Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
Photo of adult Shug
Tony Alter /

The Shug is a hybrid dog breed, which is a mix between a German Shepherd mother and a Pug father. It is important to cross it this way around since the Pug’s small size means a mother would struggle to whelp the larger pups.

Potential Shug owners should be aware there is another hybrid breed that goes by the same name. This other Shug is a cross between a Pug and a Shih Tzu (more popularly known as the Pug-Zu) and the result is a very different dog to the Shug featured here. Therefore, always double check parentage before selecting a Shug!

The Shug is a medium-sized dog that is a great all-rounder with the potential to be a super family pet. Active and playful, they love to be part of their owner’s life and enjoy moderately long walks. Training requires a degree of dedication and consistency, because the Shepherd’s intelligence may be over-ridden by a stubborn streak inherited from the Pug parent.

About & History

As a hybrid breed the Shug is a newcomer and their story is that of the two parent breeds.

The Pug

The much-loved Pug is an ancient breed, whose physical appearance has changed somewhat over the centuries. The first Pugs date back two millennia to ancient China, sharing blood with the Tibetan Mastiff and the Pekingese. For many centuries, the Pug was a well-kept secret, cherished within China and treated like royalty.

It was only in the early 17th century, when China started to trade with Europe, that these four-legged treasures were revealed to the wider world. It came as no surprise that when Dutch traders exported the Pug, the latter quickly become hugely popular with royalty, aristocrats, and the wealthy.

These original Pugs had a more-pronounced muzzle than the modern-day dog. Generations of selective breeding for a flat-face has been detrimental to the breed’s health, and created a tendency to breathing problems known collectively as BOAS (brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome.)

The German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is another hugely popular breed in their own right. As suggested by their name, they originated in Germany. However, they are relative newcomers compared to other breeds, having been developed in the late 1890s.

Captain Max von Stephanitz is credited with creating the German Shepherd breed by selecting for dogs with superior shepherding abilities, were intelligent, and athletic with strong protective instincts. However, the breed developed at a time when industrialisation was on the rise and so the breed quickly adapted to working life in the military or as guard-dogs.


Shug Large Photo
Tony Alter /

There are no guarantees as to the physical attributes of any hybrid dog. Each pup in the litter will be different, with some leaning more heavily towards the appearance of the Shepherd or the Pug parent. However, for those pups that do ‘meet in the middle’, they have the following characteristics.

A Shug should be a medium-sized dog with long legs and a sturdy body. Their coat colour depends on that of the parent dogs, but commonly the fawn body and black mask of the Pug predominate. They err towards a short coat, although some shagginess is possible depending on whether the German Shepherd was long-haired or not.

A typical Shug may look like an out-sized Pug with a slightly longer snout. Indeed, they often inherit the delightful donut of a tail from the Pug parent. One of the great things about the Shug is their nose is longer than a Pug’s, which makes for fewer breathing difficulties. Their ears can fall anywhere from the upright German Shepherd ear to the rosebud fold of the Pug or somewhere in between.

Character & Temperament

Temperament is part down to breed traits and part to early experiences in life. A Shug that is well-socialised as a pup is going to be a happy dog that likes being with their owner and enjoys a good amount of exercise.

Again, individual traits may dominate from the parent breeds. In the case of the Shug, this could mean they are wary of strangers and prone to be protective (from the German Shepherd) or laid-back and stubborn (from the Pug). However, all things being equal, the Shug is a great character and a pleasure to own as a playful dog that’s full of energy.


The Shug is a training enigma because the parent breeds are poles apart in terms of obedience. Whilst the German Shepherd is sharp as a tack and obedient to boot, the Pug is an easy-going fellow inclined to disobedience.

This means the Shug requires a dedicated owner prepared to work at gaining their dog’s attention using reward-based methods. It is regular training that is fun rather than hard-work that will win the day with a Shug.


As a hybrid dog there is little data pertaining to their specific health problems. However, disease present in the parent breeds may pop up in their pups, so it’s relevant to take a look at these conditions.

Hip & Elbow Dysplasia

An unfortunate German Shepherd health trait is a poor shape to the hip and/or elbow joints. This can lead to premature arthritis and be potentially disabling to the dog. The worst cases need joint replacement surgery in order to lead an active, pain-free life.

Prevention is better than cure, and ideally the German Shepherd parent should be screened for hip and/or elbow dysplasia before breeding, and only healthy animals used to produce the next generation.

Gastric Dilation & Volvulus (GDV)

The deep chest of the Shug can predispose them to gastric torsion, also known as ‘bloat’. This condition occurs when the stomach flips over on itself, sealing gas inside. The resulting stomach distension causes shock and organ failure, and prompt surgical correction is essential.

The risk of bloat developing can be reduced by feeding a good quality diet low in fermentable ingredients (such as soy), and by waiting for at least one hour after eating before exercising.

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)

The flat face of the Pug parent predisposes the Shug towards certain breathing difficulties. These problems are linked to a mismatch in size between the tongue, soft palate, and tonsils, and the bony case (the skull) that contains them.

There are some options for remedial surgeries that improve airflow, but on the whole, the condition is best avoided. Happily, the contribution made by the longer snout of the German Shepherd may be of some help to reduce (but not remove) the risk of BOAS occurring in a Shug.


The Shug may be prone to allergies, which show themselves as itchy skin and a tendency to ear infections. When the dog is allergic to pollens and grass, then the symptoms may be seasonal and at their worst in the summer.

There are now many options to reduce the signs of allergic itch in the dog. However, it remains a case of ‘control rather than cure’ with regards to allergy in the dog.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Shug is an active dog that requires plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. However, those Shugs with a flatter face may risk becoming overheated easily in hot weather. Therefore, it’s best to go for walks in the cooler part of the day and always take plenty of water along.


The short-haired Shug requires little by way of grooming, other than regular brushing to remove shed hair. A weekly brush will do the job, but for tip top coat condition daily brushing helps spread the natural oils that for a seal-like glossy appearance.

As with all dogs, daily tooth brushing is an invaluable way to remove plaque before it hardens to tartar. This goes a long way to reducing gingivitis, tooth root infections, and wobbly teeth.

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