Buying a Pug Puppy

Important information you need to know in order to make an informed purchase...

When considering the purchase of a Pug (or any other breed), a person deserves a dog that is healthy, attractive, mentally sound, functionally correct and has the best possible chance of providing years of companionship whether it be a dog purchased just as a pet, as a show dog, or to compete in obedience, agility, therapy work, rally or just about anything else you might want a dog to do.

It is VERY important to talk to breeders who are open and honest about health and health testing. Understand that all dogs do have problems – you want to deal with breeders who admit the problems their dogs have, will discuss them openly with you, and will also be able to tell you how they are attempting to solve them.

All ethical and responsible breeders health test, put titles (conformation or performance) on their dogs, and strive to produce highest quality Pugs which will better the gene pool. A "professional" breeder is NOT necessarily the kind of breeder you want - most good breeders have real jobs and their Pug breeding, while a passion, is just a hobby. They don't depend on breeding dogs for income. It's NOT about the money! Responsible breeders are choosy about which dogs they breed – they study pedigrees for quality in conformation, health, longevity and working ability. They try to find the absolute best match for their female. They travel to great lengths to find the best male. It is rare that this best male will be living in their home or their neighborhood.

Some people feel that it doesn’t matter which breeder they deal with because all they want is a nice pet. Some people feel that it doesn’t matter if the parents of the dogs have any conformation or obedience titles but it DOES matter. A breeder who doesn't health test and title their dogs is basically saying that a buyer does NOT deserve any of this. And it's extremely insulting that a breeder would try to satisfy a person with something that requires less knowledge, less effort, less commitment and less "cost per unit". Don't settle for that!

Please, please be aware that pet stores buy their puppies from puppy mills (where dogs are kept locked in cages breeding constantly with no concern for their health or welfare – all that matters is that they are producing puppies for money. These dogs are killed if they can no longer produce puppies.). Responsible, ethical breeders do NOT sell their puppies to pet stores. People who truly care about animals do NOT purchase puppies at pet stores. Responsible breeders are concerned about where their puppies live for the rest of their lives. A pet store sells to whoever has the money with no concern as to where that puppy lives or what kind of life it will have. The puppies at pet stores are often in ill health and have had little socialization since they are taken from their mothers at an early age. Many of these puppies die on the journey to the pet stores crammed in cages with other sickly puppies in the backs of poorly ventilated, large trucks.

The high school student who works part time at the pet store usually can not answer the concerns and questions you will have about your new pet. Choose a breeder that cares about where and how their puppy will live. Choose a breeder that will be there to answer your questions and who will be there during your problems and joys of owning a puppy.

There are also establishments known as “commercial” breeders. They won’t call themselves that, but they produce many hundreds of puppies a year with little thought or regard to health, longevity, temperament, conformation, etc. This type of establishment may sound ideal because they are likely to have a puppy available with little or no waiting at any time. BEWARE! Think about it – how can they personally oversee proper puppy care and socialization? They are creating a “product for profit” in their eyes, not a living creature. These establishments often have glitzy brochures, splashy ads in magazines and may appear very classy, which is easy to do when they are selling hundreds of puppies for profit annually. Warning signs that may indicate a commercial kennel are slogans such as "World Wide Shipping" and "All major credit cards accepted!" or "USDA Certified". These are usually very clear signs that the breeder cares little about where the puppy ends up and who buys it. They are motivated by money, and not a caring for the puppies. These puppies are often sold with contracts that are very favorable to the “breeder” and offer little real protection to the buyer or the puppy. Any puppy contract you sign should be advantageous to you just as much as to the dog and the breeder.


Before you do anything, do some research into the breed to see if it is, in fact, the breed for you! Pugs are NOT for everyone - and it's okay not to get one after you start to look into the breed! Some good Pug reference sites where you can find information and ask questions are:
Pug Village
Frank The Pug
Pug Dog Club of America
In Canada, the national breed club is the Pug Club Of Canada

**Please note: a breeder's membership or participation in any of the above listed sites or clubs is not a guarantee of responsible and ethical breeding**

The PDCA does offers breeder referrals on their site, but the breeders still need to be researched and checked out. Inclusion in the breeder referral section or membership in the club is not a guarantee that the breeder is a good one.

