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Colors

Pug Dog Colors

Overview 

The AKC recognizes just 2 colors: fawn and black.This may rightly seem very limiting, considering that other colors do exist. As of now, fawn covers a wide range of hues that vary from very light fawn that appears to be cream to a darker fawn that is similar to tan. And a fawn coat also includes shades of apricot that range from light to dark. 

It must be noted that the AKC, which follows the guidelines set forth by the Pug Dog Club of America, used to accept both silver and apricot-fawn. Now, with just fawn and black as accepted colors in the US, a silver or apricot Pug will be registered as a fawn. Essentially, with the AKC, any color Pug other than black will be a 'fawn'. Though a Pug of any color can be registered, this does not mean the color is accepted in the show ring (more ahead). 
The FCI and KC allows for 4 colors for the Pug: Silver, apricot, fawn or black. The CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) allows for 3 colors: fawn, silver-fawn or black, though this technically means even more colors, since ‘fawn’ for a CKC Pug can mean ‘any shade including light apricot, deep apricot to reddish gold’.
Types of Fawn

While the majority of Pugs are fawn (there are much fewer true blacks even though black is a dominant gene), there are actually many variations of this fawn coat. Other registries such as the FCI and KC make this much easier, since they accept apricot and silver as accepted coat colors. And the CKC allows distinction between fawn and sliver, by having 'silver-fawn' be an option. 

So, apricot (red undertones), silver and fawn ranging from light to dark all exist with this breed and in the US any coat that is not black will be registered as fawn, even if the coat is clearly silver or has reddish tones. If the coat is quite clearly a silver or a deep apricot, this may be considered a fault or even a disqualification in the AKC show ring (though not in other countries). 

Fawns are not always solid, there are variances in the coat. It is not uncommon for a light cream to blend into a light apricot. The wrinkles on a Pug are also responsible for shading of color, since fur will appear darker in the creases of the fur. 

AKC Color Disqualification: Though fawn has a range of tones, the AKC does make it clear that anything other than fawn or black is a disqualification. Since there is sometimes a blurred line between silver and fawn or apricot and fawn, this can make things tricky. These colors are found all throughout the world, but in the US, show breeders focus on keeping the fawn a fawn without light or dark hues and tones.
silver fawn Pug dog
Silver fawn
fawn colored Pug dog
Fawn
Apricot colored Pug dog
Apricot
Black Pugs

This is a wonderful uncommon color for this breed.  The coat may have an additional color (known as a marking) or it may be the very rare solid black Pug dog.
Black Pug with white markings
Black with Markings

This Pug puppy has a shiny black coat with a mismark color of white running down his chest.
Full black Pug dog
Black

This is one of the rarest coat colors that exists for this breed: the solid black Pug without any other markings.
Brindle Pugs

Brindle is actually not any certain color; it is a pattern and that pattern is striping. Most commonly, the stripes will be in the brown and gray shades. It is found in quite a few other dog breeds. Many wonder if a brindle Pug can exist. The answer is yes. 
This said, there is some explanations to be given. Some say that brindle does not exist within the Pug's bloodline. However, just like nearly every dog breed that exists today, the Pug is the result of other purebreds being paired. As to which breeds were used to create the Pug, thus what is in his bloodline, is unknown. 

We know that he was developed in China. However, the very early development of Pugs - all records of breeding and so forth - was essentially erased from history. Somewhere around 200-225 B.C. records concerning the Pugs were destroyed by the Emperor Chin Shih Huang to hide the 'secrets' of this breed. And he was indeed successful.

Therefore, the first element to note is that no one can say if, looking back,
 brindle is or is not found in the Pug's bloodline. 
In fact, paintings from the 1700's show Pug dogs with brindle coats.
 
It has also been debated that brindle Pugs are a myth since it is dominant and would 'take over' the entire Pug breed, with eventually only brindles existing, making fawns and black obsolete. 
brindle-colored-pug-dog
Gabby, a brindle colored Pug
Photo courtesy of Mike & Bernadette Dillow 
Not true. Brindle exists in other breeds and does not take over. One example is the Boxer dog. Brindle exists and appears often. However, there are lots of fawn Boxers as well.

It is true, however, that brindle is not normally seen with Pugs. But, this certainly does not mean that the color cannot be found. The reason why you do not see many brindle Pugs is because 1) very few exist and 2) most breeders strive to meet the AKC (or FCI or CKC) accepted colors and therefore, that is what they have in their breeding programs. 

So, if we know that dogs that look just like Pugs and are brindle do exist,
there is the matter of, 
are brindle Pugs purebred or must another breed be mixed in somewhere? 

The answer is that there are brindle Pugs whose DNA tests come back as purebred, just as there are some that do not. 
fawn-pug-and-brindle-pug-color
Hurly (light fawn) and Gabby (brindle)
Photo courtesy of Mike & Bernadette Dillow 
And it does not take that many generations for a mixed breed to transition into a dog that is very close to a purebred. Just to use as an example, let's say that someone bred a Pug and a Shih Tzu (Shih Tzu dogs can be found in brindle), and the result was a brindle Pug/Shih Tzu mixed dog that was 50/50. 

Then, that dog matured and was bred to a purebred Pug; that resulting pup would be 75/25. If that pup matured and was bred to a purebred Pug and the next puppy would be 93.75/6.25. Repeat that once more, and the dog would be 96.875/3.125. In just five generations, you would have a dog that looked just like a Pug but carried the brindle gene. 

