Pug Symbolism

Pug symbolism

Pugs have become one of the most iconic dog breeds, known for their squished faces, curled tails, and playful personalities. But beyond their cute appearance, pugs also carry deep symbolic meaning in various cultures and spiritual traditions. This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of pug symbolism, digging into their origins, cultural significance, and spiritual meanings.

A Brief History of Pugs


To understand pug symbolism, it helps to first look at the history of the breed. Pugs originated in China, dating back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 200 AD). Chinese emperors prized the wrinkly faced dogs, keeping them as pampered pets in the imperial palace.

The pug’s Chinese name “Lo-sze” means “Foo dog,” a protective lion-like creature in Chinese mythology. Pugs became a symbol of fortune and protection. Their tendency to snore was thought to ward off evil spirits.

Pugs later spread to Tibet and Japan through trade routes like the Silk Road. In the 16th century, Dutch traders brought pugs to Europe. The dogs became popular among royal families. Prince William of Orange famously had a pug named Pompey who he took into battles with him.

Key Takeaway: Pugs originated in ancient China where they symbolized fortune and protection. They later spread globally through trade and became popular among royal families in Europe.

Pug Symbolism in Chinese Culture


The pug has a long history and cultural significance in China. Originating over 2000 years ago, pugs were prized by Chinese emperors and became a symbol of status and good fortune. Their distinctive physical features, especially the wrinkles on their foreheads, were purposefully bred to resemble Chinese characters symbolizing luck and prosperity. Pugs continue to hold an important place in Chinese culture and folklore.

Pug Symbolism and Meaning in Chinese Culture

  • Companions of emperors and royalty – Pugs were bred to be lapdogs and companions to Chinese emperors and royal families. Owning and caring for pugs demonstrated wealth and status.
  • Symbol of luck and prosperity – The wrinkles on a pug’s forehead were deliberately bred to resemble the Chinese character for “prince” (王). The more wrinkles, the more auspicious the pug was considered by the Chinese1.
  • Resemblance to Fu Dogs – Pugs bear a physical resemblance to Fu Dogs, mythical protective lions in Chinese culture. It’s believed ancient Chinese breeders used Fu Dog statues as inspiration for developing the pug’s appearance.
  • Guardian lions – In imperial China, pugs were thought to have protective powers and the ability to ward off evil spirits. Their status as guardians persists in modern Chinese folklore.
  • Different colored pugs symbolized different qualities – Yellow pugs symbolized happiness and prosperity. Black pugs were bold and daring. White pugs were associated with ultimate luck.
  • Part of Buddhist tradition – In ancient Tibet, Buddhist monks kept pugs as pets in their monasteries. Pugs became part of Buddhist lore and iconography in China.

Pug Symbolism in Western Culture

  • In the 16th century, pugs spread to Europe through trade routes. They became popular pets among royal families in countries like the Netherlands, England, Spain, and France.
  • Pugs were especially beloved by William of Orange, Marie Antoinette, and Queen Victoria. A pug named Pompey once saved William of Orange’s life, leading to pugs becoming the official dog of the House of Orange.
  • In art and literature, pugs were often included in aristocratic portraits and associated with upper-class women. Their presence symbolized wealth and indolence.
  • In the 18th century, a Catholic secret society called the Order of the Pug used pugs as their symbol. Pugs represented the group’s loyalty and trustworthiness.
  • Today, pugs remain one of the most popular breeds. Their squished faces and loyal personalities have earned them many celebrity fans and a large following on social media.
  • While originally from China, pugs have become ingrained in Western culture over centuries, evolving from royal lapdogs to beloved family pets. Their image in art has shaped perceptions of the breed as a status symbol and companion animal-.

Symbolic Meanings of Pug Physical Attributes

Symbolic Meanings of Pug

Beyond their cultural symbolism, the physical qualities of pugs also carry symbolic weight:

  • Wrinkled face – Their squished, expressive face represents wisdom gained from living life to the fullest.
  • Curled tail – The tight tail curl symbolizes happiness and heart energy.
  • Large eyes – Their wide excited eyes represent curiosity, joviality, and youthfulness.
  • Flat muzzle – While lending an underdog appeal, their smushed muzzle also symbolizes determination.
  • Barrel chest – The strong chest denotes inner strength, resilience, and a bold spirit.
  • Black coat – In Western cultures, the black coat signifies luxury and elegance.

Key Takeaway: Different physical attributes of pugs have taken on their own symbolic meanings related to wisdom, joy, curiosity, determination, strength, and luxury.

Symbolic Meaning of Pugs in Dreams

Symbolic Meaning of Pugs in Dreams

Pugs are a breed of dog known for their squished, wrinkly faces and playful, affectionate nature. In dreams, pugs can symbolize several things:

  • Companionship and friendship – As loyal, loving pets, pugs in dreams often represent a need for companionship, affection, and social connection. If you dream of a pug, it may indicate a desire for a close bond with someone or that you need more supportive relationships.
  • Playfulness and lightheartedness – With their silly, amusing personalities, pugs embody a childlike joy and lightheartedness. Dreaming of a pug can suggest you need more fun and laughter in your life or that you should approach a situation with less seriousness.
  • Accepting change – Pugs are known to be adaptable dogs that can readily accept life changes. A pug dream can signify it’s time to embrace change in your waking life, whether in relationships, careers, living situations, etc. The pug reminds you to roll with life’s changes.
  • Protection and security – As loyal guard dogs to their owners, pugs represent protection and attentiveness. If a pug appears in your dream, you may be seeking security in your relationships or environment. Or the pug could indicate someone in your life who protects you.
  • Independence – While very affectionate, pugs can also be stubborn and independent at times. If you dream of a pug, your subconscious may be signaling a need for more self-reliance or time alone.

Spiritual Wisdom of Pug Symbolism

What lessons can pug symbolism teach us from a spiritual perspective?

  • Stay present and live joyfully, just like a pug greeting each day with enthusiasm.
  • Nurture your relationships and community, demonstrating loyalty.
  • Persevere cheerfully like a pug, even when facing obstacles.
  • Maintain childlike curiosity to keep learning and growing.
  • Listen to your inner voice and intuition when facing decisions.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously – balance hard work with play.

Frequently Asked Questions about Pug Symbolism

Here are answers to some common questions about the symbolic meaning of pugs:

Pug Symbolism

Q: What does a pug tattoo symbolize?

A: Pug tattoos generally represent good luck, loyalty, perseverance through challenges, and playfulness.

Q: Do pugs symbolize love?

A: Yes, pugs can symbolize faithful, devoted love because of their affectionate nature and attachment to their owners.

Q: What does a pug with a flower symbolize?

A: A pug with a flower symbolizes beauty, growth, the balance between strength and gentleness, and the sweetness of life.

Q: Why are pugs a symbol of Holland?

A: Pugs became linked to Holland during the 16th century when Dutch traders brought them from China. The Dutch royal family embraced pugs as pets, cementing their national symbolism.


With their long history as lovable companions, pugs have become icons representing loyalty, charm, protection, determination, and joy. Their symbolic meanings shine through in both Eastern and Western cultures in art, literature, spiritual traditions, and more. The pug’s endearing wrinkles and curlicue tail will likely continue inspiring smiles and symbolizing life’s virtues for ages to come.

  1. https://www.barfworld.com/blog/pugs-a-symbol-of-chinese-mythology []

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