Finding a breeder is relatively easy. Finding a good one by doing your research and asking questions is the hard part! Always verify any information a breeder gives you.

Check out this page: Breeder Traits To Watch For
Also visit:

*Ask at what age the breeder will let the puppies go to their new homes.

Responsible breeders keep puppies until they are at least 8 weeks old.  Some states actually have laws against selling puppies prior to 8 weeks of age. Important socialization is being learned and taught during that time.  Puppies that are taken too early from their littermates and mother often have trouble and issues later.

*Ask what health testing was done on the sire and dam of the litter.

The Pug fancy is working very hard to eliminate the genetic diseases that are harming our breed. Yearly shots and a vet's "okay" are NOT an equivalent or substitute for health testing. Responsible Pug breeders today, in general, are testing for hip and elbow dysplasia, thyroid disease, genetic eye disease, normal cardiac function, and normal liver function. Pugs are subject to KCS - keratoconjunctivitis sicca - or "dry eye" and does with this condition should not be bred. They also get atopy, the canine version of hay fever; brachycephalic syndrome, where the breathing passages have some sort of obstruction caused by the shape of the head and face, and the heart and lungs have to work harder than normal for the dog to breathe; demodicosis, where skin mites cause irritation to the skin and is believed to be an immune system compromise; entropion, an inward rolling of the eyelid which causes scratches on the surface of the eye; exposure keratopathy syndrome, a complex interaction of features causing the eyes to not blink enough or the lids to not fully close over the eye; skin fold dermatitis (facial and tail fold), where the skin is chronically infected or irritated in the folds; Hemivertebra, an spinal defect causing paralysis; and necrotizing meningoencephalitis (pug dog encephalitis, PDE), which may or may not be inherited, but affects 1-2% of all pugs. There is no known cure. Pugs are also affected by "sick sinus syndrome" which is irregular heartbeat, and XX sex reversal, which produces hermaphrodites, Pugs with the sexual organs of both genders. Cataracts, distichiasis (extra eyelashes growing on the inside edge of the eyelid), hip and elbow dysplasia (poor alignment of the joint bones where the joint becomes loose) and Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease (a disease of the hip joint where the joint degenerates causing severe pain and lameness) are all present in the Pug breed as well.

Responsible breeders send their dog’s hip and elbow x-rays to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for evaluation. Ask the breeder for OFA hip/elbow results. This can be verified through the OFA database at

Breeders may also elect to register results of other health testing with the OFA. Currently the OFA registers results of thyroid testing by approved laboratories, cardiac testing by approved evaluators and von Willebrand DNA tests by VetGen.

Another method of evaluating hips is the PennHip method. A breeder may have PennHip ratings rather than OFA ratings. In Canada, some breeders choose to have their dogs’ hip x-rays evaluated by the Ontario Veterinary College. Hip and elbow evaluations are normally done once in the lifetime of the dog.


Thyroid testing is normally done routinely on Pugs by responsible breeders. Thyroid results can vary with age. It is recommended that routine thyroid tests begin around 18 months of age and continue every 12-18 months throughout the lifetime of the dog. A full thyroid panel should be completed on any breeding dogs. A full thyroid panel measures Total Thyroxine (TT4), Total Triiodothyronine (TT3), Free T4 (FT4), Free T3 (FT3), T4 Autoantibody, T3 Autoantibody, and canine Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (cTSH).

The thyroid impacts many of the body’s most important organs. Thyroid testing should not be overlooked.

