Breed Related Diseases: Pug

Originating from China, the Pugs were valued by emperors and used to live in luxurious accommodations. In various eras and places, the Pugs were called in different names: Lo-sze (China), Mopsi (Finland), Doguillo (Spain); to name a few. Coming from the Latin word “pugnus,” meaning “fist”, it has been suggested due to the resemblance of the dog’s face to a clenched fist.


Pugs are usually at 14 to 18 pounds, both male and female, in weight, and generally at 10 to 14 inches tall at the shoulder. They are square and cobby, with short legs and long body, compactness of form, well- knit proportions, and hardness of developed muscle. They are desirable with large, massive, and round heads. The dark, large, bold, and prominent eyes are globular in shape and shows solicitous expression. The pugs have large and deep wrinkles, with short, blunt, square muzzle.


The coat of a pug is fine, smooth, soft, short and glossy, with colors fawn or black. Being bred for centuries, they are lovable dogs. Hunting, guarding, or retrieving are not what they do best, instead, as companions- craving affection and happier when spending time with family. They are known for being an even-tempered breed, with exhibiting stability, playfulness, great charm, dignity, and an outgoing, loving disposition.


The pugs usually goes along well with other dogs, cats, and children. Although they are not designed to be jogging companions or beach bunnies, their relatively large size (for a toy breed) and easy-going temperament makes them a perfect on- the- go family companion.


Generally, the pugs are healthy, but all dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems; and it’s important to be aware of the following diseases.


  • Cheyletiella Dermatitis (Walking Dandruff): A skin condition that is caused by a small mite. This may be contagious to other household pets. It is characterized by heavy dandruff, especially down the middle of the back, and needs the veterinarian’s check- up.
  • Pug Dog Encephalitis: This is a unique fatal inflammatory brain disease to Pugs. Due to unknown causes of the disease, there is no known treatment, and diagnosis is only conducted by testing the brain tissue of the dog after it dies. Usually affecting younger dogs, it causes them seizure, blindness, then fall into a coma and die in a few days or weeks.
  • Epilepsy: The Pugs are prone to idiopathic epilepsy: and with seizures for no known reason. Taking the Pug to the vet determines what treatment is appropriate.
  • Nerve Degeneration: Older Pugs that drag their rear, stagger, have trouble jumping up or down, or become incontinent may be suffering from nerve degeneration. The condition usually advances slowly- and the cause is also unknown.
  • Corneal Ulcers: Due to the large and prominent eyes of the Pug’s eyes, these are prone to injuries or development of ulcers on the cornea (the clear part of the eye). If your Pug squints or the eyes look red and tear excessively, contact your vet immediately. Corneal ulcers usually respond well to medication, but if left untreated, can cause blindness or even rupture the eye.
  • Dry Eye: Keratoconjunctivitis sicca and pigmentary keratitis are two conditions seen in Pugs. They can occur at the same time, or individually. Dry eye is caused by insufficient tears to stay moist. Your vet can perform tests to determine if this is the cause, which can be controlled with medication and special care. Whereas, Pigmentary keratitis causes black spots on the cornea, especially in the corner near the nose. The pigment can cause blindness if it covers the eyes. Your vet can prescribe medication that will help keep the eyes moist and dissolve the pigment. Both of these eye conditions require life-long therapy and care.
  • Eye Problems: Pugs are prone to a variety of eye problems, including proptosis (the eyeball is dislodged from the eye socket and the eyelid clamps behind it); distichiasis (an abnormal growth of eyelashes on the margin of the eye, resulting in the eyelashes rubbing against the eye); progressive retinal atrophy (a degenerative disease of the retinal visual cells that leads to blindness); and entropion (the eyelid, usually the lower lid, rolls inward, causing the hair on the lid to rub on the eye and irritate it).
  • Allergies: Some Pugs suffer from a variety of allergies, ranging from contact to food allergies.
  • Demodectic Mange: Also called demodicosis, all dogs carry a little passenger called a demodex mite. The mother dog passes this mite to her pups in their first few days of life. The mite can’t be passed to humans or other dogs; only the mother passes mites to her pups. The dog develops patchy skin, bald spots, and skin infections all over the body.
  • Staph Infection: Staph bacteria is commonly found on skin, but some dogs will develop pimples and infected hair follicles if their immune systems are stressed. The lesions can look like hives where there is hair; on areas without hair, the lesions can look like ringworm. Your vet will provide appropriate treatment.
  • Yeast Infection: This is suspected if your Pug started smelling bad, it feels itchy and has blackened, thickened skin. It commonly affects the armpits, feet, groin, neck, and inside the ears. Your vet can prescribe medications to clear this up.
  • Hemi-vertebrae: Short-nosed breeds, such as Pugs, Bulldogs and French Bulldogs, can have misshaped vertebrae. Others will stagger and display an uncoordinated, weak gait between 4 and 6 months of age, while some dogs get progressively worse and may even become paralyzed. The cause of the condition is unknown. Surgery can help.
  • Hip Dysplasia: Many factors, including genetics, environment and diet, are thought to contribute to this deformity of the hip joint. Affected Pugs are usually able to lead normal, healthy lives with proper veterinary attention.
  • Legg-Perthes Disease: It also involves the hip joint. Affected pugs develop insufficiency of blood supply to the head of the femur (the large rear leg bone), and the head of the femur that connects to the pelvis begins to disintegrate. Usually, the first signs of Legg-Perthes, limping and atrophy of the leg muscle, occur when puppies are 4 to 6 months old. The condition can be corrected with surgery to cut off the diseased femur so that it isn’t attached to the pelvis any longer. The scar tissue that results from the surgery creates a false joint and the puppy is usually pain free.
  • Patellar Luxation: The patella is the kneecap. Luxation means dislocation of an anatomical part (as a bone at a joint). Patellar luxation is when the knee joint (often of a hind leg) slides in and out of place, causing pain. This can be crippling, but many dogs lead relatively normal lives with this condition.
  • Vaccination Sensitivity: There are reports of Pugs suffering from sensitivity to routine vaccinations. Usually, symptoms include hives, facial swelling, soreness and lethargy. A dog that is sensitive to vaccines can develop complications or die, though this is rare. Watch your Pug carefully for a few hours after being vaccinated and call the vet if you notice anything unusual.