The Ultimate Guide to Pugs Dog Breed
Pugs are the living proof that good things come in small packets. They jump to us on their small paws and change our lives forever. Their wrinkly, short-muzzled faces with big and dark eyes are what sets them apart from all the other dog breeds. Pugs are becoming quite popular among Indian households; owing to their small size and affinity for kids. They have a number of special traits, like being intuitive to the needs of their owners.
This playful and attention craving breed is known to always stay close to their hoomans, sometimes as close as their shadows. This is because they’ve always grown up in human proximity, staying close to the nobility. Bigger than most toy breeds, and smaller than large ones, pugs are a sturdy company.
Pugs are not a wild breed. They definitely aren’t adventurous. That being said, they can go with you for walks. But jogging and heavy exercises are a strict NO. Their breathing troubles can take over owing to how intolerant they can be towards low and high temperatures. Though comparatively lower than other popular Indian household breeds, they shed a lot. They LOVE to take naps, and they also snort, making them one of the best snuggle buddies. But were they always the same?
The History of Pugs
Pugs have been walking the planet since the early 15th centuries, but the exact location of their origin is still unknown. Chinese texts show that pugs were bred to serve as companions for the royal families of the Ming Dynasty. They lived luxuriously and were guarded by the royal soldiers. That’s how Pugs became a familiar breed in the Asian subcontinent, and spread to southeast countries of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. The Song Dynasty of China is to this day associated with the popularity of this breed.
Apart from their Chinese history, legend has it that a pug named Pompey saved the life of the Prince of Orange by alerting him of the approaching assailants. Pompey became the official dog of the House of Orange, Netherlands. To the French history, pugs have played the role of messengers. None other than Princess Josephine, before being married to Napoleon Bonaparte, had her pug carry messages of her well being when she was jailed at the Les Carmes. In the 19th century, the breed flourished under the patronage of Queen Victoria of England. Her many Pugs, which she bred herself, included Olga, Pedro, Minka, Fatima and Venus. Her involvement with dogs in general helped to establish the Kennel Club, which was formed in 1873.
The Pawsome Pugs – Personality and Temperament
Pugs are fun loving and charming. They are very intuitive to their owner’s needs and strive to please them. Here are some things you absolutely need to know before getting home a pug:
They will give you no ‘personal’ space
Your space is your pug’s space. Don’t expect any kind of privacy once your pug sets paw into your house. Their curly tag will wag and follow you no matter where you go; even if it’s the bathroom or the end of the world. That’s why Vodafone chose a pug in its commercial!
They shed a lot
If you’re getting a pug, expect to see some hair. They have a double coat which provides them with the warmth they need. Even though they shed throughout the year, spring is usually their peak shedding season. The shedding though can be taken care of with a balanced and complete diet. When pugs are nutritionally well-supplied, the shedding becomes a lot less troublesome.
They love to chow chow chow
Pugs love to eat, all the time, every time. Their pleading eyes can be a quagmire of cuteness overload. The good part about Pugs’ eating patterns is that they can eat almost anything. They are not very fussy when it comes to their food. But what they eat and how much, needs to be monitored. Pet Obesity is real, and can give way to cardiac and pulmonary issues if not catered to. Since Pugs are not very big on exercise too, their food needs to be monitored all the more closely.
They can take time to housetrain
This can become tougher if you live in places where the weather is too hot or too cold, as your pet would rather take a chill pill and rest indoors. Never wait for your puppy to grow older to start with the training. ‘It’s never too early’ is the mantra, otherwise you’re only giving time to your pet to become a moody Fido. Engage a professional trainer, and invest yourself in your dog’s training too. It’s a great opportunity to develop a bond with your boo.
They are really smart
Even though they were never bred to be working dogs, Pugs have a great sense of smell and agility, which can be perfected with the right training. Over the years, the number of pugs being included in police forces across the world has started to increase, for specialised tasks which involve smaller spaces.
They love walks!
Pugs are dawgies who love to nap. Known for their superpower to nap anywhere, anytime, these dawgies are in no way lazy. They like to play little fetch games and take long walks. But jogging and heavy sports are not recommended for a Pug, because of their tiny bodies and pulmonary troubles. It’s also very important to take them out for frequent walks, because they have tiny bladders.
Common Medical Problems with Pugs
Pugs are prone to a variety of issues, most of which are related to their genetic makeup. But the problem gets magnified when pets parents are not aware about these issues. In most cases, they observe the symptoms of trouble in their pet too late, and eventually the pug suffers. This makes it imperative to know the most common health problems your pug may develop.
