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Retro Pug: A Complete Guide

Pugs are among the most popular dog breeds on the planet. However, after long years of selective breeding, pugs became notorious for their poor health and respiratory issues.

If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to the purebred pug, the retro pug is your way to go. This one is a variation of the original pug that is selectively bred to solve many of the pug’s health problems.

If you want to find out more about the retro pug features and characteristics, you’re in for a treat!

In today’s article, we’ll provide you with a complete guide with everything you need to know about the retro pug. Let’s dive right in!

History and Where the Retro Pug Comes from

The history of pugs as a breed has a huge impact on the rise of the retro pug. For that reason, let’s start by having a brief overview of the history of the two varieties, so you can learn about the differences between them:

Pug History

The pug is a distinctive dog breed that originally hails from China. These dogs were highly regarded by Chinese people because they were royal dogs that accompanied emperors and the ruling class.

The small dogs were brought to Europe during the early 1500s where they were also owned by monarchies, especially the House of Orange and the English Royal Family.

During the 1950s and 1960s, dog breeders focused on making some characteristics of the pug more prominent, such as the squished noses, twisted tails, and wrinkled skin.

While these alterations increased the popularity of the pugs, they took a huge toll on their health, causing a lot of health issues and reducing their lifespan.

Retro Pug History

Retro pugs are a hybrid variety of purebred pugs. Despite the name, retro pugs were developed as early as 2006.

A lot of people think that the retro pug is the result of cross-breeding pugs with Jack Russel Terriers alone. 

However, other donor breeds like the Beagle, Danish-Swedish farm dog, and Miniature Pinscher, were also involved through generations of selective breeding. 

The cross-breeding of a purebred Jack Russell Terrier with a purebred pug is another hybrid breed called a “Jug”.

As the name suggests, the Retro Pug is trying to “go back to a time” when pugs were slightly larger and had better overall health.

Although these pugs have only been around for less than two decades, they do live up to their name, as they look closer to what an old pug looked like than the current purebreds.

Retro Pug Quick Facts

Now that you know more about the history of the Retro Pug and why it was developed, here are some interesting facts about this unique hybrid:

They’re Yet to Be Recognized by the AKC

The American Kennel Club (AKC) has very strict standards when it comes to recognizing a breed. 

Although the retro pug is closer to the original pug than the purebred pug, it’s still a hybrid breed, which is why the AKC doesn’t recognize the breed.

In other words, if you’re planning to get a dog that can participate in AKC-sponsored events and show rings, you should consider other breeds instead.

They’re Much Healthier Than Purebred Pugs

Purebred pugs are notorious for health problems, which are caused by unethical breeding, especially in the late 50s. In fact, purebred pugs are prone to a variety of health problems, including:

  • Shortness of breath and respiratory issues
  • Eye ulceration and blindness 
  • Deafness 
  • Skin infections, and allergies due to creases and folds 
  • Obesity 

Retro pugs still have their health problems but they are significantly healthier than purebreds and can live a lot longer.

They’re Becoming Widely Available

Although there are various pug hybrids that can reduce the brachycephalic problems of purebreds, retro pugs are among the most common alternatives.

For that reason, you can easily find many retro pugs in dog shelters and reputable breeders nowadays.

Retro Pug Size and Weight

As a hybrid breed with various genetic properties, the size range of a retro pug is slightly larger than a purebred.

For example, you can find retro pugs as small as 9 inches and others that are 15 to 16 inches tall. On the other hand, purebred pugs are only limited to a range of 12 to 15 inches tall.

Although not by much, Retro Pugs are slightly heavier than purebred pugs, thanks to their larger and denser bones. 

The average retro pug weighs anywhere between 15 to 25 lbs while non-obese purebreds are usually limited to 18 to 20 lbs.

Retro Pug Appearance

The appearance of a retro pug is the most distinguishable aspect from an average purebred pug. 

Since the size difference between the two is subtle, the longer square-shaped snout of the Retro Pug is the easiest way to tell the difference between the two.

Retro pugs also have visibly open nostrils that allow for easier breathing, along with a straight nasal bridge, broader jaws, and slightly larger ears.

The retro pug still shares a few similarities with the purebred, such as:

  • The dark-colored, sunken oval eyes
  • Smooth short-hair fur coat
  • Ringed (Curved) tail

Similar to the pug, you can find Retro pugs in fawn and black. However, retro pugs are also available in apricot and rare silver.

Retro Pug Behavior and Temperament

Retro pugs share a lot of behavioral characteristics with the purebred pug. However, the introduction of other breeds (especially the Jack Russell Terrier) to the gene pool added a unique twist to the dog’s temperament.

Is the Retro Pug Intelligent?

The Retro Pug is a decently smart dog with good intelligence genes from both the pug and the Jack Russell Terrier. 

The dog can understand human body language and gestures. It can also form strong bonds with the whole family. 

Additionally, Retro Pugs are obedient and follow commands quickly, although they can be a little mischievous when compared to normal pugs.

Is the Retro Pug Aggressive?

