestyles. My fiancee and I adopted a pug because (at the time) we lived in a large city in a small apartment and did not have the time for long walks every day. Pugs can thrive in that environment and ours has. A labrador would not; a border collie would quickly go mental.

I would recommend that your friend consider why they want to get a pug and if they want to deal with the (likely) cost in time, effort and medical bills a rescue pug entails. (And know that a pure-bred pug puppy poses certain challenges; there is the danger of congenital problems like hip dysplasia and ear, nose and throat infections; even if they're 100% healthy, young pugs can be holy terrors.)

My pug is a fantastic companion, with the unique mix of devoted, stubborn and clownish characteristic of the breed. My fiancee and I have shared four great years with our little man and we are looking forward to maybe a decade more -- and looking forward to adding to our pug herd. But they can be a challenge: Housetraining is about the limit of what a pug will tolerate; Jack is fearless, which has led to more than one close encounter of the vehicular kind; he would happly balloon up to 50 pounds if I didn't watch his diet; I'm sure I could knit myself another pug with what I sweep up every week.

Every breed has its costs and benefits; knowing what they are beforehand is crucial to ensuring a happy life for you and your dog. Good luck to your friend!

(To see a picture of a fine example of the most noble and perfect of all dog breeds, click here.)
posted by docgonzo at 12:07 PM on February 24, 2005

I second all of the good suggestions above about how to find a pug. There are plenty of great pug resources on the web. Let Google be your guide.

As somebody who's been owned by a pug for the last 14 years, I have a few opinions on the subject.

We found Cleo! (yes, the "!" belongs there) through an ad in the Chicago Trubune. She was born on a farm in Manhattan, Illinois. She was one of the last two of the litter, the other being a male runt. The people who bred her had no papers, but both of her parents were on the premises and were truly pugs. Very Fat Pugs.

That brings me to a few things you should know about the breed:
  • The breed is prone to specific health issues, mainly breathing problems because of their pushed in snouts.
  • That cute, pushed in snout also contributes to them taking in a lot of air when they eat. This results in endless burps and stinky farts. While this is generally not a good thing, it makes it easier to "blame the dog" as it were.
  • They love people, but can get very excited when they see you. For a while, ours would occasionally have fainting spells as a result.
  • One way to avoid health issues above is to keep a pug's weight under tight control. We cut back on the kibble when Cleo! was a few years old and have mostly eliminated the breathing problem. There apparently is no cure for the gas problem, however.
  • Because of their shallow-set eyes, some pugs are prone to eye infections. Unfortunately, there are more than a few pugs in rescue with this problem that are left with one or no eyes.
  • If kept healthy, as a small breed the pug can live well into its late teens. This is not a short-term commitment. We've had ours so long that she's decided to write her memoirs, such that they are, and will probably be published somewhere if she ever gets around to finishing them.
  • They have very strong personalities. Though you can encourage socially acceptable behavior with enough training, they sometimes "forget" what they've learned.
  • If you're not familiar with "low-riding", get ready for a treat. When in the proper playful mode, a pug will hunker down on all four legs and race around as if posessed.
If you can put up with the breed's foibles, you will be rewarded with a great companion in life. Cleo! never fails to leave us in stitches for her weird ways.
posted by SteveInMaine at 12:42 PM on February 24, 2005

From what I have heard, and what I just found at Green Mountain Pug recue's Pug Information, pugs are fairly high maintenance dogs. Their eyes and skin need to be checked daily and their wrinkles cleaned weekly. So, to echo what everyone above has said, make sure your friends know for what they are signing up.

That said, I agree that they are very well suited for indoor living--they are perfect dogs for city dwelling apartment life. Pugs are adorable dogs and, as I have noted often before, they are about the easiest dogs to dress. But, I'm a sucker for anything with a scrunched up nose--Pugs, Boxers, Boston Terriers, French and English Bulldogs, wheezes, farts and all.
posted by y2karl at 1:15 PM on February 24, 2005

In addition to rescue, consider 'junior' dogs and adults from breeders. Junior dogs in particular are IMO one of the best kept secrets. They are typically show dogs that the breeder held back to see how they develop. If they wash out of the breeding program it's often for reasons that are of absolutely no consequence to a family. Plus they are typically housetrained and well socialized. Retired show dogs are also lovely pets generally. They too tend to be well socialized, well cared for, and the best that a breeder has to offer, really. It often pains the breeder to place them but they have to keep the numbers down, especially in this day and age when the big (reputable) breeding kennels are a fixture of history.

Another tip: work referrals relentlessly. Ask to be passed to the next person in line who may know of someone who knows someone. The more people who talk to you and get to know you, the more likely a dog that will be a good match will fall into your lap.
posted by cairnish at 1:22 PM on February 24, 2005

Well, here's the thing with purebreds. You essentially have two options:

1. Breeders registered with the American Kennel Club.
2. Everything else

That's only for AKC breeds. There are plenty of breeds that aren't in the AKC, either because they're rare in the US, or because their breed club didn't want the breed going into the AKC circus, or for some other reason. Border collies and Aussies were out of the AKC for a long time because they didn't want "AKC-type" people screwing with their breeds (and now, lo and behold, you see BC's and Aussies in the AKC show ring that don't look like they could remotely do a day's work). In Canada, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are still, IIRC, out of the CKC and other major registries because the breed club wants to keep them from being just conformation dogs.

Mixed-breed dogs are also just as cuddly as any other dog, and by and large have a fraction of the health problems.

Not necessarily. Mutts have the full spectrum of canine ailments, and get sick plenty often.

Purebreds have less variant genotypes and phenotypes; their genes are similar to one another's, and so are their bodies. So they'll be more likely to have some diseases/conditions than a population of freebreeding mutts, and less likely to have others.

Mutts are wonderful, but they're not any guarantee towards better health.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:05 PM on February 24, 2005

There are some very common misunderstandings about kennel clubs. Kennel clubs like AKC and CKC do not "license" breeders, anyone can register with them and register dogs with them. There are other reputable kennel clubs in the world, and in North America, the AKC and CKC are not the be-all and end-all of kennel clubs (the United Kennel Club for example has strict policies regarding dogfighting and puppy milling, which the AKC does not even come close to). It's also important to remember that registration does not even remotely imply quality or health or lack of inbreeding, nor does it imply that a breeder is in any way ethical or not a puppy mill - registries simply register dogs according to their own policies, and all registration means is that someone filled in the appropriate paperwork and mailed it in with a fee. It tells you that your dog is ostensibly purebred from registered parents and has a pedigree which can be traced back some defined number of generations (although unscrupulous breeders commonly falisfy various stages of the registration process including number of puppies (so that they can register other puppies who would not otherwise be eligible), and even the parents). There are inquiries into registration validity all the time.

Do not assume that registration means anything more than a) the dog is ostensibly purebred from a witnessed mating and b) the dog has a recorded pedigree - it does not tell you the parents were healthy or well-tempered or that they meet the breed standard - verifiable health testing (with OFA, CERF, PennHIP and the like), performance and conformation titles and other things tell you that. Do not assume that registration means a breeder is ethical and not a puppy miller either, registration is just registration. You can get AKC registered puppies from pet shops, puppy mills and cardboard boxes in the parking lots of shopping malls all across America. It means nothing other than that the dog is registered. (getting off soapbox now)

Finally, ALL purebred dogs are "inbred" to some extent, it's only a negative if breeders do it ignorantly.
posted by biscotti at 3:09 PM on February 24, 2005

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