Chinese 'Happa' DogChinese 'Happa' Dog

The Pug is one of the most popular breeds and quite unique in the Toy Group.This 'Chinese Happa Dog' named 'Hah-Bah' pictured was exported from Peking in 1906 and preserved, mounted and on display at the British Museum of Natural History at Tring, UK[6].

History of the Pug


The Pug originated in China, and was probably a descendant of what the English call a 'Happa Dog'. In China it is called the 'Lo-sze'[5]. In addition to his shortness of coat, his elasticity of skin exists to far greater degree than the Pekingese. This allowed the Pug to be picked up by the scruff of the neck without pain[5]. But the point most sought after was the 'Prince' mark, formed by three wrinkles on the forehead with a vertical bar in imitation of the Chinese character for 'Prince'[5a]. This is the reason for the 'clearly defined thumb mark or diamond on forehead' demanded by today's Breed Standard.

Pug 1761Pug 1761

But the Dutch are given the credit of developing the first Pugs. European trade with China dates back to 1516 AD when the Portuguese started trading with Canton in south-east China, followed by the Dutch a century later.

Pug c 1890Pug c 1890

Certainly the Portuguese traded regularly between Holland and China when they established the Dutch East India Company early in the 1600's when the Pug first became known in England. After many years of war, by the beginning of the 1800's the Netherlands became a monarchy, and the throne had become known as the 'House of Orange'.

The Pug becomes a Pure Breed

Paintings reveal that dogs resembling early Pugs had become political emblems, painted with orange coloured ribbons around their necks[4]. There may be other theories about the origin of the Pug. But certainly it had become a very distinct type of dog well before the Kennel Club began its records in 1864. It is among the few Toy breeds mentioned in the First English Stud Book.

History of the Pug in Australia

Australian Pugs 1937Australian Pugs 1937

Pugs (except black) were among the earliest breeds to reach our shores. Two were entered at Melbourne's First Exhibition of Sporting and other dogs in 1864 - one being called a 'Japanese Pug'[1]. Some would have no doubt accompanied early immigrants and helped by masters of the vessels. Certainly Captain Wagstaff of 'La Hogue', a London registered migrant and cargo ship imported 'Romeo' and Juliet' for F Steven of Pitt Street. Sydney and later imported more Chinese Pugs', that were from the progeny of two of the Chinese Pugs taken from Peking in the 1860's. Another two were listed in the catalogue of a NSW Agricultural Show in 1870[2].

Several other imports followed across Australia so that in the first decade of the 1900's, there were several breeders with 24 individual dogs being listed in Australia's first Stud Book[3]. However, it should be noted that Pugs (Black) were not represented in Victoria as of 1911[3]. Pugs in Australia have been popular for over a century with many famous breeders having exhibited and bred them consistently. Grace Lord in NSW, Esme and Jack Stringer and Elaine and Jock McRae and their daughter Leonie in Victoria have all specialized in Pugs for over half a century leaving them one of Australia's most popular toy breeds.

The Pug Today

Pugs (Black)Pugs (Black)

The Pug is a brachycephalic or short-faced Toy breed weighing just over 6-8 kg or 14-18 pounds. He should give the impression of the great charm and dignity of his aristocratic past. His fine, smooth, soft, short and glossy coat can be silver, apricot or fawn. If of any of these three colours, the Pug should have a clearly defined black mask and trace which is a black line extending from the occiput to the tail, making a complete contrast between the colour and the black. Unfortunately this is rarely seen in modern Pugs. Alternatively, he can be solid black.


His head is large and round but the skull should never be domed. The wrinkles on the forehead should be clearly defined but the wrinkle over the nose should never be never so exaggerated that it affects the line of sight of the eyes or cover the nose. The nose should never have pinched nostrils. Instead the openings should be large and open so there is sufficient room to allow the free passage of air.

His wide muzzle is short and square with a slightly undershot mouth with the incisors preferably almost in a straight line. The Pugs' wonderful lustrous eyes are not too large, should always be dark in shape and round, but never protruding giving a soft, solicitous expression. His ears are small and thin and can be either rose-shaped or button ears.

Pug (Fawn)Pug (Fawn)

Pug Pug

The strong neck should have a slight crest and sufficient length to carry the head proudly.  The body of the Pug is described in the Breed Standard as 'multum in parvo' which means itis decidedly square and cobby with compactness of form. The Pug's front and back legs are of moderate length and well set under the body. The back legs in particular are very strong with a good turn of stifle. The ribs are well sprung and carried well back giving a level topline which is neither roached nor dipping. So the tail is high set, curled tightly over hip with a double curl highly desirable. A slight but not exaggerated roll of hindquarters typifies the Pugs' gait.

References and Further Reading

Published as - Jane Harvey "Ancient Breeds from Chinese Temples" Published in Dog News Australia (Top Dog Media Pty Ltd Austral NSW) Issue 1 January 2018, Pages 20 - 21

[1] Catalogue of the First Exhibition of Sporting & Other Dogs, Thursday & Friday April 7 & 8, 1864 promoted by the Council of the Acclimatisation Society, printed in Melbourne by Mason & Firth, Printers, Flinders Lane West

[2] "The History of Purebred Dogs in Australia" published by OzDog Newspaper 1997 , Pug  by Jenny Jarvisto Page 250

[3] "Tyzack's Annual" Compiled by T. W.Tyzack and C.S.Turner Published by the Victorian Poultry and Kennel Club 1912 Printed by Bellamine Bros. Printers, 66-70 Flinders Lane Melbourne Importations Page 101; Stud Book Page 47

[4] Milo G. Denlinger "The Complete Pug" published by Howell Book House 575 Lexington Ave New York 22 N.Y.1947 Part 1 Origin and History Page 20

[5] V.W.F. Collier, 'Dogs of China and Japan' Published by Frederick Company 1921, Chapter 9 'Points of the Chinese Pekingese Type' Pages 164 and 168

[5a] ibid., Chapter 10, 'The Chinese Pug' Page 170

[6] Kim Dennis-Bryan and Juliet Clutton-Brock - 'Dogs of the Last Hundred Years at the British Museum' Published by British Museum (Natural History), London (1988) ISBN 0-565-01053-0 Page 101 Chinese Happa Dog