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Pugs come in two colors, Fawn with Black ears and a Black mask, and solid Black. Fawn has many different
shades. These shades range from a pale clear color, with a silvery sheen of guard hairs, or a pale cream, to
an apricot color, and all the shades of gold in between.
The confusion that exists today regarding Pug colors, also existed at the time the first Pug Breed Standard
was introduced in the 1880's.
So often we mis-communicate, because the words used are not interpreted by the receiver as intended by
To understand, look at this color and what do you see? What would you call it? How about this
color? How would you describe it? What about the background color of this page?
What you call Rose, I might call Hot Pink. The authors of this software called it Magenta. The second color
you might call Beige, I might call Cream, and the authors of this software called it Lemon Creme. The
background you might call Turquoise, I might call Green-Blue, the authors called it Aqua Mint.
Whenever you have something that needs subjective interpretation, you will have some confusion.
So, today we have a Pug Breed Standard written by the Pug Dog Club of America and approved by the
American Kennel Club, listing under Colors "Colors are silver, apricot-fawn, or black. The silver or apricot-
fawn colors should be decided so as to make the contrast between the color and the trace and the mask."
The PDCA's Illustrated Standard goes on to say,"Clarification: Apricot-fawn may vary from cream to deep
apricot or reddish gold. Silver-fawn has a definite clear silver cast and is seen rarely today, if at all
regardless of the fawn shade, the important point is that the color be clear and distinctly contrasted with
the black pigmentation of the mask, ears, and nails. A smattering of black-tipped guard hairs, hardly visible,
unless inspected closely, is quite common: this should not be confused with a smutty coat. Black coats should
be glossy with no rust or grey."
Undesireable: Fawn, smuttiness: indistinctive colors; a 'bleeding' of the black areas into the fawn; broad
saddles; white spots. Black: grey or rusty cast; white spots."
If you are not a Pug breeder, and only want to find a family pet, what does this mean? It means you need to
understand that buyers will be sold a puppy that meets, or does not meet the AKC Pug Breed Standard, so it
is up to you to determine what is important to you and your family when searching for you new family pet.
Some breeders do not look to the standard when breeding their dogs. That is their right. If you want a Pug
that looks as close to the standard as you can get, this may not work for you. If you don't care, you will find
plenty of puppies to look at. You will select you puppy hopefully from an ethical breeder, but there are no
guarantees, unless you spend some time to do your homework first.
If you see a site with rare and/or unusually colored Pugs, the first thing to ask is if they are AKC registered.
Although AKC doesn't require proof of parentage to register most litters. Unless the parents and the
puppies have a DNA number on their AKC Registration Certificate, AKC relies on the honesty of the breeder
to correctly register their puppies. That means AKC assumes anyone claiming a litter from a female dog
knows the sire listed on the litter application is in fact the sire of each one of the puppies. (Yes, more than
one sire can produce puppies in the same litter.)
If a breeder has male dogs on their premises, and one or more of them breeds the female, one or more of
the pups could be sired by a different dog than the one on the litter application filed with AKC. AKC cannot
verify this without doing a DNA profile of the sire and dam and each puppy. When they do, they issue a DNA
Profile number and it is recorded on the dog's registration certificate, and/or a DNA Profile Certificate is
also issued for those dogs. So, any tested litter would have on each pup's registration, both the parents
DNA numbers and the pup's DNA number.
Breeders can also test on their own if there is any question that the selected sire is the only one, or correct
one for each pup. As you can imagine, unless a breeder saw the second dog mating with the girl, there
wouldn't be any reason for those dogs to be tested, or the numbers to be given.
Now, whenever I hear about how two fawn Pugs produced a black pup, I ask myself, does the breeder own a
black stud dog, because that is the ONLY way a puppy can be born that is black, one of the parents must be
black. Unfortunately, not all breeders understand genetics, and that black is a dominant color gene. If there
is a black gene, the dog is black. If there isn't it is fawn.
