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Pug Dog Appearance

Overview of Appearance

The Pug is a small, sturdy, barrel shaped dog with relatively short legs. He is known for his wide chest (girth of the chest greatly increases as the Pug matures) and his flattened face (this is a developed physical trait, placing the Pug in the brachycephalic group of dogs. Unfortunately, this can and often does cause some breathing problems with this breed).

His small ears that are covered in fine, thin hairs (compared to velvet) are folded over reaching eye level (rose or button shaped) and his eyes are large, round and dark. 

This breed is also known for his wrinkles that are very abundant and deep over his face and his forehead. 
One special feature of the Pug is his tail. Pug tails naturally have a curl. The tail may have one loop or two (a double loop is highly desired in the show ring). 
Single loop Pug Tail
Another distinguishing feature of the Pug's appearance is the thumbprint. While this is not seen on every Pug, this smudge of black on the forehead that was, long ago, thought to be a symbol of good luck.
Pug with thumbprint marking
Photo courtesy of Srinivas | Dubai, UAE   
Some Pugs also have what is known as the trace. This is line of black tipped hairs that run straight down the back. If present, it will vary from light to dark. 
The coat is very short; it never grows out more than an inch. And it is very dense. For these reasons, Pugs shed quite a bit, year-round. Every now and then, a Pug with a much longer coat pops up; while it is suggested that another breed must be within the bloodline, the mystery of longhaired Pug dogs continues.

With a healthy Pug, the coat will be visibly shiny and smooth to the touch. 

The Pug can be found in 4 basic colors: fawn, silver, apricot and black; though, not all colors are accepted by all registries. The AKC only recognizes two: fawn and black. The CKC (Canada) recognizes fawn, silver fawn and black. And the KC (UK) & FCI accept all four. 
Pugs: fawn, black
Pugs that are non-black have black masks. This extends from the chin, over the muzzle and up to the eyes. 

His size ranges from 14 to 20 pounds, though there can be some a bit smaller and some a bit larger, especially if the Pug is carrying excess weight, which is a concern for this breed. In the AKC show ring, a Pug is expected to be 14 to 18 lbs. 

If you measure an adult Pug from the floor to the withers (top of the shoulder blades), he is typically 10 to 14 inches.

Males and females will look slightly different; females may be a bit more narrow and generally weigh a bit less than males.
Pug puppies are rather round, with loose skin and a much more narrow body than they will have as adults. They will reach their final adult size by the 2 year mark. 
Young Pug with his puppy shape (rounded, loose skin)

Care Elements Due to Appearance

The way in which you care for a Pug vs other breeds needs to be adjusted due to some of his physical traits:
  • Pugs are not great swimmers, due to their body shape. Never allow a Pug to swim in any body of water without extremely close supervision.
  • Wrinkles and other skin folds can develop skin yeast infections. Daily wiping, taking care to not leave these areas moist, can help to prevent this.
  • The eyes are vulnerable to scratches and buildup of debris. The eye area should be wiped to keep them clean. 
  • Due to compacted breathing passages, care must be taken to not allow a Pug to overheat in the summer and while exercise is very important in keeping a Pug at a healthy weight and in good shape, this must be in alignment with what each individual Pug can handle without respiratory distress. 
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