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Tara Gregg, Animal Photography
In a perfect world, the Puggle is a robust, healthy little dog with a playful spirit, a sense of humor and a desire to please. On the down side: the Puggle has the potential to be stubborn, selectively deaf, uncooperative, and just not that into you. You pay your money and you takes your chances.
People have been crossbreeding dogs for millennia. That’s how the Australian Shepherd, Doberman Pinscher and more, originally got their start.
The Puggle is a crossbreed. Opening your heart and home to a crossbreed is like opening a beautifully wrapped package on your birthday: you never know what’s going to be inside. It’s often assumed that a crossbreed will combine the best of two or more breeds, but genetics doesn’t always work that way. The way genes combine and express themselves is not always subject to a breeder’s control, even less so when two different breeds are crossed. That’s something to keep in mind before you lay down lots of money for a dog that you have been assured will be hypoallergenic or healthier than a purebred.
It's hard to imagine a more incongruous mix than the loving, playful, lap-sitting Pug and the independent nose on four legs known as the Beagle, but that's what a Puggle is. While both breeds are short-coated, small, cute, and popular, that's about all they have in common.
In theory, the Pug influence is meant to temper the Beagle's independent ways and offset the little hound’s tendency to be an escape artist and a roamer with the Pug's love of home and family. At their best, Puggles are people-friendly, enthusiastic, trainable best friends. At their worst, they're stubborn, selectively deaf, uncooperative and just not that into you. But the worst thing about this crossbreed is that it's a top money-maker for puppy mills and unscrupulous breeders.
If you're lucky enough to find one of the rare conscientious breeders of Puggles, your puppy should have the best character traits of the Pug and Beagle, and be a robust, healthy little dog with a playful spirit, a sense of humor and a desire to please. He will also be a chowhound, no two ways around that one. Both the Beagle and the Pug are notorious for being willing to eat until they pop, as well as for their devious ability to steal food right out from under your nose.
Crossbred puppies like the Puggle – even within the same litter – can look very different from each other, and can look the same as or different from their parents. The Puggle's size, color, coat type, temperament, activity level, and health risks will vary depending on what traits of the two breeds an individual puppy has inherited from his parents. One important thing to know is that Puggles often turn out to be larger than people expect. Be prepared to have a 30-pound dog instead of the slightly more portable 15-pounder you might have been planning for.
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People have been crossing types of dogs for millennia in the attempt to achieve a certain look, temperament or working ability. That’s how many well-known purebreds, including the Affenpinscher, Australian Shepherd, Black Russian Terrier, Brussels Griffon, Doberman Pinscher, German Wirehaired Pointer, Leonberger and more, originally got their start.
But crossing two breeds over and over does not a breed make. A breed is a group of animals related by descent from common ancestors and visibly similar in most characteristics. To achieve consistency in appearance, size and temperament, breeders must select the puppies with the traits they want and breed them over several generations for the traits to become set.
Crossbreeds such as the Puggle have become popular over the past ten or twenty years as people seek out dogs that are different from the everyday Yorkie or Poodle or that they think will have certain appealing characteristics. For instance, it’s often claimed (falsely, by the way) that crossbreeds are hypoallergenic or have fewer health problems or will carry the best traits of each breed.
Unfortunately, genes aren’t quite that malleable. Genetic traits sort out randomly in each dog, so without selecting for certain characteristics over many generations, there’s no guarantee you’ll get the best of each breed. And no matter what his breed or mix, an individual dog may be more or less allergenic or intelligent or healthy.
Whatever his breed, cross, or mix, love your dog for what he is: a unique, special and loving companion.
Because the Puggle is a blend of two breeds, it’s hard to say exactly how his personality will turn out, but most likely he will be outgoing, friendly and affectionate. Puggles can be barkers if they take after the Beagle side, so be sure to nip any signs of nuisance barking in the bud. They usually get along with other dogs, but be watchful with cats, as the Beagle chase instinct may try to take over. Both Pugs and Beagles can have a stubborn streak a mile wide, especially when it comes to training. For best results, be patient with your Puggle, reward behaviors you like with treats and praise, and keep training sessions fun and short.
To a degree temperament is inherited, which is why it’s always a good idea to choose the “middle-of-the-road” puppy rather than the bossy one or the shy one, but you can help to promote a friendly nature by making sure that your puppy gets plenty of socialization before he is four months old. Up to 16 weeks of age, puppies are highly receptive to new people, places, sights, sounds and experiences, so that’s the best time to start training them in puppy kindergarten classes and making sure that they encounter lots of different things so that they develop confidence. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
All dogs, whether purebreds, crossbreeds, or mixes, have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the mixed breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the mixed breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines. Puggles may be susceptible to the health problems of both the Pug and Beagle, but there’s also a chance that the genetic diversity introduced by mixing two breeds may lower the chances of developing certain inherited diseases. The very nature of genetic variation makes this difficult to predict for a mixed breed dog. Please refer to the breed guides on Pugs and Beagles for an overview of some of the inherited diseases reported in these two breeds.
Not all inherited conditions are detectable in a growing puppy, and it can be hard to predict whether an animal will be free of these maladies, which is why you must find a reputable breeder who is committed to breeding the healthiest animals possible. They should be able to produce independent certification that the parents of the dog (and grandparents, etc.) have been screened for genetic defects and deemed healthy for breeding. At a minimum, ask the breeder to show evidence that both of the puppy’s parents have the appropriate certifications from health registries like the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, Canine Eye Registry Foundation, etc.
Don't fall for a dishonest breeder's sales pitch. If the breeder tells you she doesn't need to do those tests because she's never had problems in her lines, her dogs have been "vet checked," or any of the other excuses bad breeders have for skimping on the genetic testing of their dogs, walk away immediately.
Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy develops one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in most cases the dogs can still live a good life. If you’re getting a puppy, ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and what they died of.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Both Pugs and Beagles have a tendency to overeat and can easily become obese, and a Puggle may not be any different. Keeping a Puggle at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
Beagles and Pugs both have short, easy-care coats, which means the Puggle will too. Brush him weekly with a rubber curry brush and you’re good to go. Now the bad news. Both Beagles and Pugs shed a lot, so your Puggle will too. Regular brushing will help keep the loose hair under control.
Bathe him only as needed, like when his Beagle side takes control and compels him to roll in something stinky. Who are we kidding? His Pug genes could cause the same behavior.
The rest is basic care. Trim his nails as needed, usually every week or two, and keep his ears clean and dry. Brush his teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath. Small dogs are especially prone to periodontal disease.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Puggle puppies are adorable, and it’s one of the reasons they are so popular. Cute puppies sell, and that makes the Puggle a favorite of puppy mills and greedy, irresponsible breeders. But there’s no need to pay big bucks for a Puggle. You can often find a wonderful example of this hybrid dog at your local shelter or through adoption organizations.
If you choose to buy one, however, select a breeder who has done the health testing to ensure that her puppies won’t carry the genetic diseases common to both breeds. If you are going to pay several hundred dollars or even $1,000 or more for a dog, you should get your money’s worth. Buying from a breeder who is smart and caring enough to do health certifications, even for a crossbreed, is the best way to do that. And while there are no guarantees in life, it can be a good way to minimize the possibility of big veterinary bills in the future.
Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the crossbreed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.comcan have you searching for a Puggle in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Puggles available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Puggle. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Rescue Groups
Networking can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. Most people who love Puggles love all Puggles. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. Puggle breeders and enthusiasts can use their networks to help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Puggle rescues in your area.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a pup. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors, and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Puggle, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter, or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, a breeder purchase or a rescue, take your Puggle to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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