Retro Pug: A Complete Guide To This Pug Breed

Regular pugs have numerous health problems, especially with their short snouts and flat faces. The brachycephaly leads to eye injuries and breathing difficulties, necessitating the breeding of the retro pug.

A retro Pug is a mixed pug breed obtained from breeding between a standard purebred Pug and a Jack Russell Terrier. The resulting mixed dog resembles the Pug in a lot of ways including the short, stocky build, round head, and skin folds. However, they almost always take after the Terrier’s longer snout, therefore, eliminating most health issues associated with brachycephaly.

This mixed pooch was designed to reduce health issues in the adored pug breed while still maintaining most of the aesthetics for the best of both worlds. If you are considering getting one of your own, you have come to the right place for a complete guide on exactly what you should expect. Let us take a closer look at what you have to deal with including health problems that are not always weeded out which we covered in the second section.

What Is A Retro Pug?

Image from Instagram:@pippavongermanika

The retro pug is a mixed breed dog from a Jack Russell Terrier and a purebred standard pug. The term retro pug is a direct translation of the German word “Retromöpse”. This was created by German breeders who worked for decades trying to improve the health status of pugs.

After extensive research and trials, they settled on Jack Russell Terriers as the mixing breed of choice as it gave mixed puppies with the closest genetic and physical resemblance to the pug.

For the most part, retro pugs resemble their pug parents in many ways. They are known for their short and stocky body but are noticeably leaner than the pugs. They also tend to have the same round head, facial folds, as well as short and droopy that pugs are known for.

Jack Russell’s influence in a retro pug is usually expressed through the length of the face. While there is no guarantee that the brachycephaly will be eliminated, most retro pugs have notably longer faces than their pug parents.

As a result, the airway is less compressed and reduces the risks of breathing difficulties, reverse sneezing, and even eye prolapse which is all associated with the shorter snouts. This makes them way healthier than regular pugs.

Other than the snout difference, the retro pug may be slightly taller than a regular pug with a height range of 9 to 15 inches. The coat color is the hardest to predict and depends on what genes the parents carry.

However, whether it is a single color like tan or a tricolor combination, the coat of a retro pug is always short and smooth.

How Long Do Retro Pugs Live? Common Health Problems Of A Retro Pug

Image from Instagram:@bruno_theretropug

A regular pug has a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years while the Jack Russell can live 13 to 16 years. The retro pug takes more after the terrier parent and can live up to 16 years or more.

This is because the longer snout eliminates several potentially life-threatening health issues found in flat-faced and short-snouted pure pugs.

However, this does not mean that retro pugs are free from health issues. Here are 5 of the most common ones seen with these pug terrier mixes so you know what to look out for.


Retro pugs have several skin allergies including sensitivity to pollen, dust mites, and even pests like fleas. This is the main cause of intense itchiness and skin lesions you may find on the dog. They are also prone to food intolerance from gluten and dairy to some animal protein sources.

Hip And Shoulder Dysplasia

Dysplasia refers to abnormal formation of the joints mainly in the hip and shoulder region. With time, this could lead to arthritis causing the dog more pain and disability.

Skin Cancer

Another common cause of skin lesions with retro pugs is skin cancer. Mast cell tumors and squamous cell carcinomas are particularly problematic, especially with older ones.


Hereditary epilepsy in this case is more often than not from the Jack Russell terrier. It causes random seizure attacks from an early age. With close monitoring and consistent treatment, it should not be too much of a problem.

Dental Problems

While the mixing does elongate the face, the jaw of the retro pug is often still too short to accommodate the teeth comfortably. Without proper dental hygiene, this increases the risk of issues like tartar buildup, gum disease, and the formation of cavities.

How To Take Care Of A Retro Pug?

Retro pugs may be healthier than their parents but they still need a lot of tenders, loving care. To make your life a lot easier, here are a few tips on how to raise a happy and healthy dog.

Feed Them Good Quality Food

Retro pugs are prone to obesity and may have several food intolerances. As a result, it is very important that you only feed them high-quality food. We recommend you try the Pet Plate fresh food subscription packages.

They have numerous options including beef, turkey, chicken, and even lamb meal plans so you can switch things up. The best part is that all the food is made from human-grade ingredients and flash frozen to guarantee freshness and flavor.

