Like other dogs, your Pug needs to begin receiving his vaccinations when he’s a puppy. Before there were vaccinations for things like parvo and canine distemper, these diseases could wipe out thousands of pet dogs in an area during a short period of time. Even today many animal shelters can have serious outbreaks of parvo because they bring in stray animals who may be unvaccinated. It’s important to make sure that you always keep your Pug up-to-date on his shots.

Your Pug will receive some immunity to the most common canine diseases from his mother when he’s born. His mother will most likely have been receiving vaccinations throughout her life and she passes her own immunity on to her puppies during the first 48 hours of life through the colostrum in her milk. Puppies get varying amounts of antibodies from their mother, however, and this immunity begins to wear off around 5-6 weeks. It can wear off at different times for different puppies in the same litter. One puppy may have some immunity to parvo for eight weeks while another may be susceptible to it at five weeks, depending on the antibodies they got from their mother. That’s why it’s important to begin vaccinating puppies at a young age and to continue vaccinating them several times. This ensures that each puppy is receiving the vaccination as his immunity is wearing off and he can begin producing his own antibodies.

There are a couple of different vaccination protocols recommended for puppies, depending on which one your veterinarian follows. One protocol suggests that puppies should begin having their shots when they are five weeks old. The other protocol suggests that puppies should begin their shots when they are 8-9 weeks old. Age is the primary difference in the two protocols, although the approach that begins at 8-9 weeks does have one less round of shots, usually. Your breeder may recommend starting shots at 5 weeks — and may already have begun the vaccinations before you get your puppy. Your vet may suggest starting shots later. You should consider which protocol you think is best or have your vet and your breeder speak to each other to work something out.

Thankfully, nearly everyone agrees on the vaccinations which make up the “core” shots for your puppy: canine distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis and rabies are all considered “core” vaccinations and your Pug really must have shots against these diseases. Non-core vaccinations include measles, canine adenovirus-2, parinfluenza, bordetella, leptospirosis, coronavirus and lyme disease. These vaccinations are still important, but they are not as essential as the core shots. Most vets suggest that should still have your Pug vaccinated against them, and many boarding and doggy daycare facilities actually require these additional vaccinations if you’d like to use their services.

For a puppy who begins his vaccinations at five weeks, a typical vaccination schedule will look like this:

5 weeks: Parvovirus vaccination

6 & 9 weeks: Combination vaccine without leptospirosis. Combination vaccine usually includes adenovirus, hepatitis, canine distemper, parinfluenza and parvovirus. Coronavirus may be included if it is a concern but coronavirus is usually a disease of newborn puppies.

12 weeks and beyond: Rabies — must be given by a vet.

12-16 weeks: Combination vaccine. Leptospirosis, coronavirus (if necessary), lyme disease.

After your Pug is a year old he will need his booster shots. These can be given in a combination vaccine or you can talk to your vet about giving your dog the boosters in alternating years since there is evidence from the American Veterinary Medical Association that immunity from each vaccine lasts longer than one year. For instance, your dog could have his canine distemper booster one year and his parvo booster the next. Getting your dog’s boosters spread out like this puts less stress on his immune system. You can also include leptospirosis, coronavirus and lyme disease in alternating years. Rabies will be required by law according to your state. In some areas it is every 2-3 years or more.

If you will be taking your dog to dog shows or if your dog will be spending any time in a boarding kennel then he will need to have his bordetella vaccination (or nasal injection) more often. Dogs who spend time in close company with other dogs can catch or spread kennel cough or other canine respiratory diseases. They are not typically fatal but they can make your dog sick. Boarding kennels require dogs to have a bordetella vaccine before they stay on their premises.

Remember that your Pug will not be protected against a disease as soon as he gets the vaccination. It usually takes several days and up to two weeks before your dog can produce the antibodies he needs to have an immunity to a disease. So, if you have your Pug vaccinated against distemper or another disease you should not rush out and expose him to other dogs or take him to places where he could encounter diseases. Use caution and common sense when it comes to protecting your Pug’s health.