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Brindle Pug – Why (Not) To Have One?

Brindle Pug – Why (Not) To Have One?

They are one of the most loved dog breeds in the world. Coming all the way from China, they swept us off our feet with their cute wrinkly faces.

I am sure you have seen Pugs with a fawn coat color. They have the fawn coat and the black muzzle and ears, and they can be seen in movies, TV shows, cartoons — you name it.

What about other colors? According to the AKC (American Kennel Club), Pugs can only come in two coat colors — the black Pug, and the fawn Pug.

But, Pug breeders and Pug owners disagree with this AKC breed standard. The breeders have successfully developed other Pug colors such as apricot, chocolate, and… the magnificent brindle Pug!

You’ll see there is an ongoing debate regarding brindle Pug puppies. Some say they are not purebred, others say they are. Whatever the truth is… they are gorgeous and very rare.

But, there’s more to it than just their color. Pugs come with certain health concerns we need to be aware of. That’s why no matter how cute the Pug dog is, we have to ask ourselves if it is alright to mindlessly accept new breeding standards for this dog breed just because they are cute.

Let’s talk about everything you need to know about brindle Pugs, and why (not) to have one as a family dog.

What Is A Brindle Pug?

brindle pug lying in the park
Photo from: @juniper_rainbow_pug

Let’s make it clear right away — the brindle Pug is not a separate dog breed. It is a coat color variation of the standard Pug breed. There are some who claim that because of the brindle coat, they might not be purebred, but we’ll talk about that in a bit.

All Pugs come from the same place — 400 B.C. China — where they were bred to be lap dogs or companion dogs for Chinese royalty. Back in the day, they didn’t have Pugs with a brindle coat color. At least, there is no concrete proof.

Also, the ancestors of brindle Pugs (and all Pugs in general) were bigger, they had longer legs, and what’s most important — their muzzle was longer.

Today, the Pug is a small dog breed. They usually weigh around 16 to 19 pounds, and they are up to 11 inches tall. There are also Teacup Pugs — a smaller version of the standard Pug.

As for their coat color, I mentioned that the AKC accepts only two coat colors: black and fawn. But, there are many non-standard coat colors, like our brindle Pug or even a white Pug.

Now, the brindle gene is what makes the “purebred or not” debate. Let’s see why that is a question at all.

Are They Purebred?

The assumption that brindle Pugs are not purebred comes from the fact that the American Kennel Club only accepts two coat colors of Pugs.

This, on the other hand, comes from the belief that these were the original coat colors of the first Pugs. Black coats and fawn coats — that’s it.

No other colors were present at the beginning of making the Pug breed, and reputable breeders working according to the AKC Pug breed standards have the goal of following these breeding program rules.

Of course, we don’t know for sure whether there were no brindle Pugs at the beginning of the making of this breed. This dog is such an old breed that it is impossible to keep track of every dog and breeding program in the whole world.

That’s why there is the possibility that a brindle Pug is, in fact, a purebred Pug. Those who oppose the thought that they are purebred say that brindle Pugs were made by cross-breeding. They say brindle Pugs are designer or hybrid dogs — in other words, mixed dogs.

A designer (or a hybrid dog) is a dog made by cross-breeding two purebred dogs. In this case, some say that a purebred Pug was crossbred with another dog breed that had the brindle coat color.

Is There Proof?

No, there is no proof that a brindle Pug is a mixed dog. But, DNA testing done on the majority of brindle Pugs are inconclusive to say that they are 100% purebred.

What does this tell us? It tells us that there are purebred brindle Pugs, and that there are some designer brindle Pugs.

In other words, Pugs are very popular all around the world, not just in the States. The fact that they are so popular and such an old breed at the same time, tells us that there are many breeding programs, and Pug breeders in the U.S. and all around the globe.

Some of these breeding programs make a brindle Pug by using other brindle dog breeds. And, some of these breeding programs keep the line pure and use only true, pureblooded brindle Pugs to make more brindle Pug doggies.

Are purebred brindle Pugs rare? They most certainly are! They have been rare in the past, and they are rare now.

Does it matter if you know you have a 100% purebred brindle Pug? In my opinion, and the opinion of many other pug lovers and dog lovers in general — no, it doesn’t.

Having a brindle Pug is an issue only if you plan on taking your dog to a dog show or if it’s really important to you to have an AKC-registered Pug.

