Let’s face it; a Pug is no Border Collie. So, when considering walks, it’s natural to wonder, do pugs need a lot of exercise? Do they need any at all?
Bred as companion dogs, Pugs are not an active breed and don’t require high amounts of exercise. Pugs do need at least 30 minutes of daily activity, however. Ideally, two short walks and playtime at home.
After all, Pugs have an illustrious history of easy living, often favorite companions of royalty.
But, modern Pug breeding in the 21st century led to shorter legs and muzzles, increasing health issues and cautions you must know when exercising. Like a compact breathing passageway not allowing your Pug to cool their body temperature properly.
This article will detail the proper amount of exercise at each life stage of your Pug and the health risks facing your Pug when over or under-exercised.
- Do Pugs need a lot of exercise?
- How far should you walk your pug?
- How much exercise do pug puppies need?
- How much exercise do senior Pugs need?
- What health risks do Pugs face when exercising?
- What health risks do inactive Pugs face?
Do Pugs need a lot of exercise?
Breeders have designed dogs to complete specific tasks for thousands of years — often hunting, retrieving, or protecting. These traits make each breed unique and continue to carry on in our dogs today, even as family companions.
For example, the Australian Shepherd, bred to herd livestock, can run for several miles daily. When kept as a pet, they still require hours of exercise.
The Pug, on the other hand, has a rich history as a companion dog — dating back to ancient China and eventually traveling to Europe in the sixteenth century.
During the Pug’s distinguished history, they rode on private carriages dressed to match the coachman and were royalty favorites, joining William III and Mary II from the Netherlands when they accepted the throne of England in 1688.
Pugs have lived an easy, inactive past, leading to a low need for exercise today.
But, the same low-activity genes make them a high risk for obesity.
Walking and playing with your Pug for 30-minutes daily helps prevent obesity — and obesity-causing diseases — while controlling bad behavior.
Daily walks aren’t only about exercise. Seeing the world, taking in the smells, and interacting with other dogs are equally as meaningful.
How far should you walk your Pug?
How far your Pug should walk is a judgment call you need to make.
If your Pug is healthy but has been inactive for an extended time, start with short walks around the block. Once you finish a walk, observe your Pug’s behavior. Signs of overexertion include:
- Excessive panting
- Reluctance or difficulty moving around
- Excessive water drinking
If you get home from a 15-minute walk and they are still playful, extend the distance of your walks or increase the pace.
A regular pace of walking is 20 to 25 minutes per mile. When you add frequent stops, this casual stroll doesn’t help raise their heart rate to the levels needed.
Try avoiding stops for smelling and socializing in one direction, then casually stroll back so they can enjoy the outdoors.
How much exercise do Pug puppies need?
A Pug puppy should take two short walks daily, then focus more on at-home activities, like obedience training to stay active.
During the puppy years, avoiding overexertion and stress on joints is vital. The general rule for active puppies is 5-minutes of exercise, twice a day, for each month of age.
As a small breed, Pugs develop quicker than large breeds like the German Shepherd. Pugs reach full development between nine and twelve months of age.
Confirm with your veterinarian if your Pug is fully developed before starting more strenuous exercising.
How much exercise do Senior Pugs need?
As Pugs age, their health and activity levels in younger years significantly impact how much exercise is safe in their senior years.
Your target should remain 20-30 minutes of exercise while the level of exertion and stress on their joints decreases.
With a median lifespan of 11 years, Pugs become seniors at six to seven years of age.
As a senior, the risk of hip dysplasia — a disorder where the hip socket doesn’t fully support the ball — increases. Pugs are already the second-highest breed diagnosed with hip dysplasia.
Thankfully, you know your Pug well. Identifying discomfort or pain before it becomes severe is the job of every senior dog owner.
What health risks do Pugs face when exercising?
Pugs have a unique compact breathing passageway causing their body temperature to overheat.
When hot, dogs regulate their temperature through panting. The evaporation from the tongue cools their body temperature.
Since pugs have a small passageway, they cannot take in the proper amount of air required. If a Pugs body temperature rises to 108 degrees — 6.5 degrees above average — they can suffer from organ failure.
The most common issue Pugs face is hip dysplasia, affecting nearly 71% of Pugs. The Orthopedic Foundation For Animals ranks the Pug the second-highest breed at risk of developing hip dysplasia, behind only the Olde English Bulldogge.
What health risks do inactive Pugs face?
When Pugs are sedentary, they are prone to obesity — and the diseases obesity causes.
An obese dog is 2.6x more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. Hypothyroidism and arthritis are 2-3x times more common in obese dogs.
When you walk your Pug daily, you fight off obesity and obesity-causing diseases. Common conditions and diseases in obese dogs include:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Kidney Disease
- Liver Disease
Walking even prevents depression in dogs and poor behavior.
Why is walking such a healthy exercise for dogs?
Sustaining an increased heart rate during a walk promotes cardiovascular fitness, stronger muscles, and lower blood pressure.
Additionally, the sights, smells, and interactions with other dogs reduce stress and destructive behaviors at home.
Walks are the single most important activity we can do with our dogs. But, playtime shouldn’t be neglected.
Playing fetch gives your Pug a chance to raise its heart rate with high-interval sprints. At the same time, tug-of-war lets them use all their pulling strength to burn calories while using their muscles.
Exercise should be split into walking and playing.
If your Pug isn’t one to fetch or play tug-of-war, here are some exercises and game ideas to play:
- Hide a strong-smelling, low-calorie treat so they can work a scent trail
- Purchase a treat dispenser toy
- Play tag or chase
- Set up an obstacle course with furniture
- Play hide-and-seek
Consider making playtime part of your daily routine with consistent times. You can throw a ball outside with your morning coffee and play hide-and-seek before dinner.
Sure, Pugs aren’t Border Collies, but their abilities may surprise one. This scrappy little breed can even learn and compete in agility.
If Cookie the Pug can win an agility competition, your Pug can take a casual stroll around the block.
With an estimated 56% of dogs in the United States diagnosed as overweight or obese, your Pug’s exercise and eating habits play a significant role in their health.
Overweight dogs are more likely to develop joint problems. They have a higher risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, respiratory problems, kidney disease, and certain types of cancer.
What steps should you take to keep your Pug healthy?
- Feed them a well-balanced and nutritious diet
- Track their daily caloric intake
- Go for daily walks or to the dog park frequently
- Play at home twice a day
- Switch their treats to healthy fruits or vegetables, like blueberries, cantaloupe, and carrot sticks.
Excess weight causes dogs to overheat even quicker — a risk Pugs already face due to their breathing passageway.
If you have concerns about your Pug’s weight, talk to your veterinarian to build a diet and exercise plan.
A healthy weight is key to a long, healthy life. Daily exercise and diet are the only way to achieve it.
Is your weather nice today? Go for a walk. Your pup will thank you.
What’s your Pugs favorite activity? Share this article and let us know!