Chinese Pugs

Chinese PugPugs are Chinese in origin, but the term ‘Chinese Pug’ can mean a number of things. The term is used by some breeders and enthusiasts to simply describe the pug, whereas others would use the term to describe a pug that has been bred to have a particularly flat face.

The term ‘Chinese Pug’ is used as a result of the dogs originally being bred under the Shang Dynasty, between 1766BC and 1122BC. The dogs were originally bred as pets for royalty, and they were called either ‘Foo’ or ‘Lo-Chiang-Sze’. Much like they are today, pugs were often dressed up in clothes and garments by the Chinese royalty.

Interestingly, Qin Shi Huang, the very first Emperor of China, had all records of pugs destroys. This meant that all breeding records, names of the dogs and their owners, and even all paintings were completely destroyed.

Despite this, the ‘Chinese Pug’ moved to Tibet, where Buddhist monks took in the breed and kept them in their homes and temples. The first time the term ‘Chinese Pug’ was used, however, was during the 1500s when the Pug was brought to Europe and a new name was given to the breed.

Breeding programs were developed in Holland and England in an effort to protect and maintain the breed, but during this time, the appearance and ‘standard’ of the breed changed. This brings us to the second ‘meaning’ of the term.

The ‘Altered’ Chinese Pug

Ever since breeding programs for the pug began, there have been good breeders and bad breeders. Those who maintain good ethical standards will ensure that only healthy pugs breed and have offspring, ensuring that those purchasing the dogs get a healthy dog that will live to an average age of between 13 and 15.

Those who do not abide by ethical breeding standards, however, will often sell what they call ‘Chinese Pugs’ to unknowing buyers. These dogs will have physical alterations and differences compared to a healthy pug, including a flatter face that results in severe breathing problems.

Unethical breeders will take these physical differences, with all the health problems that come with them, and claim they are a common feature of the ‘Chinese Pug’. The flat facial structure, however, has never been typical of a traditional pug. There is no evidence to suggest that the original breed in China had a flat face – given that all documents were destroyed – but even just 300 years ago, the pug’s face was very different.

Famous English artist William Hogarth was featured in a 1745 painting with a pug, and the dog appears to have a relatively normal-looking nose, long front legs, a longer torso and wider chest compared to modern pugs. This is also true of other paintings before the beginning of the 20th Century.

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