Be aware of Pug Colors – Why?
There are only four accepted Pug Colors for most kennel clubs, and those are Fawn, Black, Apricot, and Silver-fawn.
Still, if you do a quick search online, you’ll be able to find Pugs of many colors; white, tan, black and tan, dark silver, and also different patterns like merle and brindle.
Why is it important to know the difference?
Reason # 1 – The color affects their health
It’s known that color genetics is directly linked to several conditions that can affect your Pug’s life negatively. Knowing which Pug color is linked to those issues will allow you to know how to keep your rare color Pug safe, as well as to avoid picking odd color Pugs if you’re interested in them.
Reason # 2 – Designer Pugs are not accepted by major Kennel Clubs
Unethical breeders are behind these practices. They genetically engineer Pugs to have more issues just because changing their colors making them ‘rare’ is appealing to unaware customers.
Reason # 3 – This will affect standards for the worse
The Pug standard is somewhat the best guideline breeders have to produce dogs that are close to what the Pug should be. Additionally, the standard is there for health reasons as well and can save you from a lot of issues along the way.
In this article, we’ll clarify all about the true nature of Pugs, how something small like their colors can affect them severely, and more about this rather controversial topic. Let’s get started!
“Mammals have two pigments that are the basis of hair color: eumelanin (black) and pheomelanin (red or yellow). The gene involved in the production of these pigments in many species including dogs is Melanocortin 1 Receptor (MC1R) which is also called Extension. Other genes modify these pigments to produce the variety of colors and patterns found in the domestic dog.”UC Davis – Veterinary Medicine
Standard Pug Colors
As we said, just four colors are common in Pugs and these are accepted by most Kennel Clubs. It’s important to note that, just like with other breeds, the standard Pug Colors vary from Kennel to Kennel, so you’ll find different accepted colors from club to club. For instance, in Canada and the US. Here at PugsClub.org, we do accept that only four colors are valid; Black, Fawn, Silver-fawn, and Apricot. No more, nor less. Why?
These are the only four colors that appear naturally in Pug’s genes.
Unlike weird colors, they don’t appear with selective breeding and other techniques adopted by dog designers to sell you Pugs of “rare colors”.
Here’s a quick explanation of each color:
# 1 – Black
This is genetically the most common Pug color. The genes which determine black coats are dominant in Pugs, meaning they appear more often.
The exact color is S007, giving them a solid black coloration that is beautiful. Usually, white markings are present on their chests, but not throughout the body, unless they develop white hairs in their seniority.
However, since breeders prefer breeding fawn Pugs, black ones are greatly outnumbered.
# 2 – Fawn
This is the most common Pug color because of breeders. It’s important to note the complexity of this color, which ranges from a light cream coloration to a much darker one.
That’s why it’s said that the color has a wide range. Also, those colors often can appear in a single dog at the same time, making different shades within the same coat possible.
# 3 – Silver-fawn
Another color of Pugs is actually a variation of the Fawn color. It has light cream and grayish coloration that’s notably silver-like. The color is also called silver.
# 4 – Apricot
This is the least common color. Apricot is actually within the range of Fawn, which is why it’s mostly accepted in other breeds as Fawn.
The coloring is orangey-tan, also mixed with cream colors that can give Pugs a different color throughout their coats.
Note: It’s important to note that all non-black Pugs should also have a black mask and ears.
Common markings in the different Pug Colors
Pugs can also have makings and patterns. Here are the accepted ones:
# 1 – Thumbprint or diamond
This is a little dark spot that can appear in non-black Pug’s foreheads. It is common to see them in Fawn Pugs.
They are black or slightly darker hairs, not to be confused with shadows caused by Pug’s wrinkles. Most Pugs (at least 70%) have it, but some don’t. This is a desired trait for shows.
# 2 – Trace
Another darkened spot or line across Pug’s backs. It can only be seen in non-black Pugs, and it’s a highly desired trait for shows; the darker the better.
Most of the Pug champions will have it, and Pugs without it are not part of champion breeding programs.
# 3 – Smuttiness
This is what happens when light-colored Pugs have an overlay of dark or black hairs on the top of a base of their major color. This happens in most Pugs, though to be considered as smuttiness, it has to be a heavy effect on their coats; enough to cause a black or dark hue on top of their coats.
This is accepted in shows, but not desired, and seen as a fault.
# 4 – Masks and black ears:
The top of Pug’s ears, as well as their muzzle, should be black. Some Pugs may also have white or lighter colors in their muzzle, and sometimes they appear as they reach seniority.
This can also be accepted. Also, the definition of “black mask” is wide, so different types of black masks are accepted.
All of these markings and patterns of coats are accepted in most shows.
Unaccepted markings in Pugs
The next markings and patterns are not accepted in KC or shows:
# 1 – Brindling – brindle coats
Even though some argue that Brindle Pugs are natural, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Not only Brindle Pugs are not accepted, but you should also avoid getting them!
Why? You see, usually, they appear as a result of mixing Pugs with French Bulldogs (that have Brindling as one of their variations), resulting in a very troubled dog.
