Pugs: they’re adorable, they’re trendy, and hilarious. But what really goes into pug ownership? We recently sat down with Caitlin and Trevor, pug parents extraordinaire to get the real scoop on what #PugLife is all about. So, if you have been thinking about adopting a pug, but are looking for facts straight from the source, then look no further!
Caitlin: I have always loved pugs but didn't really know much about them. When we first started talking about getting a dog, we originally thought we'd get a bulldog, but after doing some research we realized that probably wasn't the best option for us at the time. I was mostly concerned about the various health issues (i.e. hip dysplasia, breathing problems, eye problems, etc.)
Trevor: Honestly, their faces. I knew nothing about the breed other than how ridiculously cute they were. Now knowing how loyal they are and how much fun they can be, I’m glad I made the decision.
C: Though I definitely think they are happier as a pair, I feel like our older pug, Reggie, still enjoys his alone time when he can get it. He definitely calmed down once we got Phoebe but other than that, I didn't notice much of a personality change. You can notice their different personalities, though. Reggie is really cowardly and cautious, whereas Phoebe is psychotic.
T: There are times when Phoebe is tearing around the apartment, Reggie will just look at us and stare blankly. Almost as if to say, “This is all your fault, why did you bring her here?”
C: Like any dog, you definitely have to make some sacrifices to accommodate them, like not being away from them for a super long time. Pugs are super-needy, so even leaving the house for 15 minutes seems to drive them crazy. They are so incredibly loyal and can instantly brighten up your day.
T: They are down for anything. If you want to go for a walk, they’re excited. If you want to veg on the couch, they couldn’t be happier. I’d much rather stay home on a Friday night and watch TV with them than go out and socialize, so they’ve been a blessing really. [Laughs]
C: When we first got Reggie, we were living downtown Toronto and a movie starring Daniel Radcliffe was filming across the street from our apartment. Pugs (our pugs, anyways) seem to be very good at escaping and while I had Reggie out for a pee he managed to squirm out of his harness and take off down the street. Pugs are fast and you look like an idiot trying to catch them. When I finally caught him and began walking back to the apartment, I realized Daniel Radcliffe was outside having a smoke break and probably saw the whole thing.
T: When I take Reggie for a walk and can’t seem to figure out why everyone is staring at me. Then I come to realize that the khakis and black T-shirt I’m wearing make me look exactly like a pug. A pug walking a pug, inception.
C: This is kind of hard to answer because I don't consider Reggie an adult dog yet even though he's 3. While Phoebe is definitely more mischievous, Reggie still has his puppy moments, like running around the apartment at full-speed for no reason.
T: There isn’t really a difference when you treat them like babies all the time. They are both fully capable of going for a walk around the block, there’s no need for us to carry them home because they’re tired and don’t want to walk anymore. To them, danger lurks around every corner. Every shopping cart, plastic bag, tennis ball, fire hydrant, or shadow lays a potential threat. I have never known two dogs to be afraid of more things in my life. They are definitely not curious pugs.
C: Due to their breathing problems, I definitely wouldn't recommend a pug to someone with an active lifestyle. Pugs are the ultimate lap dog. Seriously – if there isn't any room beside you to snuggle, they will make it their goal to find room. They will never leave you alone. If you're in the kitchen cooking, they will be at your feet watching you. If you're watching television, they will be snuggled next you. If you're in the bathroom, they will be trying to get on your lap.
They can hold their own at a dog park as they play with other dogs but they are not equipped for long walks or hikes, especially in hot weather. For the most part their energy level is pretty low but that's not always the case. They have their moments when they go absolutely crazy and run around the apartment at full speed, for no reason.
C: They are the worst. Both Reggie and Phoebe were very difficult to house-train. We're still working on Phoebe and she's getting better but from our experience, house-training pugs requires a lot of patience.
T: I’ve found that Reggie has hit a point in his life where he doesn’t feel the need to go to the bathroom multiple times a day. He’s totally cool holding it for extended periods. I have to drag him out most days so that he’ll go. Once in the morning, once at night, I feel that’s how he lives his life.
C: When we got Reggie, our vet told us to be careful with him because pugs are pigs and will eat anything. We haven't really found that to be the case with Reggie, so we don’t worry about him too much. He's always been a bit of a diva when it comes to his food (for a while he refused to eat from his bowl and we had to pour his food on the floor for him).
That said, we think Reggie is allergic to chicken, which was the main ingredient in the food we were giving him. We noticed he would chew at his legs to the point where they were red and raw, so we switched his food and treats with products that didn't contain chicken and the limb-chewing stopped.
Phoebe on the other hand will eat anything in sight, and therefore we have to be very careful and keep an eye on her when she eats. She will try to steal Reggie’s food, so sometimes we have to separate them.
C: So far we've been pretty lucky with our pugs and haven't faced any major health issues. Phoebe had a bit of a breathing problem when we first got her that our vet wanted to fix (i.e. nasal widening) when we got her spayed, but her breathing eventually got better on its own.
Reggie is prone to ear infections so we have to deal with those from time to time. I would recommend pet insurance for any pet parent, but I think it's especially a good idea for pug owners because of the various health threats pugs face. We've had a few issues with Reggie that aren't necessarily pug-only problems and we saved a lot of money with our pet insurance.
C: Pugs are the ultimate divas. If there is any kind of inclement weather, Reggie will refuse to go outside. Phoebe doesn't mind the snow but she will try to get picked up if it's raining or cold outside.