What Do They Look Like?

brindle pug sitting on the balcony and looking into camera
Photo from: @sirelliotthepug

The brindle Pug looks just like any other dog of this breed, except for the color, of course. They have a unique coat pattern called brindle. This pattern is what makes them so rare.

The brindle color means that they have a solid brown base color, and dark-brown or black stripes all over their body, with a typical black “thumbprint” on their forehead.

This thumbprint is actually a small black patch on their head. The stripes are not well separated, and they usually blend with each other, making patches of dark-brown or black color.

Besides color, they are small, stocky, and muscular dogs, with famous wrinkles on their face just like the rest of the Pugs.

They belong to a group of dogs that have a so-called “flat face”. These types of dogs are called brachycephalic dog breeds, and besides Pugs, there are other breeds with this physical characteristic; for example, French Bulldogs, Pekingese, Boxers, etc.

Today’s modern Pugs have bulgy eyes and lots of health issues… not just with their eyes, but they have a lot of breathing problems and skin problems as well.

These problems have nothing to do with the brindle pattern on their coat. We’ll talk about the health issues and the controversy regarding breeding this dog breed later.

First, let’s see how you get the brindle coat color on a Pug. It’s time to take a look into your cute Pug’s genes and see what we have there.

How Do You Get The Brindle Color?

During the developmental process of a dog that is inside the uterus, all dog colors start from only two pigments — a black one, called eumelanin, and a red one, called pheomelanin. All other colors develop from these two pigments.

Genes play the main role in the further development of all other colors. There are 8 genes responsible for coat color variations in dogs. On these genes, there are “places” or “spots” on them called loci. And, furthermore, each locus has two alleles — one from each parent.

Bear with me — the most complicated part is behind us.

Our brindle Pugs have an E locus (or extension locus) that gives them a black muzzle, and they have a K locus that makes their coat brindle.

Of course, even though these two loci are the most dominant, they interact with other loci as well. Depending on this interaction, a Pug can also have a coat color, which is called a reverse brindle Pug.

A reverse brindle Pug has a much darker base coat color — almost black, which makes the stripes appear lighter. So, instead of having a Pug with dark stripes on a brown coat, this Pug looks like a black Pug with light-brown stripes.

Do Brindle Pugs Behave Differently?

cute brindle pug posing for camera
Photo from: @juniper_rainbow_pug

While they surely are rare, their personalities are similar to other Pugs. They are Pugs, and as such, they have the same personality traits as the rest of the dogs of this breed.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that each Pug is exactly the same dog with the exact same traits. No… every dog is unique, with its own doggy personality.

But, hundreds of years of deliberate breeding programs have made this dog breed one of the best dogs for almost any dog owner. What are the traits of the best dog for any pet owner?

1. Affectionate And Adjustable

These dogs were bred to be companion dogs. They weren’t bred to be guard dogs like Pit Bulls or German Shepherds — they are lap dogs.

A lap dog is very affectionate with its owner, and easily and quickly adapts to any living quarters. No matter if you live in a huge farmhouse with a big yard, or downtown, Pugs are small, and they adjust to any kind of lifestyle.

They are adjustable not only because they are small, but they also don’t need a lot of exercise — they are low-energy dogs. This breed of dog is not very famous for long walks or hikes with its owner. They go for short walks, easy play, and certainly no hikes.

Another amazing fact is that these dogs get along very well with children of all ages, and they go quite well with other dogs no matter the breed.

2. Playful

Don’t mistake them for dogs without any desire to play. They are very playful and mischievous. A brindle pug will certainly keep you entertained, not just because you can’t stop looking at their lovely brindle patterns, but also because they are very cute and comical at the same time.

Toss them a toy and enjoy the spectacle. But, here’s the problem — don’t over-exercise your Pug. They have breathing problems that we will talk about, so keeping their play balanced is the key to their happy life.

3. No Barking

Well, in fact, they do bark, but they don’t bark a lot. This is another trait that makes them perfect for apartment living. They are small — they don’t need much space, and they are not vocal. No one is going to complain about your barking dog in the middle of the night.

On the other hand, a dog that doesn’t bark often is not a very good watchdog. But, then again — if you want a watchdog, you wouldn’t be looking for a Pug.

If you are looking for a guard dog or a watchdog, but you don’t want a big dog breed, you can take a look at these 21 little dogs that make great guards.

4. Trainable

There are many reasons why this color variation of the Pug breed is so popular… not just because they are rare, and we all know people want what they cannot have or what is hard to get. And, it’s not just because of their brindle color.

