The trending topic when it comes to dog breeds these days is designer dogs.
While many of the people who breed these specialty breeds will tell you that the dogs are worth more because of their hybridization, the truth is they are just intentionally bred mutts. So what is the allure?
For as long as dogs have been in our lives, people have been breeding them for specific traits and jobs. The German Shepherd was bred for herding and protection work, the Saint Bernard was bred for search and rescue, and the Greyhound was specifically bred for its speed and hunting.
None of these breeds were made overnight, but each was methodically created by mixing other breeds of the time period until the breeders were happy with the result.
So Who Created the Designer Dogs of Today?
While it isn’t known exactly who is responsible for the growing trend of high priced mixed breeds, it is likely that the trend started in puppy mills. If you have never heard of a puppy mill—the short explanation is that they are large scale dog breeding facilities.
Dogs at puppy mills are treated as livestock, living their lives in small cages until they are too old to breed. Once they are too old to breed, they are of no use to the owner and they are disposed of. The lucky ones end up in rescues, but the rest simply make their way to the rainbow bridge.
More times than they would like to admit, the puppy millers will have accidental pairings that result in mixed breed puppies. Instead of taking a loss they began marketing them to pet stores as designer breeds.
The public loved it and before long Labradoodles and Shihpoos were selling for more than their purebred cousins.
One positive thing that has come out of designer breeds is healthier dogs.
If you are buying your puppy from a place like Petland (one of the biggest distributors of puppy mill puppies in the U.S.) chances are it won’t be the healthiest dog regardless of what breed it is, but the mixes will be less prone to common genetic disorders.
Many breeds are prone to certain genetic disorders like hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and many more. The reason these diseases are so common among purebreds is that they have a relatively small genetic pool.
For instance, all Boston Terriers can be traced back to one stud named Hooper’s Judge. This means that all dogs of a certain breed are in some way related and thus, have the same genes in their lineages.
So when you begin mixing breeds you start adding new genes into the pool and the chances of the genetic diseases transferring to the offspring get smaller and smaller.
If you have ever heard someone say that mutts are healthier, this is the reason why—genetic diversity.
As if this wasn’t reason enough to get a mixed breed dog, many people are also in love with the idea of doodle breeds, or breeds that are mixed with poodles. Poodles have a special kind of hair that is low shedding and in turn, low allergen. Many people who are allergic to dogs aren’t allergic to poodles, but not everyone who has allergies wants a poodle.
That’s how the “doodle” was born. There are Goldendoodles, Labradoodles, Schnoodles, Shipoos, and infinitely more combinations of this loving, low allergen breed and its hybrids.
In theory, the offspring of such pairings would be low allergen as well, however, if we go back to genetics we know that not all of these mixes will end up with the Poodle’s low allergen coat. So if you are wanting a Doodle for their low allergen qualities, try to get one that is a third generation or later.
When breeding hybrids many people will refer to the dog’s filial generation, or the offspring after the original parents, so if you are getting a dog that is an F1 or filial generation 1 you know his parents were the original crossing.
For example, in the case of an F1 Labradoodle, the parents were a Labrador and a Poodle. For the F2 generation, the parents are two F1 dogs, and so on. When looking for a specific trait, like low allergen hair, the likelihood of a later generation puppy having it is greater than an F1 generation.
When it comes to hybrid breeds or designer dogs, the allure is different for everyone. Some love how cute they are, some are looking for a specific trait, and some may be after the healthiest dog they can find.
Whatever your reason for getting a hybrid, never buy your puppy from a pet store like Petland, instead consider adopting or going to reputable breeder.