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Puggles: Designer Dogs, or Overhyped Mutts?

Updated on August 23, 2017

A Puggle comes from a cross between a pug and beagle. They are often very cute, with drooping ears and a wrinkled forehead. They are also the latest designer-dog fad. Many venues, from celebrities to dog food brands, are putting this new and interesting "breed" in the limelight. However, the puggle is not a breed. In this lens you will learn about puggles, why they are not really a breed, why you shouldn't pay a pure-breed price for them, and how to get a puggle for yourself, guilt free.

The Difference Between Pure-Bred and Designer Mutt

The difference between puggles and pure breeds is that puggles don't have one important factor: Predictability. How big do puggles get? Will a puggle be good with kids? Can this puggle go jogging with me? The straight answer is: Who Knows? Both pugs and beagles have been bred over hundreds of years for certain traits. They have a certain look, a certain temperament (or way of acting), and a certain purpose. They also have certain health issues. Puggles are a cross of both of these specific breeds, and they can end up with any combination of either breed's traits. Most of these combinations are harmless, but some can cause or even create new problems with temperament or health. We will look at this in more depth in a bit.

Why Puggles Aren't Worth Their Prices

You might be thinking "So What? Even with all these weird genetic combinations you are talking about, a puggle is just as good as any other dog!" That is my point exactly. Puggles are essentially regular, run-of-the-mill dogs you might find at a shelter. Like shelter dogs, you don't know what you will get. Most of the time you end up with a sweet, playful, loving best friend. The point I want to get across is that this kind of gamble isn't worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Let's talk about the pure-bred parents of puggles.

Much of the time, both pugs and beagles are bred for show.

One phrase you hear show breeders say a lot is "Improve the Breed."

This motto of these staunch and often rather snobbish show breeders means several things:

1. Conform to the breed standard.

A breed standard is a written list of all the traits, both physical and tempermental, that breeders should try to conform to. Breeding to this standard creates that level of predictability I was talking about before. With a half-bred dog, such as a puggle, there can be any combination of traits.

2. Only Breed Healthy Dogs

This is not as simple as it seems. Show breeders often extensively test for genetic and sexually transmitted diseases on their dogs. These tests are very expensive and aren't always available at every vet. This is part of the reason that pure-bred dogs are so expensive and a reason why puggles aren't worth that price.

3. Keep Track of the Puppies!

Responsible breeders will also screen potential adoptive parents for their puppies. The reason for this is so that the new owners won't go breeding their dog with any other dog. This would go against improving the breed. Every breeding for a show breeder is to improve the previous generation with careful matches of good traits. If one of these prized pups were unscrupulously bred (say with another breed), that could cause puppies that have all those bad genetic issues we were talking about. Often there are clauses in the contract for purchasing a puppy that under no circumstances will that puppy ever be sold or relinquished to a shelter without the approval of the breeder. If anything is genetically wrong with the puppy, the breeders often promise to take the puppy back or pay part of whatever medical bills are required to care for it for the rest of its long and probably fairly happy life.

Why it Could be Harmful to Buy a Puggle

The motivation of puggle breeders is to make money. Nothing Else. There is no breed standard for a puggle. Puggles do not have a traditional job, like beagles. They can't participate in shows. This means that puggle breeders probably won't spend the money to do testing on the parents. They probably won't be selective about the parents, so long as they at least look like a pug and beagle. They won't give you a health guarantee, because they want to sell the dog and be rid of it forever. If the dog has some genetic disease that costs thousands of dollars at the veterinarian, the breeder won't be obligated to help.

Buying a puggle will put money in these people's pockets, causing them to pump out more and more puppies that may be unhealthy or poorly tempered. As a result, more shelter dogs will not be adopted, and more puggles will become shelter dogs. On the whole, more dogs will be euthanized in shelters by supporting puggle breeders financially.

  • Short Nose

    This is remarkably cute, but can cause beathing problems.

  • Wrinkles
  • Shedding
  • No Homing Sense

    These dogs get lost very easily.

    They are the Winnie the Pooh of dogs

  • Different Sounding Bark

    These dogs have a very high pitched voice and sometimes sound more like cats than dogs. This is partly due to their short noses.

  • Guard Dogs

    These dogs have a strong protective sense. They will bark and yowl at strangers.

  • Highly Sociable

    These dogs will run up to anyone and say hello, be it human or dog.

  • Heavy Set

    The bone structure of these dogs should be able to support their girth and heavy weight for their size.

  • Couch Potatoes

    Pugs don't always exercise as much as they need to without owner coercion.

  • Nosy

    Beagles have great senses of smell and will bolt off if they catch a whiff of something interesting.

  • Hunters

    Traditionally, beagles tracked small game. They have an inborn need to engage in hunting activities.

  • Howlers

    Beagles howl and bay, especially when they are bored.

