German Shepherd Pug Mix: Small Dog With a Big Attitude


German Shepherds and Pugs have only started being cross-bred relatively recently. However, the massive and enduring popularity of both breeds suggests that this is a breed that will become more and more common. But what kind of dogs are they? 

German Shepherd Pug mixes (‘Shugs’) are a loyal and friendly breed with a lot of energy. These dogs can be quite stubborn, and must be well-socialized as puppies. They are, however, relatively easy to train. Common health issues with this mixed breed include joint dysplasia and breathing problems like BOAS.

Given how recently they came into existence, there is not a huge amount of information about Shugs out there!

In this article, we will be going through absolutely everything you need to know about this charming and adorable breed. 

What Is a Shug?

A Shug is a cross between a German Shepherd and a Pug, two of the most beloved dog breeds on the planet!

As mentioned above, this cross-breed has only come into existence relatively recently. It is worth noting that ‘Shug’ can sometimes refer to a cross between a Pug and a Shih Tzu, although this breed is more commonly called a ‘Pug-Zu.’

When it comes to the breeding of Shugs, the German Shepherd is always the mother. That is because a female pug is too small to carry the larger Shug puppies and give birth to them without risking serious health complications. 

Is a Shug the Right Breed for Me?

Shugs can be great dogs for a variety of different owners. So long as they are socialized at a young age, Shugs’ calm demeanor makes them perfect for a family with small children.

However, they will need about 45 minutes of exercise every day, so you must be prepared to take them out for walks and play with them using toys and other things that will keep them mentally stimulated.

As we will discuss, how much exercise a Shug will need depends on a few factors, including their size. 

Do You Have Enough Space?

Shugs are generally medium-sized dogs that need a fair bit of exercise, so having plenty of space is definitely a plus. However, so long as you have somewhere to take them for a walk, having lots of space is not absolutely necessary.

You can always supplement their outdoor exercise with indoor play using toys designed to get the dog’s heart rate up. 

In other words, while a Shug will benefit from having lots of space to play in, they are also well-suited to living in an apartment provided they get adequate playtime.

They certainly need less space than a pure German Shepherd. 

Related: Can a German Shepherd Live in an Apartment?

Do You Have Experience or Access to a Professional Dog Trainer?

German Shepherds are fiercely loyal to the point where they can become aggressively protective of their owners. However, the happy-go-lucky nature of the pug neutralizes some of this protectiveness, making Shugs a very non-aggressive breed.

In other words, it will probably not be necessary to have experience or access to a professional trainer. Still, it is important to socialize and train them early to ensure they do not become overly protective. 

German Shepherd and Pug Basic Facts

Now that we have a basic idea of what you can expect from a Shug let’s take a closer look at each breed individually. Each has its own unique history and traits, and understanding these will help you to understand Shugs. Let’s get started!

German Shepherd Basic Facts

German shepherds were first bred in Germany in the late 1800s by Captain Max Stephanitz, who wanted to create the perfect guard dog. However, they quickly became a popular choice of pet thanks to their intelligence, loyalty, and trainability.

They have since become one of the most common breeds to work as police dogs and seeing-eye dogs, which is also down to how easy they are to train.

Related:

Why Are German Shepherds Good Police Dogs? 

Are German Shepherds Good Service Dogs?

Are German Shepherds Good Emotional Support Dogs?

German Shepherds are also known for their keen sense of smell. In general, dogs’ sense of smell is far more powerful than that of a human, and German Shepherds have one of the most powerful noses even among dogs.

They also have an absolute need for exercise since they were bred as sheep-herding dogs (as the name suggests). That means that adopting a Shepherd means committing to a lot of walks! 

Pug Basic Facts

The Pug is an absolutely fascinating breed with a rich history. It is quite unclear when pugs first originated, but it is likely somewhere between 827 BC and 150 BC.

What is more clear is that they were originally bred as lap dogs for Chinese royalty. The ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius even mentions a ‘short-mouthed dog’ in a text from 551 BC. 

Pugs went on to become dogs to European royalty too. One possibly true story even claims that the Dutch prince William of Orange (later William III) had his life saved by a pug when it warned him of approaching Spaniards.

Josephine Bonaparte, who would later marry Napoleon, is said to have hidden messages for her family in a pug’s collar while Josephine was in prison. Another famous historical Pug owner is Marie Antoinette.

