I have never been one that has desired designer clothing, needed a fancy car, nor been a fan of designer prices. Perhaps that was why I felt comfortable with getting a puppy of mixed heritage from a friend at a bargain price. Actually, my Shih-Poo Anna was free... a wonderful gift from a friend. She was the runt of the litter, but being rather scrawny myself, I find small stature to be appealing!A Small Venture into "Designer Dog" Breeding
Anna was such a delightful addition to our family that I decided to get her a companion a year later, another Shih-Poo. Joey matched Anna's stature and great personality. Anna has more poodle traits, but Joey appears to carry more of the Shih Tzu genes, which illustrates some of the fun and mystery inherently associated with the mixed-breed dogs.
Joey and Anna became parents of beautiful, well-mannered offspring; however, none of the puppies ever had similar colors to their parents. They had white, cream, brown, ginger, and even black and white spotted puppies that came in all different sizes, ranging from 3 to 13 pounds at full-grown size.
To cover vet expenses associated with the deliveries, I felt my puppy prices were high at $500, but that was just breaking even. No one ever balked at the price because some people would consider my mutts "designer breeds" even though our puppies were second-generation Shih-Poos. It was a grand adventure, but for the health of Anna, I had her spayed.
Hybrids: The Foundation to New Breeds
Some give dogs a "designer" designation when two purebred dogs of different breeds are specifically selected to combine various traits to create a new combination. This is done to either enhance strengths or counteract weaknesses particular breeds are prone to. Then offspring with desired traits are bred to each other. People have been doing this for hundreds of years, and this process is precisely how our current dog breeds have come into existence. So today's hybrids may someday become their own "pure" breed. It takes several generations to stabilize genetic traits that are predictable, however.
The Star Power of Designer Breeds
Some of the rising stars of hybrid combinations are poodle crosses due to the breed's reputation for being family friendly, intelligent and especially for their hypoallergenic, non-shedding fur. Labradoodles (Labrador retriever), Goldendoodles (golden retriever), Cockapoos (cocker spaniel), and Maltipoos (Maltese) are all examples of poodle crosses. Disney star Ashley Tisdale's Maltipoo is certainly a cutie!
Remember, one can't be sure of the outcome of mixed-breed pairings, and the desirable features such as less shedding in poodle combinations may or may not be present in the offspring.
Other popular hybrids are the Puggle (Pug x Beagle), Cavichon (Bichon Frise x Cavalier King Charles Spaniel), and Morkies (Maltese x Yorkie.) Of course there are hundreds of combinations available these days, so how does one navigate through so many choices, particularly with unscrupulous breeders trying to cash in on the designer-dog trend?
As stated before, there are a wide range of genetic traits that could appear in hybrids, so be sure that you are comfortable with all of the traits that are present in both breeds. Conscientious breeders should be able to communicate the range of possible characteristics of the breed crossings. Their facilities should be clean and puppies and parents should have lots of human socialization.
Don't forget: there are so many dogs waiting to be adopted at shelters, and you might start looking at the available adoptable dogs with new eyes. Perhaps you are aren't just looking at a mutt, but rather a "designer dog" in disguise? But these dogs won't have a designer price! In some ways, I wish I had gotten my dogs from a shelter and, as I have educated myself, I will definitely keep that option in mind in the future.
We would love to hear about your experiences with your mixed-breed dogs. Better yet, show your dog's "designer style" no matter what their genetic heritage is by submitting a picture into our BaxterBoo pet photo contest!