The pug is a toy dog with a wrinkly, short-muzzled face and curled tail. The breed has a fine, glossy coat that comes in a variety of colors, although often black or fawn, and a compact square body with well-developed muscles. Known in ancient China as lo-sze, pugs as breeding animals may have contributed to the English Bulldog, the modern Pekingese and the King Charles Spaniel.
Pugs were brought from China to Europe in the seventeenth century and were popularized in Western Europe by the House of Orange of the Netherlands, and the House of Stuart. Pugs remain popular into the twenty-first century, with some famous celebrity owners. A pug was judged Best in Show at the World Dog Show in 2004. Pugs can suffer from a variety of health issues, including overheating, obesity and some genetic disorders.
Pugs were bred to be the pets of the Chinese sovereigns during the Shang Dynasty (before 400 BCE). They were known as "Lo-Chiang-Sze" or "Foo". References to pug-like dogs have been documented as early as 551 BCE by Confucius, who describes a "short mouthed dog".
The lo-sze, or early pug, may have been the predecessor of today's modern Pekingese. The pug's popularity spread to Tibet, where the breed was mainly kept by Buddhist monks. Much about the origin of the pug is shrouded in mystery because Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, destroyed all records, scrolls and art related to the pug at some point during his reign, which lasted between 221 and 210 BCE. Chinese fu dogs, also called lion dogs or fo dogs, were thought of as guardians, and statues of them were placed outside temples.
The faces of these statues resemble Oriental short-faced dogs, such as the Tibetan Spaniel, Lhasa Apso, Pekingese and the pug. Later, the pug was taken to Japan and finally arrived in Europe.
In a 23 May 2007 web issue of The Onion, the breed was lampooned in a satirical news article titled "Dog Breeders Issue Massive Recall of '07 Pugs". The piece satirized pugs and their breeders by writing of the dog and its characteristics as a faulty product, "evidenced" by a fictional quote from the American Pug Breeders Association director: "While pug owners are accustomed to dog malfunction, the latest animals are prone to more problems than just the usual joint failures, overheating, seizures, chronic respiratory defects, and inability to breed without assistance.
The latest model pug is simply not in any way a viable dog." In 2012, the British cartoonist Mark Wood began a series of cartoons about Humphrey the Pug. The series was inspired by his own real-life pug Humphrey, and to illustrate "just how much fun pugs are to have around.".
While the pugs that are depicted in eighteenth century prints tend to be long and lean, modern breed preferences are for a square cobby body, a compact form, a deep chest, and well-developed muscle. Their smooth and glossy coats can be fawn, apricot fawn, silver fawn, or black. The markings are clearly defined and there is a trace of a black line extending from the occiput to the tail. The tail normally curls tightly over the hip.
Pugs have two distinct shapes for their ears, "rose" and "button". "Rose" ears are smaller than the standard style of "button" ears, and are folded with the front edge against the side of the head. Breeding preference goes to "button" style ears. Pugs' legs are very strong, straight, of moderate length, and are set well under.
The breed is often described as multum in parvo, or "much in little", alluding to the pug's remarkable personality, despite its small size. Pugs are strong willed but rarely aggressive, and are suitable for families with children.
The majority of the breed is very fond of children and sturdy enough to properly play with them. Depending on their owner's mood, they can be quiet and docile but also vivacious and teasing.