Pugs can be examined for the presence of inheritable eye disease by CERF certified canine ophthalmologists. CERF stands for Canine Eye Registration Foundation. Eye diseases are a major cause of health problems in the Pug breed. Many eye problems may be corrected with surgery, but these Pugs SHOULD BE REMOVED FROM BREEDING PROGRAMS. Just because surgery fixed the problem for one dog, doesn't mean it won't be passed on through the genes to its offspring.

Eye testing is something that must be done yearly – a CERF certificate is valid only for one year. Ask the breeder when was the last date and result of CERF eye testing. This can be verified through the CERF database at

*The breeder will be ready, willing, and able to show proof of all such tests and the results.
You should not have to pay for this.  Responsible breeders will not be offended that you ask - they will be glad you are doing your research!  

In addition, responsible breeders will keep you advised throughout the lifetime of your puppy about the ongoing health of the parents and of the siblings. They are also likely to seek out information about your puppy to help them make future breeding decisions.

Remember that Pugs bred to the breed standard are a basis for good health! A dog built properly is less likely to suffer from athletic injuries such as joint pain and poor shock absorption, and also less likely to have dysplasia problems. Don't let anyone - not your vet or another breeder - tell you Pugs don't have dysplasia problems! Statistics on the OFA website show that 60% of Pugs ARE affected to some degree. Pugs are ranked #2 behind Bulldogs for hip dysplasia.

*Avoid breeders who purposely breed "POCKET", "MINI", "TEACUP" or "TINY" Pugs. Pugs were NOT meant to be a tiny size, and when they are purposely bred as such, it jeopardizes their health in many ways, regardless of what the breeders of these Pugs tell you. Nor are Pugs supposed to be 25, 28, 30 or 35 pounds as adults! A very general rule is that the larger the dog, the shorter the lifespan. Bigger is NOT better in this case.  Reputable, responsible breeders breed according to the standard for the breed. In Pugs, that means the mature adults are desired to be 14 to 18 pounds. An acceptable upper limit is 24 pounds. NO LARGER!

*Avoid breeders who purposely breed "RARE", "UNUSUAL", "DESIGNER" or unusually colored Pugs.
These terms are more used for marketing than for describing a good Pug. Designer dogs normally turn out to be a mixed breed dog that you can get in most shelters for the price of spay or neutering. Unusual colors almost always indicate there's been another breed mixed in. Buyer BEWARE!

The breeder should be able to provide you with ages and causes of death of many/most of the dogs in a 5 generation pedigree. You will probably want to avoid purchasing a puppy which descends from a pedigree of many early and/or unexplained deaths.

*What are the AKC or Canadian Kennel Club [CKC] registered names of the sire & dam?

*Will the puppies be registered with the AKC/Canadian KC?
***Note*** Breeders in Canada are fully responsible for registering the puppy at their expense. A breeder from Canada who says you can buy the dog cheaper without papers is breaking FEDERAL LAW.

Also, note that the American Kennel Club and the Canadian Kennel Club are reputable kennel clubs. There are several other registeries operating now that are a complete joke - they "register" dogs that are not purebred.

*How old was the sire and dam at the time of the breeding?
Health tests such as hip and elbow evaluations can NOT be definite until the animal is at least 2 years of age. Pugs are a breed that is not fully mature until at least 2 years of age. Breeding before that time is considered unethical by many.

*How often does the breeder produce litters?
One, possibly two litters a year is more than enough. Any more than that and it becomes very difficult to provide a high standard of care for the puppies and for their owners.

*Will the dew claws be removed? At what age will this be done?

Dew claws are normally removed around the age of 2-4 days. Usually, breeders in North America who do NOT remove dew claws are cutting corners to save on out-of-pocket expense on the litter.

*What championships and/or performance titles have the sire and dam of the litter earned?

Have they earned titles in conformation, obedience, agility, rally, tracking or therapy work? Any or all of these give some indication of what the puppies may be capable of. Who put the titles on the parents? A person who purchases a Champion for breeding purposes may be attempting to make their own breeding program look better than it is. Advertising "Champion stock" may mean there is one champion in five (or more!) generations! That's not much "Champion blood" for a puppy!

