It's easy to recognize the Pug: round head, distinctive pushed-in nose; large, expressive eyes; the wrinkled forehead. No other breed has the uniquely appealing look of the Pug.
So, what physical characteristics make a Pug a Pug? What does the ideal Pug look like? According to the AKC Pugs should be square and "cobby" dogs. They shouldn't be lean and leggy or have short legs and a long body. He is "Multum in Parvo": a lot of dog in a small space; compact.
Pugs are usually 10-11 inches tall at the shoulder and 14-18 pounds.
The Pug's head is large, massive (compared to the rest of him), and round - not apple-headed. There should be no indentation in the skull. A Pug's eyes are dark, large, bold and prominent. They usual expression is soft and lustrous. When excited their eyes can be full of fire. A Pug's ears are thin small and as soft as black velvet. There are two kinds of ears seen in Pugs -- the "rose" (small, round and folded with the front edge angled toward the mask, giving the head a more rotund shape); and "button" (level with the top of forehead and folded at a sharp ninety degree angle). Button-shaped ears are preferred. Wrinkles on a Pug's face are large and deep. The Pug's muzzle is short, blunt and square. His bite (the way his teeth meet together) should be very slightly undershot.
The Pug's body should have a wide chest with good ribspring and they are well-muscled. Their necks are slightly arched and strong, thick, and with enough length to carry the head proudly. The back should be level. The tail is curled as tightly as possible over the hip. A double curl in the tail is perfect.
Front legs are strong and straight. Dewclaws are usually removed. The hindquarters should be strong and powerful with a moderate bend of stifle and short hocks which are perpendicular to the ground.
The coat is fine, smooth, soft, short and glossy, neither hard nor woolly.
The colors of the Pug's coat are silver, apricot-fawn, or black. The silver or apricot-fawn colors should be decided so as to make the contrast complete between the color and the "trace" and the face mask.
The markings are clearly defined. The muzzle or mask, ears, moles on cheeks, thumb mark or diamond on forehead, and the back trace should be as black as possible. The mask should be black. The more intense and well defined it is, the better. The "trace" is a black line extending from the occiput (prominent bone at the top of the head) to the tail.
The Pug's gait should be free self-assured and even jaunty -- appropriate for the breed's personality.
Pugs typically live for 12-15 years.
Because of their physical characteristics Pugs have some special health concerns. As a brachycephalic breed (a dog with a relatively broad, short skull), Pugs are very sensitive to high temperatures and overexertion. They can have breathing problems because of their short muzzles. Since they must limit their exercise to a certain extent, Pugs can be prone to becoming overweight. Their prominent eyes can be susceptible to eye injuries such as scratched corneas and Entropian. (Entropian occurs when the eyelids and, therefore, the lashes are turned in toward the cornea.) Pugs, with their screwtails, are also prone to hemivertebrae. When this twisting occurs somewhere else along the spine it can be devastating.
Pug owners must also take special care in cleaning their dogs' wrinkles. Irritation and infection can result from improper care of the wrinkled skin. Pugs can also develop Demodex or Demodectic Mange. The condition is easily treatable, but Pugs are particularly susceptible to it.
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