The History of Pugs: Origins of the World’s Most Adorable Dog

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Pugs are a beloved breed of dogs with their signature short muzzles, curled tails, and charming personalities. Pugs known for their large heads, protruding eyes, and square, muscular builds have captured hearts for centuries. But where did these adorable dogs come from? In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating history of pugs, tracing their origins back to ancient China over 400 B.C.

History of Pugs

Pugs were bred to be companions for the Chinese ruling families. It was considered a status symbol in the royal families. Later, the pugs spread to parts of the world and Asia. Gradually their features listed them as popular breeds of dogs as companions.

How Long do Pugs Live?


The average lifespan of pugs is estimated to be around twelve to fifteen years. However, it varies for each dog and its lifestyle factors. Consulting your vet and regular check-ups and vaccinations ensure adequate health and age, no matter what breed of dog you own.

Ancient History of Pugs

The history of pugs traces their origin back to 400 B.C. in China. The pugs were known to be a part of and make friends with humans within royal families. Pugs were more of a status symbol. People also believed that no regular family was allowed to own a pug pet.

The Chinese royal families carefully bred these small and short-legged pugs. There were known specific breeds according to coat color and length of the dog. Emperor Ling in Chin during 168 to 190 AD allowed his pug to be fed royal food and guards to stand by and protect the pug.

Spread of Pugs to Other Countries

As the pugs spread out in the continent, the pugs were also petted by Buddhist monks in Tibet. The dogs were considered loyal to their masters; therefore, pugs were regarded loyal and kept guard for Tibet monasteries. 

The pugs gained popularity in Spain in the 18th Century with different artists where one could find paintings of pugs everywhere. English painter William Hogarth loved pugs and owned several pugs throughout his life.

In the same Century, the pugs came to Italy and France too. The pugs were seen in almost every household and travel carriage. It became a fashion to own a pug knowing its features.

A brief video about the history of pugs is attached below. Watch the video to understand how old the history of pugs goes along.

The history of pugs

Pugs in Europe

Pugs spread out in Europe soon after their popularity among Buddhist monks. The history of pugs dates to their entry into Europe in the 16th Century. The pugs gained popularity within the royal families here too.

Pugs as Pets of Royalty

The pugs were also called official dogs of the House of Orange in 1572. A pug saves the Prince of Orange from assassins by letting the Prince know about their approach. Hence the name for the blessing in disguise.

Moreover, the pugs traveled with William III and Mary II. It was a symbol; therefore, a pug was always there when they traveled from the Netherlands to England to accept the throne.

Like Italy and Spain, Pugs gained fame throughout Europe by the 17th Century. Dressing the pugs in different clothes and jackets became a norm. The history of pugs also suggests that people used them to track animals for the European military.

Pugs were also highly famous among European artists. The pugs were all over their paintings. On a visit to Italy in 1789, Hester Piozzi said, “every carriage I meet here has a pug in it.” Moreover, Josephine was only allowed to meet her pug during her imprisonment.

When Josephine was imprisoned, only Josephine’s pug had visiting rights during the incarceration. However, she used her pug to carry concealed messages to her family stating her health and conditions. It is important that one should understand the history of pugs. 

Appearance of Pugs in 18th and 19th Century

As the history of pugs suggests, the pugs of the early centuries differed from the ones we see today. The pugs in the 18th and 19th centuries had longer legs and noses than today. The ears of the pugs were also cropped during the Century.

Later, the new breed of pugs imported from China to Europe had considerably shorter legs. They had a flat noses, and the build was stockier or square. Later, Lady Brassey visited Europe from China with her black pug, where the trend of black pugs rose.

In 1895, people put the butchery of cropping pug’s ears for fashion and elegance a ban for once and for all. It helped the pugs because their pain and struggle were over.

Pugs in the UK

In the 19th Century, the breed of the pugs gained popularity in the U.K. It was because of the ever-increasing interest of Queen Victoria in the breed. Her interest led to the creation of the Kennel Club within the U.K., which was formed in 1873. 

The love of pugs transferred to many of her family members in the royal family. The pugs of the royal family were mainly fawn or apricot-colored, but it wasn’t late when the black color pugs also gained their name and fame within the royal family.