The PDCA offers the title ROM (Register Of Merit) for Pugs who have produced a certain number of Champion offspring. This designation is only awarded to, and allowed to be used by PDCA members.

*Is the breeder a member of the PDCA (Pug Dog Club of America), any PDCA chapter clubs, the Pug Club Of Canada, the CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) or any other dog clubs?
Membership in clubs may indicate a better than average interest in Pug activities, news, advances in research, medicine, health, etc. Please note: no INDIVIDUAL may be a member of the AKC. The AKC "membership" is comprised ONLY of dog CLUBS. Any individual who claims to be a member of the AKC is misleading you.

*Showing in conformation and/or obedience trials, temperament testing, club memberships/affiliations, etc. are strong indicators (when combined with health testing) that the breeder produced the litter to better the breed and not just to produce another litter of Pug puppies for profit.
Responsible, ethical breeders participate in breed clubs, help with rescue, breed education, take part in medical research, attend seminars and learn more about Pugs any way they possibly can. They are constantly GIVING BACK to the breed something other than another litter of puppies. Check those references too! If a breeder claims they're involved with a rescue group, check with the group! Don't take anything for granted.

*Will the breeder be able to at any point and time in the lives of the puppies, be able to take back those puppies - NO QUESTIONS ASKED?
A responsible, ethical breeder (including the owner of the stud) will at any time take back dogs they bred for whatever reasons. They will ensure that none of the puppies they produced ever end up in a homeless situation, that they never burden an animal shelter, pound or rescue organization.

*An ethical and responsible breeder will ask just as many questions of you.
They will be just as concerned what type of home their pup is going to, so be prepared! An ethical and responsible breeder will be there for the entire dog's life to help with anything concerning it. Responsible breeders usually use puppy contracts that protect you, the puppy and the breeder.

*Above all, ask for REFERENCES!!
Ask for the names and numbers of at least 5 of the breeder’s puppy owners and follow up with them. Also, it would be wise to ask for a reference from the breeder’s vet. Ask the veterinarian about the standard of care the breeder provides for the dogs from a veterinary standpoint. It wouldn’t hurt to ask a few other breeders local to the one you are considering if they would recommend them as well. In today's day and age, don't just look at a website, but look around for messages posted by the breeder online in community forums. Do their messages match what they tell you (for example, does the breeder who offers "all puppy shots" also post that they don't believe in giving shots for any purpose? That's not a good sign!)


A well-bred, sound, healthy puppy from a reputable breeder is WORTH THE WAIT. Don’t get caught up in a mind-set that you must have a puppy immediately. Take your time to do your research and don’t be surprised that you will likely have to wait for a quality puppy. The time and money you invest in the puppy up front is very likely to save you time and money later.

Also, consider that sometimes breeders will have young adults available to new homes. These may be dogs that they showed for a while and didn’t turn out quite like the breeder expected. They may be champion animals that just don’t fit into the breeding program for whatever reason (perhaps the breeder owns a better dog they would rather use). Perhaps they have one that was returned by another puppy owner for various reasons that have little or nothing to do with the dog (divorce, loss of job, moving, death of owner, etc). They may have one available that simply doesn't get along with another dog in the household.  You may very well be able to get a nice dog that is older than a puppy – one that may very well already be housetrained, crate trained, some obedience training, some health testing completed, very well socialized, etc. Keep an open mind. These dogs can fit very well with little effort into your home and completely eliminate all the hassles of adopting a puppy!  As cute as puppies are, they are a big investment in time and training.  

If you can’t wait for a well-bred puppy from a reputable breeder, please consider adopting an unwanted, homeless Pug from a rescue organization. These unfortunate dogs also most often find themselves in these situations through no fault of their own. Legitimate rescue organizations ensure that these dogs are spayed/neutered, up to date on vaccinations, and try to match the dogs to appropriate homes prior to placement.

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