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Pug smiling

Look at that wrinkly face

The essentials

  • Wrinkles can trap moisture and dirt — Which creates the perfect environment for skin infections.
  • Look for any irritated skin on your dog’s face before cleaning — For the comfort and safety of your pup.
  • Clean your pug’s face daily to prevent infection And don’t forget extra treats and praise afterward!

There are so many reasons to love pugs, but their wrinkles always top our list. Pugs were originally bred in ancient China to recreate the Chinese character for “prince” in wrinkles on their foreheads. This gave them one of the most recognizable faces in the world.

These days, pugs are more known for their big personalities and fun-loving nature, but they still haven’t lost their signature look. With such beauty comes some upkeep, though. Here’s how to keep your pug’s wrinkles clean and healthy.

How to clean your pug’s wrinkles

Supplies you’ll need

  • Canine facial wipes, unscented baby wipes, or a soft, damp cloth. No abrasive materials or perfumed wipes! They can irritate your dog’s skin, especially when used near their nose and mouth.
  • Tissues, gauze, or a soft, dry cloth. Use these items to dry your pug’s wrinkles. You don’t want to leave any excess moisture behind.
  • Small training treats. To reward your little doggo for putting up with the slight invasion of personal space!
  • Wrinkle balm, coconut oil, or salve. Never use any alcohol-based products with harsh ingredients that can dry out your pug’s skin.

Now that you have everything you need, the cleaning process should be relatively easy. Follow these six steps:

1. Check for irritation

First, check your pug’s folds for any signs of redness, irritation, scabbing, or odor. These symptoms could be a sign of infection that will need to be treated with topical therapy or oral medication.

2. Gently clean inside the wrinkles

Spread apart your pug’s skin folds and softly wipe between every wrinkle with an unscented wipe or damp cloth. Always be gentle! The skin between the folds is often much more sensitive than the rest of their body. Rubbing too hard will be pretty uncomfortable for your pug and in extreme cases, can cause injuries.

Be sure to go extra slow while cleaning wrinkles that are close to your pug’s eyes. You don’t want to accidentally scratch their eye in the process.

3. Don’t forget the ears

Pugs are very prone to ear infections. When you’re cleaning their skin folds, it’s also a great time to wipe out their ears. Watch for redness, head shaking, brown or yellow residue, and any abnormal odors.

💡 A monthly bath will also help keep your pug’s armpits and other crevices clean, their coat looking healthy, and can prevent “Frito feet.” 

4. Dry any extra moisture

Always take time to dry between your dog’s skin folds with a tissue, gauze, or soft, absorbent cloth. Any residual moisture trapped in your dog’s wrinkles or ears will lead to bacteria and yeast growth. If your little pug enjoys swimming (or just likes to stick their head a little too far into their water bowl), make sure they don’t stay damp for very long, either!

5. Apply a balm if needed

The trick is to create a water-repellent barrier to keep moisture and debris out, not trap anything in. Balms like Natural Dog Company’s Wrinkle Balm can help prevent infection, soothe redness and irritation, and heal hidden problem areas that are susceptible to rashes and crusty buildup. It’s recommended to use Wrinkle Balm one to three times a week.

6. Reward your dog with treats

We all know pugs love food, so what better way to reward them after they let you get all up in their personal space than with some treats? A well-deserved reward can also help your pug start enjoying an otherwise not-so-fun experience.

Puppy versus adult wrinkles

Some pugs are born with a few wrinkles, but most are born without them. Don’t worry, though. Their wrinkles develop as they mature and become more pronounced by the time they’re 9 to 18 months old. Try to get your pug used to regular cleanings as early as you can, even if there aren’t many wrinkles to clean at first.

Although some experts say the amount of wrinkles a puppy has is a good sign of how many more will develop, wrinkles are a genetic trait. One pug puppy could be born with a completely smooth forehead that develops into deep folds, while another could have wrinkles from the start that develop more slowly.

Why it’s important to clean your pug’s wrinkles

Neglecting regular cleanings will create a lot of discomfort and health issues for your pet. Because pugs are so wrinkly, any area with folded skin has the potential to trap moisture, dirt, and sweat. This can lead to chafing, irritation, and bacterial or yeast infections.

The deepest wrinkles are usually on the nose and around your dog’s face — the two areas that tend to get the most exposure to moisture and food on a day-to-day basis. Keeping your pug as dry is just as important as maintaining their daily hygiene. Try to keep their skin folds free of any trace of moisture to help prevent infections before they start.

👉 Face wrinkles are the perfect place for bacteria and yeast to grow.

What to do if you suspect an infection

The only thing more important than being able to spot the signs of infection is knowing that you need to act fast when you suspect one. Visible symptoms will likely cause your pug discomfort, so consult your vet as soon as possible for treatment. And always keep in mind that the best way to treat an infection is to prevent it in the first place!

Early warning signs of an infection

  • Excessive scratching or licking at the area. Watch out particularly for headshaking and if your pug starts rubbing their face on the carpet. 
  • Strong or foul odor. Infections usually come with a musty, yeasty, or stinky smell.
  • Red, irritated, or inflamed skin. Advanced infections can also cause slimy skin, swelling, bumps, and sores.
  • Pus. Due to a bacterial infection (pyoderma infection), the pus can also come with excessive scaling and scabbing.

🚨 Pug wrinkles can also contract staph bacterial infections (staphylococcus).

Here's how skin infections are treated

Call your vet as soon as you notice anything off about your pug’s skin or wrinkles. They’ll likely recommend bringing your pug in to determine what kind of infection they have and how far it’s progressed.

👉 In the meantime, keep the infected area clean and dry to reduce discomfort.

A veterinarian will properly clean the infected area and recommend steps to keep your pup comfortable at home. Treatment will depend on the cause, and your vet will walk you through how to administer any medications prescribed to your dog. Treatment plans can include, depending on the type of the infection:

  • Thorough cleaning. This can include antimicrobial or antifungal wipes, sprays, vet-approved cleaner, and shampoos — especially for pups with greasier skin.
  • Antibiotics. The type of bacterial infection and its severity will determine how long your dog needs antibiotics.
  • Antifungals. These are the most common treatment for wrinkle yeast infections. Like antibiotics, they’re either administered topically or orally.
  • Elizabethan collar. These collars prevent your dog from scratching, licking, and further aggravating the infected area.
  • A new cleaning regimen. The best way to treat an infection is to prevent it!

Frequently asked questions

How often should I clean my pug’s wrinkles?

Daily cleaning is recommended for pugs (especially after meals). However, routine cleanings should be performed at least three to four times a week.

Can I use baby wipes on my pug’s nose?

As long as the nose isn’t irritated and the wipes are unscented. Make sure to dry the nose thoroughly when you’re done!

How often should I bathe my pug?

It’s recommended to bathe your pug once a month to keep their coat and skin healthy.

How do you clean a pug’s face?

Gently! Especially around the eyes. Use soft, vet-approved cleaning materials, and nothing with harmful ingredients or irritants.

How do you clean a pug nose wrinkle?

Again, gently! The nose can be extra sensitive, so be sure to give special attention not to irritate it. Wipe their nose with a soft, damp washcloth or wipe to remove any discharge or dirt, then dry thoroughly.