Shih tzu and pug

The Pug Zu is a mix between a Pug and a Shih Tzu

© Shutterstock

The Pug-Zu: Shih Tzu ‘cross’ pug

By Nick Whittle Author

Updated on the

There's a new kid in town: the Pug-Zu, a crossbreed born of a Pug and a Shih Tzu. But be warned, although the squashed-faced canine is popular, vets and animal activists warn us of the perils of owning such a dog.

The demand for dogs with squashed faces has finally given way to concerns about the health of the offspring of multiple flat-faced unions. Nevertheless, if you love Shih-Tzus and/or Pugs, there's a lot to like about the Pug-Zu! To understand this crossbreed better, it's important to learn about the two parent breeds.

The Pug

The Pug ©Shutterstock

Originally bred in China, these toy dogs are fantastic companions and family pets. They are rather laid-back in personality and will adapt easily to their owner's lifestyle. They do well with kids and love to please, making training easier. The main thing to consider when purchasing a Pug is their health. Brachycephalic breeds suffer from a panoply of consequent health issues, especially respiratory.

The Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu ©Shutterstock

Also from China, this is an ancient breed which was created to be a companion to emperors, kings and queens. Shih-Tzus enjoyed nothing more than cuddling their powerful owners and being treated like little furry deities. Today's Shih-Tzus are not so dissimilar to their ancestors. Though adaptable, they are notoriously hard to train. The main thing to consider? Their coat, which requires daily grooming and regular trimming.

Physical characteristics of a Pug cross Shih Tzu

Because of its parents' size, the Shih Tzu ‘cross’ Pug adult will only grow to about 12 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 8 and 16 pounds. Some may be born with the extra folds of skin seen of a Pug but others may have the more slender shape of the Shih Tzu.

Shih Tzus are born of various colours although these can change over time. Pugs on the other hand tend to be black or fawn. A Pug-Zu may be black, brown, fawn, white, apricot or sable or any mix of the six.

Training a Pug-Zu

Pug-Zus are by all accounts easy to train but it must not be assumed that a dog that is easy to train does not need training. And some owners may even consider the dog’s diminutive size as reason enough for her not to require training and socialisation. However, this gives rise to the much-talked-about behavioural problems of the unadjusted small dog.

Any dog that is not socially confident will exhibit poor behaviour. ‘Poorly socialised pups turn into badly behaved adult dogs,’ according to vet Pete Wedderburn.

Pug-Zu puppies enjoy training and it should therefore be something undertaken by the whole family and in a consistent manner. Should training not be forthcoming of these dogs, you will find that their natural headstrong stubbornness will dictate their behaviour.

Temperament of the Pug - Shih Tzu mix

The Pug and the Shih Tzu have some similarities of temperament but there are also some subtle contradictions. The two traits you are most likely to see in a Pug - Shih Tzu mix are cleverness and playfulness.

Most Pug-Zu owners have remarked that their dogs have a streak of playfulness about them but will also not play if they don’t feel like playing. They also tend to be affectionate if not a little haughty at times. Pug Zus are said to be devoted to their owners, if not a little clingy and protective. They may not be the best choice for families with very young children who may accidentally injure such small dogs.

Exercise requirements of the Pug Zu

Pug Zus don't need much physical activity, their main priority is spending time with you! A 30 minute walk a day should suffice for a healthy adult dog.

Grooming a Pug Zu

Pug Zus will likely inherit the long coat of their Shih Tzu parent, though it may be rougher to the touch. This inevitably means that you will need to brush them and take them to the groomer's regularly. Pug Zus do shed, but the amount they shed will depend on the parent they most take after. Pugs shed a lot, Shih-Tzus don't. As with any mixed dog breed, you can't know exactly what to expect until you bring your puppy home!

Pug-Shih Tzu cross health problems

Pugs and Shih Tzus like any other breed will pass to their offspring their propensity for certain illnesses. As a result of their genetic heritage, Pug-Zus are prone to respiratory conditions and complaints of the eyes and sinuses. They must also contend with the ubiquitous conditions of small dogs in general such as arthritis, pancreatitis and tooth decay. Some illnesses specific to the Shih Tzu ‘cross’ Pug include:


A hormonal condition that leads to a reduction or absence of thyroxine in the blood. Thyroxine is integral to the regulation of metabolism and immunity. This condition is easily treated with supplemented thyroid hormone.

Intervertebral disk disease

Long-backed breeds such as the Pekingese, Basset Hound and Welsh Corgi are especially prone to this disease which brings about a degeneration of the intervertebral disks of the spine. Anti-inflammatories or holistic therapies are recommended to treat IDD.

Breathing problems

Respiratory complaints are common of both the Shih Tzu and the Pug. Additionally, Pug-Zus may be prone to pinched nostrils. Specific to short muzzled-dogs, this congenital deformity restricts the dogs breathing. Furthermore, neither breed tolerates heat especially well; over-exertion can exacerbate breathing problems and cause the dog to become asphyxiated.

Hip dysplasia

Some regard joint dysplasia as a hereditary ailment, but it is more commonly found of any dog that has been bred to be small. Hip dysplasia can cause an early onset of arthritis. Overweight dogs or dogs that have injured their legs will also suffer with this condition.


Seizures are often caused by a dog ingesting a toxin. A dog of any size can suffer with epileptic seizures, but Pugs are more prone to seizures caused by an inflammation of the brain.

Pug-Zus are no more prone to behavioural problems than any other dog. Upbringing, socialisation, interaction and training are what determines the adult Pug-Zu's manner. The responsible dog owner will be the one who is not only instrumental in fine-tuning their dog’s social skills but who is also vigilant of their dog’s health, especially when it comes to afflictions associated with the brachycephalic dog.

What did you think of the Pug-Zu? And what about these other mixed-breeds:

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