Puggle, Labradoodle, Pomapoo…
Whether or not you’re an avid dog lover, you may have heard of such terms. And your guess is as good as anyone like a Labradoodle being a cross between a poodle and a Labrador retriever. The media often refers to these breeds as ‘designer dogs,’ possibly because some celebrities have shown interest in owning and caring for one.
However, ‘hybrid dogs’ is a more preferable term, a result of controlled breeding between two purebred canines. They’ve grown in popularity in recent decades due to their advantages over their purebred counterparts. Here’s all you need to know about hybrid dogs and how to care for them properly.
The Modern Canine
It’s worth noting that canine breeding isn’t anything new. Throughout history, civilizations have learned to domesticate the dog’s predecessor, the gray wolf, as huge swathes of land were turned into farmlands and urban spaces. However, the specifics behind the gray wolf turning into the purebred everyone knows today still baffle scientists.
Around the 20th century, people began creating hybrid breeds to produce a canine that has, for lack of a better term, ‘the best of both worlds.’ One common reason for doing so is to let those allergic to pet dander own dogs. For instance, Doxiepoo dogs are a mix of the hypoallergenic or less-shedding poodle and the non-hypoallergenic dachshund.
You might think, ‘Why not just own a poodle, then?’ Make no mistake: a poodle is by no means a terrible dog, but some prefer the qualities that make dachshunds lovable. When combined with the fact that you can’t own a dachshund due to allergies, you have a reason to own a crossbreed.
As of this writing, the American Canine Hybrid Club recognizes over 700 canine crossbreeds. This list is expected to grow as breeders continue to discover new breeding possibilities. Most crossbreeds’ names are portmanteaus of their purebred parents.
How Crossbreeding Works
Mating two purebreds to create a hybrid breed is a science, starting with the eligible purebreds. Despite the various breeds, all dogs can breed because they fall within the same species known as Canis familiaris. Their ancestor, the gray wolf, is known as Canis lupus.
That said, it isn’t an exact science, especially when genetics are heavily involved. An F1 or first-generation hybrid will most likely result in a 50/50 outcome, but the results become more random as this family tree grows. A common workaround involves breeding an F1 hybrid with a purebred, which results in a 75/25 mix called an F1b hybrid. The same applies to F2 and later generations.
As a general rule, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a hybrid pup with your desired disposition and physical traits, even among F1 crossbreeds. For instance, a Labradoodle—a cross between a Labrador retriever and a poodle—may possess more traits from one breed than from the other. You’d want to take this into consideration when in the market for hypoallergenic hybrids.
There’s also the matter of size disparity between the purebreds. While it’s possible to crossbreed a small corgi with a huge German shepherd (resulting in a Corman), it presents the risk of whelp problems, sometimes necessitating surgical measures during delivery.
Caring For Crossbreeds
Dog breeds suffer from various genetic disorders, mostly inherited from their wolf ancestors generations ago. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), among the most common hereditary diseases in dogs include allergies, inherited cancers, and diabetes.
AVMA also pointed out that crossbreeding purebreds with such conditions will most likely lead to offspring suffering from them, as well. In practice, crossbreeding should be done with the idea of reducing the risk of hereditary diseases, not enhancing them.
Fortunately, thanks to recent clinical studies, organizations have stepped up efforts to identify and develop ways for high-risk purebreds to give birth to healthy pups. It doesn’t mean the pup won’t fall ill with a particular disease throughout their life, but it’ll improve their quality of life. Past the crossbreeding process, they should be cared for like any other pet.
Knowing about the diseases purebreds are prone to will help owners make well-informed decisions. If you know your crossbreed is predisposed to diabetes, it’s best to keep close tabs on their diet and exercise routines. Other recommendations include ensuring their vaccination schedule is up-to-date and purging any sign of flea or tick infestation. Ticks and fleas can carry diseases that can make dogs sick.
Getting different dog breeds to mate won’t always result in the crossbreed you want. There are simply way too many factors in play to get an accurate result, not least of which is the parents’ genetic makeup.
Nevertheless, you still get a dog—a furry friend that deserves as much tender love and care as any other pet at home. Give them a home, some food, and enough time to play, and they’ll surely love you in return.