Pugs in Orange County

provided by Newport Harbor Animal Hospital.
Pugs in Orange County
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Pugs and Newport Harbor Animal Hospital

We love Pugs here at NHAH. Dr. Carpenter and his family shared their home with two Pugs for over 20 years. Both Wally and Otis lived to be fifteen. If you live in Costa Mesa or the surrounding areas of Orange County, Pugs are a perfect fit. They are a hardy breed as long as you are mindful of their sensitivity to heat on our occasional hot summer days.

The information that follows will be interesting and a great resource for you and your Pug.


Pugs originated in the orient. They were often found riding next to royalty in their coaches. As the world became more mobile, they found their way to other regions, often as gifts from merchants returning from the orient. Most of us who have Pugs recognize they still act like they are royalty!


These dogs are characters! Pugs are outgoing and friendly. They make very good family dogs. Their pushed in face and soulful eyes make it hard to say no. We will cover this in detail later when we talk about weight control in Pugs.

Pugs have a tail that is tightly curled under normal conditions. If the tail is down, pay attention, something is amiss.

Pugs are known to snore and snort. There just isn't as much room for air to pass through these confined spaces. This trait is adorable but during the warm weather care must be taken to prevent heat stroke. We will talk about this later.

Most Pugs would like to have their own way. This makes them come across as a bit stubborn. Good diligent training will help their human parents to assume their role as boss.

Physical Characteristics

Here at Newport Harbor we don't care if your Pug is small or large. We love them all. Most Pugs will range from 14 to 18 pounds. We see black and fawn colored pugs. If you are looking for a toy breed that doesn't shed, you may be surprised. Pugs are pretty heavy shedders at certain times of the year.

The head will be nearly round in appearance. From the side, the face will be pretty flat.

The eyes will be dark and protruding. They also have very pronounced skin folds on their face. Both of these issues will be discussed under care and maintenance of your Pug. Sorry if that sounds like we are taking care of a Volvo. We just want to be sure you know what to do to keep your Pug healthy at all times.

Their back legs may have a bit of a curve but their front legs should be straight. Most of their growth will be completed by 10-12 months of age. Their weight may continue to mature for another 6-12 months.

Good care of the nails is important. If nails are allowed to grow long, the toes will begin to splay as they age. We see this frequently at NHAH.

We find that Pugs ears make them very cute. Unfortunately, the ear canals can be a bit narrowed and closed off compared to many breeds. This means a little more maintenance care is in order. Stay tuned and we will discuss this in more detail.

Care and Maintenance to Protect Your Pug's Health

In this section we will move from head to tail.

Clean the Facial Folds

The facial folds of a Pug will attract moisture. Bacteria and Yeast love these moist confined areas. In order to prevent this and keep your Pug's face smelling fresh and looking kissable we recommend cleaning them daily. Dr. Carpenter likes to use baby wipes. He wrings them out and then gently cleans the areas in between the facial folds. Avoid the eyes with your baby wipes. If you notice unusual redness, discharge or odor, please come and see us.

Eye Care

Pug eyes are protruding. They are the Rodney Dangerfield of the toy breeds. Because of this they are more prone to irritation and sometimes ulceration of the cornea (the clear front part of the eye). If you notice excessive redness or squinting it is important to come see us immediately. Pugs are prone to a condition called pannus. This is a condition where pigment is formed in the cornea. If this becomes excessive the vision may be limited. It is treatable and will be noticed on your routine physical exams. Some young Pugs may be diagnosed with eyelid deformities that can irritate the eye. Although uncommon, surgery can be necessary in some cases.


Some amount of snorting and noise is normal with a Pug's breathing. Be aware that some Pugs have a condition called brachycephalic syndrome. This is a combination of abnormalities that makes the airways much more narrowed than normal. This causes these Pugs to have very severe trouble breathing. At times of excitement of if they overheat they can actually collapse due to lack of oxygen. If your Pug has this abnormality, surgical correction will be needed.

Heat Intolerance

Due to a Pug's relative difficulty in passing air through their nose and throat they are very prone to heat stroke. If your Pug is suffering from heat stroke you will see the following signs:

Very heavy breathing and panting

  • Salivation
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Collapse
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This is a serious emergency. Your immediate goal should be to get to our hospital. For the ride you can soak a towel in cold water and place it on the body. You can also put rubbing alcohol on the feet. Once at the hospital our talented and compassionate staff will spring into action to do everything to resolve the situation and prevent permanent harm.

Prevention is the best solution. On warmer days walk your Pug in the cooler parts of the day. Never leave you Pug unattended in the car. Even on cooler days it is a bad habit. Provide your Pug with a cool environment and plenty of water.

Ear Care

Do to the unique setting of Pug's ears they have ear canals that are likely to get less air circulation than most breeds. This will lead to accumulation of moisture. Bacteria and Yeast love this environment so maintenance of your Pug's ears is very important.

Our staff will show you how to clean the ears using a prescribed ear cleaning solution. If your Pug has infections we will treat them as a team and then work on prevention.

Weight Control

Dr Carpenter has never met a Pug who doesn't love food. Between their appetite and their cute way of begging, many Pugs have issues of weight control. Our staff will body score your Pug at each visit which allows us to determine if the current weight is appropriate. Good feeding habits using a measured amount of food is critical. Minimize or better yet, don't feed food from the table. Pugs with weight issues have significantly more trouble with arthritis and back problems. It can also make any breathing difficulties worse.

Back Problems and Arthritis

As Pugs age they are prone to back problems and arthritis. The single best prevention and treatment aid for these issues is weight control. Our doctors have decades of experience in treating these issues. Both of Dr Carpenter's Pugs both had arthritis in their geriatric years. Dealing with pain is one of our primary concerns. Our pain management program allows us to deal with your Pug's pain at many levels. The result is continued comfort and a great healthy life.

Anal Glands and Pugs

The anal glands are like the scent gland of the skunk. They are 2 pouches inside the anus with ducts that release their contents along its rim. Most dogs relieve the contents of these sacs naturally. Many Pugs have difficulty expressing their anal gland naturally. If your Pug is like this, you may notice scooting along the floor or excessive licking under the tail. Our staff is trained to comfortably express the anal glands and in some cases this will need to be done on a monthly basis.

Nail Trims for Pugs

It is important to keep Pug nails trimmed. As they get older the toes may start to splay a bit and if the nails are not trimmed this will worsen. Our staff is happy to trim the nails for you or if you want to do it at home we can teach you.

Dr Carpenter has treated hundreds of Pugs over his career and our staff has come to love them all dearly. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to call our American Animal Hospital Association accredited hospital. We are here to help.

Our Pet Health Mission

Our mission at Newport Harbor Animal Hospital is: "To provide the highest quality veterinary care for our patients and the best service for our clients. Our goal in every case is a healthy pet and a happy client."