Pug Problems: 13 Health Problems They Can Suffer From

Pugs are relatively healthy dogs, but just like any other breed, they are known to have certain health issues. Today, we’re going to look at some Pug problems that owners can face with their furbaby.

Pug Problems You Should Know About

Pugs are brachycephalic dogs (flat-faced) meaning, they are prone to health problems than other breeds are not. They are susceptible to skin problems, breathing issues, luxating patella, dental problems and etc.

As your Pug becomes older, they can start showing signs and symptoms of issues. The best way to care for your pet is to ensure that you have pet insurance and take them for routine preventative care checkups.

pug problems

This guide contains both general and common Pug health problems they can face. NOT all Pugs will suffer from all these problems, this guide is just meant to cover some general Pug health facts information.

We are NOT veterinarians and you should always consult with your canine veterinarian to find out everything you need to know about Pugs and health problems.

Related: How To Keep Your Pug Healthy

General Pug Health Information

Pugs and health
It’s important to know the health problems of Pugs before getting one.

#1 Pug Skin Conditions

One of the most common problems facing Pug owners is skin conditions. These skin conditions usually occur because of the folds in their skin, which make it the perfect environment for fungi and bacteria to grow.

As a Pug owner, you’ll want to make sure that you understand the importance of cleaning their wrinkles on a regular basis. If your best friend does suffer from skin conditions, it’s important to find the fix as quickly as possible.

Fixing the problem will not only alleviate the symptoms, but it will also prevent the problem from becoming worse.

Here are 3 common skin conditions that you may have to face.

Pug Ringworm

Ringworm is a fungal infection that shows up as a ring-shaped lesion on the body. It will look like your pet has a bald patchy spot. Dogs with a low immune system are more prone to becoming infected with ringworm.

This fungus can be picked up anywhere like a dog park or just being outdoors in the soil. This fungus prefers warm, moist areas, which make your dog’s wrinkles the perfect breeding area.

Ringworm is contagious and your dog can spread this infection to you. If your dog does struggle with this condition, it’s important to wash your hands regularly and wash their pet bed, toys, and anything they have come into contact to ensure the fungus does not spread.

Treating this condition will vary depending on the severity of it. The best thing you can do is take your pet to the vet to determine how bad the condition is.


One of the signs you will notice if your Pug is suffering from allergies is they will constantly scratch or bite themselves. Mindy my black Pug used to suffer from allergies in the Spring.

After walking on the grass she would bite and chew her paws constantly. We had no clue she was suffering from allergies until we took her to the vet. In fact, we never knew it was possible for a dog to have allergies.

However, some Pugs are sensitive and are prone to Atopy, which is the tendency to develop allergic diseases such as asthma and atopic dermatitis (eczema), and allergic rhinitis.

After taking Mindy to the vet, he told us to make sure that we wash her feet on a regular basis after spending time out in the pollen. We also made sure that we were feeding her the right food that would help her build up her immune system.

Demodectic Mange

This is another common issue with sensitive Pugs. Demodectic Mange (demodicosis) is an inflammatory disease that is triggered by a Demodex mite.

Most dogs won’t be affected by mites, but if your canine has a low immune system, they could be affected by this issue. If your dog suffers from this condition, you’ll notice skin lesions, skin infections, and hair loss (alopecia).

The lesions usually occur in small patches on the legs, torso, and face. You may even notice redness of the skin as well as lesions and scales on their body.

If Fido is dealing with this issue, you will want to take your dog to your veterinarian to have a skin scraping sample test. This will help determine what course of action should be taken to start treatment.

One of the best things you can do as a pet owner is to make sure that you’re using the right dog shampoo and cleaning their wrinkles on a regular basis.

Pug Skin Cancer

Pugs are prone to cancer, due to their genetics. In fact, many Pugs will develop cancer as they reach their golden years. Some younger Pugs may be prone to oral melanoma (skin cancer of the mouth) and mast cell tumors (extremely common in Pugs).

Half of the cancers detected have been successfully cured with surgery or chemotherapy. The most important thing for a successful outcome is early detection!

#2 Pugs Breathing Attacks

Some Pugs with elongated soft palates will have trouble breathing when they become overly excited or are exposed to hot temperatures for a period of time.

This breed will have more difficulty breathing than other dog breeds. You’ll notice that your dog makes a lot a lot of noises such as wheezing, panting, snoring, and snorting. (which can be scary and loud if you’re not expecting it.)

However, these are all a normal part of living with a brachycephalic breed. That’s why it’s important to understand the various types of respiratory problems you can face.

Pug Reverse Sneezing

This is usually caused by an elongated palate that can obstruct the airway, which leads to uncontrollable sneezes, wheezes, and excessive gasps.

The sneezing and snorting can also be caused by a bacterial build up on the nose. This is common in this breed, due to the shape and moisture in the skin fold on the nose.

As a Pug owner, you’ll want to make sure that you’re regularly cleaning around your pet’s nose.

If your furbaby is having trouble breathing, you will need to take them to your veterinarian. They may have to perform surgery to correct the nasal passage to improve the airways. This is why it’s so important to make sure that you have proper pet insurance for your Pug to take care of these types of issues.

