People love Pugs! There is something about that rogue-like face that tugs at your heart strings. This dignified toy breed is loved by royalty and commoners alike. These loving, intelligent, little clowns are extremely popular and ranked 12th out of 154 dog breeds registered by the American Kennel Club in 2005. The Pug is the largest of the Toy Dog Group weighing in a whopping 14 to 18 pounds.
The Pug has a fascinating history and one that is somewhat controversial. No one disputes that the English painter William Hogarth owned Pugs and portrayed them many times in his paintings. For example, Hogarth’s 1730 painting shows a black pug in “House of Cards”. Similarly everyone agrees that the Pug became the official dog of the House of Orange after saving the life of the Prince of Orange, by giving alarm at the approach of the Spaniards in 1572. Later when William of Orange went to England in 1688 to be crowned King William III, he took along several Pugs. So we know how the Pugs got from Holland to England but the controversy arises over how the breed got to Holland in the 16th century. One group of historians thinks the Pug was developed as a result of crossing several small Bulldogs. Another group thinks it is a miniature form of the rare French mastiff called the Dogue de Bordeaux. However the majority of historians think that the Pug originated in China and was brought back to 16th century Holland by the Dutch East India Company traders. This is the history that we will assume is true. The Pug is of Chinese origin and its development seems to pre-date the Christian era. Early records indicate that there were three types of short-nosed dogs bred by the Chinese. They were the Lion Dog (probably the Shih Tzu), The Pekingese and the Foo Dog or Pug. These dogs became very popular with Chinese royalty and the Pug breed was highly prized by the Emperors of China and lived a pampered existence. In fact, ordinary citizens were not allowed to own them. However, European traders managed to obtain some Pugs and introduce them to Europe – particularly Portugal, Spain, Holland and England which were the home countries of the traders. There, these adorable little animals became the pampered favourites of many royal families. We mentioned earlier that William III and Mary introduced Pugs to Britain from Holland when they became King and Queen in 1688 and the little dogs became a favourite at the royal court. This small dog breed was also extremely popular in the European courts and was a favourite of Napoleon’s wife, Queen Josephine of France. Later Queen Victoria of England succumbed to the Pugs charm and introduced several Pugs into her household. This British royalty love of Pugs continued down the line into the 20th century with the Duke of Windsor becoming a Pug owner. However by the time of Queen Victoria and her descendants, Pugs were no longer restricted to royalty. Members of the aristocracy became enamoured with Pugs as well.
Because the Pug was becoming very popular, English breeders were importing Pugs from other countries such as Russia, Austria and Holland. In 1860 British soldiers overran the Imperial palace in Peking and brought back a number of Pugs to England. The black Pug probably was imported at this time. Subsequent to this period, breeders established standards for the breed. In 1881, the Pug Dog Club of England was established and in 1883 the British Kennel Club formally recognized this breed club. By 1885, the Pug had been accepted for registration by the American Kennel Club but no national American breed club was created until 1931. By the beginning of the 20th century, large numbers of Pugs were exported to the United States from the United Kingdom. These Pugs were expensive – as they were still very much upper-class dogs.
Now we no longer have to be members of the royalty or the upper classes to own a Pug. Pugs are low maintenance dog breeds that require little grooming and get enough exercise playing indoors. They are well suited for apartment living. Pugs have a tendency to put on weight and should be taken for walks when the weather isn’t too hot.
Many royal and well known people have been owned by a Pug. This started with the Chinese Emperors many centuries ago and continued right up to the Dowager Empress of China who died in 1908. Many European royal families including Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife Josephine fell under the spell of the Pug. More contemporary (and quite diverse) Pug owners included Sir Winston Churchill, Valentino, Andy Warhol and Sammy Davis Jr. You can get free pictures and additional information on the Pug at Pug Pictures.
Perhaps it is time for you to consider being royally entertained by the uncommon Pug!