This will help you notice the symptoms before it’s too late and will save you and your pet from a lot of trouble. Pugs are by and large low-maintenance when it comes to their health, provided that they have the right nutrition, exercise and timely vaccinations and visits to the vet. However, despite all this care, some situations can still pop up which you were never prepared for. Some of these common illnesses are:
Brachycephalic Syndrome: Characterized by pinched nostrils and an elongated soft palate, this syndrome is common in breeds with shorter heads. Common symptoms include noisy breathing, excessive snoring, coughing and gagging. Dogs that gulp air in the process of attempting to eat may belch, gag, regurgitate, and/or vomit frequently. Accidental inhalation of food material into the lungs, resulting in infection in the lungs (aspiration pneumonia) is not uncommon in these cases. The condition, although genetic, gets worse as the pug gains weight.
This syndrome is a double edged sword. If the pug goes out into the hot and humid weather, he’d get tired easily, and would gasp for more air through the pinched nostrils. Pugs normally have trouble breathing in harsh conditions. This puts pressure on their heart and lungs. But if the pet stays inside, he’s likely to stuff himself with a lot of food, and gain weight, which will again put pressure on his heart. The key is to limit the intake of food, keep the exercise balanced, and stay indoors during harsh weathers. In some cases, a corrective surgery can be done to fix the pinched nostrils and soft palate.
- Pug Dog Encephalitis (PDE): It is a breed specific diseases that causes severe inflammation of the brain and causes seizures and death. As scary as pet seizures sound, they’re real and need to be attended to. If you notice behavioral changes in your pet, make sure you consult your vet immediately. This disease has genetic roots, and currently a lot of research is being carried out to develop a genetic marker for PDE, which will, in the future, be able to identify the onset of such inflammation.
- Legg Calve Perthes Disease: This disease is common to most small dogs and its signs can be first observed when your puppy is about 6-7 months old. If you notice limping in your pug, make sure you take him to the vet. This is a bone deformity in which the blood supply gets cut off to the rear leg bone, and this causes the muscle and the bone to degrade. It can be removed with the help of a surgery which requires removal of the head bone. But it still doesn’t in any way diminish the risk of future arthritis.
- Hemivertebrae: Short-faced dawgies like Pugs, have the chances of a genetic condition called hemivertebrae in which the bones of the spinal cord are deformed. Some pugs have minor deformities, and develop a stagger as they grow. This can be seen in their walking patterns when they’re as small as 4-6 months old. The sad part about hemivertebrae is that there are no screening tests for it.
- Hip Dysplasia: Though common in larger pets, who almost always need hip replacement surgery, hip dysplasia is also present in smaller breeds like Shih Tzus and Pugs. In this bone deformity, the ball and socket joint is malformed. The ball and socket don’t properly meet, and grind instead of gliding together smoothly.
- Dental problems: Pugs may have teeth problems because there are too many teeth growing inside a very small mouth. Some teeth may have to be pulled out in order to make way for permanent ones, which if not removed, may cause crowding issues.
- Eye Injuries: Owing to how big their eyes are, they are also possess the risk of eye injuries like dry eyes, corneal ulcers, pigmentary keratitis, distichia (extra eyelashes that cause irritation) and entropion (a condition in which the eyelids curl inward and hairs on the outer eyelid can scratch and damage the cornea).
How can I take care of my Pug?
Since Pugs have only known hoomans of royal families to take care of all their needs, they’re all the more dependent on you. Urban domesticated dogs are not like the strays in terms of their instinct to scavange for food and feeding themselves, and letting nature do the rest. Pet dogs are dependent on us for all their needs. What they eat, how much they exercise, the cleanliness of their surroundings, and the upkeep of their bodies, everything depends on hooman convenience.
All your pet’s needs just lie on 3 Pillars: Nutrition, Exercise and Hygiene. Owing to the number of diseases they are prone to, it’s imperative for you to take all necessary steps to ensure that all three of these needs are met adequately.
It is quite rightly said that healthy dogs are happy dogs. If your pet keeps contracting illnesses, he’d be in constant pain; watching him like that wouldn’t be easy for you! What they eat, how much they, and how many times they eat completely depends on their hooman parent. To ensure that your pet pug is in the pink of his health, you need to carefully monitor what goes into his tummy.
A balanced diet is a healthy diet. Dogs have evolved from wild species of hounds and wolves, known to fend for themselves and gorge on the fresh and tasty meat from the smaller animals they’d hunt. After generations, the dawgie bodies have evolved in a way that they still require a major part of the same nutrients that their ancestors did, i.e. meat protein and fats.
