Pug Breeder Round-Up

Pug Breeder Round-Up

In creating the book The Complete Guide to Pugs” (written by David Anderson and available on Amazon) we interviewed 9 of the top Pug breeders in the country.  We used their advice and expertise to help make the book the best possible guide book for a new Pug owner.

But… there was so much good advice in those interviews that we couldn’t fit it all into the book.  So we decided we’d compile the best answers to each question and present them here.  If you are thinking of getting a Pug, or are a current owner, the advice that follows will be invaluable to you as you proceed on your ownership journey.  Enjoy:

Question #1:  What are your tips for choosing the right Pug from either a breeder or rescue?

Choosing a Pug PuppyConsensus:
Pugs are a popular companion breed that are known for their clownish dispositions, but poor breeding can lead to devastating genetic disorders. It is important to choose a breeder who is transparent about their practices. This means that breeders should provide health certifications for both of the parent dogs and be comfortable with prospective owners meeting the parents and observing the puppy’s environment. When selecting a dog from a rescue, get as much information as you are able to about the dog’s history and take the opportunity to observe the conditions they are living in prior to adoption.

Best Quotes:

You should always consider adoption first from a shelter or rescue group. Never buy from a pet store or online! If adopting from a breeder, make sure you have done plenty of research first. You should always be able to come see the breeder’s establishment prior to committing. Make sure you can visit both the puppies and the parents. Ask about health guarantees, vet visits, genetic dispositions, and parental medical records. A puppy should be even-tempered- not overactive and not overly shy. They should be healthy, happy, and playing with their littermates. Puppies should be eating and drinking solid foods prior to taking them home.”
Laela-  Thunderstorms Pug Pals

For the most part, Pugs seem to choose their people and I often see an immediate bond. The puppy should seem happy and healthy and you should be able to meet at the home of the breeder or the foster facility, not on the side of the road somewhere. Breeders and foster homes know the personality and temperament of the Pugs they have; information such as the specific dog’s energy level, physical needs, and overall temperament. It’s important to communicate what your home, family, and lifestyle are like so the breeder or rescue group can help find the best match for you.”
Shelley Richfield-  Richfield

Choose a breeder that allows you to come to their home to interact with their Pugs. Meeting you somewhere may be a genuine offer to reduce the distance you have to travel – OR it may be a way to keep you from seeing their place, which should be viewed as suspicious. Choose a Pug that appears healthy, clean, and well-groomed. Ask to meet parents if they are present. I personally would not buy a Pug that had not been tested for PDE susceptibility or that had parents who weren’t tested as safe to breed.”
Joan Yerkie-  Snugglepugs

Find out why your breeder is breeding Pugs. What goals do they have- or do they have goals? Go to the breeder’s home, meet the parents and observe the living conditions of the puppy. How many litters per year the breeder breed? How many litters does the dam have before retiring? What health testing is the breeder performing.”
Bonnie Allegro-  HoneyPugs     

Question #2:  What are some of the most unique characteristics of the breed?

Unique pug CharacteristicsConsensus:
The Pug breed was originally developed as a companion breed for royal personages in China and they are definitely creatures of comfort. They want nothing more than to spend time with their owners, entertaining them with their canine antics, or eat. They are an exceptionally food motivated dog who will try just about anything for a treat. While Pugs are playful canines that are game for anything, especially if it involves you or food, they are not particularly athletic dogs and should not be overtaxed.

Best Quotes:

Pugs are known for their clownish behavior. They have their own individual personalities and as long as a warm lap and food are involved, they are your friend for life.”
Bonnie Allegro-  HoneyPugs

Pugs are people dogs. They have been bred for hundreds of years to lay on the laps of royalty for companionship. They are comical, smart, stubborn, and playful. Their only purposes in life are to be around you and to eat.”
Laela-  Thunderstorms Pug Pals

They say Pugs are the CLOWNS of the dog world for a reason. They love to be with their people; the breed is strictly bred for companionship! They are not hunters, joggers, or mushing dogs. They just want to be with their family, preferably on a lap or warm bed. They love to please you and are usually very food driven. They learn tricks with treats. Food motivation works.”
Susan Bizier-  Rainbow Pugs

Question #3:  What do most people not know about Pugs that would surprise them?

