Have you ever heard of the words, imo-inu, wee-chon, or cockapoo? No, this is not an article on weird names on the menu of a Chinese restaurant. These are actually the names of 'designer dog breeds'! Well, they are not really designed by Ralph Lauren (although they seem to be equally popular), so you can curb that excited squeal. Designer dogs or more precisely hybrid dogs are the first generation crosses of pure breed dogs or any of the backcrosses. Now the obvious question is, are not all dogs hybrid, even a common domestic dog?
Why are Hybrid Dogs Different?
The difference between a common domestic dog and crossbreed dog is accidental breeding in common dogs, with an unknown ancestry as opposed to deliberate breeding of two pure breeds. Crossbreeding is done to encourage some genetic traits while trying to subdue others. Most of the time, hereditary diseases like heart defects and juvenile cataracts in purebred dogs are completely eliminated in the crossbred puppies. This is termed as hybrid vigor. For example, a poodle is a highly sought after breed for crossbreeding due to the shedding gene in these dogs which appears to be quite dominant in the puppies. In case of a hybrid dog, since the parents are unknown, the demeanor and the behavior of these dogs remain a mystery.
Do You Need a Designer Dog?
However, the picture is not all that rosy for the designer dog breeds. Firstly, these dogs are big-ticket. Dishing out $1200 dollars for a labradoodle, that is available for less than $100 at the nearest pet shelters, may not seem a bright thing to do. Also the crossbreeding may not work out as intended, resulting in the dogs inheriting the undesirable traits of the parents. Many breeders, in their urge to make money, glorify these breed mixes without taking into consideration the health of the dogs. Checking the hereditary compatibility and the health of the pure breed dogs is essential for the health of the crossbred dogs.
Designer dog breeds became popular a decade ago when an Australian dog breeder crossed a Labrador with a poodle. This started a fad which caught the fancy of the rich and the famous who wanted to own these novel and extremely cute dogs. The result was a myth that designer dogs have it all. Although crossbreeds might be healthier and look unique, the advantages may be diluted with successive breeding between two crossbreeds.
Common Designer Dog Breeds
Some of the common designer dog breeds are:
- Labradoodle: A popular crossbreed, it seems to have inherited the spirit of the Labrador along with the intelligence and the hypoallergenic coat of the poodle.
- Cockapoo: A cross of a cocker spaniel with a poodle, the cockapoo is extremely popular for its outgoing personality and cute looks.
- Schnoodle: An attempt to have a non-shedding intelligent companion is this cross between a schnauzer and poodle.
- Puggle: A cross of the beagle with the pug, these lap dogs are generally high energy dogs with a relatively low maintenance. They are, however, not as healthy as their parents, having inherited their genetic disorders.
- Poochin: A relatively new breed, this is a cross between the poodle and the Japanese chin. These social animals with their long coat require very little exercise.
The controversy and the hype in the media that seems to surround these dogs might be justified. However, a dog at the local shelter may prove to be equally loving as a designer dog. Every year thousands of dogs are euthanized for the lack of homes. So instead of running the race for the perfect pet, let's just save a life and adopt a dog.