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Some dog breeds are followed by a persistent and unfair stigma regarding their aggression. The pit bull, Rottweiler, and German shepherd are a few examples. These dogs are as lovable and friendly as any breed, but some people still think of them as aggressive dogs. The truth is that societal attitudes have more to do with shaping the stigma than any hardwired aggression.

The pug is not a breed that most people associate with aggressive behavior. After all, they’re small dogs, and the pug’s somewhat comical looks don’t make them seem particularly threatening or intimidating. So, are pugs aggressive? Well... the answer isn’t as simple as a “yes” or “no.”

Pugs are not naturally aggressive — but most dogs aren’t. Like any breed, the pug may display aggressive behavior depending on its circumstance. You can do your part to prevent your pug from developing aggression, especially if you’re raising a pug puppy. And if you have an adult pug who is showing signs of aggression, there are things you can do to change their behavior, too.

Let’s take a closer look at the indicators of aggression in pugs, what causes it, and what you can do about it.

Signs of Aggression in Pugs

Pug standing in the grass

Sometimes, it can be tough to differentiate between your dog’s normal “horsing around” and aggressive behavior. So, how do you know if you have an aggressive pug on your hands?

Here are some of the common signs of aggression in pugs:

  • Nipping
  • Biting
  • Growling
  • Baring teeth
  • Lunging
  • Chasing (other pets or people)

If you see this behavior displayed commonly by your pet, it’s not normal pug behavior. You probably have an aggressive pug.

It’s not common for pugs to be aggressive with other pugs, but it’s entirely possible. Again, it completely depends on the circumstance. 

In terms of behavior with children, pugs aren’t typically aggressive, but it’s always possible for a child to handle a dog roughly or startle them, resulting in an aggressive response. But this is possible from any dog, not just pugs.

Causes of Aggression in Pugs

Are pugs aggressive? Pug lying on a couch

Pugs don’t tend to be naturally aggressive, so when they are, there’s a cause. The most common causes of aggression are:

Poor Socialization

Your pug’s temperament has a lot to do with how they were raised. If they were brought up in a loving, safe environment and frequently socialized with other dogs, other kinds of pets, and humans of all ages, they are more likely to be a laid-back, well-mannered adult. If they never spent time around humans or other dogs, they might grow up to be suspicious, fearful, or — you guessed it — aggressive with other animals and people.

Resource Guarding

We’re all well aware that dogs love food. Your pug is no different. Food aggression and resource guarding are relatively common among our canine friends. If your pug had to closely guard their food in the past, perhaps in a kennel or shelter situation, they may be wary of other pets or human family members trying to steal their food now.

Fear Response

Just like humans, a dog that was exposed to trauma in the past can experience behavior problems because of it, even years later. That’s right — even dogs can get PTSD. If your dog was abused in the past, it could lead to aggression in the present. This is especially common in rescue dogs who have come from traumatic backgrounds.

Health Issues

Any animal that’s in pain or discomfort has the propensity to lash out aggressively in response. It’s possible that health problems or pain are the root cause of your pug’s unwanted behaviors.

How to Deal With Your Pug’s Aggression

A pug and their owner on a walk

No matter the specific reason for a pug’s poor behavior, dog owners know one thing: They want it to stop.

There are two main ways to deal with your pug’s aggression: proper socialization and obedience training. If your dog is still aggressive after these efforts, it’s worth visiting the veterinarian’s office.

Socialization

Socializing your pup properly — ideally from puppyhood — is the best way to prevent aggressive behavior. And socializing your dog well isn’t really that complicated.

Raise your dog in a comfortable, calm, safe environment. Interact with them frequently, touching and handling them on a daily basis. If you can, expose your dog to all sorts of people — men and women, young children and older folks — as well as other animals if you can do so safely.

If you don’t have friends or family with other dogs your pug can socialize with, try visiting a dog park. (Just make sure to keep your dog on-leash and watch them closely.)

Obedience Training

Of course, you might adopt a pug well after the puppyhood stage. Don’t worry — older dogs can still be socialized and become well-mannered adults. It just takes proper training.

Obedience training involves training your dog to respond to basic commands like sit, stay, come, and heel. There is also leash training and other areas of obedience training that may be helpful. If you’re unsure of how to go about obedience training, consult a professional dog trainer — they should be able to help train your dog properly and safely.

One key technique in obedience training is positive reinforcement, in which you reward good behaviors in order to discourage bad ones. This might involve giving your pug a treat when they behave well around other dogs or children, for example. (Consider using Native Pet’s Yak Chews if you’re looking for a durable, tasty treat that provides an extra protein boost!)

Dogs with severe cases of PTSD, or those who display food aggression to the point of biting other animals or humans, will need the help of a professional animal behaviorist or expert dog trainer. While this is very unlikely from a pug, you’ll want to consult the pros before someone gets hurt.

Veterinary Care

Are pugs aggressive when they’re experiencing pain or illness? It’s entirely possible, yes. If your dog is suffering from a health problem that’s causing physical pain, dog training isn’t going to be much help.

If your pug’s aggression isn’t getting any better, it’s time to see your veterinarian. Anything from an infection to a physical injury could be causing pain and discomfort, resulting in aggression. You’ll want to have your veterinarian diagnose and treat the problem before it gets any worse. Once pain is relieved, your pet’s aggression should stop.

So, Are Pugs Aggressive?

Are pugs aggressive? A pug upside down on a couch

Are pugs aggressive? No, not any more than other dog breed. But that doesn’t mean a pug can’t exhibit aggressive behavior, just like any dog. It has much more to do with the individual dog than it does with the breed.

Here’s the bottom line: Pugs are not naturally aggressive dogs, but any dog can show aggressive behavior depending on their circumstance. If you have a pug that displays signs of aggression like nipping, biting, lunging, growling, baring teeth, and chasing, it’s time to act.

Proper socialization — ideally from a young age — and obedience training are the primary ways to deal with an aggressive pug. You can go at it alone or seek the help of a professional dog trainer. And you’ll always want to ask for help if you have a serious case of aggression on your hands. There’s no use risking anyone getting hurt.

For more insight into your dog’s behavior, health, and wellness needs, visit the Native Pet blog.


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