Pugs are a pretty controversial-looking dog, apparently. Most people either find them super ugly, or super cute. There isn’t much in between, it seems!
Cartoon versions of pugs often make them out to be extremely bug-eyed, often leave their tongue hanging out sideways. Something about cartoon pugs often makes them come off as obnoxious and dumb. Perhaps those cartoon-ized versions of pugs contribute to a stereotype that causes people to see them as ugly and dumb?
My aunt had a pug when I was little, and I’ll confess, I thought of her pug as ugly back then. I believe it was largely a result of how pugs don’t look like most other dogs. Though even as a young adult, I saw pugs as ugly, it was in an oddly cute way. The phrase “they’re so ugly they’re cute” applied to my views in my early 20’s.
My boyfriend followed a youtuber who had a pug and we often laughed at the sounds and expressions that the pug made in the background of youtube videos. That’s when I first started thinking I wanted to get a pug, someday. So although I saw the pug as somewhat ugly, I definitely thought he was more cute than ugly by then.
Of course, after getting pugs of my own I fell in love with them and started to see them as super cute…for the most part. I still think the expressions pugs make can make a difference in how cute they seem!
Both photos on the top row are Beans. Both photos on the bottom row are Frank. They look a lot different depending in their expression, the photo angle and other factors!
Due to them having excess skin, I think the way they are sitting/laying and the angle of the photo can impact how overweight they look, too. Anytime we took a picture of one of our pugs being held, they looked pretty rough. I think the main reason for this is because when we hold them, it smushes their skin and causes their extra skin to bunch up in weird areas making them look extra chubby and extra wrinkly! I also think the position of their ears seems to make a big impact on how cute they look in pictures. When they pull their ears back they almost look scared which makes them look less cute.
Reasons why pugs are ugly
They look a lot different from most other pug breeds. It’s a common instinct for humans to see things that are different or less common as ‘worse’.
Their skulls are shaped a lot different, causing their faces to be “flat” which some find off-putting.
They are “bug-eyed”. Their big, bulging eyes are seen as ugly by some.
Their tails are upturned, so you can always see their butts! To me, it’s funny that people are that bothered by it, but I have heard people seriously say that their reason for disliking pugs is because you can see their buttholes!
They are a short, yet stocky breed. Many pugs are overweight, but even healthy-weight pugs are stockier looking than most dogs of a similar height. They are meant to be “a lot of dog in a small package”. This causes some people to see them as unattractive.
They have a lot of wrinkles, which some dislike.
As Beans (on the left in this picture) got older, the sides of her muzzle went gray while the center stayed white. I think this made her look even more like she was ‘frowning’.
Their excess wrinkles or excess skin around their mouths often make them appear to “frown” while having a resting expression.
They often have an underbite which can cause their lower teeth to show. Some people see this as ugly.
Reasons why pugs are cute
They have big eyes. The phrase “puppy dog eyes” references big, emotion-inducing eyes. For me, one of the biggest ways that pugs show their cuteness is through expressions that show in their eyes!
They’re small. Small things are cute!
They are very expressive dogs. When you can visibly see that your dog is excited, happy or content, that just strikes me as so cute!
They have rolled up tails that look like cinnamon rolls.
They seem to “smile” when they’re excited or hot.
They perk their ears up when they’re listening intently.
They do the “head turn” if they are confused or excited about something you said.
Their personalities. While I do think pugs are often physically cute, I think their personalities are really what made me fall in love with them and see them as cute. They are very affectionate dogs who really love their people. They’re sweet and cuddly, and friendly with most all people. They’re funny, and expressive. Their personalities just shine through their physical appearance and expressions which is the ultimate reason why I see them as cute!