  • Smell

    Beagles have a certain "houndy" odor, which some people don't like

  • Stubborn

    Beagles are slow to housebreak and slow to train

  • Snappy

    Beagles tend to bite back when corrected, of course not always, but this instinct is stronger for beagles than other dogs.

  • Energy

    These dogs are very athletic (unlike the most popular tv, I mean comic book, beagle, Snoopy) and will keep up with the most active life styles.

Put it All Together and....

What if you get a puggle with the beagle's hunting instinct to run and chase, as well as the pug's lack of direction? That is a recipe for a lost dog.

How about the pug's strange vocalizations with the boredom driven baying of the beagle?

Maybe a short little nose always pressed to the ground sniffing? That could be messy.

Some of these combinations just aren't complementary, and need to be considered, especially when a puggle costs hundreds of dollars.

What about Hybrid Vigor?

Hybrid vigor is an argument lots of people use to support the purchasing of mixed breed dogs. What this really means is that the First Generation hybrid doesn't usually succumb to genetic diseases that the parents would be susceptible to.

In basic genetics, a bad gene is what causes a genetic disease. A dog gets two copies of almost every gene, one from the mom, and one from the dad. If a dog only gets the bad gene from one parent, then the dog probably won't get the disease. It can still pass on this gene to it's puppies!

One of the reasons for hybrid vigor in puggles is that pugs and beagles have different genetic diseases. Pugs get Hip Dysplasia and Progressive Retinal Atrophy. Beagles get Pyruvate Kinase deficiency and Musladinleuke Syndrome.

Lets say that there is a pug and beagle. The pug is a carrier of PRA (meaning it just has one copy of those bad genes and doesn't get sick) and the beagle is a carrier of PK. They breed and have puppies. There is a pretty good (25%) chance that any given puppy from this pairing will be a carrier for BOTH diseases, even though the pup probably won't suffer from them. This means that the puggles have TWICE as many genetic diseases to look out for as any other dog. The second generation will likely be very sick, if two of those carriers have puppies. We can add this to the fact that we have already established that puggle breeders are unlikely to test for genetic disease.

It would be great if every single puggle owner neutered and spayed, so there would never be a second generation, or if every breeder did comprehensive genetic testing, but that just isn't the case.

Genetics is also still a difficult subject. Not even the leading scientists know everything there is to know about genetics. Some genetic diseases may manifest in certain negative ways even in carriers. Sometimes only one copy of a gene is enough to make a dog partially sick. It's a lot of responsibility to fiddle with genetics. Not everyone who breeds is ready to deal with the possible consequences.

The Solution:

Full grown puggles might be for you!

Adopt! Any dog in a shelter has just as much potential to be a wonderful loving companion as a puggle you pay $2000 for. They are also perhaps facing death if they don't find an owner.

Depending on the shelter, you can keep checking in or ask them to call you if they get a puggle. This is not unusual, because of the recent puggle fad. Lots of people who bought into it last year will now find their puggles one year older and a bit less cute. You can even go to a puggle rescue to get a wonderful puggle companion.

What do you think?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hi Ha-chan. This is a well written article. However, I disagree with a few of your points. The first is when you mention that puggle breeders don't perform tests on the beagle/pug parents and won't give you a certificate of health. Although you may be correct for some of the population of breeders, there are others who are responsible and only breed pure pug/beagles. I am a puggle owner and received a certificate of health stating the genetic combination of my dog and a guarantee that should something happen to her I would receive assistance or my money back. I am also very much pro adoption over buying. I adopted my second dog from a shelter and could not be happier. However, I know several puggles around my neighborhood and they all show the same behavioral traits as my dog. This makes me think that it is possible to receive a healthy dog with predictable behavior from an ethical and responsible breeder.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Given that there are 4 million animals euthanized every year because of not having homes, I agree that you should never go to a breeder or pet store for a family pet. We got our dog 8 years ago as a puppy from a shelter and is wonderful. We just adopted another dog, a puggle from the same shelter. So far she is great. It seems that whoever got her didn't realize that puppies become dogs because she is 8 months old, well behaved and besides some barking ( which dogs do) she is fine. I am so excited to have her, but designer dog or not she is a mutt and I love her to pieces.

      It is not a good time in history to be creating new breeds. We need to be managing our pet overpopulation population problem, teaching responsible pet ownership, and stopping puppy mills. Excellent piece!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Given that there are 4 million animals euthanized every year because of not having homes, I agree that you should never go to a breeder or pet store for a family pet. We got our dog 8 years ago as a puppy from a shelter and is wonderful. We just adopted another dog, a puggle from the same shelter. So far she is great. It seems that whoever got her didn't realize that puppies become dogs because she is 8 months old, well behaved and besides some barking ( which dogs do) she is fine. I am so excited to have her, but designer dog or not she is a mutt and I love her to pieces.

