With their little smushed-in faces and their big googly eyes, pugs are among the most recognizable and downright adorable breeds around. If you adopt a little lady pug, though, be aware she needs some specialized care, as pugs can be susceptible to some health problems if you don't.
Get her spayed, and do it early. Spayed pugs have fewer behavioral problems and tend to live longer, too. Getting her snipped before her first heat drastically lowers the likelihood of breast cancer and uterine infections.
Start training early in life, always remembering to be patient and consistent. Pugs are stubborn little animals, so it takes time -- and if you don't start until she's all grown up, it's going to be way harder. While you may wish to get right to tricks like "shake" and "roll over," the obedience necessities are the ones you want to focus on. "Sit," "stay," "come," "easy" and "down" are among those that should be in every dog's repertoire. Seeing how pugs are generally sociable, basic obedience may come in handy when she becomes overexcited while meeting new people and other dogs.
Give her daily exercise and stimulation by walking her and playing with her. Pugs are couch potatoes, and if you let her sit around snoozing and eating all day, she'll happily oblige. The thing is, she'll also get as fat and round as a stuffed sausage, which is terrible for her health. Since pugs can quickly turn obese, you need to make sure she's getting a little workout every day. Walk her using a body harness instead of a neck collar, as it makes breathing easier for her and doesn't risk damaging her throat
Watch her diet. You should feed your pug twice daily, ideally with a high-quality dry food formulated for small dogs. Feed her according to the portion guide on the dog food packaging, and don't fall for those big, glassy eyes when she begs for food -- she knows exactly how cute she is, and how to get what she wants. A pug will eat virtually anything she can get her grubby paws on. Though you should keep her meals on a schedule, always leave fresh, clean water available for her.
Clean out your pug's facial folds at least once a week. Her squishy, wrinkly face is hilarious and cute, but it collects gunk like mucus, dirt and food crumbs. If you don't wipe the folds clean regularly, they'll be subject to irritation, infection and a gnarly smell ... so stay on top of it. Once a week, or more often as needed, gently wipe out the creases with a cotton swab dipped in warm water, repeating until the swab comes out clean.
Clean out her ears once a week or so, too. Squirt a bit of ear cleaning solution into her ear and gently massage it from the outside, then wipe it out with cotton balls or bathroom tissue.
Brush your pug every day. Pugs may have short hair, but they shed and they shed a lot -- every day, all year long. Unless you want every surface in your home to have a fine coating of fur, brush her daily and bathe her once a month.
Trim her nails every two weeks. Pugs have nails that grow pretty quickly, but they're also black, making it harder to see the vein inside the nail. Just snip off the very end -- if you don't feel confident doing it, take her to a groomer.
Keep her indoors. That wrinkly baby of yours is a delicate flower, and she can't handle extreme heat or cold like other breeds. When the weather is hot, humid or frigid, take her outside for only as long as she needs to eliminate, then bring her back in -- she can get her exercise with an indoor game of fetch. Avoid taking her out for longer than absolutely necessary during the peak temperature hours during warm weather, and instead take her for her longer walks in the early morning and late evening. Since a pug is a small dog, always take her out first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening, as well, to avoid nocturnal accidents.
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.