Pug Health Problems

Pug Health Problems

There are a number of pug health problems that are mainly caused by things such as their short nose creating problems with their breathing or issues with their large and open eyes that appear to be able to draw in all kinds of bacteria over time.

What follows are just some of the most common ones that are associated with the breed, but it should perhaps be pointed out that most are able to be treated quite easily and in no way should it put you off buying a pug.

Skin Conditions With Pugs

Pugs do have a tendency to suffer from a range of skin conditions especially around the face thanks to the folds of skin that they have. This means bacteria can build up quite easily all over the body and it can eventually lead to things such as dermatitis, ringworm and pyoderma.

This will often mean the dog is rather uncomfortable, but your vet can help clear things up quite easily, but do look out for red skin, pus, or them scratching a lot as a sign that there could be a problem. Their face wrinkles should be kept clean in order to stop bacteria from really taking hold and get treatment at the first sign of an infection appearing.

Breathing Problems With Pugs

Due to their snout being so compact it does mean that pugs can suffer from a range of breathing problems especially in hot and humid weather as it does mean they find it difficult to regulate their temperature through taking in air via their nose.

Some will tend to have a more elongated palate whilst others will have more pinched nostrils or even have tissue in their windpipe that is too soft making it more prone to slightly collapse. You will notice that they have a tendency to snore and this is an indication that there could be a respiratory problem that is causing it.

Eye Problems With Pugs

Due to them having such big and open eyes it does mean that they are more likely to develop various health problems associated with their sight such as infections and it is entirely possible that they will have several eye conditions at any given time. They may have problems such as entropia where the eyelids roll along with dry eyes, corneal ulcers, proptosis and pigmentary keratitis.

You must, therefore, look for any signs of the eyes being red, causing them discomfort or any unusual discharge coming from them as they can normally be treated either through medication or sometimes surgery, but if left alone it can result in your dog becoming blind over an extended period of time.

Joint Problems With Pugs

Problems with joints are actually quite common in small dogs in general and one of the more common health issue with pugs is their kneecap dislocating and popping out away from the femur. This is sometimes referred to as trick knee and it is due to the ligaments not holding it in the correct position, but pugs are also often susceptible to hip dysplasia so watch how they walk and run and if there are signs of discomfort when moving to determine if there may indeed be a problem.

Pug Dog Encephalitis

Pug dog encephalitis, or PDE for short, is something that is normally fatal and it cannot be cured and it involves the brain tissue becoming inflamed and eventually dying. It does appear that this is something that is inherited and is, therefore, genetic in nature, but it is important to point out that it is not too common, but you still need to be aware of it.

Whilst a number of health problems for pugs can be linked to genetics a number of them such as a series of skin infections and the joint problems can be caused by general neglect of the dog and allowing them to become obese. They are small dogs and their joints are not built for carrying excess weight so if they are fat, then you can be causing them all kinds of pain and discomfort as well as making it harder for them to breathe so keep them slim so they can live a better life.

The pug health problems mentioned above are the most common ones that vets see, but clearly they can also pick up things that any dog can suffer from over and above those that have been listed. Only a percentage of pugs will get these pug problems, but one thing you can be sure of is that they will still be a loving dog to have and will certainly give you a lot of enjoyment through their life.

How To Ensure Your Pug Is As Healthy As Possible

Since pugs cannot verbally tell their owners when a problem is occurring, it is essential that pug owners learn common issues associated with the breed and be able to spot signs of their pug’s health going bad.

Therefore, make sure that you check out the pug health articles on this site and then read the following recommended resource. It is full of information to help you spot symptoms of illness or other issues and understand what exactly is going on when these symptoms occur. In addition, you will learn what kind of treatment to seek in order to keep your pug healthy and happy for years to come.

But don’t stop there! Your pug’s nutrition is vitally important to their health and life span. Even though you may think you are feeding your pug a healthy diet, you may not be. This is not your fault! We have been duped into believing that many brands of ‘pet food’ are healthy for our pets thanks to cute commercials and well meaning recommendations, but once you discover the truth behind the most common pet food out there, you will never feed your pet the same again. Learn all about it at:

  • Dog Food Secrets

    If you decide to purchase the products that I’m recommending on this website (or from my e-mails) you’ll get extra bonuses, claim your bonuses HERE.