One of the main reasons pugs are popular is that aggression is not typically a part of their nature.

These dogs enjoy human companionship and can easily adapt to everyday life as long as they’re trained properly. Luckily, all these qualities extend to retro pugs as well.

These dogs also get along well with other pets in the house if they’re well-socialized and rarely engage in aggressive displays

However, like any other dog, they can get a little aggressive if they feel threatened, especially with poor socialization.

Does the Retro Pug Make a Good Family Dog?

All the dogs that contributed to the development of the Retro Pug are known for their friendliness and kindness.

Retro Pugs are also loyal and loving, so they get along very well with all members of the family.

Additionally, they’re adaptable and can live in smaller apartments, which makes them suitable for families.

Despite that, you still need to train the Retro Pug from an early age and socialize the dog to encourage it to stay on its best behavior.

What Are the Unwanted Behaviors of the Retro Pug?

Although Pugs are generally well-behaved dogs, they still need proper training and socialization to prevent them from acting up.

Like other short-snouted dogs, Retro Pugs are not loud barkers. However, they can still growl and whine occasionally when they’re bored.

While pugs are rarely destructive, retro pugs still have a tendency to chew on various objects around the house.  Also, Retro Pugs can display signs of jealousy similar to regular pugs.

Without proper training from a young age, pugs can also develop a tendency for begging, guarding, and leash pulling.

Retro Pug Price and Expenses

As you now know, the Retro Pug is a relatively new cross-breed. Yet, high demand encouraged many dog breeders to invest in Retro Pugs and allowed these dogs to be widely available.

Ideally, you should expect a Retro Pug to cost you around $800 to $1,500 if you’re buying from a reputable breeder. 

Besides location and local rates, the price is also highly dependent on the length of the pug’s snout. In other words, the more a pug looks “retro”, the higher its price is going to be.

In addition to dog breeders, you can also adopt a Retro pug from a dog rescue/shelter, which can cost you as little as $300 to $400 (adoption fee). 

Many private sellers and dog mills also offer Retro pugs for cheaper prices, but you have to buy them from a trustworthy one because the dog’s quality can be a bit of a gamble.

Retro Pug Annual Expenses

One of the main reasons people like pugs is that they’re low-maintenance companions that don’t cost a lot to take care of.

Although they’re slightly larger than purebred pugs, retro pugs are still small and don’t need a lot of food. 

Pugs also sleep a lot and aren’t as active as other dogs, so they need fewer daily calorie intake to sustain their energy requirements. However, you still need to feed them high-quality food to avoid health problems.

Another advantage of retro pugs is that they’re much healthier than purebred pugs. This means that you won’t have to spend a lot of money treating their diseases. 

When you welcome a retro pug puppy to your house for the first time, the initial costs will be around $500 to $800. 

However, as the puppy grows, it’ll cost you around $250 to $500 in annual expenses. (medical emergencies and treatments aren’t included) 

Retro Pug Lifespan

Ideally, smaller dogs tend to live longer than large ones, and retro pugs are no exception to this rule.

In fact, the average life expectancy of a pug is usually between 12 to 15 years. This is around 1 to 2 years longer than purebred pugs, which have an average lifespan of up to 14 years.

Some retro pugs can even live up to 16 years old. Yet, that still depends on the dog’s genetics and how much care they’re given.

Retro Pug Common Health Issues

Despite being healthier than purebred pugs, retro pugs still have their health problems. Like other brachycephalic breeds, most of these problems are caused by their relatively short snout.

These problems include minor breathing problems (compared to purebred pugs) and overheating. The severity of these issues varies depending on the dog’s genetics and snout length. 

Other characteristics can also increase the risk of some health problems, such as skin ulcers depending on the depth of the skin folds or eye protrusion depending on the depth of the eye socket.

Retro Pug Care Tips

Providing your retro pug with love and care is your way to maximize its lifespan and keep it happy and healthy. Here’s what you need to know about retro pug care:

How Much Exercise Does Retro Pug Need?

Retro pugs don’t need a lot of exercise, but it’s still necessary to keep them from getting bored and protect them from obesity. Ideally, 25 to 30 minutes of exercise is enough for a retro pug.

How Much Does Retro Pug Shed?

Contrary to popular belief, and despite their short hair coat, pugs still shed some hair, although not much.

This means that you’ll need to brush their hair coat occasionally to spread the natural oils and keep their skin and hair healthy.

How Often Do You Need to Groom a Retro Pug?

You typically need to brush your dog once every 3 to 5 days to remove dirt and dust from their hair coat. However, retro pug nails grow quickly, so you’ll need to trim them every 2 to 3 weeks.

Retro Pug Training

Training your retro pug should be a relatively easy task because they’re fairly intelligent and obedient. 

You should start training your retro pugs to socialize when they’re around 4 months old to develop a friendly personality.

Retro Pug Diet

The dietary requirements of a retro pug are somewhat similar to that of a purebred pug. For a young pug, you should give your dog 1 ounce of food per pound daily. As the dog matures into an adult, you should lower it down to 1/2 ounce.