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Pug vs Bulldog: Differences Explained (With Pictures)

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 10, 2024 by Dogster Team

Pug vs Bulldog

Pug vs Bulldog: Differences Explained (With Pictures)

Dogs aren’t just good partners for work or hunting; they also make wonderful companions. The Pug and the Bulldog are two very similar breeds that couldn’t be further apart when it comes to their histories.

Although they had very different starts in life, they are both popular breeds today. Their friendly natures, squashed faces, and deep wrinkles make them beloved companions for apartment dwellers and large families.

These dogs aren’t as similar as they first appear, and before you choose your favorite, you’ll need to know their differences. This guide will compare the two breeds and help you determine whether the tiny Pug or the bulky Bulldog is the best choice for you and your home.

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Visual Differences

Pug vs Bulldog - Visual Differences
Image Credit: Left – Steshka Willems, Pexels | Right – AndreiTobosaru, Shutterstock

At a Glance

  • Average height (adult): 10–13 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 14–18 pounds
  • Lifespan: 13–15 years
  • Exercise: Up to 1 hour a day split into short sessions
  • Grooming needs: Low, but they shed a lot
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Eager to please but willful
  • Average height (adult): 14–15 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 40–50 pounds
  • Lifespan: 8–10 years
  • Exercise: Up to 1 hour a day
  • Grooming needs: Low
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Eager to please but stubborn and often lazy

Pug Overview

Baby pug dog playing on grass and yellow flower
Image Credit: Ezzolo, Shutterstock

The Pug can be traced back to ancient China when the emperors preferred flat-faced, toy breeds as companions in the imperial court. Originally, the Pug—like many other Chinese breeds—were a closely guarded secret and was rarely given to outsiders until the 1500s when they were first introduced to Europe by Dutch traders.

Although they’re small, Pugs are dedicated companions who adore their owners. According to legend, they became mascots for the royal House of Orange in Holland. They were granted the honor after saving the prince from Spanish troops, and it was William III and Mary II of Orange who introduced the Pug to England when they took the throne.

With their growing popularity in the UK and other countries worldwide, the AKC recognized the Pug in 1885. Their motto is “multum in parvo, “ Latin for “a lot in a little.”


Generally, Pugs are more than happy to cuddle with you and sleep. They need up to an hour a day of exercise broken into short, fun sessions to ensure your Pug gets the exercise they need without setting off their breathing problems.


With their short coat, the Pug doesn’t require a lot of grooming to keep their fur healthy. They are, however, known for their shedding, which can be managed by grooming them several times a week. Grooming mitts or curry brushes work best to remove the loose fur.

Their wrinkles need to be kept clean too. These areas can trap moisture and dirt and cause skin infections if left unmanaged.

combing a pug with metal brush
Image Credit: Yekatseryna Netuk, Shutterstock


Despite being one of the world’s most popular and oldest companion dogs, the Pug isn’t one of the healthiest. They have several serious health issues that require careful management.

Like many other breeds with squashed noses, pugs are susceptible to breathing issues. Their short noses also interfere with their ability to handle extreme temperatures and they are sensitive to high and low temperatures. They’re also well known for developing skin infections due to their deep wrinkles and eye problems due to their shallow eye sockets.

These dogs are also fond of lazing about and eating. If their food intake and activity level aren’t carefully managed, they can suffer from obesity. Helping them maintain a healthy weight will also prevent their breathing problems from worsening.


Most of all, Pugs are devoted to their owners. They love to be near you for cuddles and are happy when you are. However, they are incredibly willful and not shy about pushing their boundaries.

While it can be tempting to let your Pug get away with bad behavior because they’re adorable, you must ensure they’re properly trained. You’ll need to use positive reinforcement and rewards to keep their attention.

Firm, consistent commands work best with plenty of praise when they get it right. Remember that Pugs are sensitive, and yelling when they get things wrong is never the right approach.

pug on a leash walking on grass
Image Credit: oleg_mit, Pixabay

Suitable For:

As a breed intended for companionship, the Pug is adored for their devotion and affectionate nature. They might bark when playing or feel neglected, but they’re not guard dogs or hunters. Their low energy and willingness to stay near their owners or make friends with everyone make them great family pets, even in houses with young children and other animals.

Pugs don’t like to be left alone for long, however. They’re happiest when with you and shouldn’t be left alone for more than 4 hours a day. They are well-suited to apartments and larger homes.

  • Loves to be around people and other animals.
  • Eager to please.
  • Friendly and affectionate.
  • Prone to obesity and eye injuries.
  • Sheds a lot despite their short coat.

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Bulldog Overview

english bulldog sitting on grass
Image Credit: BLACK17BG, Pixabay

The Bulldog originated in England during the 13th century, leading to them being known as English Bulldogs. They were developed for bullbaiting, where a pack of dogs would fight a staked bull, a popular sport at the time.