Get Them Supplements For Their Bones And Joints

Joint dysplasia can be horrible for your dog to live with. One way to put them out of their misery is through bone and joint supplements. Doggie Dailies Glucosamine is a fantastic option in this case.

These are soft chew treats enriched with compounds like chondroitin, glucosamine, MSMA, and CoQ 10. In addition to offering relief for inflamed joints, the compounds in this supplement promote healing and the overall functioning of the joints by promoting lubrication.

Invest In Playtime

In addition to a healthy diet, you could prevent obesity in your retro pug by simply getting them to work out. They may not be the most athletic dogs out there but they love to play. So invest about 30 minutes to an hour to playtime whether indoors or outside.

Get Properly-Fitted Body Accessories

While the snout may be longer in the retro pug, they are still at a higher risk of developing breathing difficulties than many other dogs. Tight collars, harnesses, and dog clothes only make matters worse. As a result, ensure you get something flexible and properly fitted when it comes to such accessories to avoid choking your dog.

Temperaments Of A Retro Pug

Both pugs and Jack Russell terriers are very friendly dogs. However, pugs are even-tempered and calm where the terriers tend to be loud and lively. So what can you expect from your retro pug? Here are a few common temperament traits.


Training a retro pug is a real joy because they are super smart and very eager to please. You just have to be consistent and reward them properly and they will pick up on whatever skills you teach.


Retro pugs are loyal almost to a fault which makes them ideal for family setups. They also tend to be very protective as a result and although they are not aggressive, they may break character if they feel you are threatened.


Retro pugs are huge suckers for affection. They love to cuddle and get back and belly rubs and you can bet they will not be subtle in their demands for this attention.


Speaking of attention, retro pugs love to be the center of it. This could make leaving them alone whether to run errands or to go to work could be problematic.

The Furbo Dog Camera would come in very handy in this case. This revolutionary remote monitoring unit allows you to keep an eye out for your pooch when you are away. It also allows you to interact with the dog including throwing them treats.

Can Be Loud Or More Laid Back

It could go either way and it just depends on their training and which parent’s temperament they took more after. You could either have a quiet observer on your hand or a yappy firecracker.

Grooming Tips For A Retro Pug

Retro pugs tend to shed minimally and are therefore relatively low maintenance when it comes to grooming.

However, with health issues like skin allergies and the associated coat consequences, you have to be very smart about your grooming practices. Here are 4 tips that should help.

Brush Their Fur Once To Twice A Week

While retro pugs may not be extreme shedders, it is still important to brush their coats regularly to get rid of the unavoidable loose strands. This will save you a lot of dander cleanup.

Limit Washing To Once Every Month Or Two

Pugs have very sensitive skin with all their allergies. The last thing you want to do is strip the skin and coat of their protective oily layer. It is, therefore, best to only wash them when necessary and with an ideal interval of every month or two.

Invest In High Quality Grooming Products

Whether washing or brushing, good-quality products will ensure that you keep your retro pug’s coat nice and healthy. With the brushing, we would recommend the Pet Neat Grooming Brush. With its thick bristles and firm grip ergonomic handle, it is particularly useful for retro pugs with thick coats. 

Make Sure To Clean Their Teeth

A lot of dental issues that pugs suffer from are easily preventable by good dental hygiene. You could brush your dog’s teeth, feed them hard kibble, give them chew toys, or even add dental additives to their drinking water. A little effort will go a long way.

How Do I Know If My Pug Is Purebred? The easiest way to identify a purebred pug is through their head and facial features. They tend to have a round skull shape with a very short snout that gives the face a flattened look. They also have thick folds, mainly on the forehead. They also have large, round, and protruding eyes

Are Pugs Bred Cruelly? Standard pugs are in high demand due to their “cute” faces and calm personalities. However, these cute faces are responsible for their numerous brachycephaly-associated health issues. Therefore, breeding pure pugs are considered unethical and even cruel in breeding circles and are strongly discouraged. Therefore, if you must have a pug aesthetic, it is best to get a mixed breed pug.

How Much Does A Retro Pug Cost? Pugs cost between $600 and $1500 while Jack Russell terriers could set you back $800 to $1300. The retro pug’s price depends on the specific breeder as well as their physical features and could cost you as little as $800 and as much as $1500. You could also get lucky and adopt a rescue retro pug for much less or even for free.

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Pete Decker