Last Updated on April 16, 2023
With their squashed, wrinkly faces, bug-like protruding eyes, squat, short legs, and curly, pig-like tails, Pugs are among the most recognizable breeds in the Dogdom.
But how many different Pug colors are there, and which is the most common? Do Pugs have markings, and can you get a blue-eyed Pug? Keep reading to answer some of these questions.
- 1 How Do Pug Color Genetics Work?
- 2 What are the Breed-Approved Pug Coat Colors?
- 3 Pug Markings
- 4 What is the Rarest Pug Color?
- 5 Do Pugs Change Color as They Age?
- 6 Does Pug Coat Color Affect Temperament?
- 7 Do Pug Colors Affect Health?
- 8 How About Pug Eye Color?
- 9 Taking Care of Your Pug’s Coat
- 10 Which Pug Color Will You Choose?
- 11 Further reading: Pug mixes
How Do Pug Color Genetics Work?
Both parents pass on their genes to the puppy, which determines the coat color of the dog. With black being the dominant color, one black and one fawn parent will produce a black Pug.
This means that fawn-colored Pugs are the result of two recessive genes. Although the black gene is the dominant one, fawn-colored dogs are more popular and more commonly found.
What are the Breed-Approved Pug Coat Colors?
Pugs come in four primary colors, namely fawn, silver-fawn, apricot-fawn, and black. The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially only recognizes two of these colors in the breed standard: fawn and black.
Where things become confusing is how a fawn-colored dog is determined as the AKC range for this color is anything from light to medium.
Dogs that do not fall into one of these two color categories can still be registered as purebred Pugs with the AKC but as an alternate color. Alternate color Pugs can not be shown in the AKC conformation show ring.
Also, show judges will consider the color they see in competition and not just what the registration papers say as somethings the line between real fawn and silver or apricot is blurred.
As a result, breeders in the United States try not to allow silver or apricot tones within their purebred fawn Pugs.
On the other hand, the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) and the Kennel Club of the UK (KC) allow for the registration and showing of four different colors; silver, apricot, fawn, and black.
The Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) allows three of these colors, namely black, silver-fawn and fawn with fawn allowing anything from light gold to a deep apricot.
Check out this video to see Biggie the Pug, which won the Toy Group at the Westminster Dog Show in 2018:
1. Fawn Pug
The most common color, about two-thirds of all Pugs are in the fawn color range, which is a light to medium cream.
Fawn-colored Pugs are not always a solid color but can show variations or blending in their coat, with the Pug’s wrinkles also allowing for some color variations.
Even though a dog’s registration papers in America list a Pug as a fawn, they might be silver or apricot. Silver, or silver-fawn Pugs, are not very common.
This color is the lightest you will find in this breed as it is like a light, silvery cream. On the other hand, Apricot-fawn or apricot Pugs have a cream-colored coat with warm, shiny orange undertones.
Like silver Pugs, apricot-colored dogs are not very common. Sometimes the apricot color is also not found on their entire body but is more prevalent in patches, specifically on the chest.
2. Black Pug
Black Pugs should have a deep, rich, solid black coat from their head down to the tail.
Black-colored Pugs usually have one black and one fawn parent with a brown sheen to their coat in the sunlight.
Pugs show a variety of markings, which are mostly seen on fawn Pugs. The most common marking is the mask, in which the face has black markings that start at the chin, cover the muzzle, and surround the eyes.
The mask can vary quite a bit, covering almost the entire face or separated between the muzzle and eyes.
Some have light-colored hairs throughout their masks. But in the show ring, the darker the Pug mask, the better.
Their ears should also be black, just like Black Pugs with black masks, but they aren’t discernible because they’re entirely black.
On non-black Pugs, trace and thumbprint markings are also sometimes visible. These markings are desired in the show ring of all kennel clubs, although not all Pugs will have these markings.
The trace that starts at the nape of their neck down to the tail is dark-colored with black-tipped hairs. Just like with their mask, thicker and darker traces are more desirable when being shown.
If used for conformation events, Pugs with no trace aren’t often used by breeders.
The thumbprint, also known as the diamond or thumb mark, is a dark black spot that is seen on the wrinkles on the forehead.
