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The History of the Pug

Did you know pugs played important roles in history?

This weekend we visited an adopt-a-stray dog kennel in our ongoing search for our next canine family member. My daughter wants a pug in honor of Marmaduke, the pug that waddled his way into my latest book, The Duke’s Unexpected Bride. My son, on the other hand is, has Labrador tendencies like me, so the battle of the mongrels is on.

The search inspired a historical search about canine history so I thought I’d share some historical tidbits about pugs:

Pugs (lo-sze in China) date back to 700 BC and were often held by the highest levels of the aristocracy. During the reign of the great emperor Ling To (2nd Century AD) they held the same rank as his wives, were guarded by his soldiers, and the punishment for stealing one was death!

In 1572 a pug named Pompey alerted the Prince of Orange to the approach of the Spaniards thus saving his master’s life. As a result, the Pug was declared as the official dog of the House of Orange. When Prince William ascended to the throne, his pugs came to the ceremony adorned with orange ribbons.

Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife, Josephine, had a Pug named “Fortune”. On the night that they were wed, Josephine refused to sleep in their bed unless her Pug was allowed to sleep with them. It was her Pug whom she used to send secret messages to Napoleon when she was thrown in prison. Her secret messages were placed under the dog’s collar and delivered to her husband.

Queen Victoria took a liking to the breed and her active involvement in the breeding of Pugs that helped established the Kennel Club in 1873. She was also fanciful in naming her pugs: they included Minka, Venus, Fatima, Olga, and Pedro.

Why “pug”? Apparently some people found a similarity between the pug’s facial expression to that of a marmoset monkey called Pug, a very popular pet in 1700s.

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