They are cute, but no, they’re not real Pugs. Still, you must understand that, even when they appear to be and even lab tests come back as them being 100% Pugs, this is also a mistake.
When breeders introduce a trait like brindling in a bloodline, they keep the trait while mixing more and more Pugs that have it with other 100% Pugs.
Eventually, most of the resulting Pug’s DNA will be of a Pug, making this trait appear natural in tests!
# 2 – White markings
White markings are not accepted in show rings, and in some, they can be major flaws that cause Pugs to lose a lot of points. Still, this can happen naturally, like in Black Pugs.
Even in 100% champion Pugs bloodlines white markings in paws, chest, and the rest of the body can appear on top of a coat of a different color.
Kennel Clubs and Pug Colors
To clarify even more this subject, let’s revise briefly the different Kennel Clubs and their opinions regarding those colors:
# 1 – American Kennel Club
This KC accepts only Fawn and Black. Still, other colors may also be registered, but not accepted in shows.
# 2 – UK Kennel Club
The original Kennel Club from the UK allows the mentioned four colors: black, fawn, apricot, and silver. We believe their standard to be the most accurate.
# 4 – Canada Kennel Club
In Canada’s Kennel Club three colors are accepted: Fawn, silver, and black.
However, it’s important to note that this KC is more flexible regarding Fawn Pugs.
This means a light apricot or dark apricot (tan) can also be considered within the range of Fawn.
This means the Apricot color is accepted indirectly.
# 5 – Federation Cynologique Internationale
The FCI allows the same standard as the UK Kennel Club.
Pug Colors Misconceptions
As we researched to write this article, we ran into some Pugs under the description of “Silver”, and others under “Tan”.
However, as we came to notice immediately, both had dark Silver (more like a shiny washed-up black color) and dark full Tan colorings. Others mentioned that Brindle was common in Pugs as well as White.
None of these colors are accepted. Usually, they don’t even come from Pugs!
The Tan, dark Silver, and Brindle can all be traced back to the French Bulldog. If someone is trying to sell you a Pug that has one of these coat colors, don’t buy them.
Even if they look healthy, if they come from a mix with French Bulldogs, they will probably develop a plethora of issues as they age, like a worse version of brachycephalic syndrome.
Pug Colors in puppies and seniors
Another important thing that you should know is that the color of Pugs may vary from their birth to their seniority.
For example, Fawn Pugs can be light in color as puppies, and grow to have Apricot or darker shades of Fawn in their coats.
Also, in Senior Pugs, gray hairs are a possibility. They are most common to note in Black Pugs, but they may also appear in Pugs of other colors, especially in their mask.
Other Pug puppies may have heavy smuttiness that turns into defined traces. And others may have rather light ears and masks, that will darken a lot as they grow.
Another important trait in Pugs is his eyes. Pug’s eyes are simply described as “dark”, yet this is an effective way of describing them.
This refers to different shades of brown, with seemingly black-brown eyes being accepted. Also, all purebred Pugs have brown eyes.
Pugs with other eye colors are usually mixed or subject to health issues!
“The eyes may be the windows to the soul, but the condition of a dog’s coat and skin give a better indication of his overall nutritional status. The skin is the largest organ of the body and when it is not getting the nutrition it needs, problems are readily observed”Pet MD
Frequently Asked Questions – Pug Colors
No! Color is just a natural selection that comes directly from the available colors in your dog’s genetic pool.
That genetic pool comes from both parents (and those before them). If by chance your dog inherits a perpetual bad mood, it will be caused by his parents, not his color.
Yes, but you shouldn’t! It can cause allergic reactions, hair loss, and damage in different levels to their hair and skin (especially in allergic Pugs).
Kind of. In the case of Pugs, at least 80% of black Pugs have single coats.
The rest of them, different colors included, have double-coats. That’s why some black Pugs will shed less. Still, they will be a Pug just like any other!
This is rather hard. You can only use two methods: a lab test and visual assessment – yet the latter requires a lot of experience to work.
You can check out pictures and compare them to good standard examples – this will also work for other traits aside from color. Also, you must meet the puppy’s parents to notice if they have different traits.
Also, take into account the breeders’ reputation!
Conclusion – Pug Colors
Some people see breed standards as an impediment to getting the dog they want.
Still, standards are the only safety measures we have against bad breeders, dog designers, and to protect the actual appearance of Pugs.
Even if you’re thinking of getting a pet quality Pug, you should always make your decision based on Pug’s standard. Doing otherwise is a personal choice that you shouldn’t take lightly as it comes charged with plenty of consequences.
This is vital to keep Pugs beautiful, healthy, and with the awesome temperament, they usually have. All of this can be changed with genetic modifications and different traits of breeds added into their genetic code from other breeds.
This is easily done by mixing them with Frenchies, English Bulldogs, Boston terriers, and other dogs “similar” in appearance. Still, we know a true Pug when we see one.
Finally, if you love Pugs as they are, we shouldn’t support “rare” Pugs! What are your thoughts on this?