Pug SnoringConsensus:
 Many people are surprised by the volume of their Pug’s snores. They are also surprised by how much gas that a Pug can produce. The shortened muzzles that characterize this breed, combined with their tendency to eat as quickly as possible, leads to a great deal of flatulence. Breeders across the board mentioned also the truly surprising amount of shed hair that these small, short-coated dogs can produce due to their dense undercoat.

Best Quotes:

They shed horribly, but they love unconditionally.”
Caryn Mullin-  Wild Bunch Kennels

Everyone knows Pugs snore and fart! Most people don’t realize that they are a fair-weather dog breed. Too much heat is not good and too much cold is not good. Since they are homebodies, it usually isn’t an issue, but keeping them penned or tied up outside is not recommended at any time of year or climate.”
Ever.”
Susan Bizier-   Rainbow Pugs

They shed like buffalo.”
Melissa Standish-  Moonstruck Pugs

Question #4:  How would you recommend people prepare their home for the arrival of their new puppy?

Bringing a pug homeConsensus:
 There are several things that a new pet-parent needs to do to prepare their home for their new Pug puppy. Like most puppies, Pug puppies explore everything with their mouths. It is important to pick up anything off of the floor that shouldn’t be chewed. That includes small items, which could get stuck in your pup’s windpipe, as well as cords, which could lead to electrical shock if chewed. Prepare a safe space for your puppy, either a crate or enclosed pen, and provide plenty of toys to keep them busy when you aren’t able to actively watch them.

Best Quotes:

Puppies are like toddlers, they get into everything. I would set up a separate area, like a puppy play yard, to provide a safe area for them to eat and play if you are unable to watch them. I recommend crate training as well. Crate training is a great way to potty train your Pug as well as making travel more convenient. I would have on hand a good quality puppy food, a puppy bed, several types of toys, and healthy treats. You will also need a collar or harness and a leash.”
Cindy Jones-  CJ’s Munchkin Land Pugs

If it is at your puppy’s level, it’s fair game. Set up a smaller area with a crate. Crates can be a safe haven for your pup when they are tired and need to rest! Most will go in the crate on their own when they need a nap and will often bring their favorite toys with them. Don’t make it a punishment! Leave the door open during the day. Try to have a schedule ready so your new pup won’t be as confused by the inevitable changes in their environment. Request a toy or blanket that has been with the litter from the breeder, or bring one to rub on Mom or siblings as a comfort item.”
Susan Bizier-  Rainbow Pugs

Have toys, treats, and a specific area of the home as their domain. Slowly introduce your dog to the rest of the house. Be sure you follow the recommended food and water guidelines given by your breeder.”
LaDonna K Weaver-  Hugapug Kennels

Question #5:  What are some unexpected things a new Pug owner might encounter in the first few weeks?

Pug playing with frisbeeConsensus:
Moving from one environment to another can be stressful on your new canine companion, and that stress can lead to some unexpected difficulties. Anxious pups may whine and cry at night, sometimes just for the first night, sometimes for a week or two, and they are very likely to have gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea, due to the excitement. Potty training can be particularly challenging during this time and even dogs who are housetrained may backslide and have accidents in the house.

Best Quotes:

When puppies leave their littermates they are scared and lonely. They may whine at night. It can take a week or more before your puppy quits whining. Potty training is another area that can be challenging with your new puppy.”
Cindy Jones-  CJ’s Munchkin Land Pugs

Crying and chewing on furniture or cords around the house. They often have potty accidents and there may even be issues of safety with other pets or small children in the household. They may have upset stomachs from the change in routine and food. Avoid giving your new canine companion too many treats during this time of adjustment.”
Laela-  Thunderstorms Pug Pals

Potty training issues. There is always an adjustment period when bringing a new puppy home. Sometimes they cry the first few nights, sometimes they don’t want to eat or will not poop, sometimes they may have loose stools in the first 24 hours. This is usually due to the stress of going to a new home, but it should resolve in a day or two.”
Shelley Richfield-  Richfield

Question #6:  What house-training advice do you have for a new owner?

Pug potty trainingConsensus:
Consistency and patience are the keys to teaching your dog where to eliminate. Take your pup out or to their potty box on a regular schedule— when they wake up in the morning, shortly after they eat, and after any long play sessions. As companion animals, Pugs are very sensitive to their owner’s moods and attitudes. Pugs who are scolded for eliminating in the house tend to assume that it is the elimination itself that offends you, rather than the location, and they may start hiding behind furniture to eliminate where you can’t see them.

