You may recall that the original breeders of the pug wanted a dog with large, front-facing eyes, like a human infant’s (see How Did Pugs Lose Their Snouts? Posted October 27, 2015). In the same tradition, today’s dog show judges and pug breeders put a high value on eyes that are “very large, bold, and prominent.” Without a doubt, without a snout to detract from them, our own pugs’ eyes look very large and prominent, indeed.
Here’s Sarah (below), her “very large” and “prominent” eyes bulging a bit more than usual, as she waits for a treat.
Pugs’ eyes also appear to be “bold.” Pugs are helped along in this by the fact that their eyes are encircled by dark pigment that has the appearance of eyeliner. Like eyeliner make-up for humans, this pigment emphasizes the eyes. This natural eyeliner is worn by all pugs, but it’s more visible on fawn pugs like Sarah (below).
On a black pug, black eyeliner just isn’t very noticeable. Below, even though Duchess has gotten very gray, you can still see the “eyeliner” on her lower eyelid.
Those big, bold bug eyes may be just what pug breeders and dog show judges look for, but a pug’s eyes are sitting targets for all kinds of loose fluff and stuff blowing in the wind, such as pollen, dirt, or other debris, as well as any pug-level swishing weed or vine. The assault by such foreign matter irritates the outer covering of the eye, and then the irritated area provides a great place for germs to enter and multiply.
Because of such assaults on their eyes, our pugs have learned that daily applications of various medicinal eye drops and ointments area normal part of life. In fact, Sarah even voluntarily tilts her head from one side to the other, making it easier for me to apply the drops to each eye.
Sarah does this so blithely and automatically that you’d almost think that this, too, is a trait that pugs are born with – but she’s the only pug who helps me out this way.