How Long Do Pugs Live? Here Is What You Need to Know

pug sitting on the floor

The pug breed has been a popular companion dog since time immemorial. They are among the oldest breeds to be domesticated as they date back to 206 BC. They were a favorite among the royals and sat on the laps of some of the most powerful people in the world.

Renowned pug owners worldwide include Prince William III and Queen Victoria. The pugs were more valued than Chinese emperor’s wives and had bodyguards. They were even welcome in the Buddhist monasteries.

The lapdogs have an outgoing, loving disposition and enjoy following you around. They are also loved as they do not require too much space and can do well even in small apartments. As such, they are a fashionable dog breed in the modern world.

People who own them would like to stay with them as long as possible. Unfortunately, like any other pet, their lifespan is finite. On average, their life expectancy is 11-15 years. While certain factors can cut their life short, others can increase the chances of your puppy pug living up to its life expectancy.

Below is everything you need to know about the life expectancy of your pug, including tips for increasing your pug’s lifespan.

Average Life Expectancy of Pugs

Most healthy and well-taken care of pugs live up to about 11 years. They can live for 15 or 16 years, depending on their health condition. Generally, female pugs have a longer life expectancy than male ones. According to the American Kennel Club, female plugs have an average life expectancy of 13.2 years, while males are 12.8 years.

Most Common Causes of Death for Pugs

The main cause of death for pugs is diseases. However, they can also die due to lack of exercise and poor nutrition, resulting in health problems. They cause also die due to accidents, poisoning, or drowning.

Common Health Problems for Pugs

Pugs are prone to some unique diseases at different ages. While their body structure exposes them to certain diseases, others are unexplainable genetic diseases. As such, you should watch for early symptoms and schedule regular visits to a vet. 

The following are the most common diseases in pugs that can be life-threatening.


Pugs tend to be lazy and love to sleep. They do not like to walk, and it takes a lot of nudging to get in their daily exercise. Their bodies are also stocky and tend to accumulate fat. They also like to eat. Obese pugs can eat throughout the day if allowed to. They are prone to being obese, leading to other health problems such as cardiac diseases and breathing difficulties.

Pug Dog Encephalitis (PDE)

This is an inflammatory brain disease that affects pugs only. PDE mostly affects young pugs around the age of 2-3 years. Female pugs are more prone to PDE compared to their male counterparts. It has no cure and results in death within a few days or weeks. However, there are ways to ease the pain for the ailing puppy.

While it is difficult to diagnose with certainty when the pug is still alive, it often causes symptoms such as seizures and blindness. It can also cause the puppy pug to go into a coma before dying. Once the pug has passed on, its brain tissue can be tested to ascertain whether it indeed died of PDE.

Scientists are not sure of the cause of PDE and why it is predominant in pugs. However, they link the disease to certain genetic markers and neurological disorders.

Legg Perthes Disease

Legg Perthes disease is a congenital disease that affects both animals and humans. It primarily affects small dogs and causes the hip joint to degenerate often due to limited blood flow to the femoral head. The cartridge in the hip socket also wears out, causing pain when the pup attempts to walk.

Consequently, a pug dog with the Legg Perthes Disease limbs or may be unable to walk at all. If left untreated, it can lead to arthritis or total muscle loss. Usually, treatment is surgical.

Skin Infection

Since pugs have numerous folds on the face, they tend to be prone to skin infections and diseases due to moisture and dirt accumulation.

One of the most common skin infections is lip-fold pyoderma. It is a form of dermatitis caused by bacterial skin infections. It can be prevented and treated by regularly cleaning the folds on your dog. If left untreated, the bacteria infection can spread throughout the body leading to sepsis or death.


Pugs’ large appetites can cause diabetes. A diabetic pug has a chance to live as long as a healthy one. However, if not properly managed, diabetes can cause death or lead to other potentially fatal diseases.

Congenital Disease

This is the leading cause of death among newborn pugs. It can take different forms, including septal defect that causes irregular blood flow, heart dysfunction, or stenosis – an abnormal narrowing of spaces within the spine.


The most common types of cancer in pugs include mammary tumors, mouth cancer, lymphoma, testicular cancer, and skin cancer. When detected early, most of the cancers are treatable. However, if diagnosed late, they are fatal, and the best you can do is provide palliative care to your pet.

Nerve Degeneration

The nerve disorder is most common in older pugs. It causes loss of mobility characterized by staggering, dragging rear feet (front feet remain strong), or having trouble jumping up and down. It can also cause incontinence. It may be undetectable in the early stages as it does not cause pain and progresses gradually.

While the condition is not necessarily fatal on its own, limited mobility can cause obesity and heart disease. Vets prescribe medication to alleviate the symptoms, and some pug owners buy carts to help their dog get around.

Eye Problems

Pug have large, exposed eyes that are prone to various eye problems. The most common are corneal ulcers, Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, and pigmentary keratitis. These are easy to treat, but they can cause eye rupture or blindness if left untreated.