Pugs in America

As the history of pugs and their worldwide spread is concerned, they gained fame in America during the nineteenth Century. It was approximately after the American Civil War when the pugs gained popularity and were found in almost any household.

In around 1885, The American Kennel Club recognized pugs and their breed. Their popularity then saw no bounds but dwindled certainly as the Century ended. However, some breeders kept the species going, and it came back again.

Growth in the Popularity of Pugs

The pugs were not so popular at one time, but back in 2013, a U.S. resident from Tennessee parented a pug. She created an Instagram account first of herself where she posted pictures of her pug. The images began to gain fame and recognition.

Soon, she started her fur baby’s account and named the account “Doug The Pug.” The popularity of the pug grew by leaps and bounds. From then on, the trend of pugs on Instagram and other social media platforms exploded!

Formation of Breed Clubs and Standards

Ah, the world of dog breed standards. It’s a fascinating and somewhat arbitrary world, where humans get to decide which physical characteristics are desirable for each breed. But who are these humans, and what gives them the power to create breed standards?

Well, it turns out that breed standards are typically created by breed clubs, groups of humans passionate about a particular breed. These clubs are often made up of breeders, owners, and enthusiasts, who gather to discuss their favorite breed’s finer points.

But what exactly is a dog breed standard? It’s a set of guidelines that outline a particular breed’s ideal physical and behavioral traits. Think of it like a blueprint for creating the perfect pug (or any other breed, for that matter).

Now, you might be wondering why these standards are created in the first place. After all, can’t we just let dogs be dogs, without worrying about whether their tails are curled just so or their ears are the right size?

Well, according to the experts (aka, the breed clubs), having a set of standards helps maintain each breed’s integrity. It ensures that breeders are producing dogs that conform to the breed’s unique characteristics, rather than breeding them willy-nilly with any old mutt.

So, how, when, and why were dog breed standards created for pugs? Well, it’s a long and convoluted story involving ancient Chinese emperors, European royalty, and a whole lot of snorting and wheezing. But let’s just say that the pug breed club eventually came to a consensus on what a perfect pug should look like, and the rest is history (or at least, breed standards).

The Pug Today

The pugs have features that everyone falls for. It is a breed everyone can identify well. Pugs are known for their compressed snout, short legs, some muscle, and curly tails. The features it shows are appealing to everyone.

Today, the most common colors of pugs are black, fawn, and apricot, while other colors are also available. Some breeders also specialize in breeding snow-white color pugs. But, the common colors are only recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

There is no doubt they’ve been gaining name and fame for centuries. Many individuals across the globe love the adorable personality. The pugs are known as loyal, goofy, and protective of their masters. Therefore they make a good pet.

Today, Pugs are as popular as ever. They are one breed that almost everyone can identify. They are known for short muscles, legs, compressed snout, and curly tails. Many individuals love purebred Pugs, but some countries also like Retro Pugs.

Pugs in Media and Pop Culture

Pugs are basically the Kardashians of the dog world – they’re famous for their features and their fabulous lifestyles. With their little wrinkly faces and big bug eyes, pugs are practically born to be in the spotlight. And boy, do they know how to work it.

Thanks to the power of the internet, there are now dozens of pugs who have achieved fame and fortune. These social media-savvy pups have their own Instagram accounts, where they post adorable pictures and videos of themselves doing pug things. And let’s be real – watching a pug snort and wiggle around is way more entertaining than any cat video.

But the real pinnacle of pug pop culture? The events held in their honor, of course. That’s right, folks – pug marathons and dress-up parties are a thing. And let’s just say, watching a bunch of pugs dressed as pirates or superheroes is a sight to behold. Move over, Coachella – Pugchella is where it’s at.

Conclusion: The History of Pugs

The History of Pugs comes back from Chinese rulers and royal families. The pugs spread out to the royal families in Europe in the 17th Century and later spread worldwide. Even today, pugs are popular among Americans and Europeans for their face and features.

However, pugs suffer from health problems, and having them as pets might cost an arm and leg. One should always take care of pugs to ensure adequate health. Pugs continue to be famous among dog lovers.

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Frank Kane

By Frank Kane

Frank is a huge animal lover with many pets of his own. He loves sharing all his knowledge of all creatures here and learning more whenever possible.