#3 Pug Eye Problems

Pugs common health issues
Keeping your Pugs immune system balanced can help keep them healthy.

Your Pugs big cute eyes can be a problem and are known to lead to a number of health problems. Every dog is unique and not every Pug will suffer from eye issues. Mindy, never had to deal with any of these issues, as she got older, she did suffer from cataracts.

Cherry Eye

The conditions of this symptom are it turns the eye really red or pink, kind of like a cherry. Cherry Eye is usually caused by an inflamed or infected tear duct.

The symptoms of Cherry Eye can lead to increased production of tears and pain for your pet. This condition can affect both eyes, but it’s very rare to affect both eyes simultaneously.

If your pet does suffer from this condition, you will need to contact your veterinarian. Most likely, they will have to perform surgery to remove the tear duct or put it back in the correct place.

Corneal Ulcers

The cornea is a transparent membrane that covers and protects the outer surface of the eye. An ulcer is a damaged area of the cornea that can lead to infection, eye trauma or other illnesses.

If your Pug is dealing with this issue, you will notice them squinting a lot, or not opening their eyes. It’s a very painful condition and will cause them to rub the infected area frequently.

This condition is usually treated when your vet prescribes pain-relieving medication, antibiotic drops, and possibly surgery, depending on the severity of the case.

Pugs are also prone to ocular proptosis, so it’s important to know about it.


Just like humans, dogs can develop cataracts. As your pet becomes older, they are more prone to develop this condition. However, it can also be brought on by trauma, or diabetes. Read this article to learn about cataracts in Pugs.

When a dog struggles with this condition, they could suffer from blurry vision, some may even lose their sight completely. Mindy suffered from Glaucoma which is another condition of the eyes that dogs suffer as they age.

#4 Pug Tail Problems

That cute curly tail Pug owners love is known to cause issues. As a pet owner, it’s important to know the types of issues that adorable curly tail can lead to as well as the body language you can expect to see from Fido of they are dealing with any of these issues.

Screw Tail

This is usually caused by a malformation of one of several vertebrae in your pet’s tail. While it is possible to occur, it is more common in Bulldogs than it is the Pug breed.

Screw tail can lead to a painful and infected skin fold. This condition causes the anal passage to be partially blocked, which can causes infections due to the inability to use the bathroom properly.

People also refer to this condition as the corkscrew tail, tail fold intertrigo, ingrown tail, and tail fold dermatitis.

If your pet does happen to suffer from this area, you’ll need to take them to the vet. They will most likely shave and clean that area and to avoid further infections. Depending on the severity of the issue, they may require surgery to fix this problem.

Limp Tail

Pug owners tend to freak out when their dog’s tail is straight or down. It’s not uncommon for Fido’s tail to become limp or just go straight if they are resting or sleeping.

If you notice that this is happening a lot, it could be that your pet’s tail is fractured or broken.

If a Pug’s tail is broken, it will usually droop or hang right at the point of the break. Their tail can break if it gets caught in a door or they are playing rough with other dogs.

A fractured tail is painful and can hinder their coordination. It’s vital to correct this issue as soon as possible so their bones can be repositioned properly.

Related: Why Is My Pug Limping

#5 Pug Dog Encephalitis aka PDE

Encephalitis occurs when the brain tissue becomes inflamed, and normally occurs in adolescent Pugs between the ages of two and three years of age.

It’s still unclear why some Pugs suffer from this disease. Research has shown that this condition usually occurs when dogs are closely related, which means that this condition is genetic and immune-mediated.

This condition is not easy to diagnose and will some of the symptoms are seizures. This neurological problem can lead to other medical problems like tumors, or epilepsy

#6 Pug Stomach Problems

Some male Pugs are prone to intussusception, which causes the dogs large or small intestine to slide into itself. Other Pug health issues can also be in the form of swelling or bloat.

This breed is prone to several digestive problems. Unfortunately, digestive problems in dogs can be triggered by eating the wrong foods (table scraps, garbage, or foreign objects), parasites, hypersensitivity, food allergies, parasites, bacteria (salmonella), and etc.

#7 Pug Spine Issues

A dog’s spine is similar to that of a human. Brachycephalic breeds such as the Pugs are prone to spine problems such as herniated discs, and hemivertebrae.

Hemivertebrae is a spinal deformity or damage to the spinal cord. All Pugs are prone to this condition, because of the screw-tail.

The only way this condition can be detected is by having a veterinarian take an x-ray of your dog’s spine.

#8 Luxating Patellas

This occurs in Pugs when a Pug’s knee has slipped out of place. This can happen when your dog is running, playing or jumping off high surfaces such as a couch.

You’ll notice that your dog suddenly picks up their back leg, and may hop, jump or limp on one leg. This condition does not go away on their own, however, not all dogs will require surgery.

If the condition is severe enough, your Pug will require surgery to realign the kneecap and prevent it from popping out of place.

#9 Ortho Problems

Pugs are chondrodystrophic dogs, which means that they have shorter bones which makes them bendier or twistier than other dog breeds. This condition is what makes them susceptible to orthopedic problems such as Legg-Calvé–Perthes disorder, luxating patellas, and intervertebral disk diseases.