Best Quotes:

BE PATIENT AND HAVE A SCHEDULE. Treats can be a good motivator, but make sure not to overdo it. They have tiny treats! Make a big, exciting deal about it when they go outside or on their indoor bathroom spot. Pugs can be trained to use a potty box! It can be done, so just be patient.”
Susan Bizier-  Rainbow Pugs

Take your puppy outside first thing in the morning, every time after they eat, whenever they wake up from a nap, and after a long play session. Litter training your Pug will help when the weather is too cold or hot to take them out. If they are litter trained they can be put in a pen with their litter box.”
Joan M Yerkie-  Snugglepugs

Make sure everybody in the house is using the same word for pee or poop. If the puppy has an accident in the house it is very important not to punish or scold them. This often convinces the puppy that going potty in front of you is a bad thing, and they will start peeing and pooping where you cannot see them inside the house. They will not pee or poop outside of the house, because it is in front of you. This can make it almost impossible to potty train your Pug. Pugs do best with positive reinforcement.”
Shelley Richfield-  Richfield

Be diligent and patient, and be prepared for housetraining to take up to a year.”
Melissa Standish-  Moonstruck Pugs

Question #7:  What tips do you have for socializing your Pug with other pets?

Socializing a pugConsensus:
 Pugs are generally very friendly dogs, known for their gregarious and comical nature, so socialization is usually a fairly easy process. Once your pup is fully updated on their vaccinations, you can start visiting local pet stores or enrolling them in puppy classes so that they can be introduced to other canines in a more controlled setting. Always go slowly when introducing pets to one another, and don’t expect them to share things like toys or food right away, if ever.

Best Quotes:

We recommend taking a puppy class at a local pet store or attending group sessions. Just be sure your pup is all up to date on vaccines before attending social events with other dogs. Introduce your new puppy to other pets very slowly and always ensure they are well supervised.”
Laela-  Thunderstorms Pug Pals

If you have a dog at home already, it’s important that you bring them outside to meet the puppy, then bring them into the house together. You should never force established pets to share toys with the puppy or to spend time with the puppy. Let them have their own space and take their time to bond.”
Shelley Richfield-  Richfield

Introductions should be slow and cautious at first. Supervise all play sessions for the first two weeks. Provide lots of praise when your pets are playing nicely.”
Bonnie Allegro-  HoneyPugs

Question #8:  How much exercise does a Pug need? What are some good exercise habits to develop?

How much exercise do pugs need?Consensus:
 Pugs are energetic and enjoy being active, but they aren’t particularly athletic canines. While they are not opposed to spending the day curled up with their human companion, they do need some activity each day to stay healthy and prevent obesity. A simple walk or play session is generally a sufficient amount of exercise for these stocky little dogs. It is important to note, however, that this breed is brachycephalic, so they do not handle the heat well. Despite their dense undercoats, cold weather is also a problem. If the temperature outside is extreme, keep your Pug inside.

Best Quotes:

Pugs love to be active and will adapt to your lifestyle. Walks in cooler weather or during the evening time are best. Not during extreme hot or cold weather.”
Bonnie Allegro-  HoneyPugs

Pugs do not need a lot of exercise. A good walk or playtime is plenty.”
Cindy Jones-  CJ’s Munchkin Land Pugs

Not much at all. Pugs can be satisfied with a daily walk, a play session at a local dog park, or a short play date with a pal. they do not need a huge amount of exercise to stay healthy, but walks are great for them to keep their weight in check.”
Laela-  Thunderstorms Pug Pals

Question #9:  How easy or hard are they to train? What advice do you have for a new owner?

How to train a Pug puppyConsensus:
 This companion breed has a fairly prominent stubborn streak, making them a bit challenging to train. Fortunately, Pugs are exceedingly fond of food and their desire to earn a treat will often over-ride their stubborn behavior. Starting training early and being consistent with their training will produce the best results. Punitive training techniques tend to backfire with this breed. They absolutely want to please their owner, but they often get the wrong idea about what their owner is looking for when the training methods are too intense.

Best Quotes:

They are smart about what they want to be smart about, which is primarily food.”
Melissa Standish-  Moonstruck Pugs

I think that the more time you put into training upfront, the easier and faster it will be to train them. It’s important that people have realistic expectations and be well educated and how to train their Pug.”
Shelley Richfield-  Richfield

It depends on the Pug. Like people, they all have different personalities. Some can be very stubborn about training while others pick it up right away. Keep consistent with any routines and reward your dog with treats or kibble. Pugs love food— it motivates them to do well.”
Laela-  Thunderstorms Pug Pals

Always use positive training techniques. They love snacks; carrots make good healthy snacks and training tools.”
Caryn Mullin-  Wild Bunch Kennels

Question #10:  What are some of the unwanted behaviors that a Pug might display, and what advice do you have for dealing with them?