Since your pet Pug can’t hunt, you need to make sure that his nutritional needs are met. Pets need to be fed a balanced diet of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other micronutrients, which are essential for their growth and upkeep. The important thing to note here is that the source of these nutrients is just as important. For example, meat and leather by-products and plant based diets are a BAD source of protein for your pug, whereas raw and fresh meat, chicken, fish and other poultry are GOOD sources of protein. If you feed processed and packaged foods to your pet, you must absolutely know what goes into these foods. Most commercial pet foods contain meat by-products and leftovers, contain toxic chemical-based colors, flavors & preservatives and are extremely unsafe for your pet.
While proteins are absolutely essential for growth and upkeep of your pug’s body, he also needs the carbs for energy. But take special note of the quantity of carbs you’re feeding to your pet, especially if they are more likely to stay indoors, as in the case of Pugs. Undigested carbs make way for stored fat, which leads to obesity. Obesity is the leading cause of increasing pulmonary and cardiac issues in pets. Since Pugs are not big on the exercise bit, you must ensure that their diet is designed to suit their lifestage and lifestyle. Pugs must always stay clear of sugar and sweets. Their small size makes them extremely vulnerable to diabetes.
Pugs are prone to bone deformities; their calcium intake needs to be closely monitored. Most vets advise calcium supplements for bone issues, but an overdose of calcium can cause stones and renal issues. To keep dental issues at bay, make sure you include fruits and vegetables in your pug’s diet. A fibrous diet reduces the chances of plaque formation as well as constipation. Always check the fruits and veggies that are suitable for your Pugster and feed them in small portions to avoid the risk of choking. Keep human food out of the reach of your pug, and monitor the calories you’re feeding him. Always consult a pet nutritionist before changing your pet’s diet, and make the change gradual so it’s easier on your pug’s stomach.
Even though they’re known as the couch potatoes of the dawgie world, they’re not. Pugs don’t need a lot of exercise, but it is ideal to take your pug for at least two 20-30 minute walks everyday. Running and exercises involving heavy breathing are not recommended, but a little bit of activity is required everyday to keep their weight in check.
An important thing to remember is that pugs get overheated easily. So it is not recommended to take your pug out on sunny or hot days. In humid temperatures, you must take extra care to ensure that their skin doesn’t get irritable, and always be on the lookout for rashes.
Since monsoon is almost always accompanied with storms, never take your pet out on days that are windy or stormy, as their eyes would be put to MAXIMUM RISK in such situations. Their large eyes are extremely sensitive. Twigs and small pieces of foreign material can sometimes even cause permanent damage to your pug’s eyes. Be extra careful with your pug!
Even their breathing and snoring will tell you everything about their health. Listen closely for any muffled, congested or gagged sounds, and take your pug to the vet immediately if you notice any.
3. Grooming & Hygiene
Since pugs are mostly indoors, their hygiene most obviously depends on the conditions of their environment. Make sure that the home is well ventilated, and doesn’t get heated up quickly. Fleas, ticks and other bacteria can be a serious issue for your pug; so can the chemicals present in the floor cleaners. The best alternative is to use natural disinfectants like neem water or just plain water to clean your home and surroundings.
Give your pug a simple bath with plain water and a vegetable oil-based soap, every 1-3 weeks depending on the weather. Use minimum products on your pug, as they’re extremely sensitive to the chemicals and fragrances used in most pet grooming products. Brushing his coat regularly can streamline his shedding pattern, if not reduce it altogether.
During monsoons, pugs tend to develop a fungal or bacterial growth in the folds of skin on their face. Use a warm moist cloth and clean the folds of their face every few days, more frequently during the rainy season. Wash his paws after walks with clean water to ensure that no foreign material makes its way to their coat. Keep their nails trimmed and just keep giving them enough belly scratches and back rubs, they’ll tell you what they’re up to themselves.
The Beatles were right when they said, “All you need is love.” When it comes to our dawgies, love includes good nutrition, sufficient exercise and good hygiene. Dawgies make our lives whole. They deserve the best this world has to offer. And sometimes, no matter how hard we try to give them the best, we end up making choices that our pets have to live with.
Being a parent is a tough job! More than often, we may not understand what our pets need and what is right or wrong for them. In this world of loud publicity and deep rooted materialism, we often tend to miss out on what’s really good and get lured by what just ‘looks’ good on its packet value. The best choice to make for your pet is an informed one.
Know that in this journey of pet parenthood, you are not alone. We’ve got you covered with all the information ammo you’ll ever need, for a healthy time with your Pawstar! Welcome to the DawgieBowl family.
FOR INFORMATION ONLY – NOT VETERINARY CARE
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