Why Pugs Have Wrinkles & The Importance Of Keeping Them Clean


Perhaps you’re wondering why pugs have wrinkles, and what level of care goes into maintaining them. Their facial folds are adored by many pug owners and some even say that it’s their favorite physical characteristic. However, their wrinkles do come with a downside that owners need to be aware of.

Pugs have existed since at least 400 B.C. and were intentionally bred to have their famed wrinkles. It’s said that these wrinkles were intended to represent the Chinese character for the word “Prince”. Many find them irresistibly cute, but those facial folds can cause problems if not maintained.

Their unique wrinkles have contributed to the popularity of this breed for thousands of years. People adore pugs for their cute, squashed faces and little rolls of flesh. But for the sake of their health, it’s vital that they’re regularly groomed to prevent infections and other related issues.

Where The Wrinkles Come From

Pugs were specifically bred to have wrinkles for aesthetic reasons. Combine this with their stumpy legs and needing minimal exercise, it makes the perfect pet for emperors to have on their laps and to look decorative. Pugs were a sign of wealth as they were only owned by royals and people of importance. So it’s no wonder that their wrinkles were made to resemble the word “Prince”. In fact, pugs even had their own royal guards to oversee them.

Today, pugs are still very popular and owned by many. While their wrinkles may no longer place the same level of importance, it is still a much loved characteristic and a key defining feature of theirs. But owners need to be aware of specific health implications that come with them, if not properly groomed and regularly maintained.

The Wrinkles Can Trap Dirt

Like any fold of skin, the wrinkles on a pug can easily trap dirt, debris, and even bits of food. That may not seem like a big deal – dogs aren’t exactly known for being the most hygienic creatures – but it can cause problems for both you and your four-legged friend.

You might be surprised by the amount of dirt that can get caught in a pug’s face. Little bits of dinner, scraps from snuffling around on the floor, and “tasty” morsels from the garden will all work their way into these crevices. Overtime, this will turn into a nasty funk, or worse yet, eventuate into an infection.

Pugs have to put their faces into their food in order to eat, since they don’t have long snouts. All of this food debris can therefore work its way into the folds of skin and get stuck there. Your dog can’t clean its own face and has no ability to get this mess out of their wrinkles, so unless you do something, it will continue to build up.

The Problems Caused By Trapped Dirt

So, what are the issues, apart from the fact that this isn’t very nice? Firstly, it can smell pretty bad. Any bits of food or organic matter will decay in the wrinkles, and this will produce an unpleasant odor. While any dog can be a bit smelly at times, the idea that little food particles or bits of dirt is decomposing in your dog’s skin is rather off-putting!

The second big problem with this is that it can irritate your dog’s skin and even cause an infection if you don’t deal with it. Pathogens and bacteria will get into the wrinkles, and because your dog’s skin is warm and slightly moist, this provides a perfect breeding ground for this nastiness to keep growing.

How To Tell If Your Pug Has An Infection

We mentioned the bad smell, but that will apply whether there’s just moldering dirt or an infection, so how can you tell which you’re dealing with? An infection will often smell a lot worse than dirt. Pugs are prone to yeast infections that will have a strong, musty scent. It’s not appealing at all, especially when you want to cuddle your best friend!

You may not always detect a smell, but there could still be some form of infection. If you notice that your pug is scratching their face or attempting to rub it on things, then they probably have an infection. Infections itch, so they’ll try and scratch to relieve the itch.

Red and inflamed skin is another sure sign of infection. If you think that your pug is uncomfortable, check whether their skin is sore. Infections should be dealt with quickly; they are affecting your pug’s health, but they are also very uncomfortable and will make the poor dog constantly miserable.

You shouldn’t wait until you think your pug might have an infection, but rather make sure you’re regularly cleaning their wrinkles as part of your care routine. This will get rid of dirt and unpleasant odors, while preventing their skin from being irritated by trapped and decomposing debris.

How To Clean Your Pug’s Wrinkles

You should wash and dry your pug’s facial wrinkles every day in order to prevent dirt from building up. Regular maintenance will be comparatively easier than attempting to scrub away caked-on and dried-up dirt. Additionally, it will be a lot more pleasant for your pug, as well as for you.

