Ten Things You Didn’t Know About… Pugs

A black pug waits for his owner to go for a walk.

Pugs are tiny and funny looking, but also very popular, and Cesar’s newest pack member, Gio, is a member of the breed. Here are ten things you may not have known about them.

Ten Things About Pugs

  • Pugs are brachycephalic, which is the technical term for their “pushed-in” faces, something that was created through careful breeding. However, what gives them their distinct look also gives them lots of health issues, like breathing problems. While the belief that they are more likely to catch colds is not true, their symptoms may appear more severe for the same reason. Finally, combined with their short legs, pugs are also poor swimmers, although this doesn’t deter them from having fun at the annual pug gathering at Rosie’s Dog Beach.
  • Pugs are ideal for low-energy owners because they are low-energy dogs, and if you want a puppy that’s going to be less work, they may be the breed for you. Young dogs under five months of age can sleep up to 20 hours per day, while adults can average 14 hours a day, making them ideal for low-energy owners.
  • Your pug also won’t win any races against other dogs or even humans. Their average running speed tops out at 3 to 5 miles an hour. Compare this with a greyhound, which can hit nearly 45 miles per hour — which is fifty percent faster than fastest human Usain Bolt, at a “mere” 30 miles per hour.
  • The pug may be one of the earliest breeds of dog, going back to somewhere between the 8th and 5th centuries BCE. They originated in China as imperial lap dogs. In fact, only members of the imperial family were allowed to own the breed, and theft of a pug was punishable by death.
  • The breed was also prized in China because their wrinkles often resembled the Chinese characters for the word “prince,” 王子, and they were also bred to create even more wrinkles. However, those folds need to be cleaned daily to avoid infections.
  • There are and have been many famous pug owners. Queen Victoria had 36 pugs of her own, and also bred them. Josephine Bonaparte, wife of Napoleon, owned a pug named Fortune, who bit her husband the first time he tried to get into bed with her. The dog atoned for that crime later on when he was used to smuggle messages from Napoleon to Josephine while she was in prison. To this day, the breed is the official dog of the Dutch House of Orange because one named Pompey once saved Prince William the Silent from assassins by barking.
  • The pug goes by different names in other languages. In Spanish it’s called both “carlino” and “doguillo.” The latter is a combination of the English word “dog” and a Spanish diminutive ending. In German, they are called “der Mops,” which is pronounced with a long “O.” Plural, “die Möpse,” is pronounced like “dee merpsuh.”
  • Speaking of Mops, the Mops-Orden, or “Order of the Pug,” was a Free Mason society founded in order to hide its member activity from the Catholic Church. Historically, the two groups were very opposed to one another, particularly at a time when relations between the Catholic Church and Protestant denominations were on the level of open warfare.
  • The next time someone asks you to describe a bunch of pugs, remember that the collective noun for a group of them is a grumble. If you’ve ever listened to a bunch of pugs together, you’ll realize why this is an incredibly apt name.
  • Pugs have been described in Latin as “multum in parvo,” which translates as “much in little.” This was also adopted as the motto of Rutland County in England in 1950 due to the county’s small size and population. If “multum in parvo” sounds familiar, that’s because “multum” is the source for English words like multitude. “Parvo” comes from “parvus,” which is also the source of the name of parvovirus, which was given that name for being one of the smallest viruses — like the pug, small but mighty.

Check out our previous “Ten things you didn’t know about… Chihuahuas, then share your pug trivia and tell us which breeds you’d like to know more about in the comments below!

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