Designer Dog Breeds
The names of many designer dogs can elicit a giggle from even the most serious dog fancier. After all, it's hard to even say words like Goldendoodle and Puggle for the first time without smiling a bit. And Pekeapoo? It sounds more like a game than a dog, doesn't it? Not everything about these increasingly popular crossbred dogs is lighthearted, though. There is an astounding number of both fans and critics of these unique hybrids, and their reasons are as different as the designer dogs themselves6.
Genetic science sometimes moves in strange directions. The appeal of "designer dogs" is a perfect example. Dog breeders know that each breed has its own traits; for example Labrador Retrievers are playful and loving and poodles do not shed hair. Breeders therefore crossbreed the two hoping to produce a playful loving dog that does not shed. But genetic scientists warn that the desirable traits do not often appear in the offspring 1.
Breeders of designer dogs have been promoting their benefits, one of which their hybrid vigor. Breeders say that designer dogs do not have health problems of purebreds, but this is not necessarily so. The offspring of any breeding will be genetically healthy or not depending upon their parents' (and grandparents') genetic health. Labradoodle owners have found many of the same health concerns as those found in both Labs and Poodles, including a tendency toward ear infections, allergies and hip dysplasia.2.
The Myth of "Hybrid Vigor"
The genetic flaws exposed by indiscriminate inbreeding of purebred dog breeders can be replicated over time by hybrid breeders, as they are increasingly breeding their hybrid dogs to other hybrid dogs, in an attempt to create a more predictable result. Therefore, the very argument that supports hybrid vigor is being deliberately abandoned by hybrid breeders as they strive for the creation of hybrid standards3.
The American Canine Hybrid Club (ACHC, achc.com) is a registry that records the litters of mixed-breed dogs. The club establishes the names of all mixed-breed varieties. The ACHC registers about 500 litters a month, averaging 4 puppies per litter. Currently, there are about 369 recognized crossbreeds, and the number increases daily as new combinations are produced3.
Do Your Homework
Hybrid dogs are often promoted as displaying the best qualities of the two dog breeds that have gone into the mix. While this might be true, in fact such mixed-breed puppies might equally demonstrate the least attractive traits of both parents instead. Predictability in appearance and personality traits is the primary advantage in choosing a purebred dog over a mix, while the hybrids created from two different breeds will produce puppies that may contain any combination of the traits found in both parents. For this reason, it is strongly suggested that you familiarize yourself with all traits found in each dog in the mix. If there is any trait that you find objectionable, steer clear of that combination, because there is no guarantee that you will get the select group of traits that you find attractive3.
Take a look at Puggles, a mixed-breed created by crossbreeding Pugs and Beagles. Puggles are adorable puppies and no doubt make great little family dogs. Be aware that both Pugs and Beagles have a reputation for being hard to train and beagles are notorious barkers4.
The best known of all the first-crosses, the Labradoodle is a cross between a purebred Labrador and a Poodle. It was originally bred to work as a service dog, with the idea that it could be placed with blind people who had allergies to the usual shedding coats of common service dog breeds. The appearance of Labradoodle can vary greatly, from short-coated and black to curly and blond. Its behavior is often variable, too: some seem laid-back and affable, while others are prone to excitement and barking. Not all are non-shedding.
The Puggle is a relatively new and popular cross-breed, bringing together the Pug and the Beagle. It is no surprise that combining characteristics and features of an energetic hound and loving lapdog is proving very popular. Puggles are typically energetic, sweet-tempered, loving, intelligent, and playful. The short, smooth coat may be of various colors.
This is a cross between a Cocker Spaniel and a miniature Poodle. Cockapoos have been bred for some years, but still vary greatly in color and coat type. Indeed, it is uncommon to find tight-curled, wavy-haired and flat-coated puppies in the same litter. These little dogs tend to be ougoing and cheerful, and usually have their coats clipped into a "teddy bear" style for ease of maintenance.
Look for breeders who do health testing and generally follow good breeder ethics as outlined in responsible breeder article.
Designer Dog Fun
Airedale + Spaniel=Ariel, provides excellent TV reception
Basenji + Schipperke=Baserke, just mad about their owners
Bloodhound + Labrador=Blabador, a dog that barks incessantly
Bull Terrier + Shih Tzu=Bullshitz, a gregarious but unreliable dog
Chihuahua + Whippet=Chiapet, order from TV ads, for $19.95
Collie + Lhasa Apso=Collapso, folds up for easy transport
Irish Water Spaniel + English Springer Spaniel=Irish Springer, always fresh and clean as a whistle
Keeshond + Setter=Keester, you can't get this dog off its duff
Lhasa Apso + Poodle=Lhasa Poo, comes with extra plastic bags
Newfoundland + Basset Hound=Newfound Asset Hound, popular with financial advisors
Pekingese + Lhasa Apso=Peekasso, an abstract dog
Pointer + Setter=Poinsetter, a traditional Christmas pet
Siberian husky + Corgi=Siborg, the dog of the future
Smooth Fox Terrier + Chow Chow=Smooch, a great kisser
Terrier + Bulldog=Terribull, prone to terrible mistakes5
- Genetics: From DNA to Designer Dogs. Kathleen Simpson
- Dogs by Design: How to Find the Right Mixed Breed for You. Ilene Hochberg
- Knack Dog Care and Training. Carina MacDonald
- Greatest Jokes of the Century Book 11. Thomas F. Shubnell
- Designer Dogs (Animal Planet Pet Care Library)