Breed: Pugalier (Pug x Cavalier King Charles Spaniel)
Temperament: playful, companionable, inquisitive
Lifespan: 10-12 years
Recommended for: anyone, families with young children
It may not be the cutest of the growing list of Designer Dogs, but it would be hard to argue that it isn’t the friendliest.
Why cross breed dogs?
The principle of cross breeding is fairly simple. A judicious selection of two compatible breeds which, when crossed together, creates a cross breed that has acquired the best bits of each of the parents whilst leaving out the undesirable parts. Although this is a simplified explanation, accomplished breeders have been able to refine this process and have since produced some lovely designer dogs.
Another plus is the fact that those producing designer dogs select the purebred parents on the basis of soundness and reproductive suitability. These purebred parents may be less than ideal as show dogs, but much improved in terms of robustness. They pass this on to their pups. Purebred puppies are the product of breeding for success at shows and they may be much less robust and need more veterinary care.
Both the Pug and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are dogs with wonderful temperaments. However the Pug in particular isn’t without its problems, particularly with eyes and breathing. The crossing of these two breeds aims to maintain each of these dog’s lovely nature whilst improving on the Pug’s type. Hence the Pugalier.
The Pugalier sets out to retain the Pug’s basic features whilst providing a slightly longer nose. This is a deliberate effort to reduce those eye and breathing problems. Pugs belong to a group of dogs, such as the British Bulldog, which are termed Ôbrachycephalic’. These breeds are characterised by a short, broad, almost spherical head with a pushed-in muzzle. It’s this shortened muzzle which predisposes the animal to breathing difficulties and a protrusion of the eye-ball beyond the sockets; leading to the possibility of an eye popping out. Lengthening the snout can assist breathing and provide a deeper socket for the eyes. This breeding program has only been going for around two years and as with all cross bred dogs, great variability in the offspring can occur, especially during the earlier matches. To date there is still a large variability in the length of the snout.
The Pugalier’s ears may also be longer than the Pug’s due to the Cavalier influence. The cross breed will also usually be bigger than a pure Pug. To date, breeders have only seen colour ranges in fawn and fawn with white. Coat length is nearly always short, however the occasional pup may have some length in the coat due to Cavalier influence.
Temperament isn’t really an issue with either of these breeds. Both are affectionate, though the Cavalier is somewhat more compliant and calm than the Pug. Both breeds have a very ‘human-friendly’ disposition and the cross breed is much the same. The Pugalier has proven to be an outgoing, inquisitive and fun-loving dog and is highly recommended around children.
Health and lifespan
The whole point of this particular cross breed is to produce a healthier, more robust dog. So does it work? Breeders say that less wrinkles are evident, reducing the likelihood of skin problems which can be associated with the skin folds. In most, though not all offspring, snouts have become more elongated; minimising breathing problems and permitting the dog to exercise more freely and reducing concerns of overheating. However, plenty of water and shade is always advised. Eyes still appear to protrude with the more extreme cross breeds, so eye problems may still occur however ongoing breeding programs may be able to reduce this problem over time.
Cavalier’s are prone to suffer slipping knee caps, congenital eye defects and heart problems. The use of disease-free breeding stock and the benefits of hybrid vigour – the process of reducing heritable defects common to purebreds through crossbreeding, should account for a decline in the incidence of these conditions in Pugaliers. Breeders expect this designer dog to have a lifespan similar to the parent breeds, about 10-12 years.
Maintenance and cost
A great benefit of this type of dog is its low maintenance. Unless the coat takes on the Cavalier appearance, it won’t require any intensive grooming. Although a puppy with many wrinkles will still require a wipe-over with a damp, clean cloth on occasions. If the coat type is similar to that of a Cavaliers, grooming may still only be required once weekly. Prices for these designer dogs are very competitive with that of the parent breeds. Pugaliers will cost between $500 – $600.
Pugs are known to experience problems whilst giving birth due to the narrow nature of the bitch’s hips in relation to the puppie’s head and shoulders. Good breeders should be mindful of their breeding animal’s conformation and only breed from suitable parents. The contribution of the Cavalier’s body shape may also reduce the incidence of birth problems.
A Pugalier makes a great companion dog ideally suited for small dwellings or even apartments. During the puppy stage you may find the pugalier a little boisterous, though it should calm as it matures. These dogs don’t require extensive walks or daily exercise programs. They will simply receive sufficient exercise in their day to day activities. If you live in the warmer zones of Australia, consider a Pugalier over a pure bred pug, it may be more suited to the hotter temperatures.
Young families and the elderly have really taken to the Pugalier. Both parent breeds are renowned for their friendly, playful temperament and are an ideal animal for those first time owners who may have children who are nervous of animals.
Designer dogs are still mainly the domain of specialist, retail breeders and as such puppy numbers can be limited. Retail pet stores, especially the larger franchises, have begun to breed designer dogs, although the supply of crossbreeds isn’t always consistent. It is important to try and satisfy yourself that the parent breeds are free from heritable diseases. Ask the stores who breed the animals and whether they are screened before breeding. A.C.A. Breeders Kennels in Victoria (03) 9723-9811, and A.C.A. Pups in W.A (08) 9446 9144, both specialise in designer dogs