What to Expect With the Pug German Shepherd Mix

The video below will give you a good idea of what to expect with a German Shepherd Pug Mix. As you can see, both breeds are very easily identifiable within the overall look of this adorable pup!

If you decide to get a Shug, you can expect a loving and loyal companion with a gentle temperament and a playful spirit. However, it must be said that you should also prepare yourself for a fair amount of mischief.

You should also be prepared for the housebreaking process being quite tricky since many Shugs inherit the Pug’s stubbornness. Here are a few of the traits you can expect from a Shug:

Loyalty

Thanks to their German Shepherd lineage, Shugs are extremely loyal dogs. While improperly trained German Shepherds can be protective of their owners to the point of aggression, the Pug lineage of the Shug means that they tend to be much more chilled out than pure-bred Shepherds.

It is still important to train a Shug properly, especially if the German Shepherd is the dominant side of their genetic makeup. 

Gentleness

A well-trained German Shepherd can be very gentle. Cross this with the Pug, one of the most gentle breeds in the world, and you have yourself one docile doggie.

Again, however, it must be stressed that proper training is needed to nurture these traits. As always, that includes socialization from an early age.

Also, do not confuse gentleness with calmness. While Shugs are never aggressive, they do have a lot of energy to spare. 

Coat

Like their size, the length of a Shug’s coat can vary quite a bit depending on which side of the family is dominant; Pug or Shepherd.

Most of the time, Shugs have medium-length coats, which will require grooming about once a week. Depending on their coat, however, it could be that they require grooming twice a week, or it could be that they only need it every few weeks.

When it comes to color, Shug coats can come in cream, black, brindle, or caramel. 

Health Concerns

Pugs are known for having health problems, especially when it comes to their breathing. This is less of a problem with Shugs since the German Shepherd’s long snout compensates for the ‘squashed’ face of a Pug.

Having some German Shepherd in them, however, comes with its own set of health concerns for the Shug. Here are some of the things you need to look out for: 

Bloat

German shepherds are particularly prone to Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV), also known as ‘bloat.’ This is a severe, potentially life-threatening disorder, so it is imperative to keep an eye out for it.

Bloat occurs when the dog’s stomach becomes distended and fills with gas, which can block the passage of food and water into the stomach. 

Bloat is typically seen in larger breeds with deep chests, so this is definitely something to look out for if your Shug has inherited their mother’s large size.

Dogs with bloat may try to vomit, but nothing comes out. Other symptoms include a hard, swollen belly, drooling, and abdominal pain.

Take your dog to the vet immediately if they show any of these symptoms! 

BAOS

BAOS, which stands for Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome, is a problem faced by Pugs, Boxers, Pitbulls, and more.

These dogs have been bred to have flat snouts for aesthetic reasons, which causes their airways to become obstructed, making it difficult for them to breathe. 

Fortunately, Shugs are less prone to BAOS than pugs since the German Shepherd’s long snout compensates for the short snout of the pug. However, a Shug that has inherited more Pug traits than Shepherd traits may still suffer from BAOS.

If your Shug has a flat nose, be careful not to take them for very long walks, especially when it is very hot outside, as this will make them have to breathe harder.

Another result of BAOS is that the dog might snore, breathe heavily, or even honk!

Joint Problems

Shugs are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia. This is a condition in which the hip or elbow joints do not form correctly and is very common among German Shepherds.

This, along with countless other health benefits, makes it very important not to overfeed Shugs since obesity can make joint dysplasia much worse.

Related: German Shepherd Joint Problems: All You Need to Know

Hip and elbow dysplasia can result in early-onset arthritis and joint pain and can be very uncomfortable for the dog.

Since it is genetic, breeders are now strongly encouraged not to breed a dog that suffers from this condition. However, what makes this difficult is that the symptoms often do not come on until later in the dog’s life. 

Obesity

Obesity is a huge problem for dogs and has unfortunately become common, especially in the US. Worldwide, as much as 65% of all dogs are either overweight or obese.

Obesity is particularly dangerous for shugs, as mentioned above, due to their tendency to develop hip and elbow dysplasia.

One way to stop your dog from becoming obese is to avoid feeding them table scraps. Studies have found a link between table scraps and obesity.

In addition to increasing the likelihood and severity of dysplasia, obesity in dogs is linked to an increased risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Related: Do German Shepherds Get Cancer?

