1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Long live the pug

Stefan Dege db
February 23, 2018

It's no hunting or watch dog; but the wrinkle-faced pug is a charming and adorable companion — and currently a very popular breed. So much so that a Düsseldorf museum has dedicated an exhibit to the irresistible pooch.

two porcelain pugs
Image: Horst Kolberg, Neuss

It's all about pugs at the Hetjens German Museum of Ceramics as little porcelain pugs peer at visitors from showcases, or pug pendants dangle from bracelets placed on voluminous rococo crinoline shirts.

These adorable canine curios are part of the "Housetraining Guaranteed" exhibition that opens on February 24 at the Düsseldorf museum.

A long journey

Pugs came to Europe from China, where they have been bred for 2,000 years.

The dog was meant for the emperor only, says Düsseldorf city spokeswoman Valentina Meissner. But several pugs were smuggled out of the Forbidden City, and in the 18th century, the little dog reached Europe via Britain and the Netherlands.

Back then, aristocratic ladies almost exclusively owned the loyal little dogs, says Meissner. Today, in a veritable pug revival, the list of pug lovers seems endless, she adds.

Read more: World's biggest dog show takes place in Leipzig

'Possible, but meaningless'

The pug is one of the ten most popular dog breeds worldwide. The cute canine has also left its mark in the arts, literature and music.

Andy Warhol had his picture taken with a pug, and Austrian poet Ernst Jandl's hilarious poem "Ottos Mops" is well-known to many in German-language speaking countries.

"Life without a pug is possible, but meaningless," said German satirist Loriot, adding that pugs can't be compared to dogs: "They combine all the merits of children, cats, frogs and mice."

a pug under an umbrella
Aristocratic pets in the 18th century, pugs are still getting the royal treatmentImage: picture-alliance/dpa/P. Kneffel

In the 18th century, a duke even erected a stone memorial to his favorite pug who found his way home from a faraway battleground.

Click on the above picture gallery for more entertaining facts about the much-beloved wrinkly pooch.

"Housetraining Guaranteed" runs through June 3 at the Hetjens German Museum of Ceramics.