No one knows the full history of the Pug breed, a lot of experts agree on one thing: it is an Oriental breed, and is related to the Pekingese and lion dog (which is now the Shih Tzu).
Some people say that the Pug breed started as early as 600BC, while other experts think it was close to 400BC. Either way, everyone agrees it is quite an old breed from China!
The naming of “Pug” and its little munchkins!
The English word “pug” was first mentioned in English text in 1566 – but it didn’t refer to a dog breed. Instead it meant ‘Munchkin’, and was used to only describe people (not animals).
Within about 40 years the word “pug” had started to be used as a way to describe ‘courtesan’. And by 1664 its meaning had changed a little again – with it now also meaning something along the lines of a money/demon/imp.
A lot of experts believe that it started to describe a certain type of dog once it started to refer to monkeys. Because the breed (that is now known as Pugs) looked a bit like a monkey, experts believe this is why we now call them by “Pugs”. Originally they were known as just “Pug Dogs”, but of course now everyone knows them as simply “Pugs”.
Arriving in Europe
As it was a breed from China, they were not very common in Europe. The Dutch are often credited as being the country that first imported the breed into Europe.
They were originally brought into Europe to be put on Dutch ladies laps (to warm them up!). In the Netherlands, they had soon become the official dog of the House of Orange, and were a somewhat important part of the history of the Netherlands.
Introduction to England
In November 1688 the Dutch prince William III of Orange brought Pugs with them when they arrived in England.
Introduction to America
Most experts agree that the first pugs that arrived in America were imported in the late 1850’s.
The American Kennel Club was founded in 1884, and the Pug was one of the 15 breeds that they recognised when founding their club, even though they were not particularly popular.
The Pug breed in modern times is a very popular breed (even despite their huge health problems), and are known for being very loyal and easy to care for lap dog.