When you hear the term “designer dog,” you may think of celebrities and those small dogs they carry around in their purses. Although designer dogs are often used as a fashion accessory for the rich and famous, they are also found in the homes of many people with less money and fame.
Designer dogs, as known as hybrid dogs and crossbred dogs, are gaining popularity among dog lovers who are looking to customize their own dog breed, in a sense. It involves taking two purebred dogs and breeding them to create a 50/50 mix of the two.
It started with poodles in the 1980s as dog owners used the poodle’s highly-regarded coat features (low-shedding, hypoallergenic) and blended that with desirable traits from other dog breeds. Many breeds are crossbred to create family pets and companions, while others are bred to create working dogs to help on farms or hunt.
It is important to know that breeding two purebred dogs will not necessarily create the dog of your dreams. In order for crossbreeding to work, the puppies must be first-generation hybrids. This means that both parents must be purebred. It may take trial and error before you create the perfect pooch. This means that many of the puppies may be full of defects and not have any of the traits you hoped for.
What type of designer dog is best for you?
Do some research before committing to a designer dog. Find out what qualities you like and dislike and get help from a breeder who can help you customize your dog based on your preferences.
Here are some common types of hybrid dogs and their personality traits so you can determine if any of these would be a good fit for your family.
- Puggle (pug and beagle) – The puggle is one of the most popular types of hybrid dogs. It combines the curiosity of a beagle with the short legs and wrinkled forehead of a pug. They are playful and intelligent. They grow up to 30 pounds (40 kg) when full-grown. They are good with young children and other pets. They are great for dog owners who live in apartments or small houses. They can cost anywhere from $600 to $2,000.
- Pomapoo (Pomeranian and poodle) – Pomapoos are cute little dogs but are high-maintenance. Their fur, which can be straight, wavy or curly, needs frequent grooming. They are full of energy and tend to bark a lot. They weight between 10 and 15 pounds (4.5-7 kg) at adulthood. They are good with senior citizens and young children. They can be easily cared for in an apartment. Their price can range from a few hundred dollars to $1,500.
- Labradoodle (Labrador retriever and poodle) – Labradoodles are great family dogs. They behave well around children and other animals. They are very friendly, sociable and intelligent. They need a lot of room to play, so a house with a large backyard is preferable. They are often used as therapy or guide dogs. They have a hypoallergenic coat, making them perfect for dog owners who hate shedding or have allergies. Labradoodles come in three sizes and range in size from 40-70 pounds (18-32 kg). They are very popular and can cost up to $2,500.
- Mastador (Mastiff and Labrador retriever) – These huge dogs work best in families with older children, as they can grow to well over 100 pounds. They love to play and need frequent attention in order to prevent boredom and destruction. They can jump high and therefore need a large yard with a high fence. They also eat a lot, making them a high-maintenance dog. They can cost $400-$800.
- Jack-a-Poo (Jack Russell Terrier and poodle) – This hybrid is fairly new. It mixes the intelligence and energy of a Jack Russell terrier with the more docile temperament of a poodle. Because Jack Russells shed a lot and poodles shed very little, the intent is to create a highly intelligent dog that does not shed much. They need proper training when young, or they can become destructive. Jack-a-Poos work best in homes with no children or other animals. They also need someone who is home often, has time to train them and is very active. They can cost up to $1,000.
Advantages of designer dog breeding
If done correctly, dog breeders can create new breeds that produce desirable traits, such as a low-shedding coat, markings, colors and other specific physical characteristics. They can also create dogs with desired personality traits, such as family friendly, watchdogs, retriever/hunter, passive or aggressive.
Dog breeders with a strong knowledge of genetics will be able to breed two dogs and lessen the risk of genetic diseases. They will familiarize themselves with the pedigree and genetic history of both dogs, as well as their dominant and recessive traits, to lessen the risk of undesirable treats and increase the chance of desirable ones.
Disadvantages of designer dog breeding
Many people may want a designer dog as the result of an on-the-spot decision and regret it later. This is especially true of celebrities who look to dogs as fashion accessories and then give them up when they get tired of them. These dogs end up in animals shelters of homeless.
The popularity of designer dogs leads to puppy mills, which have hundreds of dogs breeding and giving birth as quickly as possible to cash in on the popularity. The puppies receive very little care and often die shortly after birth. Many puppies are shipped around the country, and it takes a toll on their health, leading to serious illness or even death. These breeders focus on money rather than health and charge high prices for these dogs.
If done incorrectly, crossbreeding can lead to an increased probability of inheriting genetic defects. There are 350 defects that a dog can inherit. Dog breeders intending on passing on desirable traits can wind up creating puppies that inherit undesirable traits from both parents. In addition, crossbreeding narrows the gene pool, which can eventually lead to genetic defects and certain conditions.
Another thing to consider is that because designer dogs are mixed breeds, they cannot be registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) or other registries. However, if a breed is well-documented, the breed registries may recognize it after some time.