Pug life
February 14, 2021 11:49 PM   Subscribe

Past and present pug owners of Metafilter, tell me everything you know about being a pug parent.

My partner and I are considering adopting a pug. We would either be adopting from a rescue or purchasing from a reputable breeder. We are experienced dog parents but haven't owned pugs. Before we decide, I thought I'd check in and see what dedicated lovers of the breed have to say about caring for a pug that someone who has had dogs but not pugs might not know. Thank you!
posted by keep it under cover to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
We've owned 2 pugs, they've both passed now (aged 14 and 15).
Don't let them get overweight. It's not inevitable with pugs. You control their food. Ours were plenty spoiled but never overweight. Our vet complimented us all the time because so many pugs are overweight. Ours had no health issues until they were pushing 12+.
posted by disaster77 at 12:18 AM on February 15, 2021 [7 favorites]

In my experience, they are always under your feet.
And stubborn.
Stubborn as hell.
posted by SparkDino at 12:39 AM on February 15, 2021

Two words: Get. Insurance.

Stenotic nares surgery in the US can be $6K if it's needed. Soft palate surgery is also often done at the same time.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:18 AM on February 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Their head shape is a significant risk, and it's been purposely made flatter (and hence more of an encumbrance to their breathing) by breeders over the past 100 years.

There are several pugs with breathing issues featured in Bondi Vet (available on YouTube). It seems to be a very very common problem.

(My own deviated septum frequently gives me horrible migraines. Ugh. Please be careful with this issue.)
posted by amtho at 1:34 AM on February 15, 2021 [7 favorites]

I would recommend against adopting from a breeder, just on the grounds that I think deliberately breeding brachycephalic dogs is unethical and unkind. I personally would not want to support people doing that, no matter how cute the result.
posted by stillnocturnal at 1:55 AM on February 15, 2021 [27 favorites]

Sorry to stay with this theme, and I want you to know that if you do adopt a pug or even a German Shepherd, I will support your love for your dog. Love is the main thing, and I'm not going to judge other people's loves.

I just wanted to say this: even adopting from a rescue group doesn't really alleviate the issue of breeding these dogs. The demand for them stays the same (same total number of pug dogs adopted in the world), the motivation to breed them stays the same, the normalization stays the same.

I sincerely wish you well whatever you decide.
posted by amtho at 2:24 AM on February 15, 2021 [10 favorites]

I don’t have a pug but I did look into getting one. What scared me off was the inbreeding and breathing issues caused by a shorter snout. I actually discovered though that there is something called a Retro Pug. This pup is a cross between a pug and a Jack Russell. It looks just like a pug but has a longer nose, bred deliberately to lessen the breathing and other issues associated with the breed. So if you’re keen but you’re a bit hesitant due to the health concerns, maybe look into these dogs?
posted by Jubey at 4:26 AM on February 15, 2021 [9 favorites]

I had a pug in my childhood; she was a birthday present for seven-year-old me. She lived to be 12, even with her significant health problems. It was 1977 when my parents bought her from a pet store; god only knows if she came from a puppy mill or what. She was a really good dog. Smart, stubborn, ridiculous. She also had some sort of additional breathing problem but because I was a kid, I have no idea what it was. And she had epilepsy. It was fairly well controlled with medication but she still had seizures and we could tell they confused and disturbed her.

I personally will never own another pug based on the ethics of breeding brachycephalic dogs. They have to come from somewhere, even if they end up in a rescue. For me, it's not worth it.
posted by cooker girl at 5:54 AM on February 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

I would strongly caution against an intentional cross-breed because with almost no exceptions, these are from unethical breeders who breed for profit rather than to make the breed healthier - meaning the parents are often unhealthy to begin with, and the puppy you get can suffer as a result. A reputable breeder outcrossing to improve the breed genetics in the long-term is an entirely different story, and if you go that route make sure you learn how to tell the difference (the breed-standard health screens for the parents, for example).

A pug or pug mix from a shelter avoids the ethical concerns of supporting a bad breeder but it's very likely to be less healthy than one from a reputable breeder who health screens (though I do agree that even the healthiest of pugs is still going to have more health problems than a more robust breed, though fewer than the real genetic disasters like frenchies). Adopting is still probably the route I would go, just something to be aware of.
posted by randomnity at 7:39 AM on February 15, 2021

We adopted a pug at 7 from a rescue and he was wonderful. He did have kidney stones once but no other issues until he was over 13, when he died. We requested a pug without known medical issues from the rescue.
He was very loyal; wanted to be right next to you all the time. He was very sweet and was always hungry. He loved his walks around the neighborhood and sitting next to us on the couch. He was the best and I'll think when we're ready, we'll get another pug. Please feel free to MeMail if you have any specific questions.
posted by ceramicblue at 8:41 AM on February 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

I lived with a pug for 6-7 years. She was sweet, but pretty timid. She was never really much of a 'dog'. I am a big-dog person, and pugs are most definitely not big dogs. But they sure are cute!

They are velcro-dogs: they were bred to be lap dogs, and will want to be near or on you all the time. If we were sitting on the couch, she had to be touching one of us. She was a huge cuddler.