Although irregular in shape, the thumbprint is most often seen as circular or oval. The thumbprint is caused by the shadows of the wrinkles and its darker-colored fur.
Some dogs also have markings known as smuttiness. Smuttiness refers to black hairs covering an otherwise light coat, forming a gray coloration on a dog.
These darker hairs can occur anywhere on a dog, including the legs, saddle, and head. The denser these hairs, the more smuttiness a dog has. Smuttiness is considered a fault and is not desirable for show dogs.
Some Pugs have a mismark, which are small, white markings on their paws and chest. This can be seen in all colors of Pugs and is due to the parti-factor gene.
It makes the canine look like it’s wearing mittens, which is why they’re called mitted dogs. Though they look cute with those pads, judges in dog shows can’t say the same.
What is the Rarest Pug Color?
When looking for a Pug puppy to call your own, you may stumble upon some rare, trendy, and exotic colors. This includes white, brindle, chocolate, pink, and even panda Pugs.
Discover more about these different colors below.
3. White Pugs
White Pugs are very rare. One very famous White Pug is named Marshmallow, and he is an internet sensation!
Solid white pugs can often be mistaken for albinos but are more likely the result of a crossbreed with French Bulldogs or Pekingese. Unlike albinos, white Pugs will have dark paws, eyes, and a dark nose.
4. Brindle Pugs
Although rare, Brindle-colored Pugs do occur. This coloring gives the dogs a striped appearance with interlocking light and dark colors.
Brindle colored Pugs are typically grey to black. This coat color is not accepted as a standard color by any major kennel clubs and thus not eligible for show.
As a result, champion show dogs do not have brindle genes, and this coloring is not bred within registered breeders.
However, some paintings of Pugs in the 1700s do show Pugs with brindle coats. In all likelihood, this coat color died out due to it not being desired by breeders.
Thus, it is assumed that modern Brindle pugs were bred at some stage with Boston Terriers or French Bulldogs to reintroduce this coloring.
However, this could have been done multiple generations back, resulting in some purebred lines still having a random brindle variant pop up from time to time.
5. Blue Pugs
Black Pugs that are the offspring of two black dogs will have a very dark black that can sometimes even appear blue in the sunlight.
These dogs will always produce black puppies. These black dogs are the result of two dominant black parents and are quite rare to find.
6. Merle Pugs
Merle Pugs typically have a merle Chihuahua somewhere in their breeding history. These dogs have a distinctive pattern to their coat, a mottled coloring similar to that seen in Australian Shepherds.
This can either be fawn and black or black and white-colored, also known as blue-merle.
7. Chocolate Pugs
Chocolate Pugs are extremely rare. Koto is the first known Chocolate Pug to exist in the United States and was born to one fawn parent and one black parent.
8. Panda Pugs
The Panda Pug gets its name from the markings found on its coat. These dogs have predominantly white coats with black markings, generally around the eyes and ears, giving them a panda-like appearance. They can sometimes also have one or two blue eyes.
9. Black and Tan Pugs
Black and Tan Pugs are extremely rare and occur when they exhibit both colors on the same coat. This gives the dog a similar coat coloring to what you might find on a Rottweiler.
10. Pink Pugs
Pink Pugs are Albino Pugs that are lacking melanin. Unlike white Pugs, albinos with this rare genetic mutation will have light pink skin, and the lips, ears, paws, and nose will also be pink.
These dogs do not have white fur but rather fine hairs that appear white when all grouped. These dogs will also have ashen blue eyes.
11. Chinchilla Pugs
Chinchilla Pugs are leucistic Pugs where a chinchilla pigmentation mixes with white in a leucistic black Pug. This is a recessive gene, and thus dogs of this coloring are scarce.
Be very careful of anyone marketing dogs of this color variant, as many health issues will likely plague these dogs.
12. Pied Pugs
Pied Pugs usually have equal amounts of black or brown to white. Pied Pug puppies likely have some French Bulldog or Boston Terrier somewhere in their lineage.
13. Platinum Pugs
Platinum Pugs are a deep, dark grey. They are distinctly darker than fawn-silver Pugs and not as dark as purebred black Pugs.
