Remember that old "Star Trek" episode, "The Trouble With Tribbles"? Let's tune into "The Problem With Puggles. " Just as Capt. James T. Kirk couldn't open an overhead...

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Remember that old “Star Trek” episode, “The Trouble With Tribbles”?

Let’s tune into “The Problem With Puggles.”

Just as Capt. James T. Kirk couldn’t open an overhead compartment on his beloved starship without being showered with an avalanche of round, furry Tribbles, so, too, does it seem that rescue groups and shelters are being inundated with the latest so-called “designer dog.”

Once enjoying obscurity as the nickname for a baby platypus, the term “puggle” is now universally understood to mean the crossbred offspring of a pug and a beagle that has become as trendy as investment jeans or pumpkin latte. “It’s the equivalent of breeding a Marc Jacobs bag with a Louis Vuitton,” sniffed one pet-store owner.

Created and coined by commercial breeder Wallace Havens of Sun Prairie, Wis. (whose latest “Frankenpup” is the mini-Saint Bernard), the puggle arguably peaked in 2005, when assorted celebrities were photographed with the soulful-eyed canines and the New York Post gave the hot hybrid its cover, no less.

(A word on procreation: Unlike Tribbles, which were particularly prolific, puggles are never bred to one another, at least not by the faint of heart. Like all hybrids, these second-generation crosses follow the inalienable laws of genetics and do not breed true — that is, their offspring usually resemble one parent more than the other, and can vary wildly in appearance.)

Awwwwww!

The appeal of the puggle is evident at first glance: A puggle puppy inherits a slightly less smushed-in face than its pug progenitor, framed by the floppy ears of the beagle parent. It is cuteness defined.

But the puggle’s downfall is not its appearance. It is its energy level. While pugs have been bred for centuries for companionship, they have a reputation for clownish stubbornness. This gets taken to NASCAR levels with the infusion of beagle blood. An unapologetic hunting dog, the beagle gives voice when he is excited, or frustrated, or bored, or basically just breathing. He laughs at your obedience-class enrollment forms, preferring instead to dig up the dahlia bed or bark nonstop.

As a result, while a puggle is a delight to look at, he is a challenge to live with. The word that recurs in conversation with rescuers is “hyper.”

Um, never mind

“We’ve gotten quite a few of them in,” says Vincent Spinola, director of the Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition. “People don’t realize what they are getting into. People think they’re so cute — and they are. But they take a lot of training.

“We do get homes for them,” Spinola says, “but it’s with people who really love dogs, because you’ve got to know what you’re getting into.”

Take a spin through www.petfinder.com, the main portal for adoptable animals on the Internet, and you’ll find plenty of puggles among the almost 1,000 pugs or whopping 6,600 beagles listed.

“When people buy a puggle, they think they’re getting a pug,” says Jerry Dalton of the Pug Rescue Network in Walled Lake, Mich. “But as puggles get older, they turn into beagles.”

This is not a pug

Lisa Farrell of Midwest Pug Rescue in Kansas City, Mo., one of the few pug groups that takes puggles and other pug mixes, such as the bug (pug crossed with Boston terrier), agrees.

While puggles are good with children and other dogs, they don’t meet the expectations of the many pug lovers who seek them out, she says. “Pugs are very docile, lazy dogs. They wouldn’t know it if a bird landed on their head. Puggles definitely have (a much higher) activity level.”

Beguiled by the whiff of an interesting scent, puggles are unapologetic wanderers; often inheriting the pug’s notoriously poor sense of direction, most of their excursions are one-way trips. If they retain something from their pug forebears, it is that nonstop shedding coat and a dyslexia about housebreaking.

“If you want a pug, buy a pug. If you want a beagle, buy a beagle,” advises Patt Kolesar, a longtime breeder of both, on the Pug Dog Club of America Web site (www.pugs.org). “Please don’t support the idiotic craze that the puggle is the best of both worlds, because it isn’t.”

A few years from now, the puggle’s fate will likely resemble that of the cockapoo — overproduced, overhyped and, in the end, overlooked in favor of the latest mix.

In the meantime, resist the urge to tune in to this episode of the designer-dog saga, as the ending is far too predictable.