If you've heard about 'Designer Dogs' but aren't really sure what they are? Or why you should (or shouldn't) get one.... the answers you're looking for are right here!
Although the tag 'designer' is applied to just about everything these days, not everyone knows exactly what it means when you're talking about dogs and not purses or clothing!
Basically, the term covers any puppy born from two purebred parents... of DIFFERENT breeds.
These pups are also often called 'hybrid puppies'.
Probably the most easily recognizable examples are the Labradoodle (Labrador Retriever X Poodle) and the Cock-a-Poo (Cocker Spaniel X Poodle), the Pom-a-Poo (Pomeranian X Poodle), and the Puggle (Pug X Beagle) have also become fairly well known recently.
The cute little guy above and to the left is a Shiffon puppy - a cross between a purebred Shih Tzu and a Brussels Griffon, and another of the designer breeds.
Now, you might already be already asking yourself "what's the difference between a designer dog and a mixed breed?"
They certainly sound pretty much the same that's true, but there is a pretty significant difference, at least to begin with.
Mixed breed dogs can be the result of a union between 2 purebred dogs of different types. But, they can also be the result of a cross between 2 mixed breed dogs, or one mixed breed and one purebred.
The heritage and ancestry of mix breed puppies is often hazy at best, and most likely a totally unknown quantity.
In contrast, the background of designer dog breeds/hybrid dogs, has a definite structure:
Then there are what's called 'backcross' puppies:
It's kind of a mixed bag when it comes to this, and there are strong opinions on both sides of the fence.
It's well known that every purebred dog breed is troubled by at least one (and usually many more), genetic or hereditary illnesses or problems. This is due to the level of inbreeding that takes place in order to keep a breed 'pure'.
Available research shows that designer dog breeds, and mixed breeds, are less likely to suffer from genetic weaknesses and are generally healthier overall than their purebred cousins.
However, it's very important to pay attention to the specific purebreds that are producing a particular hybrid.
If both parent dog breeds share the same genetic weaknesses, there's at the potential for a double dose of problems in the resulting puppies.
For example, if you cross breed two purebreds who each have a predisposition towards eye and eye-lid problems (such as Pugs, Boston Terriers or Pekingnese), the puppies are very likely to have problems in this area. And they may be more serious than in the original breeds themselves.
Not necessarily. Admittedly one of the first designer dog breeds was the Labradoodle, which was originally bred to combine two individual, breed specific traits with a particular purpose in mind.
The Labrador Retrievers' superior performance as a service dog, and the Poodles' non-shedding, non-allergenic coat. This combination produced a great guide dog for people with allergies.
It works quite well in theory, but due to the nature of genetics, it's not always a 'sure thing'! An F1 (first generation) Labradoodle or Goldendoodle can have a lab like coat that sheds, an F2 is more likely to have a hypoallergenic, low to non-shed coat.
When considering a designer dog, it's also not safe to expect puppies from a certain breeding to get only the desirable physical/behavioral traits. They're just as likely to inherit the undesirable ones, and each individual puppy in the litter can be quite different from it's litter mates.
Be realistic when considering a hybrid puppy, and if there are characteristics in either of the foundation breeds that you really don't want in your dog, don't choose that particular combination.
When it comes to being able to predict the size, coat, temperament and breed specific traits that a puppy will develop as it matures, designer dog breeds fall somewhere in the middle range.
Although every puppy is a unique individual, and will not look or act EXACTLY like it's littermates, it's much easier to determine the above factors in a purebred dog.
For example, all puppies of guardian breeds will naturally develop a desire to guard and protect their owners.
Some obviously will feel more strongly about this than others, but it's there nontheless.
In the same way, puppies from the herding breeds will want and NEED to herd things, and this will be accompanied by a high energy level.
At the other end of the spectrum, a mutt, or mixed breed puppy of uncertain ancestry is totally unpredictable. His parents are probably mixed breeds themselves, with their own individual jumble of genetic traits. Mix them both together and the results are pretty much 'pot luck'.
Your cute, sweet little puppy could grow into an 80lb dog with an attitude, or vice versa!
On the other hand, hybrid/designer dogs produce puppies that fall somewhere in the middle.
They're not even close to being as predictable as a purebreed dog, but F1 and F2 generation hybrids will show a selection or combination of characteristics found in the original purebred dogs that founded the new 'breed'.
It's also important to realize that each individual designer dog breeders' stock will vary from those of another breeder, as there are no recognized 'breed standard' to adhere to (as there is with purebred dogs).
The 'look' of each hybrid is less 'standardized' than that of a mainstream purebred dog.
There are lots of reasons why owners want to get the DNA information on their pup/dog....
Sometimes they want to be sure that the purebred they bought (but who doesn't have 'papers') isn't a mixed breed after all.
Other times it's to get info. that might help diagnose an unexpected health issue, explain behavior, get more background on a newly rescued dog, or just out of simple curiosity.
There are simple, ready-to-use, DIY tests that can help you learn more about the
genetic background of your dog, right from your own home. All you need to do is use the kit to take a simple mouth swab, send it off to a lab, and wait for the results :)
For example, the Designer Dog DNA Test Kit can even tell you if your hybrid is truly an F1 Designer Dog (first generation cross between two purebred dogs)
The Mixed Breed Dog DNA Identification Test can give owners lots of information about the breeds which make up a mixed-breed's family tree.
This type of information is very important for lots of reasons, including..
Health: Every breed has a predisposition to certain canine health issues and being aware of this can help you protect your pet and make sure he gets any screening he needs as well as being ready and able to recognize symptoms should they arise.
Behavior & Training: Just as health issues are genetically transmitted, so are a lot of in-born breed characteristics and behaviors. It's easier to keep your pup happy and well-behaved if you understand how he 'ticks' and tailor your training, corrections and daily routine to his needs.
Designer dogs are not generally considered 'recognized breeds' as such.
There are no designer dog breeds that are even close to being recognized by the AKC, but there is a new registry for Cock-a-Poo fanciers, and the American Canine Hybrid Club has a list of designer dog breeds it recognizes and registers.
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