Also, it must be noted that it does not necessarily have to take a long time for a purebred dog to be established (removing all other DNA from bloodlines).
Max von Stephanitz developed and standardized the German Shepherd within his own lifetime. 

To summarize, the debate will seemingly continue as to whether the brindle color pattern is hidden in the bloodline and pops out every now and again... Or if the brindle comes from another breed from 5, 10, 15 or even 20 generations back and the brindle Pug is <99% Pug.
Registration - Many wonder if a Pug of any color, even non-standard colors, can be registered. The answer is yes. A purebred Pug, no matter what color he is (even if he is a brindle, silver or any other non-standard color) can be registered with the AKC. Given, of course, that he is registerable (his parents are registered).

You will, however, need to register your uniquely colored Pug under the accepted color that most closely matches him. The only two choices with the AKC are Black S 007 and Fawn S 082. In most cases, apricot, silver, white, and brindle will be registered as fawns and only very dark Pugs would more closely match with black. 
Changes

It is normal for a puppy to change coat color (to a certain degree) as he or she is maturing from pup to adolescent. 

Most common is a lightening of the hairs; many pups are born dark and lighter shades will gradually fill the coat. However, with some fawns, there may be a change to a deeper, darker hue. 

Therefore, many owners will have an adult dog that is registered as a color that does not quite fit the dog any more.

For example, a pup may have been registered as fawn....and as that dog grows older...perhaps at the age of 1 or 2 years old, the fawn may turn to a darker, more apricot fawn.
 
This is also a graying that can develop with adults and senior Pugs. This is usually most prominent on the muzzle and is not considered to be a fault.
Smuttiness

This term is given when a light coat (any shade of fawn) has a top overlay of black hairs. It is thin enough to see the lighter hairs underneath, however gives an overall appearance of a "haze". This is most often seen on the saddle area (across the back) but can also appear on the legs of the dog. In the show world, this is not a disqualification, it is however a fault.
The Trace

This term refers to a line that runs down the back of a Pug dog. Some have this, some do not...and those that do have varying degrees of thickness. The trace may be a dark apricot (most often seen on fawns) or it may be black.  

It may begin on the back of the neck or further down the back.  It will run in a predominantly straight line, ending at the base of the tail. 

It may be very apparent during the puppy years and then fade as the dog matures... 

On the flip side, this marking may not show at all during the newborn phase and then become apparent as the Pug grows. 

This particular element is considered to be an official marking of the breed and is not a disqualification at all.  In fact, it is thought to give this breed character; though neither a trace or the lack of one is judged in show to be more favorable than the other.
Pug with trace marking on back
Ruby
Photo courtesy of owner Alf Dixon
Pug with thumbprint marking
Tommy
Photo courtesy of Srinivas | Dubai, UAE   
Thumbprints

What is the thumbprint on a Pug dog?  It is a black marking on the forehead of the Pug.  It may be a smudged shape that resembles an oval, circle or diamond.

Note that this does not describe wrinkles.  It describes a splash coloring on the fur. 

What sets this apart from general black mask markings over the forehead, is that the thumbprint will be a distinct dark color (often black) that stand out prominently against a lighter color (fawn or a variation of fawn).

Pugs are born with thumbprints and it is very rare for a dog born without this to develop one as he ages. When a young pup has a small thumbprint marking, it may grow along with the dog as he matures.
The Mask

Not noticeable on many black Pugs, but very obvious on lighter coats, is the mask. This is the black coloring of the muzzle and is part of what sets this breed aside and lends to its amazing appearance. 

It will begin under the chin and cover the entire muzzle, raise over the top of the nose and then encircle both eyesIt is not uncommon for the black hairs to begin to thin as they circle around the eyes.
White Paws

Can a Pug have mitted, white paws? It is not common however it can occur as you can see with this adorable Pug puppy. The term 'mitted' is often used with cats since it is much more common for felines to have this type of color marking. It refers to coloring that falls on the paws that is different than the body color, as if the animal is wearing mittens. As you can see, this Pug is a fawn with black mask and white markings.

The white is splashed across the chest and then appears on the front paws as if the pup dipped into paint.
Pug dog with white mitted paws
Mr. Mittens, 3 months old
Photo courtesy of Suzanne
Behavior and Personalty Traits with Different Colored Pugs

Many people wonder if there are inbred character traits that vary depending on the coat color of the Pug. As with any other breed, the coloring of the coat has no effect on energy level, personality, behavioral quirks or any other element. It is easy to leap to the belief that color matters in this regard...

An owner may have a black Pug that is more energetic than his fawn counterpart.... However, there are just as many owners who have energetic fawns compared to laid back black Pugs. Each dog is an individual, and Pugs will have different personalities, regardless of coat color.

Shedding

Most Pugs have coats consisting of 2 layers of fur, an inner and an outer coat. Some, but not all black Pugs are single coated. For this reason, a percentage of black coated Pugs may shed less in comparison to fawn, apricots or slivers.
Eyes

The two most common questions about eye color is if a Pug dog can have blue eyes and exactly what color a Pug's eyes should be.  Blue is not in this breed's genetic code.  However, newborns may have very dark blue eyes; they will change over to their 'normal' color usually be week 7.  Per standard guidelines, Pugs should have 'dark eyes'. This means that eyes will be a dark brown or a black.  Coat color does not affect eye color; for example a fawn Pug does not have lighter eyes than a black Pug. 
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