The AKC Pug Breed Standard
The dictionary describes the pug as a small, sturdy, compact dog; a breed of Asian origin with a close coat, tightly curled tail, and broad, wrinkled face. That's certainly the breed in a nutshell, but there's a lot more to know about what a pug should look like, how it should be built, and how it should move and act. That's where the breed standard comes in.
What's a breed standard? It's a picture in words that describes what the perfect dog in each breed should be like, detailing the physical and mental qualities that make up a particular breed. Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect dog, but the standard gives breeders something to strive for. It also ensures that a pug looks like a pug and not like a Brussels griffon, a bulldog, or a French bulldog.
Whether you want your pug to be a companion, show dog, or both, the breed standard will help you understand which characteristics are most important for each job. For instance, if your pug will be primarily a family companion, it doesn't matter if his eyes aren't dark enough or his mask isn't well defined. In the show ring, however, those flaws would count against him. By knowing what's behind each requirement in the standard, you can decide which characteristics are most important to you in choosing your pug.
Pugs bred by reputable breeders will conform to the breed standard.