While it was the Poodle that paved the way for designer cross breeds, the Pug is becoming increasingly popular with breeders. The Pug’s easy nature and adorable features are some of the reasons breeders have taken to crossing it with other breeds to create a new, and some would say, improved version of the Pug.
The main benefit of cross-breeding is it reduces the dog’s risk of developing some of the hereditary diseases pedigree pugs are prone to (though this is never guaranteed).
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Some of the most popular pug crosses are:
1. Pug Tzu – A cross between a Pug and a Shih Tzu. As its parents are so dramatically different in appearance, Pug-Tzu puppies’ coat varies from the short, black or fawn in colour coat of the pug, to the long and colourful coat of the Shih Tzu, and everything in between. Both parent breeds are happy, friendly dogs, and so the Pug Tzu tends to be much the same (though, as with all cross breeds, nothing is guaranteed). This does, however, mean they don’t make very good watchdogs, as they tend to like everyone they meet. This is another house dog and requires little exercise. As both parent breeds suffer from breathing problems, there is a high risk the Pug Tzu puppy will as well.
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2. Pugalier – A cross between a Pug and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, also known as a Cavapug. They have been specially bred to look a lot like Pugs, but have a longer nose to reduce breathing problems. Again, this cannot be guaranteed with cross-breeds, but Pugaliers do tend to have fewer health issues than their Pug parents. With both parents being friendly breeds who love their humans, dogs don’t come much more affectionate than the Pugalier. They are calmer and easier to train than Pugs and are very small, which makes them great for families with young kids.
3. Puggle – a cross between a Pug and a Beagle. It originated in the 1980s, as part of experimentation in dog breeding by US breeders. Although they are a cross-breed, Puggles can still suffer from health issues common to both their parent breeds, such as cherry eye, epilepsy and hip dysplasia. Like all cross-breeds, their physical characteristics can vary depending on which parent breed is dominant, and these can determine whether they might also suffer from health issues specific to one parent breed (such as breathing problems for Puggles with Pug-like snouts). That said, they make excellent pets by combining the skills and intellect of the beagle with the playfulness and energy of the pug.
4. Jug – a cross between a Pug and a Jack Russell. The history of the breed is not well documented, but it is thought the breed was first developed in 1960s America. It is becoming increasingly popular but is still considered rare. The Jug is generally considered to be a healthy breed, but can sometimes suffer from hip dysplasia, luxating patellas (common in Pugs), eye health and vision issues, cancer and dental issues. Despite this, they are energetic and active dogs, making them only suitable for those who have space and the energy to provide them with the exercise they need. No one really knows why, but they love digging and are good at it, which means they need to be watched while out in the garden as they will be under and through that fence in no time!
5. Bugg – a cross between a Pug and a Boston Terrier. Both parent breeds are prone to breathing, joint and back problems, which makes Buggs more likely to inherit them. However, both parent breeds are also known for their good nature and so Buggs are usually gentle and friendly, though could be difficult to house train. They need moderate levels of exercise, but are intelligent and have a lot of energy, which makes them great for kids.
6. Chug – A cross between a Pug and a Chihuahua, also known as Pugwawa. This is definitely a house dog, as both parent breeds are, and it can also be overconfident, especially for its small size, and go after much bigger dogs, so needs to be protected. While Pugs are laid back and playful, Chihuahuas are often suspicious and can be aggressive. A Chug can be either of those or, in an ideal situation, a happy middle. A Chug can be hard to train, so start straight away. An important health issue to be aware of for Chugs is overeating. So, when your puppy looks at you with those adorable sad eyes, resist and don’t overindulge it – it’s for its own good.
These are only a few of the Pug crosses, some other mixed breeds that are becoming popular are Hugs (Pug Cross Husky), Pugsund/Daug (Pug Cross Dachshund) and the Frug/Frenchie Pug (Pug Cross French Bulldog).
When looking at Pug Crosses it's important you understand you cannot predict the characteristics, appearance or temperament of a cross-breed dog. Either parent breed can end up being the dominant one, and so there is no way of knowing how much like a Pug the puppy will grow up to be.
Any breeder who tells you they can guarantee certain traits in the puppy is to be avoided.
Only deal with reputable, responsible breeders, who perform health checks for the parents and their pups, and treat all the dogs as they are meant to be treated – as life-long friends, not property.
Check out our guide to the difference between pedigree, crossbreed and mixed breed dogs and cats. It explains how insurance companies may have different definitions.