Start by getting your pug in a nice, calm state. It’s often best to do this when they have just had dinner, so they are full and relaxed, and also so you can remove any dinner debris promptly. You may also want to have some treats on hand to help the cleaning process go smoothly, and to make it a positive experience for them. As it’s going to be done regularly, you really don’t want any negative associations to form.

Start Slowly

This may be a new experience for your pug, as well as for you, so it’s crucial that it is trauma free. Avoid upsetting them during the cleaning process, otherwise it will remain challenging and continue to be a fight each and every time. Go at your pug’s pace.

Start by encouraging them to sit with you so you can pet them. Get them used to you moving the wrinkles and touching them. Remember that the skin is soft there, so be gentle and give them time to adjust. Don’t ever force a pug to undergo cleaning; they need to be persuaded gently.

Provide lots of treats, especially if your pug is nervous. You may want to use an unscented hypoallergenic baby wipe while you build up to proper cleaning, as this can be quicker than using a wet cloth. Don’t use scented baby wipes, alcohol, or any products on your dog’s skin.

Use Just Water

You should use a soft, damp cloth and have a bowl of clean water to rinse it in. Wring it out so you aren’t making your dog’s skin very wet. Sit with your pug in your lap and gently roll aside each fold, wiping along the crevice with the cloth.

Work Gently

Be very gentle and don’t scrub at the skin. It is often sensitive. Because it is protected by other folds of skin, it tends to be softer, so rubbing it hard could hurt your pug. Go slowly and chat to your dog while doing so in order to keep them calm. Carefully avoid scratching your pug as you work, particularly when cleaning the folds around their eyes.

Cover All The Areas

Wash every part of your pug’s face, including around the nose and eyes. You should pay extra attention to the fold of skin around the nose, as this is where food is most likely to build up. Do not forget their ears; pugs are prone to infections here too, so look out for signs of mites (brown dots), redness, or itchiness.

Look For Infection Everywhere

As you work, look out for redness or signs of infection within the wrinkles. You might find it hard to tell at first, but you’ll soon get used to how the skin should look, and find it easier to detect any problems. Scabbing, redness, or localized heat could indicate something is wrong. Your pug may also show signs of discomfort.

If you do notice a problem on your pug’s face or in its ears, talk to your vet. If your pug will let you, you can gently clean the area, but don’t force them and don’t try to rub the skin hard or it will hurt. You may need a special cleaner and advice from your vet to deal with the infection. There are many different kinds of infection, so treatments will vary.

Dry Your Pug’s Face

When you’ve finished, use a clean, soft, and absorbent cloth to dry off each wrinkle with as much care and gentleness as you washed them. Leaving them wet could lead to itchiness and promote bacteria to breed, even though you have cleaned the folds. It might also lead to irritation – imagine having a wet face for hours on end.

The wrinkles will not dry themselves because they aren’t exposed to air, so the moisture is trapped. Take the time to do this properly. You can also dry your pug off after walks and time spent in the yard if it rains a lot. This will make them more comfortable and minimize the risk of skin infections.

Bathe Your Pug

As well as the face and ears, the other wrinkles need an occasional clean – though not a daily one. A monthly bath will help to keep your pug dirt-free. With your dog in the water, gently clean each fold and remove any dirt or debris that has built up. Afterward, dry your pug gently and thoroughly with a towel, and it’s all done!

Regularly cleaning your pug’s wrinkles is a crucial element of owning one of these dogs. You must be prepared for this responsibility and time commitment in order to have a happy, healthy canine that is full of life – and not full of dirt! Praise your dog for good behavior during clean-up time, and always make it a positive experience.

Related Questions

Do pugs get more wrinkles as they grow? Yes, all pugs have wrinkles that will vary in definition and will generally be more pronounced as they age and grow.

Why do pugs have breathing problems? Respiratory issues like Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS) is common with pugs because they’re a brachycephalic breeds (flat faced and short nose). While these unique features are cute, it can be problematic when it comes to upper airway issues. Airflow gets easily obstructed due to the excessive soft tissue present in their airways. For those reasons, you should avoid excessive exercise and extremely hot weather.

Why do pugs have curly tails? The pug’s tail has a natural curl due to a spinal deviation, by which their vertebrae is comprised in a shape of a wedge.

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