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Pug History and Early Beginnings

Picture taken from www.dogsranch.com

Picture taken from www.dogsranch.com

Good day and welcome everyone!

This is Sharda with Pugs newsletter.

Today join me on a journey to the Pug History and its Early Beginnings!

Here we go!

The mysterious Orient has gifted the world dog breeds ranging from Tibetan Mastiffs to Chow Chows to Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzus, Akitas and Shiba Inus.

Undoubtedly however, the Pug is the most popular and lovable of them all.

This small, ugly to some but endearing monkey-faced pet has a heart of gold and a huge fan following all over the world.

Let’s take a world tour of all those parts of the world that the Pug has populated:

The Pug in faraway Tibet and ancient Egypt: The Pug was worshipped much like the cats of ancient Egypt. It is one of the world’s oldest known breeds, dating as far back as 700 BC.

First bred as pets for Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, it was one of the three main dog breeds by the 1300s, said to be the fathers of dog breeds today. These are the Pekingese, the Japanese Spaniel and the Pug.

Part of the mystique of ancient civilization of the Orient, the coming of the Pug and its history are caught in a veil of other more important happenings of the times.

Claimed to be over a 1000 years old, it was bred to be the closest and dearest companion of members of the royalty from the same line that produced the Pekingese.

The Pug in China: A page of Chinese history reveals important information about the Pug. It reveals that Chinese emperors belonging to various dynasties beginning with the Shang dynasty 3000 years ago were said to have bred a variety of small companion dogs.

These pets received royal and courtly attention and basked in it. They were privileged to have attendants to look after them and rode in specially designed and built carriages.

Historical accounts refer to “short-mouthed dogs” regarded as good luck symbols by Chinese emperors because of the symbols that lay hidden among their wrinkles.

History also points to ancient Chinese law that stated that only the emperor could own or gift a Pug and if anyone broke this law, he was liable to be punished to death.

Until the period 1368-1644 when cat breeding was the fashion, these small pug dogs were the hot favourites and a fashion statement too. At the close of the 17th century, breeders began bringing forth what were popularly called “sleeve dogs” or dwarf versions of this breed that were in fact small enough to fit into the huge sleeves of members of the royalty.

The Pug in Holland: When Chinese traders allowed the sale of their Pugs, this breed was taken to faraway Europe—Holland, to be precise—with the Dutch East India Company.

From here, it also went on to England and to the rest of the world. Soon after, Pugs became the choice of aristocrats and royalty and symbolized high status amongst dog breeds. In Holland, the Pug is referred to as “Mopshond” from the Dutch word meaning “to grumble.”

This probably refers to the Pug’s habit of snuffling and “talking.”

In 1572, Prince William’s Pug saved his life by alerting the prince to Spanish invaders. Due to the Pug’s timely help, the prince was able to avoid being taken prisoners by the invaders.

As a token of his gratitude to his pet, the prince declared the Pug as the official dog of the House of Orange. Despite this, there were many people who didn’t know this breed’s early history.

They believed that the Pug had originated in Holland because it had been a Royal favourite since the 16th century.

The Pug in England: William III arrived in England in 1688 to ascend the throne with a whole host of Pugs, each with an orange ribbon, the symbol of Holland’s House of Orange.

The British welcomed these cute little dogs in their midst and, a century later, Queen Victoria and France’s Josephine took to them in a big way.

In fact, the Queen was so fond of her pet Pugs that she called a ban on the practice of cropping their ears and she went so far as to bring all dog breeds in England under the purview of this law.

Towards the end of the 1800s, the British took the breed from the Imperial Palace in Peking to England where they began the Pug breed blueprint.

The Pug in France: The Pug was also a favourite in France during the Napoleonic reign. In fact, interestingly, Josephine and Napoleon Bonaparte owned a pug called Fortune who didn’t like his master Napoleon, though Josephine loved the animal.

The story goes that Fortune once bit Napoleon as he climbed into the nuptial bed.

Rather than sympathize with the man she loved, Josephine told Napoleon in no uncertain terms that the Pug was there to stay and if she was forced to make a choice between pet and master, he could leave.

The shrewd master, however, worked out a truce so that they all could be happy together.

The Pug in Australia: One of the earliest pure breeds in Australia, there are no historical records of when they arrived in the country, though records in the Agricultural Society of NSW list two pugs exhibited in 1870.

No matter what the history of the breed may be, this breed is now taken to be an Oriental one and a shorthaired cousin of the Pekingese.

In fact, the origin of its name goes back to two sources: one, from the old English word “Pugg,” then used as a term of endearment; and secondly, it is attributed to the Chinese emperor Kang Hsi who referred to a dictionary of all the Chinese characters.

Here, he found two references that could fit this breed. The first said, “dogs with short legs” while the second read, “a dog with a short head.” Since both matched the word Pug, this breed was called so.

Yet another explanation is attributed to the Pug’s facial expression that resembles a Marmoset Monkey. It is also popularly known by the names of Mops and Carlin.

I hope that you learned a lot from today’s Pugs newsletter

All the best and take care

Warmly,
Sharda Baker