I wish you and your pug a long relationship full of health and happiness!

36 comments… add one

  • Nick March 13, 2013, 10:49 am

    I recently adopted a pug and the thing is I’ve never owned one before. My dog’s been scratching his face a lot or at least trying to and he hasn’t been in good mood for about a week. I just checked his face and in some parts they’re definitely red. I think it must be one of the skin problems mentioned here. I need to take him to a vet, but more than that I need to learn more about pugs in general if I’m going to raise it well.

    • Candace R.C. September 18, 2014, 4:57 am

      Nick. My pug Chancey use to do the same thing. It`s allergies. If you go to your vet they can give your pug something for this. Also, My Chancey couldn`t have any plastic toys…she was allergic to the plastic. Good luck. Hugs to the pug .

    • richard September 19, 2014, 3:09 am

      Your dogs scratching could be caused by allergies, food or otherwise, or simply a skin issue, like skin dermatitis. I know what I am talking about, as I am going through this with my 2 yr old pug over the last several months. The vet put him on a set of pills the first time, over about a 10 day period, one pill a form of a steroid, and they worked wonderfully. he stopped scratching at his face almost immediately, and did not for the time on the pills. After about 3 days off the pills, he started scratching again, but not as bad, not as often, but still, so I contacted the vet, and he gave me on a new pill, that he said was new to the market, and did well with most dogs on this scratching, skin discoloration, issue. They did help, but not as good as the first ones. He said if these did work well, we could remain on them for life, since they are not a steroid and will not harm the dogs liver or any worries to continue to use .. But, since they did not remove the scratching completely as did the steroid, he had me bring my pug back in to look at his face. I was also very bothered by the fact that my dog was losing hair around the mouth area, and it was very noticeable, especially because my pug is black, and of course his skin color is light.. Now, he is on another set of pills, to help try to remove any allergy issue and also to stop the scratching. These pills are working great like the first set did, and are not a steroid, so what remains now is a decision to keep him on one or both, and maybe if so, reduce the dosage in 1/2, or whether if he comes off completely and if the scratching returns, then the Vet said he would recommend a pug specialist to deal with trying to pinpoint what is causing the scratching issue. I certainly hope I do not have to incur the additional specialist fee for this.. Hope this helps. PS.. Pugs are one of the most loving, friendly, best companion dogs out there, no doubt. They can be a bit stubborn at times, and sometimes you take care of them like a child or an older adult, with all the health attention, but in my opinion, worth every minute and every $ to own one..

      • Candace R.C. October 12, 2014, 8:07 am

        Does anyone know of a PUG SPECIALIST…I can not locate anything near Utica NY

      • Candace R.C. October 12, 2014, 8:13 am

        Richard you are so right my fawn pug Chancey 13 years old…she is my little girl..I had her since she was 6 weeks old…I will do anything in the world for her. I know her like the back of my hand. I know ,when she has a fever, or when something just isn`t right. How I wish that I could find a pug specialist near me.

  • Lance March 13, 2013, 11:20 pm

    I got my pug from my sister when she had to move to abroad for a job and she had no one to take care of her dog. Well, Mr. Style’s already 7 years old and he has developed a bit of a limp. I didn’t think much of it until today and I just thought that he’d be fine in a few days, but it’s been about 10 days now and the limp isn’t getting any better. I think it might be the joint problem and Style probably will need to visit a vet. I hope all is fine, because if anything he’ll break my sister’s heart.

  • Sean March 14, 2013, 11:05 am

    I’m a brand new and proud owner of a young and handsome pug. Although my puppy is as healthy it can be, I plan to learn everything about pugs and make sure my dog has a long and healthy life. It’s too bad that pugs seem to have more health problems than most other breeds, but I’m sure much of those things can be avoided with a responsible owner. I’ve already bookmarked this page and this website will be my go-to website for all pug information. Thanks~!

