Bred to adorn the laps of the Chinese sovereigns during the Shang dynasty (before 400 BCE), in East China, they were known as "Lo-Chiang-Sze" or "Foo" (ceramic foos, transmogrified into dragon, with their bulging eyes are similar in appearance to the Pug). References to Pug-like dogs have been documented as being as early as 551 BCE by Confucius, who described a type of "short mouthed dog". The "Lo-Sze" or early Pug may have been the predecessor of today's modern Pekingese. The Pug's popularity spread to Tibet, where they were mainly kept by monks, and then went onto Japan, and finally Europe. The exact origins of the Pug are unknown as Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, destroyed all records, scrolls and art related to the Pug at some point during his reign which lasted between 221 BCE-210 BCE.
Chinese Fu-Dogs, also called Lion-Dogs or Fo-Dogs, were thought of as guardians and statues of them were placed outside temples. The faces of these statues resemble Oriental short-faced dogs, such as the Tibetan Spaniel, Lhasa Apso, Pekinese and the Pug.
Sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
The breed was first imported in the late 16th and 17th centuries by merchants and crews from the Dutch East India Company. The Pug later became the official dog of the House of Orange. In 1572, a Pug named Pompey saved the Prince of Orange's life by barking at an assassin.A Pug also traveled with William III and Mary II when they left the Netherlands to ascend to the throne of England in 1688. During this period the Pug may have been bred with the old type King Charles Spaniel, but in any event the modern English Toy/King Charles Spaniel emerged with Pug characteristics.
This century also saw the breed's popularity on the rise in other European countries. They were painted by Goya in Spain and in Italy they were dressed in matching jackets and pantaloons whilst sat up front next to the coachmen of the rich. They were used by the military to track animals or people, and were also employed as the guard's dogs.
Eighteens and nineteenth centuries
The popularity of the Pug continued to spread in France during the eighteenth century. Before her marriage to Napoleon Bonaparte, Joséphine had her Pug, Fortune, carry concealed messages to her family while she was confined at Les Carmes prison. The pet was the only recipient of visiting rights. The Pug was also well known in Italy. In 1789, a Mrs. Piozzi wrote in her journal, "The little pug dog or Dutch mastiff has quitted London for Padua, I perceive. Every carriage I meet here has a pug in it."
The English painter William Hogarth owned a series of Pugs, to which he was devoted. In 1745 he painted his self-portrait together with that of his Pug, Trump, now in the Tate Gallery, London.
In nineteenth century England, the breed flourished under the patronage of the monarch Queen Victoria. Her many Pugs, which she bred herself, included Olga, Pedro, Minka, Fatima and Venus. Her involvement with the dogs in general helped to establish the Kennel Club, which was formed in 1873. Victoria favoured apricot and fawn colors, whereas the aristocrat Lady Brassey is credited with making black Pugs fashionable after she brought some back from China in 1886.
In paintings and engravings of the 18th and 19th centuries, they usually appeared with longer legs and noses, and with cropped ears. The modern Pug's appearance probably appeared after 1860 when a new wave of Pugs were imported directly from China. These Pugs had shorter legs and the modern style Pug nose. Ear cropping was outlawed in 1895.
The Pug arrived in the United States during the nineteenth century (the American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1885) and was soon making its way into the family home and show ring. In 1981 the Pug Dhandys Favorite Woodchuck won the Westminster Kennel Club show in the United States, the only Pug to have won since the show began in 1877. The World Champion (Best in Show or BIS) at the 2004 World Dog Show held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was a Pug, Double D Cinoblu's Masterpiece. The Pug Dog Club of America was founded in 1931 and recognized by the AKC that same year.