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Pugs have smooshy, wrinkled faces. Chihuahuas have big, expressive eyes with a saucy expression. Combine the two and you've got an animated-looking pupper named Chug with adorable cartoon-like features and a playful personality to match.
While both of the Chug's parents are popular dogs that originated centuries ago, this mixed breed is relatively new and rare. But these fun-loving and smart dogs are quickly gaining fans. The Chug dog doesn't need much grooming or a rigorous exercise routine, but they do need a lot of quality time with their families and like to be regarded as "top dog."
"As with other crossbreeds, their personality will vary quite a bit from one dog to another," says Linda Simon, MVB, MRCVS, consulting veterinarian at FiveBarks. "As a general guideline, the Chug is confident, playful, and rather cheeky."
While the Chihuahua and pug mix is considered a small dog, Chugs tend to be bigger than their teeny-tiny Chihuahua relatives. Typically, they stand 6–12 inches tall and weigh between 10–20 pounds.
Like all mixed breeds, though, exactly what Chug puppies will grow up to look like can be a surprise. Will they have the Chihuahua parent's perky ears and apple-shaped head? Or will the hybrid pup look more like the pug, with a big head, lots of deep wrinkles, and globular eyes that hint at the dog's sweet disposition? Full-grown Chug dogs can have a mix of all these adorable traits.
Pug and Chihuahua mix dogs can have coat colors that run the gamut—Chugs can be brown, cream, fawn, black, blue, gray, or white. The patterns are also quite diverse, with coats that could be tricolor, bicolor, sable, brindle, black and tan, and more.
Whether or not this hybrid breed will shed a lot is a toss up. Chihuahuas have two main coat types: smooth and long. The smooth coats are shiny and short, and these dogs have a ruff of thick, longer hair at the neck. Chihuahuas with longer coats have soft, sometimes wavy hair. Regardless of coat types, these dogs aren't big shedders. However, pugs can have a fine, smooth, soft coat that does shed quite a bit.
Pugs are known for their playfulness, affection, and loyalty, says Julie Burgess, CPDT-KA, a certified dog trainer with Senior Tail Waggers. Meanwhile, Chihuahuas are little dogs with big personalities with an err of self-importance.
Often, when you blend the two breeds, you get dogs that are exceptionally playful, love to curl up with their humans for affection, and are incredibly loyal, Burgess says. Half pug, half chihuahua, the Chug makes for a great lap dog.
"Because of their knack for being affectionate, they often make fantastic therapy dogs," she says. Plus, both parents are intelligent, so Chugs make for top-of-the-class training students. But, one thing to be aware of: Chugs can be prone to barking, and Burgess says they aren't shy about letting you know they're feeling ignored.
Because they're so small and can be easily stepped on or accidentally hurt during playtime, Chugs tend to do best in homes with older children who know how to interact with pets. They also prefer to be the top dog in your household and, preferably, the only dog.
"And, like many other dogs, they enjoy the chase, so having cats isn't advisable for this breed," Burgess says.
These small dogs can happily live in apartments and small homes and do not necessarily need access to a yard. "However, if they are under-exercised or bored, they may start to display destructive tendencies or excessive barking," Simon says.
Chugs also like to feel like an important part of the family and don't enjoy being left home alone, especially for extended periods of time, Simon says. Because of this, they'd do best in a home with retirees or work-from-home humans.
While Chugs are playful pups, they're not the most athletic of dogs. Their short, wide head (the technical term is brachycephalic) makes heart-pumping exercise difficult.
"Because of the shape of their head, they often have difficulty breathing, especially in hot weather, so you'll need to be careful that they have access to places to cool down," Burgess says.
So what's an ideal day look like in the world of Chugs? "Chugs enjoy company, short walks, and snacks ([given] in moderation!)," says Corinne Wigfall, DVM, BVS, BVM, and consulting veterinarian with SpiritDog. "They love a short burst of energy in play or a walk, and then lots of downtime to rest with the family in between."
Like their pug parents, Burgess says Chugs tend to be eager to please. Positive reinforcement training sessions are super important, especially if your Chug has the take-charge attitude from his Chihuahua side of the family.
