How To Take Care Of A Pug: The Complete Guide
Pugs are certainly a unique breed with a fascinating history. They originated in China, and were kept as pets by Buddhist monks in Tibet, they were popular in European courts of the 16th and 17th centuries and they basically remained celebrities ever since.
However, Pugs are not exactly low-maintenance dogs. They require a lot of care, and anyone considering getting a Pug should keep themselves informed. Not to worry though, as our pug care tips will cover everything you need to know.
Dr Sara Redding Ochoa: Doctor Of Veterinary Medicine
Sara is Wileypup’s Veterinarian Adviser and helped compose this article to ensure the information is up to date and accurate. For more information on Sara click here
In this guide, we’ll cover these 5 important areas of Pug care that every pet parent should know about:
Pugs are often confused with French Bulldogs. Check out our breed comparison guide for compelling information:
Harness Vs Collar
When we think of puppy gear for a Pug (or any dog for that matter), the first thing that comes to mind is usually a collar and a leash. However, when it comes to Pugs, a collar is actually a no-no. A harness should always be used for walking.
Whether collars are good for any dog breed is a matter of dispute, but they can be especially bad for Pugs.
Pugs are a brachycephalic breed, which basically means they have a shortened head (Shih Tzus, Chow Chows, and Chihuahuas are some other examples of brachycephalic breeds). This is important because all of the short-nosed breeds tend to be at risk of having problems with breathing and airflow.
Pugs often have difficulties with breathing, and a collar can only make the problem worse. A good harness, on the other hand, will keep your Pug comfortable and safe during all activities. If you are not sure which harness to choose for your Pug, you can check out our best harness for Pugs guide with more details on this topic.
In addition to a harness, you’ll need a leash for walks with your Pug. Since Pugs don’t tend to pull too strong, retractable leashes work really well as they give your Pug some freedom while also giving you control.
Pro Tip: Start Using A Harness Early To Get Your Pug Used To It:
Walks are an essential part of caring for a dog, which means they need to get used to wearing a harness. It can be a little hard in the beginning but using positive reinforcement and rewarding your Pug for wearing the harness for a short period of time can help.
Besides going for walks your pug, obviously, needs somewhere to sleep. As you probably know if you even considered getting one, pugs are not really built to live outside left to the forces of nature(3). Additionally, Pugs are very prone to developing various issues related to the joints and bones such as hip dysplasia or arthritis, especially as they grow other.
While these issues often can’t be avoided, the least you can do is provide your Pug with a comfortable space to sleep. In general, dog beds made out of orthopedic foam are your best bet as they provide the support that a Pug needs.
Pro Tip: Add An Extra Cushion For Head And Neck Support.
Pugs tend to have difficulties with breathing, adding an extra cushion to their bed can give them support to stretch their neck and find a comfortable sleeping position.
One of the reasons pugs are so cute is probably because they are so clumsy. This is true when it comes to eating too. To make life easier for the little one, you should make sure to get the right food bowl. For Pugs, it’s best to choose floor-level bowls, as elevated bowls can make them uncomfortable, or worse, lead to bloat (4).
Pro Tip: If You Pug Eats Too Fast, Use A Slow-Feeder Bowl
Pugs often have really big appetites, so they often like to gulp down food as fast as possible. This is not good for their stomach, though, but a slow-feeder bowl can help with this. These bowls have a unique shape that will make your pup take a bit more time to eat their meal.
When it comes to pug care, grooming is an area that definitely shouldn’t be overlooked! These beautiful fluffy creatures need to be taken care of properly, and they tend to enjoy it quite a bit too. If you ever owned a dog, you probably know the drill - bathe, brush, clip the nails… and do it all over again. However, Pugs are really specific in this regard too, so read our guide to learn exactly what you need to pay attention to when it comes to pug maintenance.
Bathing is always an essential part of caring for a dog. In general, healthy dogs don’t need baths more than once a month, and this is true for Pugs too. Just wash your pooch with warm water (make sure it’s not too hot) and use a gentle shampoo made for dogs. Of course, you can wash your pup more often if they get dirty, but keep in mind that too many baths can disturb the natural balance of your pooch’s skin.
There is one thing to keep in mind specific for Pug caring - their facial folds. All these folds and wrinkles on their face that give that Pugs a unique look are also perfect places to gather saliva, dirt, and debris.