It is also because they are so easy to train. Why is that? Well, we have to go way back to the Chinese emperors who wanted these dogs in the first place. The entire personality of a brindle Pug and any other Pug revolves around its owner.

That’s why they were bred for — companionship.

They want to please their owner, and they want to do what their owner wants them to do. That means if you want to teach your doggo to sit and roll — they will sit and roll. Do you want to show a new trick to your friends and teach your Pug to give a paw on command? They’ll do it!

Pugs are trainable, and they will quickly learn what they should and should not do. But, you will have to use positive reinforcement. They can’t understand English, but they do speak the ‘Dog Treats’ language.

5. Separation Anxiety

With all that affection and love in their cute, bulgy eyes comes a problem — separation anxiety. This problem occurs when a dog is too attached to its owner.

They cannot stand to be apart from them, and they’ll do what’s necessary to show you that they miss you or that they feel awful for being alone. They might bark, become destructive, cry or whine, carry a toy around, etc.

If you know that your schedule or working time doesn’t make it possible for you to spend a lot of time with your new brindle Pug pup or adult dog — then this might not be the dog for you.

As I already mentioned, this dog was made to be a human companion. They easily get attached to their owner, and just as easily get too emotional when they are left alone for a long time.

If your schedule suddenly changes (because… life happens), then there are ways to keep your dog distracted as much as possible while you are gone. You can give your brindle Pug some interactive dog toys for him to play with.

Some people leave soothing music on or special soothing sounds for their pooches while they are away, or you can get another dog or another pet — if that is possible.

What Health Problems Do Brindle Pugs Have?

brindle pug resting in the bed
Photo from: @sirelliotthepug

Unfortunately, a Pug can have a lot of health issues. This is the main reason for the question — should I get a Pug?

This question goes much deeper. The debate should be about breeding “modern” pugs in general. What is the problem? It is in their skull anatomy and consequential abnormal tissue development, which makes it very hard for them to breathe properly.

This is called Brachycephalic syndrome, and it is common in other dog breeds as well. Actually, dog breeds with this syndrome are already banned in Norway and the Netherlands, while some other countries (e.g., the UK) are expecting to ban these dog breeds.

1. Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

The name comes from two Greek words — brachy, and cephalic. The first one means short, and the latter one means head. So, these dogs have a “short head” or a flat face.

What exactly does that mean:

  • Their muzzle is short
  • Eyes bulgy
  • Very narrow nostrils
  • Elongated soft palate
  • Laryngeal collapse
  • Hypoplastic trachea
  • Obstructed airway flow

All of these things make it very hard for a Pug to breathe. These problems are the same for the brindle Pug and any other Pug coat color variation.

Brachycephalic airway syndrome is the main reason for countries and their kennel organizations around the world to ban the breeding of these dogs. It is considered inhumane to breed them because of the breathing problems these dogs have.

2. Encephalitis

This disease is only common among Pugs, so it is also called Pug Dog Encephalitis. This is a disease that affects the brain. It is the inflammation of brain tissue, and the origin is still unknown.

Some veterinarians believe that it is hereditary, but this has not yet been proven to be true. What is known is that it mostly occurs in Pugs that are older than one year.

Unfortunately, this disease cannot be cured. There are ways to make the quality of life of your dog better. But, in most cases, the humane thing (and inevitable thing) to do is euthanize the dog.

On the bright side, this disease is not that common. There are DNA tests that can determine the risk of having this disease. This new DNA testing scheme has been issued by the UK Kennel Club in 2019.

What are the symptoms:

  • Seizures
  • Disorientation
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of coordination
  • Blindness
  • Neck stiffness
  • Changes in behavior

These symptoms can be a sign of some other neurological disease. So, the best thing to do is take your dog to the vet as soon as you notice some of these symptoms.

3. Obesity

If you still want a brindle Pug, no matter the brachycephalic syndrome or the possible risk of encephalitis, here’s another health issue to think about before actually getting yourself a pug puppy.

They are prone to obesity. This is not that hard to imagine given the fact that they are not that active. It’s not just because they don’t have the desire to run around all day long, but also because they can’t. They need breaks to catch some air.

And, they love to eat. So, when you combine these two things, what do you get? An overweight brindle Pug. Still very cute, but with more health issues around the corner.

What To Do?

