Meet the Breed: The Pug

How the Pug snuffled and snorted its way to lasting popularity.


Pugs have inspired intense devotion for more than two millennia. First bred in the Chinese imperial court, they made their way to Holland in the 17th century as objects of trade. Prized for their distinctive appearance and often described as Mastiffs in miniature, they became the favored dog of Holland’s ruling House of Orange.

Pugs were brought to England in 1689 when William of Orange and his English bride, Mary, took over the British throne after the overthrow of Mary’s father, James II. The Pug, in turn, supplanted the toy spaniels that had been so popular during the reign of the Stuarts. The fist-faced dogs remain popular today, ranking 17th in American Kennel Club registrations in 2009.

A Pug love story
With its wrinkled brow, chunky body and pugnacious demeanor, the Pug is an unlikely matchmaker, yet it was a Pug that led Charlotte Patterson, to the two great loves of her life.

In 1970, Patterson’s first Pug, a pet purchased from a friend’s mother, died unexpectedly, and Patterson happened to see an ad for Pug puppies in the newspaper. She thought that it couldn’t hurt to look at them.

“I trotted myself over to Maryland and met some people who were members of the Pug Dog Club of Maryland,” Patterson says. “I wound up buying an 8-week-old bitch from them who happened to be fairly decently bred, which I had no idea about at the time. When she grew up, they said ‘Oh, you should breed her,’ and I thought that sounded like a good idea.”

Patterson’s newfound friends suggested that her female be bred to a beautiful Pug who had just finished his championship. That dog was owned by a fellow named Edward Patterson.

“That’s how I met my husband,” says Patterson, now president of the Pug Dog Club of America and an AKC judge. “Then I got into the dog world. Edward and I were married in 1975, and it’s a love affair that I’ve had for my husband and my breed ever since.”

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