Most dogs love food and treats, and Chugs are no exception, Burgess says. "Using positive reinforcement training with praise, treats, and toys will help your Chug understand what you want quickly," she says. Plus, their fun-loving nature makes training entertaining—as long as you keep your sessions short and exciting.
In the grooming department, a Chug's needs could vary depending on the coat he inherits. If he has the Chihuahua's smooth coat, occasional brushing and regular baths will keep him looking stylish and clean. But if your Chug's coat leans more toward the longhaired Chihuahua coat, he'll need a good brushing weekly to prevent any tangles or mats. Or, if he has the smooth shiny coat that's closer to that of the pug parent, weekly brushing with a medium-bristle brush or a rubber grooming mitt will help remove loose hairs.
You'll also want to make sure you clean your Chug's facial folds with a damp cloth or pet facial wipes to keep facial fold dermatitis (aka a skin rash) from occurring, Wigfall says.
To help ward off dental disease, include daily tooth brushing in your dog's care routine. Other grooming rituals to keep your Chug in tip-top shape include trimming his nails every couple of weeks and cleaning your dog's ears on a weekly basis to help prevent any ear infections.
As far as exercise goes, Chugs aren't endurance athletes, Simon points out. But they do love exercising in small bursts and need about 45 minutes of exercise a day, she says. They enjoy being brought to new places, so mix up those walking routes and take them to a dog park where they can socialize with other four-legged friends (of their size).
The Chug's idea of activity, Burgess says, can also simply be following you as you do chores around the house. (They like to keep close tabs on their humans!). Some inside playtime, either with interactive toys or playing fetch with a favorite plush, will keep him happy, too.
The Chug's lifespan is 10–13 years. While both parents are prone to their own unique set of health problems, the Institute of Canine Biology says mixed breed dogs are typically less likely than their purebred parents to inherit genetic disorders. That said, a Chug can inherit some health conditions.
Pugs can be prone to several health issues, including epilepsy, allergies, hemivertebrae (misshapen vertebrae), hip dysplasia, and nerve degeneration later in life. They can also be subject to a variety of skin infections.
On the Chihuahua side of the family, health issues can include potential heart problems, eye disease, and patellar luxation (loose kneecaps).
Chugs with shorter noses and excess skin may struggle with their breathing, especially in warmer weather, Simon says. And, like many small breeds, they can develop dental disease.
"Being aware of the potential problems is important, so they can be prevented when possible," Simon says.
Pet parents who are looking to bring a hybrid puppy home need to do some important research. The Chug is a relatively new "designer" hybrid breed—and these adorable dogs with pug and Chihuahua traits are in high demand. This can mean some Chug breeders might operate without the dogs' health as a top priority.
To make sure you're working with an ethical Chug breeder and that you're bringing home a healthy dog, be aware of these common puppy mill red flags:
- A breeder offers to ship a puppy.
- A kennel produces multiple breeds of dogs.
- It's difficult to find contact information on a breeder's website.
- The breeder will not let you meet the puppy's parents or siblings.
Chugs are a fairly new mixed breed, and their origin isn't well-documented. However, both of the dogs' parents have long histories.
The emperors of China once considered pugs prized possessions, and the dogs lived in luxury guarded by soldiers, according to the Pug Dog Club of America. These happy, sweet dogs were also beloved by monarchs of Europe.
The history of Chihuahuas is not as straightforward. Some say small hairless dogs from China were brought to Mexico by Spanish traders, who then bred them with small native dogs. Yet another theory is that Chihuahuas descended from a Central or South American dog known as the techichi, which would have been a larger version of the Chi that can be traced back to the 9th century and the Toltec civilization.
- The most common way to refer to the pug-chihuahua mix is Chug. But they also go by some fun names, like "pughuahua" and "pugwawa."
- The Chug isn't recognized by the American Kennel Club as an official breed. But the Chug's parents are fairly popular dogs in the United States. Chihuahuas are No. 33 in breed popularity and pugs are No. 28.