When this practice was banned in the 1830s, and Bulldogs faced extinction, they were reintroduced as companion animals thanks to admirers of the breed. Their efforts to breed out the fighting instinct and aggressive appearance led to today’s Bulldogs being known for their sweet, mellow, and gentle nature.

Since they were recognized by the AKC in 1886, the Bulldog has become one of the favorite companion breeds in the USA.


Most of the time, Bulldogs are more than happy to laze around all day—especially if you’re nearby. You shouldn’t overdo their exercise; their short nose, respiratory issues, and sensitivity to heat can make them uncomfortable and make it difficult for them to breathe.

Bulldogs need up to an hour of activity a day to help keep the weight off and ensure they stay active, but you should break the activity into short sessions.

English Bulldog runs on lawn with tennis ball on sunny day
Image Credit: Timothy Pleines, Shutterstock


Bulldogs have a very short coat that doesn’t require much maintenance. They shed throughout the year but not as much as the Pug. When they shed their winter coat in the spring, use a curry brush or grooming mitt to help remove loose fur.

Most of all, you need to clean their wrinkles regularly. These areas can trap dirt and allergens, which irritate the skin and cause infections.


Although they look sturdy, many Bulldogs suffer from serious health issues due to inbreeding. Like the Pug, most Bulldogs are relatively healthy but can be prone to respiratory and eye problems due to their squashed faces. They’re also quick to gain weight due to their laziness and tendency to overeat, and they are sensitive to hot and cold temperatures.

You’ll need to manage their food intake and encourage them to get plenty of exercise. Remember to clean their wrinkles frequently; they can get clogged with dirt and get infected.


Even friendly breeds like the Bulldog need plenty of training. Their loyalty and devotion to their owners make them keen to please, but you have to contend with their desire to laze around and their natural stubbornness. You need to keep their attention by using positive reinforcement and keep training sessions short and fun. If you struggle with their stubbornness, puppy classes are a good way to learn new training methods and socialize with your dog.

English Bulldog_shutterstock_Ann Tyurina
Image Credit: Ann Tyurina, Shutterstock

Suitable For:

Despite their ancestors’ days in the bullfighting ring, today’s Bulldogs are sweet, affectionate, and incredibly lazy. They’re perfect companions for quieter families, but they do enjoy going for walks. Bulldogs also get along with children and other pets. Socializing them when they’re puppies can help them learn how to interact with friends, strangers, and other animals.

They’re not a large breed, but they are hefty canines. You’ll have difficulty carrying them, but their quiet, calm nature makes them perfect for life in apartments or houses with yards.

  • Low shedding and grooming needs
  • Eager to please
  • A devoted and loyal companion
  • Susceptible to skin, eye, and respiratory conditions
  • Can be stubborn and lazy

Are Pugs Considered to Be Bulldogs?

There are many similarities between the Pug and the Bulldog. Their flat faces and deep wrinkles make them look incredibly similar, and you might wonder whether they are related. Pugs are called “Dutch Bulldogs” due to their appearance and the Dutch traders who first introduced them to the world.

However, Pugs and Bulldogs aren’t related at all. They originated on opposite sides of the world and, although you can get Pug Bulldog mixed puppies, they are otherwise unrelated.

fawn pug dog standing outdoors
Image Credit: Poltavets Anastasiia, Shutterstock

Where Did the Pug and Bulldog Originate?

Despite both being companion dogs, the Pug and the Bulldog have very different histories. The Pug was originally favored by the Chinese imperial court as one of the many flat-faced, wrinkled breeds the emperors and their families preferred as companions.

In comparison, the Bulldog’s start in life was much more violent, and their ancestors didn’t share the soft, mellow countenance the breed has today. Bulldogs were bred to fight in bullbaiting rings and were only introduced as companions when blood sports were made illegal in the UK.

Although the Pug and the Bulldog have vastly different origin stories, they are two of the friendliest dogs alive today. They adore their family, make friends with everyone, and aren’t shy about using their big eyes to get their way.

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Which Breed Is Right for You?

Regarding companion breeds, the Pug and the Bulldog are incredibly similar. They share the same squashed faces, deep wrinkles, mellow personalities, and devotion to their owners. Both dogs have very similar health issues too with their short noses often being the cause of breathing issues and their fondness of food and risk of obesity.

There are plenty of differences between these dogs, however. The Pug is smaller, lighter, and lives between 13–15 years, much longer than the Bulldog’s 8–10 year life expectancy. They also have a history filled with their adventures as companion animals, and their small size is filled with a massive heart.

As the larger of the two breeds, the Bulldog is heavier and shorter-lived but they love to goof around and shower their owners with affection. You can’t carry them around like you would be able to with a Pug, but they are just as devoted and happy to cuddle.

Choosing the best dog for you should be a careful decision. The best option is to meet both dogs and see which one has a personality that matches best with yours.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: Top – Mykyta Telenkov, Unsplash | Bottom – Christian Montes, Pexels

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