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What were pugs bred to do?

Have you ever wondered how your pug knows exactly when you need a laugh or a good snuggle? As it turns out, the answer comes down to good breeding.

While other breeds were honing their chasing and retrieving skills, pugs spent centuries training for a very different job: being a companion. And what are the things you look for in a good companion? A great sense of humor, affectionate, and adaptable. 

We have centuries of good training to thank for this skill set, starting with Chinese royalty. Reportedly, some pugs were even guarded by soldiers, which makes us wonder if that’s how pugs became so confident despite their small size. Despite their royal roots, pugs never got too big for their britches. The breed was just as devoted to Tibetan monks as they were to Chinese royalty.

When they were brought to Europe in the 16th century their popularity continued to grow. In Jane Austen’s 1814 book,Mansfield Park, the hero’s mother “was a woman who spent her days in sitting, nicely dressed...thinking more of her pug than her children…”, which seems like it might just be fair, given that pug probably sat with her more than her children did! 

The AKC recognized the breed in 1885, just a year after the club was founded, and pugs took off in popularity in the US shortly after. From a supporting role in Men in Black to a character in an Austen novel, it’s fair to say pugs are as versatile as they come. Their affectionate, loyal nature and prescription for laughter are some of their best features, and knowing that they’ve been working on that skill set for centuries only makes them more loveable.