Pug: Breed History & Origin

Most experts are inclined to believe that Pugs appeared in the East, in China. It was there that the most evidence was found confirming the existence of such dogs even before our era: mentions in ancient Chinese manuscripts of “square, short dogs with a short muzzle”, terracotta, jade, and ceramic figurines of such dogs.

Heavenly Lions Buddha

Presumably, the ancestors of Pugs are small Sichuan dogs bred by Tibetan monks, called foo, the heavenly lions of the Buddha. Foo, the lion dog, is found among the monuments of ancient Chinese art. The Chinese believed that such dogs bring happiness to their master. Statues of these dogs were installed at the entrances to the temples because it was believed that they would keep them from evil spirits.

Dogs of the Chinese Emperors

The first mentions of Pug dogs were found in Confucius and date back to 551 BC. It is known that they were the favorites of the Chinese rulers. They were groomed and pampered in every possible way, each of them had their own servant, and they were brought to the place of hunting on specially made stretchers to preserve their strength and hide from the views of commoners. It is interesting that already in the XII century. BC e. the breeding work was carried out purposefully, under the guidance of a person specially appointed for this purpose – the Chanqian.

The modern look of Pugs does not differ much from the images found on the objects of ancient art. During the reign of the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), thanks to the Great Silk Road, many Asian states learned about the existence of Pekingese, Pugs, and other decorative dogs bred in China. Small friendly dogs were very popular with the rulers of many countries. In the X century. Sichuan-bai began to be called Lao-Chengzie, or Lo-Tsze, in honor of the capital of Sichuan province – Lo-Cheng. This name survived until the beginning of the 20th century.

In China, there were strict regulations in which it was determined who and which dogs could be kept. Lo-Tsze possessed a kind of sign of fame and luxury, so they were allowed to be kept in the homes of only rich and noble families. The pattern formed by the forehead folds of a Pug in China was compared to a hieroglyph that carries hidden meaning and is called the imperial sign. They tried to consolidate and strengthen this trait in dogs through selection work.

When breeding short-faced dogs, special attention was paid to those individuals that could fit freely in the wide sleeves of women’s dresses and courtiers’ costumes. It is thanks to this circumstance that the expression “pocket dog” appeared.

Fashion for Pugs in Europe

Pugs were brought to Europe in the 16th century. Dutch East India Company. Europeans liked the restless energetic dogs, equally beloved by monarchs, nobility, and ordinary people. In the works of art of that time, images of pugs were often found.

Pug Hero

In the XVI century Pugs were very popular in Holland. Especially after once, during the war with Spain, the Pug Pompey saved his master – Prince William I the Silent – from death.

In 1572, a Spanish detachment led by Julian Romero, by order of the Spanish commander, Duke Alvarez de Toledo Fernando Alba (1507-1582), attempted to capture the Dutch camp at night. However, the operation failed: Pompey, sensing the approach of strangers, woke up his master with a bark, and the Dutch entered the battle in time. After that, the Pugs have officially declared the dog of the House of Orange.

After the heroic deed of this small dog in Holland in the XVI century having a Pug was considered a sign of good taste. Pugs were especially popular among noble ladies: “boudoir dogs”, as they were called, were constant companions of their mistresses.

A century later, Pugs have won recognition in many European countries. In the XVIII century Pugs have become a kind of fashionable attribute of the nobility. They were depicted by many artists of that time. Pugs can be found in the paintings of the great Spanish painter Francisco Goya, for example, on the porter of the Marquise A. Pontejos she is depicted with her dog.

English artist William Hoggart had several Pugs. In 1745, he painted his self-portrait with a pug named Trump. This work is now kept at the Tate Gallery in London.

In historical chronicles, these dogs are often mentioned along with the name of the first wife of Napoleon I – Josephine Beauharnais. It is known that her favorite pug Fortuna, with whom she practically did not part, bit Napoleon on their wedding night. And later, when Josephine was imprisoned in a Carmelite monastery, the Pug carried the emperor’s love notes under his collar.

Napoleon’s brother – Prince Lucien Bonaparte – had a Pug kennel with the famous black mask on the face. It was because of her that dogs began to be called Carlin, in honor of the protagonist of the popular comedy del Arte “Harlequin of Carlin”, who wore a black domino mask during the performance.

Decline and Rebirth

By the middle of the XIX century. in Europe, interest in Pugs is lost, they began to be considered a symbol of philistinism. In addition, in most cases these dogs were looked after incorrectly: they were spoiled and fed in unlimited quantities with sweets, as a result of which they became very fat; tried to cross with other small breeds. All this led to the fact that the breed began to degrade.

At the same time in England, this breed is flourishing thanks to the patronage of Queen Victoria. She was personally involved in breeding dogs of this breed and contributed to the creation of the British Kennel Club, which was opened in 1873.

Queen Victoria favored beige and apricot Pugs. In the breeding of black Pugs, Lady Bressy made a great contribution, who brought them from China in 1886. Among the breeders of the breed are also Lady Willoughby de Eresby (Lincolnshire) and Mr. Morrison (Walham Green), who received two quality lines of Pugs.

Based on images of Pugs of the 18th – 19th centuries it can be seen that they had longer paws and muzzles, and their ears were cut off. Pugs supposedly acquired their modern appearance after 1860, when new livestock was brought from China. These Pugs had the type of exterior that we can see today. Ear cropping in this breed was prohibited in 1895.

Currently, Pugs are considered one of the most common breeds in Europe, America, and Australia.

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