Retro Pug vs Pug — Which Is Best For You?

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Bringing a new dog home is always an exciting time. But there’s a lot to consider, too. Temperament, size, and the amount of exercise they need all play a role in your decision.

So, if you’re thinking about bringing a pug home, you may have come across the term retro pug. But you’re no doubt wondering—what is a retro pug?

The answer might surprise you. We’ll compare a retro pug vs. pug so that you can decide which breed is the best fit for you. 

retro pug vs pug

Retro Pug vs. Regular Pug: What’s the Difference?

When comparing a retro pug vs. pug, the most notable difference is in the face. 

Pugs are brachycephalic, meaning they have a squashed face. That’s what gives pugs their classic and adorable appearance.

However, there are some health downsides to the brachycephalic nature of pugs, which we’ll talk about shortly.

In contrast, retro pugs (which some people refer to as “retro mops”) have longer noses. 

retro pug vs pug

The reason?

They’re not a true pug—one parent is a purebred pug while the other is a Jack Russell Terrier.

In fact, many people claim that retro pugs more closely resemble their ancestors. Over the years, breeders have transformed pugs that originated in China into having shorter bodies and flatter faces.

In other words, bringing home a retro pug is like welcoming the original pug into your home.


Another distinguishing feature between retro pugs and pugs is their eyes. 

Pugs have bulging eyes. In contrast, a retro pug’s eyes are set deeper in the sockets, more closely resembling the eyes of most other dog breeds.

That’s thanks to the Jack Russell Terrier’s influence, which offers retro pugs yet another health benefit (more on that soon, too).


Both the retro pug breed and standard pug have fawn-colored coats.

However, the retro pug tends to have more black features around its face and down its back. 

Nevertheless, this difference is minimal. Therefore, it’s common for people to mistake retro pugs for a pug at first glance.


Thanks to the Jack Russell Terrier’s influence, a retro pug has longer ears than a pug.

That said, the difference in ear length is small. It also doesn’t impact the dog’s health for better or worse—it’s purely an aesthetic difference.

retro pug vs pug

Body Type

We all recognize pugs for having round, chubby bodies. The same isn’t always true for retro pugs.

Retro pugs have a slimmer shape, with longer legs and a less girthy stomach. Even so, most retro pugs are around the same size as pugs.


Whether you bring home a pug or retro pug, you can expect both dogs to display similar behavioral qualities. They include: 

  • Energetic
  • Playful
  • Loving
  • Friendly

Pugs tend to get along well with other dogs, especially if you socialize them well when they’re young. 

They’re also excellent dogs for children, not only because of their affectionate nature but because their mouths are too small to deliver a strong bite.

Considering Your Pug’s Health

When deciding whether to bring home a retro pug vs. pug, health is one of the most important factors to weigh.

Retro pugs generally live healthier lives than standard pugs because of the increasingly extreme breeding practices to make pugs have flatter faces and more bulging eyes.

Let’s start with the issue of short snouts

A pug’s squashed face can make it challenging for them to breathe. The wheezing you sometimes hear when you pass a pug on the street isn’t cute—it’s them struggling to take in air.

One of the most common health issues in pugs is Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS). The disease is a result of a short skull length. As a result, a pug has too much tissue in its airways. So, it impacts the amount of air that reaches its lungs.  

In severe cases, pugs need surgery to solve this problem. In milder cases, you’ll need to ensure your pug doesn’t get overexcited, doesn’t exercise too heavily, and stays cool in hot weather.

The second common health issue in pugs that don’t occur as frequently in retro pugs is problems from their bulging eyes. 

Some breeders design a pug’s genetics so that their eyes bulge so much that they can’t even blink properly. Even in less extreme cases, bulging eyes can lead to the following problems:

  • Damaging the eye by running into objects
  • Eye discharge
  • Discolored spots
  • Weeping eyes

Your veterinarian may prescribe your pug eye drops to help with certain issues. You should also do your due diligence to keep sharp objects away from your pug’s eye level. 

retro pug vs pug

How Much Do Retro Pugs Cost?

Retro pug prices vary greatly depending on your location and the bloodline. However, you can expect to pay anywhere from $800 – $1,500 for a retro pug as a rough estimate.

In contrast, purebred pugs typically start at a much higher price range, from around $1,200 and up into the $2,500 range. Keep in mind that a regular pug may also end up costing you more money in the long run due to common health issues that retro pugs don’t typically experience.

Nevertheless, before you invest your money buying a retro pug or pug, we encourage you to call around to nearby animal shelters. 

Not only would you be able to adopt one of these dogs for a lower price, but you’d be giving a home to an animal in need and opening space at the shelter for another rescue dog.

Retro Pug vs Pug – Which One Is Right for You?

Every dog owner-to-be has different needs, so we’re not about to tell you that it’s better to bring home a retro pug vs. a pug. However, it’s worth giving the health implications of owning a pug some serious thought.

If you decide that a traditional pug is the best fit for you, make sure to do your due diligence to ensure the breeder doesn’t use extreme brachycephalic breeding practices.

Regardless of the type of pug that you bring home, get ready to receive lots of snuggles and love from your new family member.

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PugFacts is a small team of devoted PUG owners – so we understand what it’s like to be obsessed with your pup! We consult with veterinarians and dog behavior experts to bring you the best advice for your furry companions.

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Expert tips, advice, and inspiration to keep your PUG healthy and happy

PugFactsGuide is a small team of devoted Pug owners – so we understand what it’s like to be obsessed with your Pug! We consult with veterinarians and dog behavior experts to bring you the best advice for your furry companions.