Monday, 19 January 2015

Breeds - The Pug

Please note: This series of breed histories came about quite organically. I have a large archive of images I have taken through my work as a pet photographer - rather than have them sit on my hard drive, I decided to develop the Breeds Series here on the blog.  It is important for me to make clear that I am an advocate of rescue dogs – I do not promote breeders. At the end of each of these articles there is a link to appropriate breed specific rescues. If you are looking for a dog to join your family, please do  consider adoption before searching for a breeder.

With his big eyes and curly tail, his popularity in recent years has rocketed with the pug face adorning all kinds of things from t-shirts to bags. If you know a pug, you’ll understand why people love them so. He can be silly and stubborn and wears his reputation of being a big-dog-in-a-small-body like a badge of honour. However, he’s not a modern bred dog and he comes with a history filled with legend and folklore earning him accolades of hero and sweetheart over many centuries.

Illustration by the utterly wonderful inkpug

Some would have it that the pug originates as far back as 700BC in China - that he was the dog of the Emperor, so beloved that if anyone other than the emperor owned one, they would be put to death (the owner, not the pug!) But, there is no substantial evidence for this story other than the breed did originate from China, but more likely during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) although we can’t really be sure of its early timeline.

With a longer nose and longer legs than the modern day Pug, his Western popularity really took hold in the Netherlands during the 1500s, when it was claimed that a pug called Pompey saved the life of William the Silent by alerting him to impending attack. This heroic act led to the breed being named as the Official Dog of the House of Orange - its fame grew.

Over here in the UK the pug’s status developed further when in the late 1600s, another William from the House of Orange, came to Great Britain to claim his throne alongside his wife, Mary  - they bought their pugs with them. The importance of the pug remained, with more stories surrounding them, such as Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife Josephine being so frustrated at his dislike of her pug being in their bed, she gave him the ultimatum of the dog staying or her sleeping elsewhere – Napoleon relented of course – the pug victorious!

Which leads us perfectly to Queen Victoria – she adored pugs and bred them herself. In fact her interest in dogs generally led to many positives in the dog world, including the ban on ear cropping, which was inflicted on pugs as well as other breeds. The act so disgusted her she denounced it as “Unnecessary and cruel.” (Well done that lady).  In 1860 more pugs were imported from China – these ones had shorter noses and legs than their predecessors, and physically looked more familiar to the modern day breed.

The pug though has not only been the love of royalty, so spoiled and adored – it is suggested that his sense of loyalty had him employed by the military throughout Europe as trackers of animals and people and…wait for it… guard dogs – whodathunk! The humble pug a respected guard dog (I reckon there’s a few pug owners out there who totally ‘get’ the guard dog thing though!).

Today of course he is primarily a pet dog. A funny, friendly, stubborn, and much loved member of the family.


More famous pugs!

Do you have a life problem? Something getting you down? Need a furry shoulder to lean on, a paw to hold? I think you need to speak to Alfie Pugglesworth of Pug de Probleme. He is renowned for his good and frank advice on all conundrums. You'll no doubt agree too that he's a rather fine looking pug - a brilliant brain and dashing good looks - all that in just one dog.

Then, once Alfie's solved all your woes you'll be up for some smiles from Inkpug - an illustrated exploration of the pug mind  that'll make you laugh.

If you are looking for a pug to join your family, please do visit The Pug Dog Welfare & Rescue for more information about this gorgeous breed, and dogs who are looking for their forever homes.

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  1. I prefer the longer nose,xx Rachel

  2. Enjoyed the history lesson.

    And I'm with Rachel. Although I'm usually not a fan of designer dogs, I think that crossing a beagle with a pug was the best idea ever just to keep the little guys healthy. It breaks my heart to hear them snorting and sniffling because they're bred to be so smooshy.

  3. Lol..such cuteness. I would have liked the longer nose. I am not a fan of the snuffling snoring they do.

  4. Gosh the modern day Pug looks nothing like the historical version. That is too bad.

  5. Just love these dogs. Yes, they make a snuffling sound but they also give wonderful smiles and licks!

  6. Hi there! I've read many posts about dog, and I can tell that yours is very valuable. Small and playful, Pug dogs are some of the most beloved companion dogs these days. At the beginning, they were adored by people from the Chinese dynasties and even by the Tibetan monks. They quickly became popular throughout Europe and beyond. See more


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