Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
Photo of adult Bugg
Josh Brown / Flickr.com

The Bugg is a hybrid dog breed, created by breeding a Boston Terrier with a Pug. These small to medium sized dogs are lovers, not fighters, and adore human company. Both parent breeds are doggy delights, with the Boston Terrier being known as the “American Gentleman” and the Pug as a “Clown”. Combine these two breeds together and you get an ideal companion dog, suited to life in an apartment.

The slight downside to the Bugg is a tendency to health problems. Since both parents have a flat face and large eyes, the puppies can suffer similar difficulties. For the Bugg, this includes breathing difficulties (due to that flat-face) and corneal ulcers, amongst other issues. Therefore, it is a wise pet parent who insures their Bugg.

About & History

The deliberate mating of different pedigree breeds is a relatively recent phenomenon; hence the history of the Bugg goes back just a couple of decades. However, the parent breeds are well-established, with the Boston Terrier originating in the 19th century and the Pug in ancient China.

The Pug

The older of the two breeds is the Pug. These attractive stout fellows are thought to be related to the much larger Tibetan Mastiff. Selective breeding of these fawn mastiffs with black masks, lead to two new breeds, including an ancient Pug called the Lo-Sze and the Pekingese.

The Pug remained a Chinese treasure, largely unknown to the rest of the world, until the late 16th century. Then as trade between China and Europe opened up, so Dutch traders took some Pugs with them. Unsurprisingly they became popular, especially with the Dutch Royal Family. The Pugs’ star rose and rose, with notable owners being Marie Antoinette, Josephine Bonaparte, Queen Charlotte (the wife of George III) and Queen Victoria.

The Boston Terrier

The history of the Boston Terrier is shorter, with their origins dating to Boston in the US in the late 1800s. Exactly how the breed came into being is controversial. On the one hand, it said to be the result of breeding Bulldogs with a now extinct English White Terrier. But another story has a man named Hooper buying a dog that had a similar appearance to the modern dog, because it reminded him of another much-loved canine he once owned. This dog, Judge, became the founding sire of the breed.

Whatever their origins, their good nature and smart coat with a white chest (the ‘Tuxedo’ dog), earned them a moniker as “the American Gentleman”.


Bugg Large Photo
Josh Brown / Flickr.com

There are many similarities in appearance between the Boston Terrier and Pug – most notably a shortened snout and flat face. However, whereas the Boston has large erect ears, the Pug has folded rosebud ears flaps. Whilst a Bugg pup may lean towards either one of their parent’s appearance, most commonly it’s a cute compromise with large, folded ears.

The Boston Terrier has a deep chest and narrow waist, whilst the Pug is altogether more solid and chunky. Again, the resulting hybrid may show distinct characteristics borrowed from a parent or be a blend of the two. However, since both are small to medium-sized dogs, the Bugg is also.

When it comes to coat colour, the Bugg has it all. They can be solid brindle or black, fawn with a dark mask, or black (or seal) with a white tuxedo. The solid coat colour is inherited from the Pug, since a purebred Boston Terrier should always have some white markings. The last word goes to the Bugg’s tail. A Boston Terrier’s tail may be naturally bobbed, corkscrew, or even straight, which makes it difficult to predict what the type of tail a Bugg will have. However, the distinctive Pug doughnut is often wins out and is inherited by the Bugg.

Character & Temperament

The Bugg has a reputation for being a loving dog suitable for first time owners. Both parent breeds adore being around people and thrive on being the centre of attention. These are not malicious or overly-protective dogs, and when treated right, will reward their owner with antics that bring endless amusement.

However, keep in mind that both the Pug and the Boston Terrier have a stubborn streak at times. If they don’t want to do something, then they can’t be forced into it. The owner’s best option is to psyche the dog out using reward-based training, so the dog thinks it was their idea all along. A well-socialised Bugg will grow into a playful companion that loves to snuggle. Overall, they are a doggy delight, but like all canines, may bark or be destructive if bored.


The Bugg is intelligent but sometimes their cleverness is applied at evading instruction rather than complying. This stubborn streak sometimes shows up in difficulty toilet training. However, since the Bugg is exceptionally food motivated, this reluctance can often be overcome with reward based training methods.

The ideal starting point is to source a puppy that was well-socialised by the breeder. Then continue the good work with daily training sessions, which are short and fun. Encourage the dog to behave by rewarding their good actions with praise or a treat. Then the Bugg will show impressive compliance as they work hard to earn that tasty titbit.


As a hybrid there is no data specific to health problems linked to the Bugg. However, with two flat-faced parents, it is inevitable the pups are prone to certain conditions that are common in the Pug and Boston Terrier.

Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome

The Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome, or BOAS for short, presents as breathing difficulties as a result of various anatomical quirks in flat-faced breeds. These include narrow nostrils, an overly large tongue, a long soft palate, everted laryngeal saccules, and a narrow windpipe.

Dogs with BOAS rely heavily on panting in order to take in enough oxygen. This limits their ability to exercise and puts them at risk of heat stroke in hot weather.

Corneal Ulcers

Those enormous puppy-dog eyes are not without hazard. The large exposed surface area of the cornea is prone to drying, which can result in ulcers. Prompt veterinary treatment is essential to prevent the ulcer deepening and rupturing.

Cherry Eye

This condition is named for its appearance, whereby the dog has a red, cherry-sized swelling on their inner eyelid. This is the result of a tear gland prolapsing and sitting on the outside of the eyelid, rather than the inner surface.

Corrective surgery replaces the gland in its correct anatomical position. However, there is a high recurrence rate and repeat surgery is often necessary.


The large head and small pelvis of both parent breeds can lead to birthing difficulties. A high percentage of Boston Terriers and Pugs require a C-section to give birth.


These little dogs have notoriously big appetites. Indeed, when it comes to eating they have no self-control, which means they can easily overeat and become obese. In turn, this places them at increased risk of diabetes, joint problems, and heart disease.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Bugg is a playful energetic fellow that needs plenty of mental stimulation to avoid getting bored. However, regular games of ball or ‘Fetch’ will kill the proverbial two birds with one stone, as they love the one-to-one attention of play and it also tires them out.

A Bugg should get out and about on twice daily walks, but a decent trot round the block is often sufficient.


The short coat of the Bugg does not require formal grooming by a parlour. However, even that short coat can shed surprisingly heavily. A quick daily once-over with a slicker brush will help capture that shed hair and keep their coat glossy.

Other grooming tips to keep in mind include keeping any skin folds clean. If the dog has deep folds, wipe them out regularly with dry or slightly damp cotton wool. Also, if the dog isn’t getting a lot of exercise where the pavement naturally wears down the nail, nail clipping may be necessary every 2 to 4 weeks.

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