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Colours of Pugs

In the mid-19th century two distinct strains of Pugs dominated the Pug breeding lines for several decades. Each of these strains was named after two rival breeders, the Willoughby and the Morrison.

In the Willoughby, the black mask was not limited to the muzzle but could extend all over the head and have a less definite edge.

Coat colour of Pugs has long been a source of controversy, and much of this discussion stems from a misinterpretation of the original breed standard.

The original Pug standard mentioned silver, apricot-fawn and black as the accepted colours. For some unknown reason the fact that a hyphen was missing after the term ‘silver’ lead to the interpretation that silver, apricot and fawn were meant.

The black colour was first seen in Europe in 1886, when the English Lady Annie Brassey first exhibited black pugs at the Maidstone Show in that year. It is believed that she brought back these black pugs from a trip to China, but it has never been clearly determined where exactly she obtained the first specimen. Her published journals of the trip of the “Sunbeam” (the yacht in which she toured around the world) contain no mention of a black pug. The first black pug champion was Ch. Duke Beira. The true origin of the black colour remains unclear.

Eventually the two types became interbred and the distinction faded and silver-fawn pugs have become extremely rare today. However, it is still common to speak of a Willoughby Pug, a cold fawn colour, or a Morrison Pug, a golden apricot shade and many characteristics seen in today’s pugs can still be traced back to one of these two lines.

The Morrison Pugs were golden fawn in colour with a well-defined black mask on the muzzle and a trace on the back, a narrow black line extending from the occiput to the tail.

Like the mask, the trace was less clear in the Willoughby lines and was more like a large saddle mark. Note that a saddle mark is not the same as a smutty coat. The smutty coat looks like a dirty fawn where the black hairs are blended into the fawn colouration, often showing an irregular pattern, while the saddle mark is still like a trace, only much larger and in the form of a saddle. The base colour of the Willoughby Pugs was a colder stone-fawn or silver-fawn colour.

A further distinction between the two lines is that the fawn-coloured hairs were sometimes tipped with black in the Willoughby pugs, while the Morrison fawn was always pure.

Actually, an important judge in the Pug’s history went as far as saying that the ground colour was irrelevant, but “that the black markings that should accompany it are of considerable importance”. In other words, it is not the colour that makes the pug, but the markings. The only exception to that, of course, was the black pug. The difference is important, and may have lead to the misreading of some pug colours, or their exclusion alltogether.

Indeed, Trullinger, the famous Pug judge, breeder and exhibitor interpreted the original breed standard as follows: “By ‘fawn’ is meant almost any of the light yellowish shades, from almost a cream-white to a deep apricot-fawn and a greyish silver colour.” Pug literature of the first half of the 1900’s mentioned ‘silver-fawn’ and ‘apricot-fawn’, which clearly made of silver and apricot just two different shades of the colour fawn, not separate colours. Susan Graham Weall, an important Pug author of the 1960’s describes silver-fawn as “a clear, cold fawn having the same difference between the two tones of colour as there is between moonlight and sunlight.” Silver-fawn pugs are very rare and almost never seen in the show ring.

Silver-grey (or silver pugs) and blue pugs have been mentioned in pug literature, but are different from the silver-fawn ones. More about these other pug colours. Patchy colours have been mentioned as well.

as different colours and that (together with black) they were the only accepted ones. Some go as far as saying that a pug in a colour “other than these four” is not pure-bred. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, only a hyphen was missing after the word ‘silver’ and thus the colours in the original standard should be read as ‘silver-fawn’ and ‘apricot-fawn’, i.e. two shades of the colour fawn, instead as two separate colour categories next to fawn. Pug experts of the early 1900’s indeed confirm that different shades of the colour fawn were accepted (not just silver-fawn or apricot-fawn, but also every shade in between these colours). It would thus be more correct to speak of two categories (instead of four): fawn and black, with all shades of fawn (from a creamy white to a reddish apricot) accepted within this category. The main difference between the two categories would then not be merely based on the colour, but on the presence or absence of the distinctive mask and markings (ears, trace, moles).

So how you’ve read about the different colours of pugs, we hope this has been interesting and informative and you now understand the different colours of pugs