Many of them like to lick - a lot! If they're not trying to lick you, they are licking their paws. It's annoying and the sound of it can be quite disgusting.

Many pugs have breathing issues, so they snore, snort, and wheeze. Fortunately, mine didn't have much of an issue with this, but I know pugs who are *never* quiet - all day long, you can hear them breathing. Many of them are known to fart a lot as well.

They aren't really easily trained - potty training takes a lot of effort, and you can probably forget about getting them to do 'tricks'.
posted by hydra77 at 9:38 AM on February 15, 2021

We have two pugs!

They can have knee issues (one of ours is a mix, we think, and she had to have surgery because her kneecap kept slipping out of place).

Sometimes their eyes bulge, and can pop out of their heads if you aren't careful. (this hasn't ever happened to us, but I live in fear)

Ours have allergy issues - apparently it's common for puppies to get face bumps that get infected, according to my vet. Our older pug is allergic to SOMETHING, maybe something outside, and we've gone through all sorts of medicines and tests and foods - right now we manage it with shampoo and allergy pills. The licking can also be a sign of allergy issues.

They definitely snorfle and snort and grumble, all sorts of noises. Potty training can definitely be a problem, although my husband has had three pugs, and they were all able to be potty trained. Our fourth is a puppy, and she is *almost* there. She's a year and a half, almost.

All of the pugs we've had have been really sweet - our puppy is a cuddler.

They don't deal with high temperatures well - you can't leave them outside for long when it is hot, they overheat really easily. and of course, if they get excited, and they start wheezing, they already have issues breathing, so they have more trouble. (One of our pugs hated the vet, and if we took him, he would start wheezing until it sounded like he was having an asthma attack - we switched to a home vet as soon as we could. )

I agree with the weight - if you keep them at a good weight, you avoid a lot of the issues.

Puppies can be high energy and crazy, but they settle down after about 2 years old, and then they seem to sleep about 20 hours a day.
posted by needlegrrl at 11:06 AM on February 15, 2021

I've had two pugs in rescue--they don't come up in rescue a lot as young healthy dogs, but you'll see them in certain circumstances and as older dogs. My first was my perfect dog, she was probably confiscated during a DUI arrest, they thought, and she was well taken care of, healthy and just funny, sweet, clever, and I still kick myself to this day for not keeping her forever. But my dad was declining and probably dying, and I couldn't be home as much as she'd need so I let her get adopted. She didn't have super bad breathing problems, but I was very aware of her snoring and snorting all the time at night, and was always a little worried her eye would pop out, because I'd heard about that and it made me nervous.

You do have to often clean the folds in their faces--it was just a regular maintenance thing, where I used a doggie wipe to clean out dirty gunk in the folds under her eyes. She also needed eye drops for one eye because of a problem with it, also a problem a lot of them have, I heard. You can't walk them in hot weather, you'd need to do that when it's cooler in the morning or at night. They can be messy eaters because of the flat face. You'll want a harness rather than a collar--they don't really have the kind of neck you can put a collar around.

My second pug was different in that she was black, elderly, overweight, but she was the same in temperament: sweet, funny, a real character. Because of her weight she had a tough time walking, even just a couple blocks, but I didn't have her long enough to help her really get her weight down. I think she may have also had a luxating patella, which is common in smaller dogs.

I love pugs, so much, but I also know that it is really terrible what humans have done to them as a breed. Of course there are always dogs with temperament issues, I've heard stories, but I still have yet to personally meet a pug that wasn't sweet as hell and charming.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 8:51 PM on February 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

I realized later I should clarify that—of course you can give them a collar, but for walking you’ll want a harness. If they pull at all on the leash, a collar will exacerbate their breathing problems. They should always have their dog tags!
posted by kitten kaboodle at 2:00 AM on February 16, 2021

My spouse used to have a dog that was part pug and one of the things that he got from that side was an interesting respiratory tract, including reverse sneezing, which is quite startling, but NBD. Her vet suggested calming him down and (briefly) plugging up his nose with your fingers.
posted by plinth at 9:14 AM on February 16, 2021

Seconding disaster77. They're wonderful little dogs, they're prone to gain weight simply due to people overfeeding. Try to be certain you can see the rise of the dog's stomach line, as it folds into it's ribcage and hips.

While curvy pups are cute, dogs should not be overweight. Esp. with brachycephalic breeds like pugs, not only are weighted joints + patella a concern, but breathing concerns could present themselves, as well.

Make sure your food is biologically appropriate, feed raw if you can. dogfoodadvisor (see google) is your friend.
posted by firstdaffodils at 10:38 AM on February 16, 2021

I have 6 pugs and foster for pug rescues, I could write a novel here but please don’t buy one from a breeder. There are no ethical pug breeders. And adopting from a rescue does not keep demand for the dogs static, that’s...wrong. They have a lot of health issues but not always, mine currently range from 2-17. Yes 17. Anyhow, memail me if you’d like more info from my perspective. I’ve had pugs for almost 30 years now.
posted by yodelingisfun at 12:30 PM on February 18, 2021

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