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Breeding Pugs — Introduction To Pug Breeding

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Published on
Monday 23 May 2016
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
breeding pugs
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Breeding pugs is no easy mission. Sure, they are loved by many but the breed is a difficult one to work with and it is time for pug breeders to better the breed at every generation. So we’ve asked Anita Wright from the Pug Club Of South Australia, for some advice on how to breed pugs the right way; and what to be on the lookout for.

The common response when the Pug dog breed is mentioned will bring forth uncomplimentary comments. Pugs snore, they are fat, and so on. So in this article, I will attempt to explain a few things which you may not know or understand about the pug breed.

A Flat-Faced Toy Breed

pug cartoon
Learn about pug breeding in this article!

The Pug is a member of the Toy Group of dogs, so it must be remembered he should never be overweight — the body can’t bear that extra weight without causing structural damages.

Due to his appearance, he is described as Multum In Parvo or Much In Little. Heredity and selective breeding have over many centuries given us this good-natured, intelligent, loyal, lazy, family-loving dog with the well recognized flat face which is responsible for the familiar “Rattle” as he breaths, especially during sustained heavy exercise.

how to breed pugs
Pugs are curious and loving dogs. But it shouldn’t make you forget their health issues.

Because the pug does not have the normal foreface of the average canine, it has everything that got “pushed back”. The nose, pinched nostrils and roof of the mouth create an “overhang” of the soft palate which interferes with the airway right at the back of the roof of the mouth. This is why we have such a loud rattle heard on heavy exercise, excitement and playtimes. These things can be alleviated to some degree, by well-informed breeding methods together with a pinch of good luck.

The pug is also loved for its unique beautiful eyes. They are not bulging, and should not. They simply fill the eye socket giving them softness and melting look nobody can resist.

All of this sits within a large broad head, almost square in shape, which is well-wrinkled and extremely expressive. The Fawn Pugs have a black facial mask while the Black Pug is simply black all over.

Breeding Pugs Requires Expertise & a Good Eye


It is very important that breeders are aware of what they breed to what. Good breeders always make informed decisions on which dog and bitch they mate together. You don’t just breed two champions because they are champions, breeding partners, especially in Pugs, need to complement each other.

A good pug breeder will mate pugs who display good points that will improve the next generation. For example:

  • broad nostrils to help them to breathe easier
  • beautiful eyes that have not a tendency to bulge
  • a correct depth/width of chest ratio
  • a correct width of the head
  • and of course, 4 good legs to carry the weight

All of this should be topped off by the desired Double Curled Tail, which sits atop his back. Double Curl is Perfection.

As all canines have differing breed-specific problems, it is important to realize that Pugs are not perfect and get their fair share of pug-specific medical conditions. Apart from breathing problems, it is a fact they can and sometimes do suffer from Hemivertebra.

Hemivertebra — A Medical Condition Pug Breeders Should Focus On Breeding Out

Hemivertebra is an interference or incomplete connection of the spinal column. It is a focus point for anybody involved in the breeding of pugs.

This is an inherent disability in the Pug Breed that does not show up immediately but commonly appears from young adults onwards. Hemi Vertebrae becomes visible to their owners by the dog’s rear movement. Usually, affected dogs are losing their balance, and their rear legs give way to a collapsing action which gets progressively worse.

hemivertebrae in pugs
X-Ray of a clear Hemivertebrae in a Pug (credits: Lauren & Tucker)

There is no cure but support can be given to the dog as sometimes seen with an affected dog having a set of wheels fastened to their rear end, to help them move around. As Nature always rules, breeders are also “victims”, as several litters can be bred without incident and then one pup may be found to be affected, several years later. Senior Pugs may also display poor rear action.

Hemivertebra may simply be age-related (eg. Slipping Patellas / Knee Caps) with the bones are simply worn due to the old age. All of this is a reminder to owners and breeders to be aware of allowing dogs to fall into obesity, or permitting young pups to jump up and down furniture, beds, etc. At first, it does look like nothing, but over the years all of these cause such a painful affliction.

Pups born with Patella Luxation can and will inherit it through either one or both parents, it is important breeders learn to recognize that they should have good knowledge of parents, grandparents and previous dogs on the pedigree, as this complaint is well known and identified. Performing health checks yourself as a breeder is vital; so is encouraging other breeders perhaps less “in the know” than you to clear their pug breeding stock from all known medical conditions.

