Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
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The Pugalier is a crossbred of the Pug and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. It usually resembles the Pug with slightly longer fur, floppier ears and a longer muzzle. Many are fawn and black but other colour combinations, such as red and black, are also seen. Responsible breeders try to ensure that only those with the least brachycephalic features are bred in order to prevent health issues down the line.

One of the sweetest dog breeds that exist, the Pugalier is a friend to all and doesn’t have a bad bone in its body. Especially good with young children, the tolerance of the Pugalier is almost unparalleled in the canine world. Eager to please their owner, some dogs are thwarted by a short attention span when it comes to their early training sessions.

About & History

The demand for designer dogs has steadily increased over the last decade or two, with those dogs that are smaller and ‘trendy’ being included in mixes most commonly. For this reason, it was no surprise when the Pugalier came to be – a cute mix of the placid Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the goofy Pug.

Both the date and place of origin of this mixed-breed is unknown, as is the case with many of the designer dogs. It is likely that the first Pugalier was developed some time at the start of this century. While the Pugalier itself lacks a substantial history, both of its parents are well-recognised dog breeds with fascinating histories.

The Pug

Incredibly, the Pug is believed to have existed more than 2,000 years ago and was kept by the Chinese aristocracy as a much-loved companion animal. It was not until the 1500s that the Pug was eventually brought to Europe, and it enjoyed huge success in Holland.

These bug-eyed dogs experienced a surge in popularity in recent years, featuring widely in TV and advertising and being snapped up by celebrities worldwide. Their fame has been controversial, however, with many veterinary experts concerned about the breathing, joint and skin issues that a large proportion of Pugs suffer from.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel also enjoys a noble history with many European royals, having selected them as their lap dog of choice. They feature in a large number of important paintings through the years. The original Spaniels were built more athletically and had larger faces than the 'Cavies' of today. Over time, they were bred to look aesthetically ‘cuter’, although this caused their health to suffer. Today, they remain a popular family pet thanks to their incredibly sweet nature and tolerance of young children.


As the Pug and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are quite different dogs, it would make sense that there is a large amount of variation seen in their progeny. However, most will have a distinctive look that defines them as their own breed.

Though the Pugalier is a brachycephalic breed (possessing a wide and shortened skull), most will develop longer snouts and larger nostrils than their Pug parent. Their brown eyes tend to be wide and prominent but not as pronounced as those of the Pug. While their ears are pendulous, they more closely resemble the wider flaps of the Cavalier. Their skull is large for their body and often domed. Their chest is quite wide though their body is compact. Limbs are sturdy and strong. The tail of the Pugalier may be straight like the Cavalier or curled like the Pug. Most will not have the same plume of fur as is seen in the Cavalier.

The fur of the Pugalier is short and straight, except in a few cases where the longer and silkier Cavalier coat is inherited. The vast majority of dogs have a fawn coat with a dark facial mask, but individuals may be a mix of white, red, black and brown. With both parents being small breeds, a fully grown Pugalier usually measures 25cm to 35cm and weighs in at 4.5kg to 9kg.

Character & Temperament

With a winning personality, the character of this dog is what makes it a real superstar. Inheriting the gentle disposition of the Cavalier and the confident, mischievous nature of the Pug, the Pugalier makes a fabulous companion for all the family. They have a great deal of patience with children and form strong and loving bonds with each family member. As well as tolerating children, they do very well with other pets and can thrive in multi-pet households.

Curious and always up for a laugh, the Pugalier will sometimes take on the role of family clown and seems to get great enjoyment out of entertaining others. They love to play games, solve puzzles and generally interact with other animals and humans. Though this is a breed that simply relishes being in the company of others, this can pose a challenge when they become so reliant on interaction that they are no longer content when alone. Separation anxiety is a potential issue and should be avoided at all costs. Owing to this tendency, keeping a Pugalier in a home that is not occupied for most of the day is not a good idea.

So accepting are they of strangers, the Pugalier makes an extremely bad choice for a guard dog, as they are more likely to welcome a new person with licks and cuddles than to bark at them or chase them away!


As the Pugalier is always keen to please and possesses a good degree of intelligence, training can be good fun. However, some breed members may have stubborn streaks and rely on having a trainer that does not give in to them and maintains a firm training programme as they mature.

The attention span of the Pugalier can be shorter than average, a fact that can be overcome by ensuring that training sessions are kept short and interesting. Asking your Pugalier to perform repetitive tasks will likely result in initial obedience but eventual boredom and frustration, so try to keep things motivating.


Unfortunately, both the Pug and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are notorious for having bad health. While it is true that out-breeding can reduce the incidence of genetic issues within the population, it will not eliminate them and there are many conditions that need to be monitored for in the Pugalier.

KCS (Keratoconjuntivitis Sicca)

KCS or ‘dry eye’ is a condition whereby the eyes are not coated in an adequate tear film and become dry and irritated over time. Chronic ocular infections and ulcers are often seen and many of those affected will suffer in silence as the signs can be subtle. Owners should request a ‘Schirmer Tear Test’ from their vet at each annual check-up to ensure tear production is within the normal range.


For those with facial folds, they are predisposed to developing skin fold dermatitis. Owners can prevent this by cleaning out the folds with dog-friendly wipes each morning.

Patellar Luxation

Many smaller breeds have knee caps that do not sit in place firmly, and pop in and out during activity. The severity of this condition is graded from one to four, and those with higher grades are often good surgical candidates.

Mitral Valve Disease (MVD)

The Cavalier in particular is over-represented when it comes to MVD – a heart disease that results in inadequate blood flow around the body and eventual heart failure. Most are managed for years on medication, though the disease is inevitably progressive. Screening programmes should be used to ensure that only those with good hearts are bred from.

BOAS (Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome)

Flat-faced breeds can suffer with BOAS, a condition which means that they struggle to take in enough oxygen, particularly during exercise or when stressed. Owners may notice noisy breathing, excessive panting and snoring. Surgeries are available to open up the airways in more extreme cases.

Exercise and Activity Levels

More so than other breeds, Pugaliers can have a tendency to be lazy. They are quite good at lounging around and are often content with short walks. Despite this, owners should not limit their exercise and should encourage them to be as active as possible.

Caution is advised during periods of high heat and/or humidity, as those with compromised airways are more prone to heat stroke. During these times, dogs should be brought out during dawn and dusk and kept cool with the use of fans and air conditioning.


The short fur of your Pug cross Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can be brushed about once or twice a week to maintain its shine. Any skin folds will need to be kept clean and dry, while floppy ears require a deep clean about twice a month. Most will keep their claws trim when walked outside, though some may benefit from claw clips every eight weeks or so.

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