  • richard March 23, 2013, 12:05 am

    My pug is 1 year old and licks my face and arms for minutes at a time, each & every evening while sitting on sofa watching tv. Is this a trait of pugs?

  • Paige F June 10, 2013, 9:15 pm

    My neighbor has 4 puppy pugs and they all need new homes. I was a bit hesitant on adopting one because of the supposed health problems in the breed and lately I’ve verified that they actually do have some health issues. Should that be enough to stop me from adopting one though? I don’t know, but it’s a concern that I cannot disregard. I want one though… sigh…

    • richard June 13, 2013, 1:14 am

      To comment on the email by Paige F, they are an amazingly affectionate and fun dog to own. Yes, they can & do have certain health issues, but not of any major concern or expense for the most part.

      • Candace R.C. September 25, 2014, 3:36 am

        Richard thank you so very much for your reply. I never knew there was such a Dr. as a “Pug Specialist” thank you. And I will look into it. I am happy to hear this…because pugs have so many different things going on. Someone needs to be dedicated to their health issues. Candace

  • Ashe February 27, 2014, 1:49 pm

    Some very dear friends of ours had two Pugs and they lived long lives with few health problems. Our friends were very good carers and this certainly helped overcome many of the potential Pug health issues.They were beautiful fur kids and made their parents very happy.

  • Candy March 17, 2014, 11:35 pm

    I am the proud owner of a Pug, she is 11 years old. Recently she started turning on her rear end as if something is itching, I have took her to the Vet and he could not find anything wrong. Can anyone help me with this problem?

    • Candace R.C. September 18, 2014, 5:01 am

      Candy…my Chancey did the same thing…her anal glands need to be extracted…the vet will just squeeze the anal gland area inside, and remove anything that is in there. It only takes a few minutes, and the dog does not need to be put to sleep for this.

  • Peter April 4, 2014, 9:07 am

    Some say that you should never get a Pug due to their squashed up nose and breathing problems. I have a friend that has one and he is just beautiful and so happy. They seem like a lovely dog and am sure that with good parents and care the possible breathing thing shouldn’t be a problem.

    • Candace R.C. September 18, 2014, 5:03 am

      Peter …Pugs are wonderful people dogs they love company…and yes they do have some health problems, allergies, ect., however with proper care…they are the greatest….they love to be around people.

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  • tammy August 15, 2014, 9:33 pm

    do pugs get skin sores as puss sacks???

    • Candace R.C. September 18, 2014, 5:06 am

      Tammy ….my Chancey has skin irratation…but they where never filled with puss….I would definetly take your pug to the vet to see what is going on. Good Luck.

  • jamie September 2, 2014, 2:17 am

    I own a pug/terrier. I am just wondering if seizures are a common condition in pugs or does it result more in terriers.

  • Candace R. Cieloszczyk September 18, 2014, 4:54 am

    I have a beautiful fawn female spayed pug. Her name is Chancey. I had her since she was 6 weeks old. The absolute love of my life, she is beyond spoiled believe me. She is now 13 years old ( 91 in human years) if you where to look at her she looks great…yes she has a slight limp going on in the left leg…due to the tendon pulling away from the bone (per her vet). And yes she has her skin conditions. And she has her breathing problems associated with allergies…the haking that occurs, and usually it is no problem in curing this . However last week she had an uncontrollable hacking. My boyfriend and I brought her to the vet (the vet she usually sees) and they have put her on quie\te a few medications. Chancey is eating, drinking, going to the bathroom fine. However, when she sleeps and wakes up her hacking is horrible. The vet just today has put her on a new medication that will hopfully bring up and out the phflem. They say it could be a collapsed trachea. But isn`t there something that can help this. When we took her to a ER clinic outside our immediate area they said it would be over $ 3,000.00 I do not have that kind of monies. Then Chancey`s vet said some of the things they where going to do to her would have been deadly. She is 13 she can NOT go under, or have any type of surgery done. She is on Prednisolone 5 mg ( she has been on this for 2 1/2 years 1/4 pill……the vet stated to raise it to 1 pill a day for seven days then start to reduce slowly back to 1/4 of a pill daily. She is on Orbax 22.7 mg antibiotic, Lasix 12.5 mg 1 pill a day for fluid ( however, she is drinking, and peeing good) and Terbutaline 2.5 mg to help open the chest, and lungs. If only she sould she hack all that phflem out. Then the vet stated if we try everything with in reason and nothing works…then I need to make a dreadful decision. I understand…but WOW…isn`t there something….a home remedy, organic..something to help. If any one has any ideas I would greatly appreciate hearing from you. Thank you and God Bless.