Some signs that your Pug suffers from IVDD or other ortho problems may include, pain and weakness in the rear legs (lameness,), not jumping or playing the way they used to.

The key to any ortho or joint problems is to get a diagnosis by your veterinarian. Joint problems can cause arthritis quickly and diagnosing it early is the best way to get your pooch help.

#10 Infections

All dogs even Pugs are susceptible to viral and bacterial infections, such as distemper, rabies, and parvo. Most of these infections are preventable through vaccinations.

Check with your veterinary to ensure your Pug is up to date on their immunizations. They will be able to recommend which ones they need based on their age, diseases in your area, and other related factors.

#11 Dental Disease

Dental disease is known to affect around 80% of domesticated canines by age two. Unfortunately, this brachycephalic breed is more likely to have more teeth problems than other breeds.

As a pet owner, it’s important to clean your Pug’s teeth to prevent tartar build-up, as it can lead to teeth and gum infections.

A Pug that suffers from tooth problems, will suffer from tooth loss, kidney, heart, liver, and joint issues.

#12 Hair Loss aka Alopecia

The Pug dog breed is prone to pattern baldness. This is similar to male balding in humans, where the hair gradually falls out and does not grow back.

Bald spots on Pugs can occur on their chest, belly, throat, and inside their legs. The bald spots are usually not itchy but may become extremely dry, which can cause your Pug to scratch excessively.

If your Pug suffers from hair loss, there is usually no concern. Some veterinarians may recommend some type of hormone supplement which may be able to slow down the hair loss.

#13 Diabetes

Diabetes is a Mellitus that affects approximately one in every 500 dogs. Pugs are more susceptible to diabetes than other breeds. There are two types of diabetes that can affect canines and they are; insulin deficiency diabetes (similar to type 1 diabetes in humans) and insulin resistance diabetes.

Dogs with diabetes are not able to regulate the metabolism of sugars in their bodies. Depending on the type of diabetes your Pug has, your veterinarian will be able to discuss the proper treatment plan.

While most dogs with diabetes will be able to live a happy healthy life, you will need to learn how to manage and care for a Pug with diabetes.

Most Common Health Problems In Pugs

health problems with Pugs
Pug’s health problems will vary from dog to dog.

Every dog regardless of breed is prone to health problems, however, most dogs will be healthy. In 2013, a veterinary care study was conducted on 1,009 Pugs. According to the study, 688 of those Pugs had at least one disorder.

The most common disorders found during the study were:

  • Obesity or overweight issues – 13.18%
  • Corneal problems – 8.72%
  • Ear infections – 7.53%
  • Abdomen problems – 19.33%
  • Head and Neck Issues – 43.51%

While NOT all Pugs will have health problems, this study does provide a good framework to help new or current pet owners which health priorities they should concern themselves with.

Do Pugs Have a Lot of Health Problems?

Like other purebred dogs, Pugs are known to have common health issues that may crop up during their lifetime. Every dog breed has its own health issues they may struggle with.

I had Mindy for 16 years and she led a relatively healthy lifestyle. Other than being overweight at one point in her young adult life, we really didn’t start noticing her having health issues until she got older.

Every pet owner should have their dog insured, as this will help them offset some of those costly expenses. As long as you are taking proper care of your Pug, they should be able to live a relatively healthy lifestyle.

The Biggest Issues With Pugs

Now that I’ve shared some of Pug health issues, I want to reiterate, they do not have more problems than other breeds. In spite of all the potential medical problems, this breed is becoming so popular among pet owners.

In fact, there are many households that have more than just one Pug. Once you get a Pug, it’s so easy to fall in love with them and want another one!

Regardless of which breed you choose to get as a pet, it’s important to find out what you can expect.

If you adopt or purchase your pet from a reputable breeder, you should be fine. Most Pugs will live a normal healthy life and you’ll only have to deal with common health problems as they become older.

But that’s expected for both humans and dogs. As we become older, that’s when we start having to deal with more health problems we never had to deal with when we were younger.

Final Word On Pug Health Problems

Pugs can be loyal and lovable dogs and hopefully, your pet won’t have to deal with any of these issues. However, it’s important to know what types of problems that Pugs can have.

If you’re a new Pug owner, then just know that proper care and routine vet visits will help Fido live a normal healthy lifespan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Pugs Affected By Genetic Conditions? All dogs regardless of breed can be affected by genetic problems. This is why it’s so important to choose to ask your breeder the right questions before buying a Pug puppy.

Why Do Pugs Have So Many Health Problems? The health problems in Pugs come from them being a brachycephalic breed.  Their flat faces and wrinkles make them vulnerable to several medical conditions that don’t affect other non-brachycephalic dog breeds.

References and Further Reading

Merck Manual – Alice E Villalobos – Lymphocytic, Histiocytic, and Related Cutaneous Tumors

American College Of Veterinary Surgeons – Mast Cell Tumors

Merck Manual – Diseases Of The Spinal Column and Cord

Animal Labs – Chondrodystrophy and Chondrodysplasia (CDPA/CDDY, IVDD)

Black Pug Site