Each Pug puppy gets a color gene from each parent for a total of 2 coat color genes. If a Pug is fawn, it has
two fawn genes. If it is black, it has at least one black color gene. If a black Pug has a fawn color gene, it can
produce both fawn and black puppies, because it has one of each it can pass on to each pup. If bred to a
fawn, which always only has two fawn genes, it can produce either a fawn pup, if it passes a fawn gene, or a
black pup, if it passes a black gene. A black Pug can also have two black genes, so every pup then gets a
black color gene and is black, because it doesn't have a fawn gene.
BB (Black) mom & BB (Black) dad = BB = All Black pups
BB mom & ff dad = Bf = All Black pups
Bf (Black) mom & ff (fawn) dad = ff = Fawn pups AND/OR = Bf = Black pups
Bf (Black) mom & Bf (Black) dad = ff = Fawn pups AND/OR = Bf = Black pups AND/OR = BB Black pups
ff (Fawn mom & ff (Fawn) dad = ff Fawn pups
As you can see, to be fawn, a pup must get a fawn gene from each parent. If there's a Black color gene, the
pup is black with a recessive fawn gene.
So, if both parents are fawn, neither one has a black gene to pass on.
So, how do these "rare" colors appear? Unfortunately, if you go on the internet you can find many of these
"rare" colored Pugs and dogs of other breeds. Some breeders are very honest about how they are getting
Brindle Pugs, because they tell you these are a mix with a Boston Terrier or a French Bulldog. These are
called Buggs, Fruggs, or French Pugs when the Breeder is doing these breedings on purpose.
What about these colors being part of the Pug Breed, and the claims that show breeders cull them? Well,
these people are claiming this to explain how these colors have been concealed for the last 100 years, and
are appearing naturally in all our litters. This is simply not true. Brindle, for example, is a dominant color
patterning gene. The basic color, fawn, is the base color, with the brindle pattern over it.
It would be impossible to hide all these Brindle puppies we'd have to be having in our litters, because in a
very short period of time, all our pups that would normally be fawn would then be brindle, as soon as the
gene pool became densely populated with brindles.
No show breeder has ever had a brindle puppy, and if someone says otherwise, ask them for their proof.
Many will say that they heard "from a reliable" source. Well, unless they can provide you with the name of
the breeder, such claims are just gossip. Brindle "pug like dogs" started appearing in Oregon State about 18
years ago. The breeder claimed the pups were purebred, and became quite indignant when asked if it might
be possible her brindle French Bulldog had gotten to her Pug mom and sired part of the litter. She declared
them genetic mutations, from the Pugs of the 1800's and would not listen when knowledgeable Pug breeders
tried to explain to her why that was not possible.
This woman was selling her brindle puppies as "rare" and charging much more for them than her common
fawn colored puppies. If you look around the internet you can see this is a common situation in many breeds
now. Brindle color patterning in breeds without the brindle gene, so they can be marketed as "rare" and
fetch a higher price from the unsuspecting public.
Most of these new "rare" or "mutation" colors are found in the common breeds being mixed with purebred
Pugs, because these other breeds lend themselves to looking like a Pug in just a couple of generations.
Frenchies, for example, if you read on the web site of the woman who says she's breeding them to Pugs for
this new breed she's calling French Pugs, can have their distinctive 'prick" ears down like the ears on a Pug in
the first litter. These pups also come in pie buald, or a patterned color with a lot of white, pale cream,
without masks or black ears, and deep orange, which is referred to as "Red" in the Frenchies, and marketed
as "Apricot" in these mixed Pugs. These pups also tend to be very wide in the front, high in the rear, with a
bit of a nose, and little to no noseroll. Of course, as they breed the first generation offspring back to their
purebred Pugs, each generation looks more an more like a purebred Pug, but now they are being sold as a
purebred, of an unusal color, which they are not.
If this mixed dog is OK with you, and you want to own one as a family pet, that's your business. Just be
aware that even if it is AKC registered, it may not be purebred if there is a non-standard color present in
the pup, or its littermates. Don't pay more for a mixed breed "Pug-like-dog," thinking you're getting a
If you go ahead and breed this dog, unless it is a fawn, you may get some of these unusual colors, be also
know there are many genetic research studies underway to provide AKC with a tool to test the DNA of any
dog in question for any other breed in its DNA. If AKC discovers these dogs that have been registered as
Pugs are not purebred, they will revoke their registration, or make them ineligible to have their offspring
registered as purebreds.