    • richard September 24, 2014, 10:06 pm


      I was told by my vet that there are so called “pug specialists”.. Would never think that, so maybe you can try to find out about one, and communicate directly about your pugs health issue..

      • Candace R.C. October 1, 2014, 12:59 am

        Thank you Richard for your post. Yes my beautiful little girl pug Chancey as I stated is 13 years old, I have had her since she was 6 weeks old. She just loves to be around people…she loves company. A pug is a wonderful breed to own. Yes they do have some issues, but what pet doesn`t. My Chancey has been on Prednisolone 5mg a 1/4 of a pill for 2 years. It definetly helps with her allergies. However it does have side effects. Liver, and other problems. I give her the smallest dose possible. She has been feeling alot better. She still has a little wheezing…but nothing like it was. Chancey is spoiled beyond belief…and she knows it. And she definetly deserves it. Thank you again for the information you provided. Candace

  • Candace R.C. September 20, 2014, 3:51 am

    Jamie…Pugs from what I understand have more seizures than terriers.

  • richard September 26, 2014, 2:39 am

    Your welcome. Hope you are able to find one. If not, get back to me and I’ll speak with my vet and try to help put you in touch with whomever he gives me the name of. I am in CT. Remember, besides common skin issues to pugs caused by the breed, some of a pugs skin issues can be due to allergies, as my vet suggested. That is why he felt the next step for me for mine, if this latest round of meds did not completely cure him of, was a pug specialist familiar with skin problems and allergies common to them.. Also, let me tell you that all the pills he has tried, have worked, so that’s good to know and if you want, I can give you the names of these pills. Only issue for the one, its a form of a steroid, so it works best, worked immediately, but he cannot remain on them, even in reduced dosage, because it can do harm to his liver over time.. One pill name I know for sure is Prednisone..Richard

  • richard September 26, 2014, 11:02 pm

    Besides the obvious potential amount of health issues, no one should get discouraged to not own a pug.. Most of the health issues, although obvious vet bills for appointments, and also meds, are not of needing operations/surgery, where expense is a big factor, unless of course of an accident or injury..
    my pug, besides being the love of my life, simply gives me so much joy. I love him so much it hurts. he is a great companion, so dedicated, so loving, and so playful. we can play tug and pull till the cows come home.. He follows me everywhere, sits by me almost always, and is absolutely comical in his looks and behavior. I cant wait to get home to him, and be with him.. I ended the idea of trying to date because I cant imagine leaving him to go out in the evening,or any women agreeing to play second fiddle to him!..

  • richard October 13, 2014, 7:57 pm


    Well, I still am working on getting the issue of my pugs scratching to stop completely. When he is on Prednisone, which is a steroid that he cannot keep taking indefinitely due to it can cause liver issue, he is fine, does not scratch at all. Whats worse is he is black, so when he scratches enough, on both sides of his mouth, he then loses hair, so its painful for me to see this, as the hair loss is far more noticeable with him being black, and his skin below showing through..

    So, I contacted my vet and we tried a pill that’s new to the market, but comparable to Prednisone in its effectiveness, but does not have the health issue side effects. It works, has helped, but not removing the itching completely. You might want to ask your vet to try for your dog, at 1 pill per day.. Its call Apoquel.. Its a hot item though, finding out that where its made, they cannot keep up supply with demand, so when your vet gets it, its probably going to be in allotments for the time being until the place that makes it catches up with demand..

    For my dog, I have tried it over the last 2 weeks. Like I said, it works to a certain degree, but not completely as did Prednisone, so I contacted my vet today, to ask him to put me in contact with a specialist in this area, so once I get that info from him, I will be making an appt and when I am doing, I will ask this office if there is any specialist near to where you live in Utica, and as soon as I have that info, I will pass along… I am in CT, so not that far away, in case there was no specialist closer to you than where I find out here in CT..