Some very smutty fawn or silver Pugs are often passed off as Platinum Pugs by unscrupulous breeders.
Is it okay to get a rare-colored Pug?
These rare colors are typically not part of the purebred Pug bloodline and are not accepted by any major kennel club.
It is thus likely that at some point, purebred Pugs have been bred with other dog breeds to achieve these colors.
So, you may never know quite what you are getting when you purchase a Pug in a rare color. Genetic analysis may even reveal that your Pug is not even a purebred dog at all.
The Pug Dog Club of America clarifies that any reputable breeder should not be interested in breeding any Pug color, other than fawn or black.
Do Pugs Change Color as They Age?
Pugs can change color slightly as they age. It is very common for a fawn Pug puppy’s coat to lighten or darken.
This change typically occurs before the dog is a year old; however, apricot tones may only appear when a dog is older.
Some puppies are also born with quite a lot of smuttiness. However, this smuttiness can lighten, darken, or fade as a dog gets older, often leaving the dog with just the trace line down the back.
On the other hand, puppies born with noticeable trace lines can see these fade as the dog ages.
When it comes to thumbprint markings, most puppies are either born with or without this. It is unlikely that your Pug will develop a thumbprint as they age, but an existing marking can get darker and larger.
Why do Pugs lose their color?
Just like with humans, Pugs can go gray as they age. This greying typically happens as your dog enters his senior years, around eight years old.
Your dog will then go increasingly gray with time. These gray hairs appear all over the body but are most noticeable on your dog’s face and with black-colored Pugs.
Does Pug Coat Color Affect Temperament?
Your Pug’s color should not affect your dog’s personality, temperament, and energy level. Your dog’s character has more to do with how they are raised and the parent dogs’ personality.
That is why it is always essential to meet your Pug puppy’s parents before deciding on your dog.
Do Pug Colors Affect Health?
While all four standard coat color Pug variants are generally healthy, you can start to see some issues with the rare color Pugs.
This is because there is no control over those that are not bred to the breed standards, and often these breeders take shortcuts when it comes to looking after the health and well-being of their dogs.
One particular variety to be wary of is the Albino Pug. Selective breeding Albino Pugs can result in many health problems, including issues when exposed to sunlight due to the lack of pigment in their body.
This can lead to pain and irritation of the eyes and skin and an increased likelihood of developing skin cancer.
How About Pug Eye Color?
All Pugs should have brown eyes. Blue is not in the genetic code of the Pug; however, like humans, these dogs can be born with darker blue eyes, which will naturally darken as the dog ages and their melanin levels increase.
Your dog should have his set eye color by the age of seven weeks. This brown can range from a medium brown to a very dark, almost black color.
Taking Care of Your Pug’s Coat
Most Pugs have a thick, double-layered coat. If you are looking for a dog that sheds less, you may consider getting a black Pug.
Some black Pugs are born with a single coat that sheds less; however, this is not guaranteed, and some black Pugs still have two layers of fur.
On the other hand, fawn-colored hair tends to be less noticeable around the house, on your clothes, and on furniture.
Either way, be sure to regularly brush your Pug to get rid of any dead and loose hairs. Bathing is only necessary once a month, taking care to wipe out the wrinkles and keep them free from moisture.
Your Pug’s nails will need to be trimmed regularly; however, nail-trimming can be more difficult on black Pugs.
While all Pugs have black nails, black Pugs’ nails are darker, making it difficult to see the veins when trimming.
Which Pug Color Will You Choose?
Now that you know more about the different Pug colors available, which one will you choose? Will you go for the standard yet cute fawn Pug, the rarer silver or apricot varieties, or opt for a Pug in beautiful black?
Do you already own a Pug? Let us know what color they are in the comments below.
Further reading: Pug mixes
Cess is the Head of Content Writing at K9 Web and a passionate dog care expert with over 5 years of experience in the Pet Industry. With a background in animal science, dog training, and behavior consulting, her hands-on experience and extensive knowledge make her a trusted source for dog owners.
When not writing or leading the K9 Web content team, Cess can be found volunteering at local shelters and participating in dog-related events.