Sure, pugs are adorable, but they also have some unique characteristics. Here are some things to consider before you adopt one.
When I first saw Rosie, I knew we were soul mates. She came bounding into the kitchen, tongue lolling and eyes bulging, and gave me a big wet pug kiss on my nose. I was hooked.
Fast forward two days and I learned what a lot of new pug owners discover quickly: she never leaves my side. Ever.
A few months later, I learned the breed has some other unique traits. So, before you decide to go pug wild here are 10 things you should know.
1. They will follow you around everywhere.
If you're someone who would get irritated by lap dog behaviour, think twice about getting a pug. Whether I'm taking a quick jaunt to the kitchen or a trip to the bathroom, Rosie is right by my side, curly tail wagging. And then when I sit down, she wants to be right up on my lap.
2. They're prone to health problems.
Pugs aren't health nightmares but "they can have a variety of health issues, which, if you're not familiar with, can lead to devastating results," says Blanche Axton, president of the board at Pugalug Pug Rescue in Toronto. Things to be watch for include:
- eye scratches
- food allergies
- a higher-than-normal tendency to react to vaccines
- eye- and nose-fold care
- breathing problems
In short, pugs can be high-maintenance canines. Get familiar with their health issues and research their breeder before you adopt Fido.
3. They need a lot of attention.
Any dog needs your time and attention to be a happy pet, but many pugs require more face time than other dogs. "Because they do like to be with their people, they're not going to be OK just being left to themselves all the time," says Axton. "They are one of those breeds that, when you get home from work, you better be prepared to devote some time to them."
4. They're not couch potatoes (mostly).
While they do enjoy naps, pugs thrive on activity, including regular playtime and walks. So if you work 12-hour days, find a dog walker because a pug can't hold its small bladder for that long.
5. They shed—a lot.
Need proof? Come to my home and take a look at the carpet, couch, chairs, kitchen, clothes and bed…. "Some of the pug books says they are low- to medium-shed breeds," says Axton, "but some of them are double coated so they blow their coat in addition to shedding all the time."
6. They can be intrusive.
Pugs are what I like to call "space invaders." They tend to rush up to people and other dogs, which can lead to a negative response. "There's a certain assumption—I think on most pugs' part—that every other living thing thinks they're fabulous," says Axton. "So they can get themselves into dicey situations."
7. They're smart.
Just because they haven't been bred to be work dogs, doesn't mean pugs are stupid. Pugs can be trained just as easily as other dogs, including agility, scent detection, tracking and working with seniors. Axton recounts that she had a pug named Pete who, "ended up being a palliative dog, working with people who were at the end stages of their life."
8. They can take time to house train.
Pugs aren't fond of inclement weather, so you may have to deal with a dog that refuses to go to the bathroom during a snowstorm. Take the time to reinforce outdoor pottying, no matter how much they resist going outside Sticking to a schedule will help your pug learn what he or she should be doing. Remember, pugs respond to positive reinforcement, not punishment. Pugs are motivated by food, so give yours a treat and lots of praise when he or she goes potty outside.
9. They will eat almost anything.
I've seen Rosie eat sticks, gum, doughnuts, pasta noodles and even lollipops (wrapper included). Pugs are food driven and they won't give up their treat easily if you're trying to get them to drop it. To avoid a trip to the vet, make sure not to leave food lying around.
10. They're total love bugs.
Once you get a pug, he or she will be your bestie for life. They love belly rubs, head scratches, giving kisses and snuggling with their human, and they will gaze at you as if you're the best person in the world. Give them the love they deserve and they will love you forever. I've had Rosie for two and a half years and despite her quirks, I don't regret having her in my life for a second. You could say she has me wrapped around her little paw.
If you're looking to adopt or buy any dog, research the breed to avoid heartaches (and headaches). Head over to the Pug Club of Canada, recommends Axton. Come prepared with questions, such as what the dog's temperament is like, what kind of health testing they've done and if they've seen any health problems with the parents. "If they can't answer those questions," says Axton, "run away."