  • richard October 14, 2014, 10:33 pm

    I was in touch with a specialist yesterday. This Dr. works out of NYC, but has an office in CT, and is there once per week, on Wednesdays.
    As it turns out, even though she deals quite a bit with pugs, so in a way she is somewhat of a pug specialist, she also deals with all animals with skin issues, especially dogs with skin folds around the mouth area, like pugs.
    I found out in speaking about my dogs scratching issue, is its almost 100 % certain caused by some type of allergy, and possibly caused by food..
    I found out that the first visit, which is a meet & greet, a consultation and the first office visit to look him over, is not cheap, $210 and that does not include any other happening at that time.. If she decides to do a scraping or take some form of a tissue sample on my dog at that time if she deems necessary to do to send to a lab for testing, which is most likely needed, its an additional $120.. If blood is drawn and anything else done beyond, well those would be additional costs to be incurred, to determine the proper treatment once the cause of the scratching is discovered. Of course, then there will be medication costs to add onto that, and for how long, quite possibly long term expenses.. At this time, I have decided to give the once a day Apoquel pill enough time to see how it will work, as my Vet had suggested. I have another week to go to run out the 15 days prescription.. I will update at that time..

    • Candace R.C. October 15, 2014, 5:59 am

      Richard…I understand. With my Chancey she has had allergies all her life,any type of wheat which is in many dog foods, she is allergic to plastic toys, and plastic dishes, so for years we have changed all of that. She has been on Prednisolone 5 mg for over 2 years now 1/4 pill a day…yes it does help..BUT you have to becareful with what other effects it can cause. On 9/11/14 at 5 a.m. she woke up hacking…almost like a person with bronchitis. I for the life of me do not know what she was exposed to. I am so very protective of her. I don`t know if she smelled a utility pole, or what was in the air. It`s bad enough that pugs are so allergic, especially during this time of the year. My vet Dr. Demson form Burrstone Animal Hospital had her on a variety of different medications…some did help..but we only kept her on them for short term. Dr. Demson has been Chancey`s vet since Chancey was 6 weeks old…Chancey is now 13 years old. I asked her if there was such a thing as a Pug Specialist…she said no. So I do not know. Tomorrow we are bringing Chancey for a heart and lung ultra-sound to see where we stand with things. And then go from there. I think what makes me most upset is when people say “well, ,she`s old” YES….I am very well aware of that….BUT I still want to do everything within reason that I can do for her. I am not a millionaire I can`t afford thousands and thousands…but with what I can afford I do want to do. As long as she is not in any pain….which for now she isn`t. I can see that it gets harder for her to move and walk. But i moved her food and water dishes closer to her, I placed throw rugs on the bare floors to make it easier for her to walk. I will do everything possible that I can do for my little Chancey…she will always and forever be my little girl…my little puppy. the vet stated that because she has been on Prednisolone 5 mg for so long it does affect her mobile abilities. I have been doing seasonal work st home so I have been able to stay home with her the majority of the time. However, next week back to the full time workforce. So my boyfriend will check in on her when he is home. She sleeps the majority of the day…I just worry I don`t want her not to breathe….and then go into a stressful situation with out someone not being with her. I pray to St. Frances ALOT…the patron St. of Animals. I know the day will come…the most horrible day of my life. I just pray when it is her time..please God let her go peacefully …and I stress peacefully in her sleep. I don`t think I will be able to make that decision…I would probably die on the spot from such a deep heartbreak. Chancey was here when my mom and grandmother where alive…now they are all gone…she has been with many so many years. I love my Chancey with my whole heart and soul. I wish I could take her to work with me. Richard that is one reason I love the PUG site…because only us Pug Lover`s can truly understand. I wish you all the best with your Puggy. Another thing I would like to add…again…please be careful with your pug smelling things that other dogs have smelled or touched. At the vet many animals do their business on the vet`s lawn…our dog comes along smells that…God only knows what the other animals have. Also, these pet stores that allow you to bring dogs in…be careful…last week I went into one of these stores near me…I seen a lady bring her dog in, and he was sniffing around the stuffed animal toys…he was grabbing, picking out his own, he was drooling on the stuffed animal toys. At first I though oh how cute. But then i thought what if this dog has something…i could purchase one of those toys and my Chancey could pick up an infection /bacteria. So when you buy these toys bring it home put it in the washing machine……careful of plastic toys, toys with dye. My Chancey was allergic to the medication Simplicef the pill was red..she was allergic to the dye. I had to give her a small amount of the bubble gum flavor Benedryl for children. I have a doggie strolleer for my girl so when she gets tired or just has a hard time walking I put her in that so she can still be outside..but it`s a little easier on her. Once again Best of luck with your little charmer. Candace

