Cocker Pug

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
 
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Both the Cocker Spaniel and the Pug are popular pet dogs, meaning the Cocker Pug is likely to become a very successful designer dog breed over time. For now, they are relatively new on the scene and have a lot of competition from similar mixed breeds that have been popping up around the world, such as the Puggle and Cockapoo.

The Cocker Pug is longer and leaner than the Pug, though less brachycephalic and with longer and wider ears. Incredibly gregarious, this breed relishes spending time with its family. While quick to learn, they can become easily distracted and may exhibit a stubborn streak, making them moderately difficult to train.

About & History

The Cocker Pug may be a mix of either an American Cocker Spaniel or an English Cocker Spaniel with a Pug dog. This ‘designer dog’ has likely been in existence for around two or three decades, though it is hard to know the exact date of origin. Similarly, it is generally accepted that this mixed-breed was first created in America, but records are lacking. As this new breed has such a limited history, we need to look to its parents to get a better idea of its background.

The Spaniel is believed to be of Spanish origin, and records date back to the 1300s. Historically used as a gun dog, the Cocker Spaniel would hunt on land. Though many modern Cocker Spaniels are kept as companion animals and show dogs they are still widely used as working dogs today. Around 100 years ago, the English Cocker Spaniel gave rise to the American Cocker Spaniel – a smaller and daintier dog with little sporting ability.

The Pug dog has been around a lot longer than the Cocker Spaniel and has truly ancient roots. In fact, experts agree that Pugs have been in China since before the year 200 B.C., where Chinese emperors kept them. They have always been a lap dog and to this day remain superb companion animals.

Appearance

As the Cocker Pug is quite a recently developed breed, there is still a large variability within the population when it comes to their physical appearance. Over time, and with repeated breedings, they will begin to develop a more uniform appearance. For now, purchasing a Cocker Pug pup is a bit of a gamble and it can be hard to predict which parent they will take after more in the ‘looks lottery’.

On the whole, this breed looks fairly similar to the Puggle, which of course is a Pug crossed with a Beagle. They have a lean and well-muscled body that is compact and supported by long, straight legs. They are always larger than the Pug, measuring up to 45cm and weighing from 8kg to 16kg. While most individuals have some degree of a ‘snub-nose’, their face will be more elongated than their Pug parent.

Some facial skin folds are likely and these are often more prominent on the nasal bridge. Their eyes are a soulful dark brown and their nose is usually black. The pendulous ears of the Cocker Pug hang loosely beside the face, and while not as large as those of the Spaniel, are certainly wider and longer than those of the Pug.

The fur tends to be short and dense, however, a small number of dogs will have the longer and wavier fur as seen on the Cocker spaniel. Fur colour is either black or light fawn. For those that are fawn in colour, they will usually have a dark facial mask.

Character & Temperament

As both the Cocker Spaniel and the Pug have larger than life and loving personalities, the Cocker Pug has a lot to offer. A truly social breed, these dogs enjoy nothing more than spending time with their family and being fawned over. They bond closely to all family members and form particularly strong attachments with any children in the home. Mischievous and playful, these little clowns will never say no to a game and don’t take life too seriously. They are confident and plucky, able to adapt to a variety of situations and rarely developing anxieties or nervous behaviours.

Most Cocker Pugs do well with other dogs, though do need to be introduced to them when still young. Caution is advised around smaller pets and cats, who may be seen as more of a toy to chase than a friend.

The perfect house pet, these lap dogs are content to spend the majority of their day relaxing inside, and once they have received their minimum daily exercise requirements should not crave much more attention.

Trainability

While on one hand the Cocker Pug is eager to please their owner and full of enthusiasm and energy, they can be strong-willed and take patience to train. Some individuals are stubborn and, while they may understand what is being asked of them, can decide they would much rather do something else entirely! Easily distracted, to maintain their attention, training sessions should be kept short and interesting.

These dogs are usually food motivated, a fact that can be used to a trainer’s advantage. Positive reinforcement will yield the best results, and both vocal praise and small training treats can be used as rewards. This breed does not react well to negative reinforcement or punishment-based training, which may cause them to lose interest.

Health

Though it is scientifically proven that mixed-breed or ‘hybrid’ dogs enjoy better health than their pedigree counterparts, this does not make them immune to all genetic health issues. In fact, there are quite a few health conditions that the Cocker Pug is predisposed to, which are listed below:

Hypothyroidism

Thyroid hormone, or T4, is essential for regulating a dog’s metabolism and in middle-aged to older dogs, sometimes their thyroid level drops below normal. A low T4 level can cause a myriad of symptoms, including sluggish behaviour, skin infections, alopecia and weight gain.

Some straightforward blood tests can diagnose the condition and the treatment is to simply replace the thyroid hormone by giving daily medication. Most dogs will respond very well to the treatment, which will be life-long.

Ear Infections

Any Spaniel or Spaniel cross with long, floppy ears will be predisposed to ear infections throughout their lifetime. This is because the airflow within the ear canal is reduced and moisture levels and humidity are high. Bacteria and yeast can multiply, leading to chronic and painful infections. Owners can prevent recurring infections by keeping ears clean and dry as much as possible and avoiding the ears getting wet.

Entropion

When the eyelids fold too far inwards, this is known as ‘entropion’. The opposite to this (eyelids that droop outwards) is called ‘ectropion’. Dogs with entropion may show signs of discomfort by rubbing at their face or squinting their eyes. Bilateral clear ocular discharge is common and the fur under the eyes may become tear-stained. Entropion is usually fixed with a surgery to improve the positioning of the eyelids and the prognosis tends to be excellent after surgery.

Exercise and Activity Levels

While working Spaniels don’t usually come with an ‘off switch’ and pugs can have sporadic spurts of energy, the Cocker Pug tends to have a moderate exercise requirement and can sometimes be a bit lazy. For most adults, two thirty-minute walks twice a day is usually sufficient. They appreciate being brought on a variety of routes and tracks and like to be able to sniff and scent to their heart’s content. While some will be keen swimmers, others wouldn’t put a paw in the water if you paid them!

Though access to a fenced garden is not a necessity, the Cocker Pug enjoys time spent outdoors and will certainly use an outside area if available. They like to play games of fetch and chasing and do quite well in canine sporting activities. Beware under-exercising the Cocker Pug, as they may gain weight quickly.

Grooming

As most breed members have quite a short coat, they only need to be brushed twice a week or so. Some individuals will have prominent skin folds on their face which may need to be wiped and dried each day, preventing a dermatitis. The biggest grooming consideration when it comes to the Cocker Pug is their ears.

Their floppy ears should be checked for any signs of build-up or skin reddening on a daily basis as they are prone to infections. Any wax should be cleaned out and most will benefit from an ear cleaning every two weeks.

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