When giving your Pug a bath, pay attention especially to these parts, but be careful not to hurt your pooch. Make sure to rinse and dry the folds properly to prevent infections. Additionally, you might want to gently clean these folds a couple of times in between baths using a tissue or a cotton pad.
Even though their fur is short, Pugs can actually shed quite a bit. To keep your Pug’s coat healthy you’ll want to brush them at least once a week. This helps distribute the natural oils throughout their coat and also keeps the loose hair out of your furniture. A nice slicker brush will do the job, but you can experiment with different types of brushes to find what you like.
Although dogs naturally wear down their nails when running outside on different surfaces, they do usually need their nails trimmed from time to time. If your Pug doesn’t spend a lot of time outside, they might need to have their nails clipped every one or two months. It’s not too hard to see whether your Pug’s nail need clipping. They will simply appear too long and probably start making a weird noise when they walk on the floor.
Many dog owners prefer to bring their pups to the groomers to have their nails clipped, which is completely fine. If you are not sure, it’s probably a good idea to do so, as cutting a Pug’s nails too much can hurt them. However, you can also do it yourself, just make sure to use a pair of nail clippers made specifically for dogs.
Pugs have floppy ears, which, although incredibly cute, makes them prone to fungal infections and similar problems. This is because the floppy shape of their ears makes them hold in a lot of moisture. Because of this, you have to clean your Pug’s ears from time to time. If your dog is healthy, cleaning the ears once or twice a month will be enough.
To clean a Pug’s ears, you’ll need some ear cleaning solution or ear wipes, Use a bit of the solution and a cotton swab and just gently wipe your pup’s ears (5). Doing this regularly will also help you see on time if anything is wrong.
Unfortunately, the Pug’s are also very sensitive because of their shape. They are sticking out a little, which makes it easy for little particles of dirt to fall in there. To help your pup, you should gently clean their eyes from time to time with an eye cleaning solution and a wipe.
Pro Tip: Pay Attention to Your Pug’s Nose, Especially During the Winter
Since they are a brachycephalic breed, it can be difficult for Pugs to lick their nose - which is how dogs keep the skin around their nose moist. Especially for Pugs who live in areas with very dry air, this can lead to dry and cracked skin. This is very common during the winter in areas with really cold weather, as the heated air inside is always dry, no matter what you do. You can help your pooch by applying a nose moisturizer which you can buy ready-made, or use a natural solution like shea butter, olive oil, or coconut oil.
Pug Flea & Tick Control
When it comes to flea and tick control for dogs, there are a huge number of solutions out there. Between spot-on treatments, oral medications, sprays, powders, shampoos, and whatnot, it can be hard to know which one to use. One thing is for sure, though - when it comes to fleas and ticks, prevention is always better than dealing with the problem once it’s already there.
When it comes to Pugs, specifically, the experiences of many pet parents show that it’s best to choose either a topical “spot-on” treatment or oral medicine.
Spot-on treatments involve a small amount of liquid that you usually need to place between your pup’s shoulder blades (since they can’t lick themselves there). The medication then spreads throughout the fur, and keeps protecting your pooch for about a month. Baths are no problem either, as spot-on treatments remain effective even after washing your pooch’s fur.
Oral treatments, such as nexgard or frontline, are also very effective for preventing and/or getting rid of flea or tick infestations. They usually come in the form of a pill that you give to your pooch once a month. No mess, no other complications to deal with.
There is one thing to keep in mind in both cases, though. No matter if you choose oral medication, spot-on treatment, or something else, you need to inform yourself about what exactly you are giving to your Pooch.
While these medications are great, you still need to be very careful about which one you use. Make sure you read all labels carefully, and if you have any doubts, be sure to get advice from your veterinarian before application. - Jennifer Kvamme DVM, PetMD
This is especially true in the case of Pugs. Since they can be especially sensitive, you’ll want to be very careful when trying out something new and watch out for any signs of allergy.
Pro Tip: Consider Natural Solutions Too
If your Pug spends a lot of time outside, you should definitely stick with either a topical or an oral solution for flea and tick control, especially in the spring. However, if your pooch really doesn’t go outside that much without a leash, and you don’t want to load them up with chemicals unnecessarily, there are also plenty of natural solutions you can try out. Garlic supplements and certain essential oils seem to work well, for example, but always make sure to consult with your vet before trying out anything new with your Pug!
