Plug-Ugly Pugs

Life magazine, 12-31-45
Life magazine, 12-31-45

I had no idea folks used the term “plug-ugly” back in days of yore. I would have loved to hear my grandparents tell me someone’s hair was plug-ugly. But there’s a good chance they’d heard it:


The Plug Uglies were a street gang operating out of Baltimore, Maryland in the 1850s…Gangs called the Rip Raps, the Know Nothings and the Plug Uglies fought pitched battles in the streets and these events were widely reported at the time…’Plug-ugly’ is an expression mostly found in the USA. In other parts of the English-speaking world you are just as likely to hear ‘pug-ugly’, which has the same meaning.


Not only are pugs hard on the eyes, they reign as the Chevy Nova of the canine world.

No matter how you slice it, pugs are defective. And plug-ugly.


Well, maybe not this one.


15 thoughts on “Plug-Ugly Pugs”

    1. Ha! I knew there would be someone to defend the pugs. I have actually never spent more than a few seconds with one, so I can’t make an informed decision. But I did watch a vet show last week that said their smooshed faces meant they often stop breathing when they go under anesthesia.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ahhhh, that’s alarming. I have a Boston who also is an “apple head” but has had no problems with anesthesia.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Now see what you’ve done? You’ve taught me a new term, and I just discovered that deer-headed Chihuahuas (like the Taco Bell dog) have less dental issues and breathing problems than apple-headed ones. I also learned an “apple head” is someone who has all Apple or Mac products. And too much disposable income.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. My very Scottish mum uses the term “plug ugly”. I have a feeling she got it from the character Plug in the Bash Street Kids strip in the Beano comic. Having not known the origins of the phrase until reading your post, I now wonder if the writer of the strip had heard the term and borrowed it.

    My two youngest sons have been campaigning for a pet pug for years. I do think they are in that “so ugly they are cute” category but they stand no chance of winning their campaign. We have cats and that is quite enough for now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Out of all the dogs in the world, they really want the pug? Do you think they also like the small factor instead of a large dog? We had to get rid of two dogs who kept knocking my son down, and now we just have medium ones–bassett and beagle. Also, I would like to hear your mum use the term in a context sentence please.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. She would probably say something along the lines of, “That child has a weird nose but at least he’s not plug ugly”, or “It’s a good thing she’s so clever because she’s plug ugly”. The “plug” bit I guess is emphatic.

        My kids do prefer small dogs, that is true, but they actually just have a thing for weird looking animals. My 9 year old is, for instance, obsessed with naked mole rats.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ha ha! Honestly my kids would have a whole herd of them if they could. They love them, freaky wee beasts (mole rats AND my kids). My Mum can be pretty judgmental and harsh in private. That is when colourful phrases come in handy.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Does the plug in plug ugly have anything to do with an old horse? I have a friend who has 2 pugs and she is fiercely loyal and defensive of them. I can take them or leave them myself. I prefer my pets to require minimal maintenance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen to that. Ours are outside and stay outside. We give food, water, say hello, and sometimes walk them, though they have the run of the back yard at all times. I don’t know about an old horse.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have an 8 month old Pug whom I adore. My son begged for one for several years, and now we cannot imagine life without him. He, too, is an apple-head which concerns me a bit, but we can’t do anything about that.
    My grandmother used to say that some kids are so ugly that they are cute. I would say the same thing about Pugs. They are natural comedians, loyal, and persistent. I cannot imagine life without my “pugly.” I would love to see breeders take Pugs back to their former appearance in an effort to eliminate some of the physical and genetic issues that come up.

    Liked by 1 person

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