That is why it’s so important to make sure they are eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercises. Your Shug will thank you!

Allergies

Shugs can also be prone to certain allergies, particularly pollen and grass. These usually present as itchy skin or ear infections.

If it is available, it is a good idea to feed your Shug food marked as hypoallergenic since this reduces the likelihood of developing these symptoms.

Most of the time, unfortunately, it is a matter of treating the symptoms rather than curing the allergies. 

Trainability

Thanks to their German Shepherd genes, Shugs are extremely easy to train. That said, the intelligence of the Pug probably helps a lot too.

Shugs are so easy to train, in fact, that they can even work as service dogs or guide dogs for the blind.

As mentioned before, it is crucial to train Shugs from an early age, since without training, they can become overprotective of their owners and even become aggressive out of loyalty.

However, it must be said that many Shugs inherit a stubborn streak that is characteristic of Pugs. This can make them a bit harder to train than a pure German Shepherd, especially when it comes to housebreaking. Still, they are much easier to train than a pure Pug. 

Temperament

Shugs are amiable dogs and, if trained, will rarely show any aggression. This is largely down to their Pug lineage, although a well-trained German Shepherd can also be very cuddly.

Shugs are playful and fun dogs, but they can also be quite needy. As with most dogs, the temperament will ultimately be determined both by the breed and the dog’s life experiences. Dogs that are mistreated may become distrustful of humans. 

A Shug that has been treated well, however, will be trusting, loving, and get on great with family and strangers alike.

Training is important, yes, but simply showing them love and affection will also help them develop into one of the most joyful dogs you can get. 

Nutritional Requirements

A Shug will require about 2 cups of dry food per day. As with many things, however, the exact quantity of food required will depend on the dog’s size.

This will depend on which characteristics the dog has inherited from each side of the family. A Shug that is particularly German Shepherd-like will need more food than one that is particularly Puggy. 

Related: German Shepherd Feeding Guide: All You Need to Know

If you are unsure which food to buy your dog, check with your vet to determine which healthy options are available in your area. They can also weigh your dog and use that information to tell you exactly how much food they need every day.

Also, make sure to ask them about healthy treats you can give to your Shug when they are behaving.

Exercising a German Shepherd Pug Mix

How much exercise a Shug should get will vary from dog to dog, depending on which characteristics it has inherited from its parents.

If the dog looks more like a German Shepherd than a Pug, it will need more exercise than a Shug that looks more like a pug.

If your Shug has inherited the squat face of a pug, they may experience breathing difficulties if they spend too long exercising, especially in the heat. 

The average Shug should be taken out for a 45-minute walk every day to keep healthy. If you find that they are experiencing breathing difficulties or joint pain on their walks, try taking them out for shorter walks more frequently. 20 minutes twice a day should do just fine.

However, if your dog is having serious trouble breathing during walks, make sure to bring them to the vet to have it checked out. 

Cost of a German Shepherd Pug Mix

The cost of any dog will vary depending on both the pedigree and the individual breeder. Most breeders will ask for around $500 for a Shug puppy, although some could ask for as much as $2,000. 

When it comes to long-term costs, owning a Shug can be quite expensive. Again, however, this will depend to an extent on the dog’s size and whether or not they have medical issues.

If your Shug develops hip or elbow dysplasia, for example, the vet bills can add up. Frequent exercise and a good diet, however, should keep your Shug happy and healthy. 

Related: How Much Does a German Shepherd Puppy Cost?

Final Thoughts

All in all, Shugs make great family pets! Not only are they playful and happy dogs, but they are also extremely intelligent and easy to train.

Their German Shepherd genes make them obedient, brave, and loyal, while the Pug side makes them relaxed, happy, and playful. 

The German Shepherd has been a popular breed for over a hundred years, while the pug has been popular for well over 2,000 years. No wonder, then, that a cross between these two great breeds would produce a dog that wins the hearts of everyone they meet!

Hunter Reed

I've owned and trained German Shepherds for over 20 years now. While I've lived in many different places and traveled extensively - the places change, my dogs don't. German Shepherds have been my constant companions. I love every aspect of training them and simply just having them around. I also enjoy sharing my knowledge about German Shepherds with the world, and I encourage all future dog owners to consider one as a companion as well. Read my story here.

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