T: Phoebe doesn’t seem to really care about the rain, she knows to go outside and get business done. Reggie on the other hand, will do everything in his power to not be outside in the rain. If you manage to actually get him outside, he will remain motionless until you give up and take him back inside, where he will proceed to poop on the floor.
C: I think a lot of people think pugs are dumb but I think they are masterminds. They know how to get their way.
T: Reggie knows the name of every single toy he has. If you ask him to go get his monster, he gets it, you ask for his chicken, you’re getting a chicken. But when you say “don’t poo in the house” he has no idea what you’re talking about. They are definitely smart, but pick and choose when to exhibit it. Also, when it comes to chewing on things, nothing is off the table.
T: Grooming is a nightmare; they fight me the whole way through. I try to bathe them once a month, whether they like it or not. Originally it was every 2 weeks but because they usually just sit around on the couch and aren’t rolling around in the mud, I felt it was a little excessive.
C: When we got Reggie, the vet encouraged us to prep him as much as possible as a puppy to get used to grooming. Pugs are notorious for being a huge pain when they have to get nails clipped, teeth cleaned, etc. So when Reggie was a puppy, we would stick our fingers in his mouth and massage his gums and teeth to get used to us brushing them. We also would rub his ears and paws. I think this really helped because every time we take the dogs to get their nails clipped, or anything like that, the person doing the grooming starts off SO worried because they are pugs but almost always tells us how good they were (for a pug.) Also, be committed to washing their face (i.e wrinkles) every couple of days. Pugs can get a weird smell to them sometimes, but we were giving Reggie pretty frequent baths and he was getting irritated skin so we only bathe him once a month now. I think pugs can be stinky for no reason other than they are pugs. [Laughs]
C: We've never had any issues with kids. That being said, I think that if Trev and I ever have kids of our own, we are going to have to deal with some pretty jealous pugs. Reggie is a sensitive soul. He will whine if he can't be next to you or if you run away from him (for fun, obviously.)
I don't think most cats have the patience to deal with pugs being in their face. That, and I worry about a pissed off cat clawing at a pugs bulgy eyes. That could be dangerous.
C: No. (Yes.)
T: There’s a great organization in Toronto called Pugalug that always puts on events throughout the year. We try to attend as many as we can because the money goes toward rescue pugs and it makes for a nice day out for the dogs to hang out with other pugs and socialize. Our favorite is by far Pug-o-ween, seeing a room full of pugs dressed up will brighten up your day.
C: Yes! Reggie is such a spoiled brat. For a while, he refused to eat out of his bowl unless we poured his food on the floor for him, even though he's fully capable of eating from the bowl. He also won't sleep in a dog bed. Also we've personally never boarded them but I feel like if we did, they would never forgive us.
C: Yes, but keep an eye on them. They think they are bigger than they actually are. Reggie is pretty good at approaching bigger dogs but most of the time they want nothing to do with him. We've had a harder time with Phoebe because she's had a couple of bad experiences with bigger dogs, so she's a little more reserved.
T: Whenever we go to the park, they rip around for two minutes and then proceed to sit by our feet under the picnic table. I think they like the idea of the park more than actually playing at the park.
C: I don't think so. Reggie will jump over or walk around puddles if we're outside and he will run and hide if you say the word “bath”.
T: We took Reggie to a friends cottage once, he was obsessed with the dock, wouldn’t stop running to the end and back. One time, he didn’t stop fast enough and fell off the dock into the lake. He sank like a stone. No joke, when our friend went in to save him, he was just standing on the bottom of the lake, confused. Our friend described it like “picking up a wet towel”. He hasn’t been in water since.
T: Caitlin used to take Reg to her office job and he loved it!
C: I think they would be good office dogs when they are a few years older. I would never bring Phoebe to an office. They can be pretty messy; our pugs love to throw their toys all over the apartment. Phoebe likes to splash water out of the bowl, for no reason. They also lick everything so we'll find random wet spots on the couch or blankets. But I think pugs three years old and up would be great. They are lazy enough to not get in the way.
T: As long as they take care of them, love them, and spoil them, I have no problem with it. They may purchase them based on a trend, but I can guarantee they’ll be hooked for life. What surprised me, is how attached I would become. I think about them all day, mainly I’m concerned with what they’ve gotten into, or if I remembered to put the remotes away. They’ve taken over my life, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
C: You need to be prepared to give them a lot of love and attention. If you're the type of person who likes to come home from work and then go out with your friends, don't get a pug. It's not fair to their sensitive little personalities. They need you to pay attention to them.
C: I didn't anticipate them having such distinct personalities. They are so hysterical. The head tilt is just about the cutest thing, ever. Their diva behavior can be annoying but it’s also so funny. Sometimes I’ll be on a walk with Reggie and he’ll just stop walking, for no reason, and I literally have to pick him up and walk him home. It’s ridiculous, but I can’t help but laugh. I could live without the farting.
T: The farts are bad. The pug scoot is probably my favorite thing that they do. They run back and forth at top speed with their heads held high, and their butts almost touching the ground. They look insane.
C: Yes, 100%.
T: Without question. I’ve only ever owned pugs. I like to think they are unique and like to follow their own path. [Laughs]
“Family and friends. And a good pet. For pure loyalty, there is nothing like a pug.”