  • Mary ann bellmore October 20, 2014, 10:56 pm

    I just adopted a pug. His owner passed away and they were going to put him to sleep if they couldnt find someone to take him. I have always thought Pugs were adorable and wanted one. I have all rescue dogs 4 actually so I was afraid that they wouldnt accept Solo. He had been at another house and those people just turned him out into the rain. He is 13! He is wonderful, my other dogs have accepted him and even will share my lap with him. My problem is the skin folds above his tail are red and kinda bloody. I had to give him 2 flea baths when he came here and has sores on his back from scratching, those are healing nicely but I am concerned about about his tail. I have been washing it and putting antibacterial on it but but I am not sure this is what I should put on it since it will be moist with that. He is a charmer tho and I fell in love with him as soon as I saw him. He in not very chunky tho and I worry he has not had enough to eat so if someone can tell me how much he should be eating that would be great. Do they have rather large rib cages? I have to make an appointment with he vet but until I can get him in I would appreciate any help especially with the tail problem. He is chewing himself raw.

  • richard October 24, 2014, 1:12 am

    Mary Ann,

    I don’t know anything to tell you on the skin issue on his tail.. Have not had that issue with mine. Only the skin fold scratching issue in regards to his face, both sides of mouth, apparently vey common to pugs. This is being managed by Prednisone, 5 mg or Apoquel, 5 mg.. In regards to pugs having rather large rib cages, that’s true, with their “barrel body” shape. Obviously, if you pug is biting at his tail badly, causing bleeding, making it raw, then you need to get a hold of your vet, at least to ask if there is something you can buy right away to alleviate until you are able to make an appointment.

    • Mary ann bellmore October 24, 2014, 3:24 am

      I actually just got home with Solo from the vet. His sore tail is from the fold on his back, it happens to be right where the tail meets his back but the sore is on his tail, if that makes sense. He needs some dental work done but otherwise for his age he is in very good condition. He weighs 14.5lbs and everything else was healthy. He is a really good dog I am glad I took him in. I have a medicated/flea shampoo and antibiotic for him. Solo is here to stay.

  • Candace R.C. October 24, 2014, 5:39 am

    Maryann…my pug began losing hair on her tail. But I do agree with Richard see you vet ASAP so that problem can get taken care of properly. You don`t want that skin issue to spread. Best of luck, Candace

  • Heather Emons December 24, 2014, 8:24 pm

    My pug just turned 12 in October. Overall has been a healthy pup. He has been eating and drinking well. Just recently (within the week) he has started urinating a lot. Last night be peed the bed twice. Any ideas?

  • Victoria January 2, 2015, 10:15 am

    My female pug Bubbles is 5 years old and I have had her since she was 6 weeks old. Lately I’ve been noticing she’s been scratching at her ear and making a yelping noise. She has also been losing weight then gaining and back and forth. I know she doesn’t have an ear infection and her ears are cleaned every time I take her to get groomed. Can someone please help, any suggestions?

  • Julie T. January 10, 2015, 1:33 am

    I have two black pugs that are half brother & sister. The boy has had no health problems but Molly has had a few. She also gets a rash and small bumps on her stomach. I decided to try putting the ear cleaner solution on it and some coconut oil. Usually in two days it is all cleared up. She will get this about every 6 weeks or so and it works every time.


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