A History Of Pugs

Pugs are a short-bodied companion dog with a rounded head, a flat wrinkled face, large eyes, and small ears.  It has a smooth soft coat and carries its tail curled tightly over its hip.  It may be fawn or black with fawns having a black face mask and black ears.  Pugs weigh between 6 to 10 kg making them the largest of the toy breed.   This lovable and staunch little dog with its remarkable personality despite its small size is well described by the motto ‘Multum in Parvo’ (much in little).

The pug is thought to originate from ancient China from before the year of 400BC.  First bred as cherished pets of the Buddhist monks they were also employed as Emperors imperial lapdogs where they were carried around in kimono sleeves and provide much fun and entertainment to the imperial courts. During this time they were referred to as Foo or Fu dogs.

Pugs came to Europe, possibly Holland firstly, in the late 1500’s when they were presented as gifts by traders returning from the Orient.  They became the official dog of the Dutch royalty (The House of Orange) after one of the breed saved the life of William, Prince of Orange, in 1572 by warning him of approaching enemy.  Later when William II went on to be crowned King of England, his cortege included Pugs. Their popularity spread throughout Europe with other royalty including William III, Mary II, Marie Antoinette, Queen Victoria and Josephine, wife of Napoleon keeping them as favored pets.

Pugs of today are still influenced by two English breeding strains, the Willoughby and the Morrison lines, developed in the late 19th Century. Willoughby Pugs were developed by Lord Willoughby d’Eresby and had what is today considered a “smutty coat” because it had a mixing of fawn and black hairs in it. The heads of these dogs were almost entirely black and they had wide traces, and even saddle marks on their backs (dark patches of hair shaped like the saddle of a horse). Their bodies were thin, and leggy.  Morrison Pugs, in contrast, had rich apricot-fawn colored coats and stocky, cobby bodies. The trace on their backs was very light brown rather than black, and the coats had few, if any, black hairs in them. It’s not uncommon to hear dogs referred to today as “Willoughby” or “Morrison” type – referring to the darker color of the Willoughby, and the lighter color of the “Morrison.”

Although there are no historical records of when they arrived in the country, pugs are thought to be one of the earliest pure breeds in Australia with records in the Agricultural Society of the NSW list two Pugs exhibited in 1870.