Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder, or Pretty is as Pretty Does

How many of you have heard these expressions tossed casually into a conversation and have later wondered what they truly mean and how they apply to you? My great grandmother was particularly fond of peppering her speech with these old saws, and while they have a certain rustic charm, I find them a bit dismissive and confusing. Which brings me to an expression one hears frequently…pug ugly. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I, for one, am offended.

Pugs are bred for our singular appearance: a flat face, bulbous eyes, and short curled-up pig’s tail. We did not request these features, which frankly offer endless health issues, but rather you humans decided to breed these into our DNA because you find them so appealing. Why then, should we become the butt of “pug ugly” or “pugly?” It makes no sense to me.

You might say these are only words but to a sensitive pug or human, words are invested with great power…power to heal or to hurt. I contend that what is beautiful to one is not necessarily to another, but that using the object in question as the derisive adjective is cruel.

The expression, “pretty is as pretty does,” offers the less attractive individual or pug hope, in that physical beauty doesn’t necessarily equal beauty of the soul. My great grandmother used it as a verbal punishment and admonishment to her children when their behavior tested her patience. I believe she wished to instill humility in her brood but she probably wasn’t very successful. I’ve used similar techniques with Lizzie, who, quite frankly, tests and tries my patience daily. I love to remind her that her “grill” resembles nothing more than a random toss of a few Chicklets and her body would appeal only to a sausage maker. I’ve suggested that now would be a good time to consider developing a personality, instead of believing she has the kind of looks for which males of all species hunger. Lizzie is a delusional fool most of the time and it is my responsibility to remind her of her limitations. I digress.

Some of us are truly blessed to possess both beauty of body and soul, and for that I am grateful. I do caution you, however, to think before you thoughtlessly refer to a pug or person as pug ugly. There are better words.

Respectfully submitted,


Indolent, slovenly, and unkempt...poor delusional Lizzie

A truly beautiful speciman, in both body and soul...the gold standard for pugs.


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13 responses to “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder, or Pretty is as Pretty Does

  1. Jen and Puck


    I totally agree with how you said that calling something pug ugly is offensive to pugs and pug lovers. People always tell me that Puck, my pug, is so ugly he’s cute. I bluntly tell them that he is just cute, not ugly and then I ask them how they would feel if I told them they were so ugly that they were cute? Puck and I love your blog, and you are a pug with both inner and outer beauty. 🙂

  2. Jen and Puck,
    Thank you for taking the time to write. It is always good to know folks who concur with yours truly! I am glad you enjoy my humble efforts. Keep reading.


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  4. Mason,
    When someone says that about us, our mom remarks that she thought that about the speaker’s children but thought it rude to say it first. She doesn’t win many friends that way, but what can you do?
    We should start a campaign to change the way “pugly” is used. Like “phat” or “bad” are now considered compliments. With that, Mason, you are quite the pugly fellow.

    Yours truly,
    Tallulah and Petunia

    • Dear Tallulah and Petunia,
      Your compliments are well-received and I thank you. I feel a responsibility to all pugs/pug owners in this particular campaign and I will continue to make folks aware of how their innocuous words can have harmful consequences.
      Thanks for writing!

  5. Ahhh, Mason….. They’re just JEALOUS! Pugs command attention everywhere they romp. Having large, bulbous eyes conveys greater depth than those with smaller eyes. Your squigly tail is revered by all those unfortunate pups with useless appendages seemingly hanging from their backsides….. and that flat, folded face reveals great wisdom beyond any dog’s years. Perfection, indeed.

    We hope you find this a relieving thought, but we’ve never heard the term “pug ugly”, and we’ll never utter that offensive term – ever! How insensitive and foolish a statement. People, pfft!

    Poor, indolent, slovenly & unkempt Lizzie…..try to be sympathetic, darlin, because leaving in your supreme shadow can be difficult.

    Lisa, Vayla, Tucker, Joey and Max

    • Lisa,
      I couldn’t have said it better myself…but as for cutting Lizzie some slack, I am not sure how successful I can be. She tries my patience sorely but, as you said, living in my shadow is difficult.
      Thanks so much for writing,

  6. sue

    Mason I was so glad to hear from you and I have never heard that sayig pug ugly how can anybody say that I think all pugs are beautiful inside and out I couldn’t imagine life without a pug or two and as always a very handsome picture of you and a cute one of lizzie

  7. Mary Cole

    Dear Mason, I’ve always thought the phrase was “butt ugly.” We have a foster dog staying with us this month who is, unfortunately, “butt ugly” and yet is among the sweetest souls I have ever known. Our friends are accepted for their beautiful insides more than their beautiful outsides. You, of course, are a beautiful pug as well as a beautiful spirit. But then, so is Lizzie, so be nice.

    • Mary,
      There is, of course, that saying as well…both offend my greater sensibilities.
      Lizzie has her fans, I know, but I am not one of them. We co-exist and that is all. And Grandma, I would appreciate it if you made no comment on my statement!
      Thank you for your letter and kind words,

  8. Lexie, Chloe & Coco's Mom

    Dearest Mason,
    Your eloquent words, as usual, ring true. I remember when we first adopted Lexie. She was our second pug, and was just this little tiny, cute puppy. My father-in-law came over about a week after we got her, took one look at her, and exclaimed, “Wow, that dog is even uglier than the first one!”
    Okay, first of all, NO SHE WASN’T! She was adorable! And secondly, even if she WAS, you don’t SAY that!
    I learned then that those people who just don’t “get it” when it comes to the beauty of our babies, don’t deserve to. Let them live in their ignorance. To us, pugs are beautiful, adorable little fuzzy children, and we’re proud to have many of those little faces in picture frames around our house!
    And I’m sure your parents and grandparents couldn’t agree more.

    • Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, but unfortunately many viewers are blind to the intrinsic beauty of a pug. How unfortunate the words that your father-in-law chose to welcome your newest family member. Let me assure you, however, that we pugs are used to the “slings and arrows” directed at us, as well as the words of praise. We are able to handle both extremely well since we are so sure of our parents’ love for us.
      Thank you for a heartfelt letter.

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