The most important thing to do is follow the Pug feeding chart and stick to it. You can give your brindle doggo two meals a day — one in the morning and one in the evening.

Also, keep the treats to a minimum. If you have other pets, like cats, keep the Pug away from the cat’s food. If you are not sure how to do that, you can check out some tips and tricks here: How to stop a dog from eating cat food.

Another important thing is to give your brindle Pug high-quality dog food. This means the food is rich in proteins and low in carbohydrates. Also, the food should have an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals.

Besides giving your dog high-quality food and smaller meals, you can put a leash on your dog and take it for a walk. There are special harnesses for Pugs, and there are also special toys for Pugs to keep them active and help them lose weight.

Just be careful when it comes to playtime and walkies. Remember… Pugs have breathing problems, so they will need a lot of breaks to catch their breath during playtime.

4. Other Health Problems

Besides breathing problems, encephalitis, and obesity, if you get a brindle Pug, you have to know that they can also have eye problems and problems with their joints.

The most common eye problems in Pugs are:

  • Cherry eye
  • Dry eye
  • Ulcers
  • Cataracts
  • Injuries

As for their joints, they are prone to patellar luxation — something a lot of small dog breeds have a problem with.

What Is Their Life Expectancy?

brindle pug dog resting on the couch
Photo from: @gus_thebrindlepug

If you get a brindle Pug from a reputable brindle Pug breeder, then the chances of it developing serious health problems are down to a minimum.

Reputable breeders will make sure they only breed dogs that are cleared of hereditary diseases. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent breathing problems or eye problems. It is the way that this breed looks, and this is the (high?) price these dogs have to pay.

If everything is alright, meaning nothing serious happens and you keep your dog healthy and happy, they can live up to eighteen years. That is a long lifespan compared to some other dog breeds.

But, that means you will have to take care of this dog for a long time, and they are not an easy breed to take care of, no matter what people say. People often think that because they don’t need a lot of grooming, they are easy to take care of.

This is true… you won’t have to spend a lot of time on grooming your Pug, but you will have to keep those wrinkles clean every day, make sure they can breathe properly, give them enough exercise, (but not too much), express their anal glands every couple of weeks, etc.

Do you still want a brindle Pug? Well done! You are worthy of its majesty, the Pug! Let’s see where to get one (or two).

Where Can You Find A Brindle Pug?

brindle pug puppy in nature

Because this is a popular breed, you will find a lot of Pug breeders. But, a brindle Pug is very rare. Most breeders have fawn and black Pugs.

As you already know, these are AKC-accepted colors, so in order to have an AKC-registered dog, they need to be of this coat color. But, there are some breeders that have brindle pups. One of them is Loda’s Pugs, from Salem, Oregon, and another one is Tipping Point Farm, from Ohio.

You can also check out some of the adoption and rescue places, along with websites, to see if they have a brindle Pug. Here are some websites:

If you want a Pug, but you are not crazy about the pedigree and just want a happy and healthy pup, you can search for a so-called Retro Pug. This is an “older” version of the Pug, from the mid-1900s.

They have a longer muzzle and fewer breathing problems — sometimes not at all. The idea was to take a step back and breed a Pug that doesn’t have so many health issues.

Even though this breed has other dog breeds in its gene pool, for example, a Jack Russell Terrier — it might be a big step for future generations of Pugs. This could bring the breed back to its origins when they were much healthier dogs.

The Conclusion

In the end, we can say that a brindle Pug is a rare gem in the dog world. They have unique coat patterns and markings, which make them even more desirable among Pug lovers.

But, we’ve seen there is a problem regarding their “pureness”. Some people think they are not purebred, and as such, are not accepted by many breeders. On the other hand, there is no proof to this statement.

So, brindle Pugs stay purebred until proven otherwise.

Something that doesn’t need proof is their health. If you really want a brindle Pug, you have to know all the possible health issues they can have. It is not just owning a Pug and feeding it… they need proper and constant care.

Also, keep in mind that Pugs love to love, and to be loved. So, get ready for a little doggy-shadow following you wherever you go. To avoid separation anxiety, you’ll have to make a good puppy schedule and stick to it as much as possible.

All in all, a brindle Pug is a beautiful and amazing pet to have. They will show affection, they’ll play with you, and they fit into any lifestyle.

If you are ready to give a little extra time to taking care of this dog’s unique health problems — then there is no doubt that a Pug will make you happy.

Read Next: 11 Reasons Why Pugs Are Ugly For Real