What’s in a Pug?

Bertie's Blog

So much more than you think.  Although owners of this delightful breed will already know just how much is squeezed into this short, cobby-bodied dog!  ‘Multum in Parvo’ is a term frequently used in connection with the Pug.  It means literally ‘much in little’ and how true it is.  This breed is no shrinking violet.  The Pug is a very dignified dog with high intelligence – or you can read stubbornness for this depending upon your view – good-natured – and sociable.  He is robust and self-reliant, with great character and personality.  I am sure that Pug owners everywhere will be nodding their heads in agreement with these characteristics.  But where did the Pug originate from?

There has been a lot of speculation as to the exact place of origin, but he certainly came from the Orient and his home country is acknowledged to be China, where ancient Chinese documents reveal that short-nosed dogs – which have always been popular in oriental countries – with a description very close to that of the Pug existed in China at around 700 BC.  In his home country the Pug was considered royalty and within the royal palaces they were held in high esteem.  It is said that one Emperor was so besotted with these little dogs that he gave them the same status as his wives, so they enjoyed the privileges of the best accommodation, food and even had their own servants and guards.  Much like today we suspect!

Some say that the Pug originated from a little shorthaired, short-nosed, curly tailed dog called the Ha-Pa and claim that this ancient dog is the grandfather of today’s Pug.

So, how did the Pug travel from the Orient to Europe?  When the Dutch East India Company started trading with China, his small size meant that he could be easily smuggled, so found himself transported into European countries.  Here he quickly became the darling of the aristocracy and upper classes, as the perfect companion dog that he is today.  We know that in the mid-1600’s, the Pug became the official dog of the Dutch royalty – the House of Orange – and as Prince William travelled from Holland to England to ascend the throne, his pugs played leading roles at the ceremony wearing orange ribbons.

Until the late 1800’s our Pug was only seen here only in the fawn colour, but a black pair was introduced from the Orient and was influential in the four colours of silver, apricot, fawn and black that we see today.

Many famous people have been keen pug-fanciers and owners, the most notable being Queen Victoria, The Empress Josephine, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, whose Pugs it is said accompanied them to their social events.  There are many famous modern-day owners of the breed, such as Jessica Alba, Billy Joel, Hugh Laurie, Kelly Osbourne, Paris Hilton and the late Robin Williams.  They also have a huge following in fans of the film Men in Black thanks to the fictional character Frank who was created and starred in the film and its sequel.

Undoubtedly the Pug is one of our most loved dogs as they make adaptable companions for both young and old and they like to integrate themselves in every aspect of family life.  They are of course known for their mischievous ways and you can feel a huge element of fun in these cobby little bodies just waiting to burst out and amuse us all.  Thankfully, the Pug usually lives to a ripe old age and we hope that they continue to delight and amuse for many centuries to come.


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