The breed is also prone to proptosis, a condition where the eyeball dislodges from the eye socket and the eyelid clamps, distichiasis – abnormal growth of the eyelashes, and progressive retinal atrophy – a degenerative disease of the retinal cells. All these eye conditions make the pug likely to get into accidents that could be fatal.


It is common in short-nosed dogs such as bulldogs and pugs. It causes the vertebrae to be misshaped. If only a few vertebrae are affected, the dog’s quality of life remains normal. However, if any vertebrae are misshaped, the dog may exhibit symptoms such as weak gait, uncoordinated movement, or become fully paralyzed.

Hip Dysplasia

It affects both large and small dogs. Usually, it is an inherited condition whereby the ball of the hip does not fit into the hips socket properly, causing pain, difficulty walking or total immobility, or arthritis.

Patellar Luxation

This is a condition whereby the knee cap gets replaced either internally or externally when the knee is flexed. It causes lameness in both small and large dogs. However, toy and small dog breeds are more disposed to the condition.

Although it is painless, it inhibits the dog’s movement. It can also predispose the dog to other knee injuries such as arthritis and render it immobile. Grade II_IV patellar luxations are treatable surgically.

Vaccination Sensitivity

There are instances where some pugs have an adverse reaction to routine vaccinations. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include lethargy, hives, facial swelling, seizures, and death in rare cases.

Tips for Increasing Your Pug’s Lifespan

pug sleeping on pillow

Find the Perfect Pug Puppy

While you can adopt a pug from a reputable animal shelter or buy one cheaply from puppy mills, the best way to get a pug dog is through a reputable breeder.

Puppy mills are often dirty, negligent, and in some cases abusive. This may compromise the health of the puppies greatly as they are not provided with essential veterinary care, grooming, vaccinations, and grooming.

On the other hand, reputable pug breeders take meticulous care of their puppies. They consider genetics when breeding and ensure every pup is well-taken care of. While there may be a waitlist for pug pups on sale, and they may be sold at a higher price, it is worthwhile.

When buying your pug puppy, ask for its breed info, including lineage history, health, and veterinary care records, and if it has any genetic-related issues. Also, ask for the health records of the dam and sire. If you have a limited budget, consider applying for a special financing program to help you buy your puppy and care for it.

Remember that a breeder’s registration to a kennel club is not an obvious indicator that they are responsible and sell healthy, happy pups. The American Kennel Club is simply a registration system that records the birth of puppies but does not vouch for their health.

Therefore, do thorough due diligence to establish the reputability of the breeder. Find out if they are licensed, their breeding process, how long they have in business, and how many pug pups they have sold so far.

 Check online reviews for complaints. A sure way to remove the guesswork from finding a reputable breeder is by asking for recommendations from other pug owners. Never buy a pup online without meeting the breeder and doing preliminary visits to see the pup on sale.

Provide High-Quality Vet Care

Find a reputable vet clinic for your pup. Take it for regular checkups. If you notice any signs, symptoms, or behavior changes, take your dog to the vet immediately. Even the subtlest signs can be a clue to a major underlying issue.

Good Nutrition

Obesity is a major issue for this breed. Therefore, you want to provide a diet that meets its nutritional needs while staying within the recommended daily caloric intake. Like humans, the specific caloric requirements vary from one dog to another depending on age, activity level, and metabolism.

Consult with your vet to establish how much your dog should be eating. The ideal diet for a pug should contain high amounts of healthy meat proteins, moderate fat content, and low starch.

Also, be mindful of the ingredients in the dog food. Keep away from foods that contain artificial flavorings and additives. The chemical compounds in some dog food options can upset the pug’s digestive system or predispose it to cancer.

Regular Exercise

Aside from high-quality nutrition, your pug needs to exercise regularly. While the flat-faced dog may not be able to engage in high-intensity exercises like pit bulls, Yorkshire terriers, silver fawns, or apricot fawns, they enjoy walks and play to burn off excess calories and keep their metabolism up. Also, engage the dog in mentally stimulating activities such as brain games.

Socialize Your Dog

Many small dog owners and breeders do not prioritize training at a young age. They believe that this dog breed is harmless. Unfortunately, this can lead to anxious dogs that are always on guard and aggressive to other pets and humans. Poor socialization could also lead to depression.

Provide Your Dog With a Loving Home

Pugs rely heavily on human interaction to remain happy and content. Spend quality time with it regularly. Train it to handle separation anxiety. Also, set up a cozy and warm bed for it. Place toys nearby for its easy access and keep away any harmful objects. If need be, proof your home for its safety.


Pugs are the ultimate lap dogs. They thrive on human connection and do not appreciate being left home alone for too long. With training, they are quite sociable, affectionate, and caring. However, they are prone to many diseases and require top-notch care and regular vet checkups.

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