Labradoodle, cockapoo and pug-zu. These odd-sounding names are your clue as to what kind of a designer dog – a mix of two known breeds -- you’re looking at. “Oodle” and “poo” are shorthand for a poodle parent, while a pug-zu is a cross between a shih tzu and a pug.
The pug-zu may take after either one of his parents and end up with the long, flowing coat of the shih tzu or the short, dense coat of the pug. Often he’ll sport a medium-length coat that shows a bit of both sides of the family. He can also come in any color or combination of colors, depending on whether he favors the shih tzu side of the family, where all colors and markings are allowed, or the pug side, where only black or fawn is acceptable. A pug-zu may also have the pug’s black mask covering much of his face.
Both pugs and shih tzus are outgoing and affectionate dogs, and pug-zus almost invariably are the same way. Additionally, they are likely to be happy dogs, friendly towards all, though if they favor the pug side of the family they may come off as a bit more dignified. The temperament on both sides of the family ensures that these dogs will most likely have a stable and trusting nature. They make excellent family pets but may not be very good watchdogs, since they so often seem to like everybody they meet.
Both parent breeds belong to the American Kennel Club’s toy group, with pugs weighing in at between 14 and 18 pounds while shih tzus tend to be a bit smaller, around 9 to 16 pounds, according to the breed standard. Pug-zus tend to fall into the same size range, and may be anywhere from 9 to 18 pounds when they’re fully-grown. They are not likely to be much taller than the 11 inches called for in the shih tzu breed standard, though since pugs have no height limit pug-zus may get a bit taller.
Not everyone is in agreement as to whether or not pug-zus and other designer dogs are a good thing. The shelters are filled with mixed-breed dogs already, and people such as Susan Smith, a shelter manager in Ohio, and Lisa Peterson, spokesperson for the American Kennel Club, say that deliberately creating more doesn’t make sense or provide any benefit. Others, including Gary Garner of the American Canine Hybrid Club, claim that crossing purebred dogs produces puppies that are more vigorous and have fewer health problems than their purebred parents. If you're considering a pug-zu or other designer dog, make sure the breeder is behaving responsibly and screening for genetic problems in both parents before breeding. This ensures that pug-zus continue to remain as healthy as possible.