Much debate surrounds the ancestry and origin of the Pug, with some attributing its early development to the Shang Dynasty of China around 400 BCE, and others suggesting a much later evolution, believing that Portugese traders brought the Pug to Holland during the 16th century. Paintings from the early 18th century depict these dogs alongside the wealthy and elite, with William Hogarth, a famous English painter, featuring his Pug 'Trump' in many of his portraits. Made popular during the Victorian period, the Pug was commonly observed atop private carriages, sat alongside the coachman. As a breed it boasted many notable admirers including Napoleon's wife, Josephine, Queen Victoria, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Officially registered by the American Kennel Club in 1885.
A compact dog of reduced proportions, the breed boasts several distinctive features, including a broad, flat and pronounced muzzle, prominent eyes, low-set, triangular ears and a short tail, arching over the back. Further characteristic to the breed is its deep facial wrinkles, which require careful attention. The coat is typically short and loose-fitting, common in colour variations of cream, apricot, fawn, silver and black, usually with piebald or spotted markings. Thought to be a descendent of the short-haired Pekingese, the breed falls within the Kennel Club's 'toy' branch of canines. A favoured breed choice of the rich and famous, being highly valued as a low maintenance, companionable lap dog.
Possessing a gentle and amiable temperament, never displaying signs of being unduly nervous or aggressive, the Pug is a suitable and delightful breed choice for families or a dedicated sole owner. Contrary to popular belief, the Pug is not impossible to house train, but simply benefits from consistent training, early socialisation, and firm but fair leadership in order to achieve its pleasing potential. Animated and spirited, a Pug is guaranteed to liven up any home setting. The average weight of a healthy Pug is between 6-9 kg, with a life expectancy of 12-15 years. It is not uncommon for a Pug to outlive this expectancy.
Various health conditions have been identified in the breed, which are important to bear in mind. These range from mild allergies and easy weight gain, to more serious cases of breathing difficulty, optical disorders, and spinal defects. Other afflictions commonly observed in the Pug include mast-cell tumours, liver defects and orthopedic problems affecting the legs and hips. A condition known as PDA, or Pug Dog Encephalitis, is prevalent in the breed and causes potentially fatal inflammation of the brain.