Unwanted pug behaviorsConsensus:
 Most of the time, Pugs are wonderful companions— friendly, entertaining, and absolutely loving. Like all breeds, however, they have their foibles, too. Pugs tend to exceptionally stubborn, a trait that is most easily mitigated by using a food motivator, and they have a hard time letting go of habits, both good and bad. They tend to be more accomodating animals when they are kept on a regular schedule. Some pet parents may find the snorting and snoring that comes with a shortened snout extremely frustrating.

Best Quotes:

STUBBORNNESS. Food motivates them and may prove to be the best way to combat a stubborn Pug. Reinforce routine for your Pug. Meals, walks, bedtime, and playtime should all be on a schedule if possible.”
Susan Bizier-  Rainbow Pugs

They are creatures of habit. If you feed them crumbs at the table once, they will learn to beg for food each time you sit at the table. Be careful and not teach them bad habits that you won’t later be able to break.”
Bonnie Allegro-  HoneyPugs

Pugs snort and snore.”
Cindy Jones-  CJ’s Munchkin Land Pugs

Question #11:  Do Pugs make good travel companions? Why or why not?

Traveling with a pugConsensus:
 These little dogs have the perfect personality for travel, especially if they start early in life. They are fearless and enjoy adventure, but calm enough to hang out in their crate when needed. It is crucial to remember their physical limitations when traveling; never allow brachycephalic breeds like the Pug ride in the cargo area of an airplane or never leave them in a car, even if the weather seems mild, and don’t expect them to keep up with you on long hikes.

Best Quotes:

Most Pugs are excellent travel companions who love the trip. Especially true if they have been taken along since they were pups. When our dogs see us loading our motorhome for a dog show, they are very excited and anxious to go. They all lie quietly in their crates during travel, mostly sleeping. They love their second home! I have also heard many very good things from people that travel frequently with them in their cars.”
Joan M Yerkie-  Snugglepugs

Pugs make great travel companions. However, they are quick to overheat with warmer temperatures. If you take the necessary precautions pugs are excellent travel companions.”
Cindy Jones-  CJ’s Munchkin Land Pugs

They do if you start them early. Pugs should never fly in cargo— only in a carrier with you on the plane. They are good in cars if properly trained early on and they usually sleep most of the way.”
Laela-  Thunderstorms Pug Pals

Question #12:  Do they have any specific dietary needs or differences from other Breeds?

Pug nutritional needsConsensus:
 While Pugs are not especially prone to food allergies, they may develop yeast issues and they do have a tendency to overeat. A grain-free food should help to reduce the production of yeast and is less likely to add unwanted pounds. If given the opportunity these dogs will overeat. To prevent obesity, they should be fed on a schedule rather than having food available at all times.

Best Quotes:

Yes, I always recommend a high-quality grain-free food. Raw diets are OK as well but can be expensive and time-consuming. Pugs are prone to both yeast infections and weight gain. A grain-free diet helps to prevent both issues. I tend to recommend a grain-free puppy formula until they are nine months to a year old, then switching them to a grain-free salmon formula. I like the added cardiac benefits that salmon oil brings as well as it helps them have a beautiful shiny coat.”
Shelley Richfield-  Richfield

They can get overweight quickly because of their obsession with food. You have to be mindful early on. Check with your vet for the appropriate diet for your particular Pug.”
Laela-  Thunderstorms Pug Pals

Never free feed a Pug.”
Melissa Standish-  Moonstruck Pugs

Pugs are very food motivated. They can get overweight easily and become diabetic so it is essential to monitor their diet and avoid people food. I suggest one to one and a half cups per day depending on how active your Pug is. If you choose to raw feed your Pug, consult a veterinarian or join a raw feed group for advice.”
Susan Bizier-  Rainbow Pugs

Question #13:  What grooming tips do you have?

Grooming a Pug PuppyConsensus:
Pugs are fairly easy to handle in the grooming department. They should be bathed only as needed, every few months or if they develop an odor. Bathing that is too frequent can dry skin out and cause it to lose its elasticity. They will need to be brushed every day or two to keep down the shedding, and you should wipe down their nose roll on a regular basis to prevent fungal or bacterial infection. Pugs are often resistant to having their nails clipped, but it is important to do so and should be started early.

