These undeniably lovable dogs are, at their best, people-friendly, enthusiastic, trainable best friends. While they may not look much alike, the Pug and the Poodle have a lot in common. Topping the list is a love of laughter – yours, at their antics, and theirs at how easy it is to make people happy.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

Because both Poodles and Pugs love people, particularly children, this is a good mix to consider as a family pet. The smallest Pugapoos need to be protected from rough play, however. And because they are such affectionate, people-oriented dogs, never think for a minute that they'll adapt to life in the backyard or garage. These dogs need to live indoors as a member of the family.

Pugapoos are usually good with other dogs and cats, but can be barkers if they take after the Poodle side, so be sure to nip any signs of nuisance barking in the bud.

The grooming needs of the Pugapoo will depend on what kind of coat he has. The curly Poodle coat sheds very little, but does require grooming every 4-6 weeks. Some owners learn to use the clippers and do the job themselves, but most rely on professional groomers. Either way, it's essential to take care of the curly coat, because without regular clipping, it will quickly become a matted mess that can cause painful skin infections at the roots of the hair. The short Pug-type coat sheds, but doesn't need much care beyond a daily brushing.

Your Pugapoo's ears need to be kept clean and dry. Trapped moisture in the ear canal can lead to bacterial and fungal infections, and repeated infections can cause so much damage to the ear canal that the dog will lose his hearing. Severely affected ears may require surgery to control the infections.

Variations of the Pugapoo

Crossbred puppies like the Pugapoo -- even within the same litter -- can look very different from each other, and can look the same as or different from their parents. The Pugapoo's size, color, coat type, temperament, activity level and health risks will vary depending on what traits an individual puppy has inherited from his parents.

They're not very consistent in looks, and can have a curly Poodle coat, a short Pug coat, or anything in between. They can come in pretty much any color, have a tightly corkscrewed tail or one that flies high, and even come in a variety of sizes from around 10 pounds to as much as 30 pounds, depending on the size of the parents.

Health Issues Common to Pugapoos

Pugapoos are susceptible to the health problems of both the Pug and the Poodle, although possibly at a lower rate than purebred dogs. The cross with the Poodle can undo one of the biggest health challenges facing the Pug: the effects of his flat face, which include skin infections, dental problems, eye injuries, spinal defects and breathing difficulties. However, Poodles, Pugs and Pugapoos alike share many of the same health problems common to the smallest breeds of dog, such as kneecaps that easily slip out of place (luxating patellas), breathing difficulties caused by a collapsing trachea, and dental problems.

These risks also include Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, which causes reduced blood supply to the head of the thigh bone, which in turn causes it to shrink. The first sign of this disease is limping, which usually appears when the puppy is 4 to 6 months old. Treatment is surgical removal of the head of the leg bone, after which the puppy will have a relatively normal life other than an increased likelihood of arthritis.

Pugs can also suffer from a number of neurological problems, but the most frightening of all diseases that can strike the breed is the one known as "Pug Dog Encephalitis," or PDE. This is an inflammation of the brain that causes seizures and death. There is no cure and no way to prevent this condition. The Pug Dog Club of America is aggressively supporting research into the cause of PDE, and it's currently believed to be a genetic disease. There are no genetic screening tests available at this time for PDE, but a good breeder will tell all prospective puppy buyers about any affected dogs in your puppy's ancestry.

There are a number of other health conditions that can occur in Poodles, Pugs, or both -- and thus in their offspring. These include thyroid disease, other hormonal disorders such as Addison's Disease and Cushing's Syndrome, skin problems, liver disease and a very large number of hereditary eye problems.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease Medium $1,000-$3,000
Patellar Luxations Medium $1,500-$3,000

8 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Pugapoo Puppy

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You're more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Look for a good, reliable Pugapoo breeder. While it is important to choose the right breeder for purebred dogs, it is even more important when dealing with crossbred, hybrid, and "designer dogs." Make sure you seek a breeder who is less interested in the capitalizing on the fad of designer dogs with cute names and is more interested in crossbreeding for the sake of reducing the incidence of certain hereditary problems.

Keep in mind that almost no ethical Pug or Poodle breeders will allow their dogs to be used in breeding Pug/Poodle mixes, and it can be quite difficult for Pugapoo breeders to continue to find Poodles and Pugs to use to produce new generations of Pugapoos. Before you buy a Pugapoo, take a look at the Code of Ethics of the Poodle Club of America and that of the Pug Dog Club of America, and see if the breeder or seller can live up to its standards.

Make sure the breeder you're considering has a solid knowledge of the genetic diseases prevalent in both the Pug and the Poodle, as well as in her lines, and tests her breeding stock for genetic health problems. Your puppy's breeder should be able to provide you with documentation from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) that your puppy's parents are free of Legg-Calve-Perthes, luxating patellas and thyroid disease. She should also have test results from the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) that her dogs are clear of genetic eye disorders known to occur in the Pug and the Poodle.

Don't accept excuses and lies like, "I know my dogs are healthy because the vet checked them," or "I don't have those problems in my lines," or "Those problems only affect purebred dogs." Those are the standard lines of a bad and irresponsible breeder. While mixed-breed dogs can be healthier than purebred dogs, any individual dog can inherit genetic diseases from his parent, and wishful thinking is no substitute for genetic testing and ethical breeding practices.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health and behavior problems in Pugs, Poodles, and Pugapoos aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out.

Puppy or adult, take your Pugapoo to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues, particularly those common to the Pug and Poodle.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Pugapoos

Even if you find a good, responsible breeder, your Pugapoo is still at risk of accidents and various illnesses. There is no guarantee that the puppy will be free of the hereditary conditions common in the breeds of its parents, so it is always a good idea to insure your pet.

While Pugapoos are not purebred dogs, these hybrids or crossbreeds are more likely than mixed breeds to make claims for some hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat. Therefore, their insurance will cost slightly more than for mixed breeds, but as much as for purebreds.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Pugapoos are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Pugapoo is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.