      It is not a good time in history to be creating new breeds. We need to be managing our pet overpopulation population problem, teaching responsible pet ownership, and stopping puppy mills. Excellent piece!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      We have had our puggle for eight years now. He was not easy to train, but great with small children. He has never had any health issues, and only requires routine vet care. We did buy him from a pet shop, but if had to do it again, we would adopt instead..too many dogs in need of good homes, why buy from a breeder (and that is a point made not just for cross breeds, but all dogs)!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I adopted a puggle form a shelter 6 years ago and he had some behavior issues like any other dog potentially could at first but with some training he is the best friend anyone could ask for. He is active outside, chill in the house and very sweet!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I think this article is a little unfair. My puggle is by far the greatest dog I've ever owned, and looking over the other comments, I'd say I'm not alone in that opinion. As another person mentioned, didn't ALL dog breeds originally develop from crossbreeding between two or more previously established breeds? I don't think the act of crossbreeding is a valid argument for devaluing the quality of the puggle. In my opinion, the puggle has one of the most entertaining and loving temperaments around, and it seems fairly consistent among every puggle I've encountered.

    • spids lm profile image

      spids lm 5 years ago

      great lens love this!

    • nickybutler profile image

      nickybutler 5 years ago

      Interesting article with some very good points! Thanks for the lens :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      A very well put together website, but you might want to tell Tyrone from coronation street all this, he has a puggle and told me he is a proud owner of his puggle......

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I also agree with Sydney, as well as her, I am a proud puggle owner and they ARE more then 'Mutts' that they haver been desvribed as.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      You can't really say there not worth their price, I have a puggle and i think he was worth every penny, some people don't always want a working dog they want a dog for company or other things.

    • AlexandraHubbard profile image

      AlexandraHubbard 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks for pointing this out. I assumed people would read that with the implied clause "as compared to how many things there are to know about it" instead of "as compared to how high one can count on one's fingers." I think similar statements could apply to physicists or neurochemists. There are great deal of things to know in all those disciplines, many of which we don't even know we don't know yet. At any rate, I've edited the offending clause.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Geneticists don't know much about genetics? You are the one that obviously doesn't know much about genetics. Ignorance.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      WHAT A JOKE!!! I an a proud puggle owner, And my puggle is the sweetest thing in the world.I know seven others like her. THEY ARE WONDERFUL DOGS. They are nothing like a mutt, and deserve WAY more respect than that. Who do you people think you are? Big and Bad cause puggles are probly better then your dog so you want to wipe them off the face of the earth. SHAME ON YOU!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      PUGGLE!!!! All I have to say is I have owned several pure breeds from Aussies to Border Collies and retrievers. I will tell all of you my true opinion on puggles. If you buy one of these dogs make sure it has a great blend of traits you would get from mixing two breeds and i would bet my life on it you will never own a better dog in your life. A great companion to do anything with, great with kids,other dogs (aussie) and wonderful to my pregnant wife. Buying a puggle here in central IL will cost you roughly 250 dollars and I am the first person to rescue dogs from the shelter but i will say this Angus is out first puggle and there will be many more to come after he is gone. Thank you for listening!!


    • MJsConsignments profile image

      Michelle 6 years ago from Central Ohio, USA

      Great lens. I'm happy to find that I'm not the only one that sees both the good and the not so good about puggles.

    • DuaneJ profile image

      DuaneJ 6 years ago

      Very nice lens...I'm sure many will find it useful...

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      we just got a puggle puppy and he is the best dog I have ever had in my life. very smart and was very easy to train.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I agree that adoption is the best choice in some cases but in a lot of the places that I've visited, the adoption price is the same as the price of a purebred which makes me question the intents of the shelter itself. Not to mention that most are kept in small kennels all day with little interaction with people. My first dog was adopted and came with so many vet bills due to worms, coccidia, fleas, you name it. Plus, there was no information on her parentage so I had no idea what she was. She looked to be extremely small

      and then later found out she was a pitbull mix and had a biting problem. I've found and visited several puggle breeders who have the parents on site with a health guarantee and are up to date on all shots; plus they're out and about socializing with people and other animals early on. I like knowing that I can go to them for questions rather than being on hold with the shelter with a volunteer who knows nothing about my dog,

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Personally a mutt to me is a dog who you have no idea what combination of breeds it could be. A hybrid or crossbreed is only two. As for "breeds" there are TONS of problems with purebreds due to inbreeding that have seriously hurt health of the breed overall. Most purebreds were once two breeds crossbred to result in that breed. There's nothing new about this practice as the majority of all breeds have this backhistory. Let's just love because they're dogs and stop putting labels on everything. Sheesh.

    • Snozzle profile image

      Snozzle 9 years ago

      I love dogs but not all breeders. As for breed standards some of these (at least in the UK) border on almost cruelty. Why can't we appreciate dogs for what they are and not try to manipulate them into something they are not. Shelter dogs are a great idea. Interesting lens.


    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 9 years ago

      We get our pets from the animal shelter. They just seem to have more personality :) Nice lens!