Pug Nutrition & Feeding
While puppies need to be fed three or four times a day, the general recommendation is that by the time a dog is 8 or 9 months old, it’s best for them to eat two times a day. However, in the case of small breeds like Pugs, some say it's best to feed them three times a day, even as adults, while others say two times per day is the best measure.
In any case, you can see what works and what doesn’t for your pup by watching them closely and change the diet accordingly.
When it comes to what to feed to your Pug, you have many options to choose from. Home cooking is always an option, but there are also plenty of high-quality wet and dry dog foods available for purchase today. Dry kibble actually seems to work best. Pugs can have sensitive stomachs and be prone to allergies and skin reactions to different foods, so it’s best to keep them on a consistent limited ingredient diet, usually found in dry kibble form. Additionally, kibble is better for Pugs’ teeth and it keeps their stool firm.
Just like us, dogs need wholesome nutrition, so if you want your Pug to have the best, choose dog food made from real wholesome ingredients. While there are many options, you always want the first ingredient on the list to be a good source of protein - such as chicken, pork, lamb or any kind of meat or fish.
One thing to keep in mind with Pugs is that they can be really lazy and can easily get overweight. Because of this, make sure to stick to recommended portions of dog food. Obviously, you can tweak those if you see your pup needs more or less food, just keep in mind that what seems a little bit more to us can actually be a huge amount of food for the little Pug.
Pro Tip: If Your Pug Gulps Down Food, Give More Snacks Throughout the Day
Pugs love to eat. If your Pug seems overly hungry when it’s time for a meal, you can remedy this by giving more small snacks throughout the day. If you give a lot of snacks, make sure to reduce the amount of food your Pug gets for their big meal appropriately.
Bonus Tips: How to Take Care of a Pug Puppy
Puppy-Proof Your Home
The thing that new dog owners most often overlook is the fact that you need to puppy-proof your home. Pugs are small even as adults, so this is even more important. Puppies love to chew on everything they see, but many things in our houses can be dangerous. To prevent unfortunate accidents, make sure to remove all sharp objects, cables, dangerous foods and the like from your Pug’s reach.
Set Up A Vaccination Schedule with Your Vet
Puppies need to be vaccinated multiple times during the first year of their life. The easiest way to deal with this is to set up a shots schedule right at the start and stick to it.
Get Your Pup Some Quality Food
Proper nutrition is especially important for puppies, because it allows them to develop into healthy dogs. Make sure to feed your Pug puppy appropriate food with lots of protein, but also carbohydrates, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals.
How To Take Care Of A Pug: Final Thoughts
Infinitely adorable with incredibly cute looks and a quirky temper, it’s impossible not to love a Pug. They are also very sensitive and prone to health issues, so it’s important to know how to care for a pug the right way. Our guide should help you start, but there is always more space to learn. We wish you and your Pug good luck!
- Morn, S. 2010. “Our Best Friends: The Pug”. Pittsburgh: ElDorado Ink. pp. 11, 14–15. Retrieved March 8, 2015. https://books.google.de/books?id=TBwwEZsjJp4C&pg=PA11&dq=pug+sociable&hl=en&sa=X&ei=x40cVeCCD4bZauyQgYgG&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=pug%20sociable&f=false
- Gordon Sala, R. January 26. 2014. “Incorrectly used collars, leashes can do harm”. New York Post. Retrieved March 5, 2021. https://nypost.com/2014/01/26/incorrectly-used-collars-leashes-can-do-harm/
- Buechert, M. “The Pug”. Modern Dog. Retrieved March 5, 2021. https://moderndogmagazine.com/breeds/pug
- Xu, E. “Signs and symptoms of bloat in dogs”. PetMD. Retrieved March 6, 2021. https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/digestive/signs-and-symptoms-bloat-dogs
- Reisen, J. March 28, 2019. “Why is my dog’s nose dry?”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved March 7, 2021. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/why-is-my-dogs-nose-dry/
- Schnell, Christina. “How to clean a Pug’s ears” The Nest. Retrieved March 7, 2021. https://pets.thenest.com/clean-pugs-ears-5488.html
- Kvamme, J. “The 10 Best Ways to Get Rid of & Prevent Ticks on Dogs” PetMD. Retrieved March 6, 2021. https://barkingroyalty.com/take-care-of-pug/
Vedrana Nikolić (B.A. in Cultural Anthropology) - Professional Writer.
Vedrana is a writer, anthropologist & dog lover. Currently pursuing a Masters degree in Semiotics studying, among other things, the communication between animals and humans.
For more info on Vedrana click here