Some dog owners will know that there are some breeds that are more prone to health issues. Pugs, like many types of bulldogs, are brachycephalic breeds. These breeds are usually barrel-chested with short snouts and are susceptible to respiratory illnesses among other diseases. Knowing this, will it affect a pug’s lifespan? How long do pugs live for and is there anything we can do to prolong their life expectancy? We’ll answer these questions and more in today’s discussion.
What is a Pug’s Life Expectancy?
There is no set time for the pug life span, as life expectancy can depend on a variety of factors. A pug’s lineage can influence how long he lives. For example, if he comes from a long line of dogs without health problems, then chances are your pug will be relatively healthy. Other than that, the environment, the food he eats, and how you take care of your pug can also impact his lifespan.
Pugs can live anywhere from 10-20 years. The median lifespan is, unfortunately, closer to the lower end of the spectrum, around 11 years old. We understand that this can be a very disheartening fact to learn, but don’t worry, because there are steps you can take to prolong the life span of your pug. It starts with first understanding the common health issues a pug faces.
Common Pug Health Issues
Below is a list of common health issues that can detract from your pug’s life expectancy. Your pug may not suffer from all of the items, but it’s useful to have basic knowledge about what can plague the breed just in case these illnesses develop later in life.
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As we previously mentioned, Brachycephaly is an issue seen in dog breeds like pugs and bulldogs. You will see this among dogs with shorter snouts and flatter faces. The Pekingnese and Shih-Tzu are also brachycephalic dogs. Aside from obstructed airways, these dogs will also face other inconveniences such as being unable to fly with certain airlines.
Brachycephalic dogs will have breathing difficulties and shouldn’t be subjected to strenuous exercise. These dogs are also prone to overheating and should be protected from higher temperatures. The hot weather can make them pant more, which is stressful on their respiratory system.
Other than that, you will also see sleep apnea and a lot of coughing, gagging, and even vomiting with brachycephaly breeds.
Eye Problems and Injuries
Bug-eyed dogs such as the pug are victims of another health condition – eye issues. Your pug can suffer from dry eyes, melanin deposits in the eye that exceed normal, and it’s easier for their protruding eyes to sustain trauma.
Pug Dog Encephalitis
Pug dog encephalitis is a neurological issue that means inflammation of the brain. A failing immune system will result in encephalitis, and unfortunately, the issue is fatal. Other neurological issues include seizures, which is quite common in the breed. If not monitored, encephalitis is a very serious health condition that can take years off of your pug’s life.
Joint and Spinal Issues
Hemivertebrae is a spinal issue that is also seen in other barrel-chested dog breeds. You will notice the base of your pug’s spine ends in a corkscrew tail. In reality, this structure will add compression to the bottom of the spine, which can eventually lead to bladder control problems and even paralysis if it’s serious enough.
These dogs can also suffer from hip dysplasia and patella luxation. The former is where the joints become very painful with movement and the latter is the dislocation of joints.
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Pugs have very sensitive skin and wrinkles, which can be a breeding ground for yeast infections, rashes, and even skin tumors. On the brighter side of things, skin conditions are easier to spot than a disease that’s under the skin. Keeping your pug clean, properly groomed, and cool will help decrease the chances of dermatological issues.
The above health conditions are the most common ones we have seen in a pug. There are also other illnesses that can affect your dog, but again, it’s on a case-by-case basis.
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Taking Care of Your Pug
The key to a happy and healthy pug is a dog parent who knows how to monitor and manage any health problems that will impact your fur baby. A good way to prevent any of these health conditions from becoming a problem, and is to find responsible breeders. Of course, many of us choose to rescue and adopt pugs from the shelter, and there isn’t much we can do to choose their lineage. In that case, the best bet is diagnosis and management.
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The below mentions won’t only prolong your pug’s life expectancy, but also make his life more comfortable to live. Maybe ocular issues aren’t life-threatening, but they sure aren’t pleasant and will impact your pug’s mood. This is why overall management and maintenance of your pug is necessary.
Manage Their Weight
We love pugs, but they are not the healthiest and most sturdy dog breed out there. Aside from many genetic problems with the breed, they are also vulnerable to weight gain. A major consideration for a dog’s overall health is its weight. This is true for all dogs and not just pugs.
The first thing you can do is to feed your pug high-quality food and treats. Because good food is so nutrient-dense, it will fill your pug up more quickly and he won’t need to eat as much. Try not to feed him food off the table or any junk food. Definitely steer clear of any toxic or harmful ingredients such as food with artificial additives, coloring, flavors.