Best Quotes:

Pugs really do not need frequent bathing. They do not tend to get any “doggy odor”. A brushing a couple of times a week, and cleaning of their nose roll as needed (some need every day, others once a week) is usually sufficient. Nails should be clipped or ground down once a month or more. They are known for their extreme dislike of clipping! We have found they are much better for us if we use a Dremel.”
Joan M Yerkie-  Snugglepugs

A good brushing once a week will help with shedding. We use Alaskan salmon oil for awesome fur.”
LaDonna K Weaver-  Hugapug Kennels

I recommend daily brushing as well as cleaning the ears, wrinkles, and nose folds with an alcohol-free non-scented baby wipe. Nails should be trimmed every two to 3 weeks, it is very important to stay on top of the nails. I do an ear cleaner drop, I like ark’s naturals once a week to every 2 weeks. I caution against over washing and if you can, keep it to no more than once or twice a month. Also, Pugs tend to have dry coats So I recommend a moisturizing shampoo when you do wash. A nose moisturizer may be necessary for older dogs as well as at dry times of the year. I always recommend wiping your dogs or puppies paws off with a baby wipe when bringing them in from outside as deicers and fertilizers can damage your dog’s skin or poison them. I also recommend daily brushing of the teeth and visiting and anesthesia-free dental clinic twice a year.”
Shelley Richfield-  Richfield

Question #14:  What kind of shedding should an owner expect? Any advice?

How much do Pugs shedConsensus:
 These little dogs have short, sleek outer coats that neatly hide their dense undercoats, which offer up a lot of extra fur. These dogs shed heavily year-round rather than seasonally, but frequent brushing with a de-shedding brush helps to reduce the amount of fur in your house and on your clothes. Adding salmon, salmon oil, or coconut oil to your dog’s diet may help to reduce the amount of shedding as well, and has the added benefit of giving them a shiny, healthy coat.

Best Quotes:

This depends on the individual Pug. Some are much worse than others, and I suspect this can be due either to genetics or what they are fed. But it is pretty much agreed, you do have to plan on Pug hair in your life if you’re going to own a Pug! We’ve found that a bit of coconut oil in their food does help this.”
Joan M Yerkie-  Snugglepugs

They shed the equivalent of one Pug with almost every brushing. If you have a de-shedding brush it is better.”
Caryn Mullin-  Wild Bunch Kennels

Lots! We call it Pug glitter.”
LaDonna K Weaver-  Hugapug Kennels

Expect lots of shedding! Daily brushing is extremely important. I like the rubber knobby brushes and combs best.”
Shelley Richfield-  Richfield

Question #15:  Can you speak to some of the genetic health concerns associated with Pugs?

Pug Health ConcernsConsensus:
 There are several genetic health issues that can affect Pugs. It is important to carefully screen your breeder to avoid devastating and potentially lethal problems such as Pug Dog Encephalitis, hip dysplasia, and liver shunts. Pugs also have eyes that protrude and may be more easily damaged or and their flat face may cause them to develop dental problems if dental hygiene is not attended to. The best way to catch problems early is to make sure that you visit your veterinarian on a regular basis.

Best Quotes:

Pugs do have a lot of genetic health issues such as luxating patellas, PDE (Pug Dog Encephalitis), and hip dysplasia. They may also have minor elongated palates, stenotic nares, keratoconjunctivitis, or other breed-specific concerns. Frequent vet visits will help to ensure that you catch these concerns early— most can be treated with meds and or surgery. Others must be managed long term.”
Laela-  Thunderstorms Pug Pals

PDE and Liver shunts are the worst and most fatal disorders. Also, Pugs are very prone to dry eye and other eye issues due to their flat face structure. I recommend all Pug owners see an ophthalmologist immediately upon acquiring them, yearly starting at three to five years of age, and if there is an injury to the eye. Treatment early on can prevent blindness and further damage.”
Shelley Richfield-  Richfield

Every prospective Pug owner should read about Pug Dog Encephalitis (PDE) and the best way to avoid it.”
Joan M Yerkie-  Snugglepugs

Any purebred dog will have genetic concerns. The Pug’s head predisposes them to eye injuries and bad teeth.”
Melissa Standish-  Moonstruck Pugs