Pugs

Pugs possess an easy going disposition that harmonizes well with a variety of human personality types and a gentleness that makes them trustworthy around people of any age.

By Susan Bertram, DVM |

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Pugs have taken several Best in Shows in conformation but are less outstanding in obedience competition, where their comic sense and stubbornness can factor in. Madison's dog, Trinket, took to clowning in the middle of their first Utility competition. "She rolled in the grass and lay there with her legs up in the air on a blind retrieve. On the go-outs she stopped, looked at me, tucked her tail and went racing around the ring, jumping all the jumps two or three times. The more the spectators laughed, the worse she gotyou could just see her scanning the crowd."

Compared to many popular toy breeds, the Pug coat requires minimum fuss, but brushing at least once a week ultimately will reduce workload on the household vacuum. Pugs shed a little all the time, and their hair is notorious for weaving permanently into whatever fabric it lands on. "A husband and wife, both members of the Minneapolis Symphony, contacted me, wanting a black Pug," said Anderson, who specializes in breeding black Pugs. "They owned a fawn Pug but had problems with the fawn hairs always sticking to their black tuxedos."

Wiping the skin folds on the Pug's face, using plain water, is important to prevent dermatitis and accumulation of debris. Routine nail clipping will keep the paws neat and comfortable. Daily brushing of a Pug's teeth is recommended because crowding of the teeth in the shortened muzzle encourages plaque accumulation and dental disease.

Picking Your Pug
Devoted enthusiasts worry the Pug's increasing popularity may lead to indiscriminate breeding and a rise in inherited health problems. The breed, ranked 24th in American Kennel Club registrations in 1995, rose to 19th in 1996 and 1997 with 20,082 individuals. Prospective owners should take time to find a reputable breeder. Healthy puppies should be playful, well-fed, have smooth coats and bright, not weepy eyes. Also, their home environment should be clean, and the puppies should be inquisitive and friendly, obviously used to handling and petting.

Genetic health problems in Pugs include luxating patellas (loose kneecaps) and Legg-Perthes disease, which destroys the ball of the hip joint and requires surgery. Pugs can suffer from stenotic naresnarrow, restrictive nostrils that interfere with breathingand elongated soft palate, which causes respiratory difficulty and may require surgery.

Pug encephalitis is a rare but serious disease that affects young adult dogs and results in seizures and death. The cause is unknown.

Pugs may suffer from several eye disorders, including entropion, or inverted eyelids, and "dry eye" caused by lack of tears, which if left untreated can result in blindness. Responsible breeders select only the healthiest dogs, so the incidence of these diseases in well-bred Pugs is low.

Lark and Brian McClure of Castle Rock, Colo., researched 20 breeds before settling on a Pug. Brian McClure had grown up with large dogs, including a German Shepherd and a Collie, but since their current home doesn't have a big yard, they needed a small breed.

"We didn't want a yapper or a drooler, though," he said. "We needed a dog that would get along with our children and strangers because I run a business at home." Their careful selection paid off. Eight-month-old Mick is part of their family, makingeveryone feel special.

Pugs aren't designed for aerobics; they're better adapted for snoring in an armchair. While they need daily walking, they are not jogging partners and might get dangerously overheated if exercised in warm weather. Pugs make enthusiastic playmates for children, but kids need to be aware when their canine pal is getting tired and needs a break.

Individuals with pristine furniture or an aversion to dog-wool-blend tweeds shouldn't consider a Pug because they're the consummate lap dog. "They're supposed to be on the furniture," Szewczyk said, "and if they're not right up there with you, they're very unhappy."

A Pug will not herd, hunt, guard or chase rats, but it will always be a true companion. That's all they know and want. A Pug is a professional at wriggling its way onto the couch, onto your lap and into your heart.

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