What’s a good weight for your pug? The answer will also depend on your dog’s genetics. The average could be 10 pounds, while others can be larger or smaller. The best way to assess your pug’s healthy goal weight is to talk to your vet.
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Exercise Them Just Enough
Your pug will not benefit from vigorous exercise. He’s not a husky and doesn’t need to run a marathon a day. A nice relaxing walk around the neighborhood is all he needs, and it’s okay if running is not a regular thing. A game of fetch in the house is also good to get his heart rate going, but make sure to take a break when your dog starts to pant aggressively and snort.
We mentioned that Pugs are susceptible to joint issues, so joint protection is a way to ensure they’re mobile well into their senior years. Joint protection starts with weight management, you can also lubricate the joints with supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which can also be present in dog food.
Teeth and Eyes
Pugs can lose their teeth during their old age, which will also make eating that much harder. To avoid this, dental care starting from an early age is very effective. Brush your pug’s teeth every day if possible, or at least around 4 times a week. Head into the vet for a more thorough clean once or twice a year.
As for eye care, a pug is naturally vulnerable to ocular issues, so regular checkups at the vet can help catch glaucoma or other diseases early on. Since their eyes bulge out, try to puppy-proof your home and leave it that way. Any sharp corners can cause cornea damage if your pug isn’t careful.
Pugs have sensitive skin, so you have to keep them clean, but you also can’t bathe them too regularly. Bathing too often can strip your dog’s skin from natural protective oils resulting in dry and flaky skin and even hair loss.
You must pick the right shampoos, all-natural oatmeal formulas are the most trustworthy. Steer clear of artificial fragrances and shampoos that leave a lot of residues. You must also make sure to clean between their folds and dry your pug fully after bathing to avoid infection.
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The Right Food
We touched upon high-quality and nutrient-dense food above, but we also want to emphasize the importance of feeding the right food. What is the right food for your pug? It will take some trial and error to find out. Some pugs don’t do well with kibble and require fresh food recipes. Other pugs may be allergic to grains that flatulate more than normal. It will take time to get to know your pug’s body.
The right food will also have a profound impact on your pug’s life expectancy. Feed your pug puppy food during puppyhood, adult food throughout his adult life, and switch to senior food when it’s appropriate. Manufacturers tailor their recipes to conform to the needs of your pug during these life stages.
It may not be detrimental to continue feeding an adult pug puppy food, but it’s not recommended since pugs gain weight easily. The protein and carb-rich puppy food will pack on the pounds.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do pugs usually die from?
Pugs usually die from neurological disorders, one of which is unique to the breed (pug encephalitis). The second most common cause of death for pugs is cancer. The breed is a victim of many cancers including mammary and skin tumors, lymphoma, and more. Another leading cause of death in pugs is infection. There is also a slew of congenital diseases that can affect the pug life span.
Why do pugs die early?
Pugs die early due to many congenital and breed-specific diseases that are, unfortunately, very common in this dog breed. It’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t always the case, and there are some pugs that go on to live very happy and healthy lives. It’s possible if you take good care of your pug. You can prevent your pug from dying early if you constantly monitor his health and take proper precautions.
What is the oldest living pug?
The oldest living pug lived a life longer than most other dogs can hope to have. This is especially amazing for a pug since this dog breed is a victim of many negative genetic dispositions. Meet Snookie, the oldest pug ever in recorded history. He lived to the very ripe old age of 27 years old. Snookie passed away in 2018, and he was surrounded by his loving family and single-handedly debunked the common knowledge that pugs have a shorter life span.
The oldest living pug in the states is King Tug the Pug, who is celebrating his 19th birthday in 2021 has his own Facebook page that documents his happy life.
How long do pugs live? The answer to that question is usually not as long as some other breeds. King Tug the Pug and Snookie, two of the oldest pugs in the world attest to the fact that with proper care, your pug’s life span can be long and prosperous. The key is knowing how to take care of pugs and to provide them with the best life possible. Work together with your vet to find a suitable exercise routine and diet. Constant monitoring for congenital issues is also a good idea for prevention.
Did You Know?
Pugs are a very ancient breed, with first records before 400 BC. They are a Chinese dog breed that stands in the face of “survival of the fittest”. Even with the genetic health issues, pugs are here to stay.
Pugs are companion dogs that love to be close to their owners. Try not to deny them plenty of affection as this can also help increase their lifespan.