There are other registries out there for mix breed dogs, and perhaps these dogs will then be registered
with one of them.
I'm sure some breeders of these dogs thought they were buying a purebred when they got them from one
of these "inventive" breeders. Imagine their surprise when upon breeding what they thought was a black Pug
to a fawn produced fawn, black, and brindle puppies! This is when one of those rumors gets started, I'm
Let's look at how that would likely happen. First, black hides the brindle patterning gene, as it does the fawn
gene. If a black Pug has a fawn gene, it can produce fawn and black puppies when bred to a Pug that also
carries the fawn color gene.
Most black Pugs carry one gene for each color. Fawns only carry the fawn gene, or they'd be black. If you
add the brindle color patterning gene to a fawn, the pup is brindle.
With the recent rise in Pug popularity, many people bought Pugs and tried to cash in on them as a means of
making extra money. When they discovered the expenses involved and the saturated pet market was not
going to make them lots of money, "rare" and or "unusual" equals big bucks! Many people want something
different and rare, and will pay four hundred times the value of something, if it is marketed correctly. With
the ability to produce these unusual colored "Pug-like-dogs," and a great marketing campaign, some people
are making money selling them for highly inflated prices to those buyers that they impress.
But, that doesn't make their claims true, it only makes them financially better off. Pugs are either fawn, or
they're black, they have never been any other color, not since the breed became a "breed" as defined in the
first Breed Standard in England. Don't be fooled, be informed.
• Pugs come in just two colors: Fawn and Black. Why? For the same reason that Pugs have a flat face. For the
same reason Pugs have curly tails. Because the Standard says so. Because the people who originally designed
the Pug breed decided that it would come in these two colors. Geneticists have determined through DNA
research that if a Pug-like-dog doesn't have a mask, it cannot be a purebred dog!
• If a breeder says the two colors don't matter, then does the flat face? Does the curly tail? When do the
things that make a Pug look like a Pug stop being important? When is it no longer a Pug but some other, newly
created "pug-like-dog?" Do you want a Pug with a Pug personality, or a terrier personality?
• If they're not pure bred, why does AKC/CKC register the brindles? There are plenty of sites online which
will tell you that AKC/CKC registration papers are only as honest and valuable as the breeder of the dogs.
The AKC bases their registration procedure on the fundamental understanding that all breeders are honest
and telling the truth when they register puppies. Sometimes breeders may not know, and sometimes they
probably do, but unless the parents and every pup is DNA Profiled, which means it will have a DNA Number
on file with AKC, there is no way to know the truth.
• The genetic tests say it's purebred pug. Remember that NO GENETIC TEST TODAY states that it can or
should be used to verify a dog is a purebred. The tests are being used by unscrupulous breeders to prove
something that's not accurately being tested. Most claim they DNA test all their dogs. All that means is
they're claiming a DNA profile (a tool used to identify an individual dog's DNA for parentage verification) is
required by AKC for frequently used sires, who have produced more than five litters, or a "Mixed Breed
Heritage Test" that until the 23rd of June 2008 didn't even test for any of the suspected breeds because
they didn't have breed profiles for them, and they state on the company's web site the test is NOT to be
used to verify a dog is purebred!
Personally, I think some of these "Pug-Like-Dogs" are cute, but that alone doesn't make them any more a Pug
than any other cute flat-faced dog. Many people have tried to convince me that because brindle color
patterning has been around for thousands of years in canines, including their ancestors, the wolves, we
should just accept it is a mutation or a throw back. Sorry, I need more science than that. I want to see the
DNA evidence before I change my mind.
Until this issue has been conclusively proven to be what it is, this will continue to be a hot topic among serious
Pug Breeders, who feel it is their personal responsibility to protect and preserve the Pug breed.
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