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Cleo's Blog | Designer Dogs | Dog Breeds

What Is a Designer Dog?

Humans have been breeding dogs for longer than recorded history. No one knows for sure just how dogs’ and humans’ lives became so intertwined. Fortunately, we did and the dog is now a frequent and much-loved member of many families. Over the centuries, dog owners have bred various dogs in an attempt to create a dog with certain desirable qualities. Over time, “purebred” dog breeds were developed and these breeds are recognized by various Kennel Clubs.

A purebred dog is one with a documented ancestry that can be listed with a national kennel club. If you have a purebred dog and mate it to another purebred of the same breed, the puppies will “breed true”. If you breed a Schnauzer to another Schnauzer, the puppies will look and act like Schnauzers.

If you breed non-purebred dogs (mutts, curs, mongrels, etc.), you are never sure just what you are going to get. Kind of like a box of chocolates, according to Forest Gump.

The breeding of non-purebred dogs is not what we mean by hybrid or “designer dogs.” Designer dogs are the offspring of two purebred dogs of different breeds. For example, the first designer dog may have been a “Cockapoo,” the mating of a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle way back in the 1960s. (Actually, the 60s doesn’t seem all that way back to me, but that shows my age.)

At least for the first generation, designer dogs are similar. Breeding a Cockapoo with another Cockapoo may not result in a puppy that is just like its parents.

Poodle Hybrids

The Poodle is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world, so it may not be a surprise that it seems to be the breed most often mixed with another. Many designer dogs have names that end in “doodle” or “poo.”

Cockapoo

The Cockapoo is a crossbreed of the Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle, usually a Miniature Poodle. The goal was to develop a companion dog that was not as likely to have genetic problems that pedigreed dogs might have. Cockapoos were bred as early as the 1960s.

Labradoodle

As the name implies, this is a cross of the Labrador Retriever and Poodle. The Labradoodle was first bred in Australia in 1989 by Wally Conron. Conron says he now regrets starting this designer dog because he may have created a “Frankenstein Monster.”

Schnoodle

Mixing a Poodle with a Schnauzer produces a Schnoodle, Schnauzerdoodle, Schnauzerpoo, or whatever name you want to choose. Schnauzers and Poodles come in different sizes and so do the hybrid puppies they produce. The Schnoodle began showing up in the 1980s.

Goldendoodle

The popular Golden Retriever and Poodle combine to produce a Goldendoodle. This hybrid dog is very popular but, unfortunately, some make their way to animal shelters because carless breeders and thoughtless buyers do not always behave ethically.

Doxiepoo

The Doxiepoo is a mix of Dachshund and Toy Poodle. Since both these breeds are small, the Doxiepoo should also be on the small side. Not all Doxiepoos, or for that matter any hybrid dog, will look the same.

Pomapoo

The Pomapoo is the result of breeding a Pomeranian with a Toy Poodle. These little dogs are advertised to be smart and affectionate. If you are looking for a Pomapoo, check the shelters first.

Yorkipoo

A mix of Yorkshire Terrier and Toy Poodle with produce a Yorkipoo. This hybrid dog comes from small, intelligent parents and seems to inherit those traits. The goal of a Yorkipoo is a small hypoallergenic companion dog.

Pugapoo

Pugapoo is a mix of a Pug and Poodle. The looks and personality of the Pugapoo will depend on which traits of each breed that it inherits. They should be small, affectionate dogs. Check the shelters first.

Non-Poodle Hybrids

Not all designer dogs start with the Poodle. Here are some of the more popular designed dogs that do not include a Poodle in the mix.

Puggle

The Puggle is a mix of Pug and Beagle. They are intelligent and love to play. The Puggle may have a tendency to bark if it inherits this trait from the Beagle. The Puggle arrived in the 1990s and seems to be gaining some popularity.

Pomshy

The Pomsky is a mix of Pomeranian and Siberian Husky. It is relatively new designer dog attempt. The Pomsky looks a fluffy miniature wolf. However, looks of any designer dog is unpredictable.

Designer Dogs and the AKC

In 2009, the AKC announced a program specifically designed for mixed breed dog owners to enroll their dogs and become eligible to compete in AKC events. The name of the program is the AKC Canine Partners™ Program. I don’t take this to mean that the AKC is actively promoting the breeding of mixed breeds. Rather, it is part of their missions to embrace all dogs and dogs lovers and offer them a place to communicate with other dog lovers who prefer mixed breed dogs.

Opposition to Designer Dogs

Some breed clubs are opposed to using purebred dogs to produce designer dogs. For example, the Golden Retriever Club of America includes the following position on their website:

The Golden Retriever Club of America is opposed to cross-breeding of dogs and is particularly opposed to the deliberate crossing of Golden Retrievers with any other breed. These crossbreds are a deliberate attempt to mislead the public with the idea that there is an advantage to these designer dogs. The crossbred dogs are prone to all of the genetic disease of both breeds and offer none of the advantages that owning a purebred dog has to offer.

GRCA’s Position on Goldendoodles

It is understandable that a club dedicated to a long-established breed would want to protect that breed. They may fear that cross-breeding will lead to their breed become less popular or even extinct. Many breeds worldwide are very rare and on the verge of becoming extinct, so this fear is not unjustified.

However, man has been breeding and cross-breeding dogs for centuries. This practice will continue as long as man and dog exist.

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