As Pugs are very inquisitive and curious dogs, they will often damage an eye, simply by investigating the garden. Rose bushes are best planted where Pugs cannot reach to avoid accidents.



Over the last years, pugs have inherited a not-so-great reputation because many have seen pugs breathing loudly, moving slowly, being clearly overweight, etc. Anita Wright has been generous and we hope her valuable pieces of advice will help you breed better pugs.

As soon as you decide that you want to breed pugs, you must start by not breeding at all. Instead, you want to open a new spreadsheet and list influential experts in the pug world and email them personally to ask all the questions you have. Not all of them will reply but at least, those who do will help you move the needle forward.

Want to go ahead with pug breeding? Don’t just start looking for a pug to stud with your bitch or a new puppy pug yet. Read, go to dog shows, speak to established pug breeders and judges to know what should you be focusing on. Knowledge matters, especially with such a breed that is at a turning point in its existence.

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About Anita Wright

Anita bought her first show dog, a Chihuahua, in 1974. She still breeds them while Pugs are her second breed (since 1976.) Along the way, Anita became a Judge, licensed to Judge Group 1 Toys, Group 2 Terriers & Group 4 Hounds.

She has also been Secretary of several All Breeds Clubs, and is a life member of the Chihuahua Club of South Australia, with over 17 years as Secretary and currently the Vice President and Life Member.

Currently Secretary and Life Member of The Pug Club of South Australia as well as the Chihuahua Club of South Australia; a position she will retire from in August. Over the years, Anita Wright has lectured on a number of breeds to trainee judges and has also written articles on various subjects within the canine world.

7 comments on “Breeding Pugs — Introduction To Pug Breeding”

  1. Senada Turnovic

    When I got my first pug, I was actually not into them much. Six generations later, I love them to bits.

    Yet, I am extremely worried about our breed and how extreme is the opposition between what the generic public wants (flat face, chubby body, always smaller face…) and what the breed needs (broad head, lean body…)

    Let’s hope articles like these are going to help moving forward.

    1. Thank you Senada, breeders and owners need to know their breed beyond its looks. Too many love how a dog looks and behaves but too few care about what is going on under the hood.

  2. Lucia Torres-Simon

    I have been in Pugs for more than 20 years, snoring have been corrected, same the bone issue., have many Ch and GCH. This inf. is very good for somebody that is starting with pugs, because breeding is not an easy thing and having puppies and C sections are very difficult.
    Here in Northern Ca we have a very close group of pug breeders and we share a lot of information and ask for help when choosing a male for your bitch, we have produce beautiful pugs.

    I will refer this article to first time breeders.

    Nice work,
    Lucia Torres-Simon

    1. Thank you Lucia! Pugs are such a sought-after breed lately and pug breed has grown so much lately so we thought it was important to highlight what breeders should really focus on before even thinking of a breeding.

  3. Beth

    Hemi vertebrae are wedge-shaped vertebrae that cause the tail to curl; if the curl happens anywhere else in the spine other than the tail then that’s problematic… All the spinal vertebrae are normal-shaped vertebrae unless the wedge shape turns up in a place it isn’t supposed to. It is congenital and hereditary.

    This is in every single line of breeding and is a recessive gene… It can happen to anyone at anytime but is rather rare… It can happen to a puppy at six weeks old or sometimes the evidence will show itself later on in life but nonetheless, the pug is born with the Hemi Vertebrae…

    Many of us here in the United States now have turned to X-rays for our puppies before they are 16 weeks old just to rule it out.

  4. WilsonLyle

    I grew up with a pug and am considering starting to breed them. This was great info to start out with! Still plenty of research for me to do. Thanks!

  5. Tonya Richer

    I am interested in the breeding information due to my last puppy who was diagnosed with pug encephalitis at 19 months old and died within 24 hours of the first symptoms. I have read many books and articles on pug conditions and was never made aware of this disease. I have contacted the genetic testers in England about their tests but do not really understand all the literature. Can you be of any help as I want to purchase another pug for my companion. I would appreciate any information you can provide. Thank you.

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