By Janice Jones |Last Updated 08-21-2022
What are Designer Dogs? It has become very popular nowadays to breed two purebred dogs together and call the offspring Hybrid Dogs, Diva Pets, Purse Pets, Rare, Exotic, or Special in some way pets.
These crossbreeds are commanding a big price tag and many if not most different breeds are involved. This niche market is thriving and growing.
Check our our complete list of designer dogs that have been produced with small breed dogs.
In fact, you can
find these mixes of dogs in about every shape, color, and size.
They have become so popular that many
breeders specialize in one or more breeds and the possibilities of producing these cross-bred dogs are nearly endless.
Check our our list of designer or hybrid dogs produced by small breed dogs.
There are so many different hybrid dogs, that sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Before you run out to get one of these special dogs, you should understand the pros and cons of hybrid dogs.
Depending on your
point of view, the history of these dogs can go back to the point in time
when humans first began interacting with wolves. Most people consider the origins to be much more recent.
the term “designer” was coined, these dogs would have been called crossbreeds,
mixed breeds, or mutts.
Another name that is commonly used to describe these crossbreeds is hybrid, although technically speaking, from a scientific point of view, this is an inaccurate way to use the word.
Some so called
designer dogs have occurred without any human intervention. That is to say, that some are the result of
unaltered dogs being allowed to roam freely mating at will.
This has happened throughout history and is
where we got the names mutt, crossbred, mongrel, Heinz 54 variety dog or simply
mixed breed dog.
Modern Day Designer Dogs and Human Intervention
intervention, the historical time-line becomes much shorter.
The first and probably most popular hybrid to
be produced was the Labradoodle, which is a mix between a Labrador and a
In this case, the name first appeared in the 1950s but did not
become popular to the late 1980s.
that time, the whole conception of the labradoodle was to produce a service dog
with the wonderful characteristics of the Labrador retriever that was also
somewhat hypoallergenic so that the dog could be accessible to people with allergies.
Please note, that there is no such thing as completely hypoallergenic dogs, but some come very close.
Since then people assume that the labradoodle
might make the perfect family dog, taking characteristics from the poodle –
intelligence and non-shedding, and mixing it with the good traits of the
Labrador, playfulness and hard working.
From there, the trend just mushroomed using any two
purebreds to create a cross breed that could be called a hybrid.
Now these designers are often more
expensive than their purebred cousins.
Was the trend the result of greedy breeders, curiosity among breeders, breeders
who were truly searching for the perfect dog, or a population of pet lovers who
wanted something new, different or unique?
People are intrigued with the so call dog du jour, especially if it has
an exotic sounding name.
How Designer Dogs/Hybrids
When there is a
deliberate attempt to create a cross between two breeds, registered purebred
dogs are usually used, but not necessarily.
Breeders will start with two purebred registered dogs and pair them
creating a new so called breed such as when a Maltese is bred with a poodle
creating a Malti-Poo. Another example (pictured above) is the Yorkshire Terrier and the Shih Tzu.
A true designer
dog or hybrid has 50% of her genes from one purebred parent and 50% of her
genes from the other parent. This would be considered a first generation
hybrid and these dogs are more uniform than other types of designer dogs.
But, all breeders
do not start with two purebred dogs. Rather,
many decide to cross a purebred mother with a hybrid father resulting in
offspring that may be passed on as hybrids without the genetic ratios one
You can get a Malti-poo
by breeding a Maltese to a Malti-poo but the offspring will have more Maltese
genes than poodle genes. Here, the
offspring might be ¾ Maltese and only ¼ poodle.
thoughtfully produce hybrid dogs do so with the hope of taking the best from
one breed and matching it with the best of another breed to get an entirely new
animal that is the best all-round pet.
In fact these dogs are often
created for a new look, a healthier dog, a dog with a superior temperament or
intellect, or a combination of all characteristics.
When this actually occurs, it is a WIN-WIN
situation all around. But anyone
familiar with genetics will tell you that there are no guarantees and the
offspring can be anything but perfect.
When the breeding
is done deliberately, the offspring command the name Designer Dog, and as a
result; the puppy produced is perceived as being more valuable, more desirable,
and often more expensive.
Whether it is
a conscious attempt to breed or an accidental mating, the only way
to determine the health and temperament of the new hybrid dog is to look up the
characteristics found in the parent breeds and know that any combination is
There is little certainty when
it comes to genetics. So, rather than getting the best of both worlds, the
offspring produced could end up with the worst characteristics of both parents.
Debate of Designer Dogs/Hybrids
The whole notion of the crossbreed brings up much controversy
in the dog world about the merits of mixing two purebred dogs.
Most dog fanciers and die-hard purebred
breeders shudder at the mere thought of ever producing a dog that does not
improve the quality of their chosen breed.
Their mantra has always been that no one should ever consider breeding
two dogs unless they hope to improve the breed in some way (conformity, health,
They look at their role
of a purebred breeder as a fusion of art and science, pushing the limits to
produce a purebred dog minus any flaws. They
feel that any breeder who does less is somehow inferior.
Others will argue that breeders have been producing cross
bred dogs for eons.
All of today’s recognized breeds were created
through deliberate attempts by humans to mate certain breeds to create
offspring with the desirable traits. Those desirable traits being a better hunting dog, a more effective herder, or a superior guard.
today’s lovable Shih Tzu dogs came from a cross between a Pekinese and a Lhasa Apso.
Let’s face it, the breeds of today would all look like ancient wolves
if it were not for the selective breeding of ancient people. Who knows, today’s hybrid will become tomorrow’s recognized breed.
choose to go the route of the hybrid do so for many different reasons. Many believe that they are healthier
than a purebred dog.
There are some merit and truth claims made by fans of the hybrid. Many purebred dogs have
been so interbred over the years that certain hereditary diseases are very
common in a specific breed.
gene pool becomes more diverse, there is less likelihood that these inherited
diseases will show up.
If you mate two
different breeds both of which suffer from the same hereditary disease, this
argument is no longer valid. In some cases,
however, one breed can overcome the problems of another making the offspring
Consider the Shih Tzu, a
brachycephalic breed that is prone to breathing problems.
Cross a Shih Tzu with a Maltese and you get a
dog with a longer nose, but one that physically resembles the Shih Tzu. A dog with a longer snout has less problems
breathing. This also holds true for the Shih Poo.
It would seem
that producing designer dogs is only part of the fun; naming designer dogs is
equally appealing and often there is more than one name that describes the same
The Mal-Shi is not a purebred dog. It is a cross between
the Maltese and a Shih Tzu.
depending on who you talk to, the puppy could also be called a Shih-tese, Shihtese, Malti Tzu, or Shima. Five names all describing the same dog!
Some names are easy to figure out. Take the Yorkie Tzu for example.
There’s no rocket science involved in determining that this is a mix between a Yorkshire Terrier and a Shih Tzu.
Some are not that obvious. Take the Whoodle for an example. This is a poodle and soft coated wheaten terrier.
What about dogs that just don’t seem to have a name? Maybe its up to the owner to name the hybrid.
Take for example, the Australian Terrier and Shih Tzu mix, a wonderful combination.
As of the writing of this article, no one has named this combination and it is not listed on any of the hybrid registries. My advice is to contact the registries and add the name to their lists.
This is Jessie, an Australian Terrier – Shih Tzu Mix
Whimsical or just plain silly describe
some of the names –
- Puglet (pug and rat terrier),
- Dorkie (Dachshund and Yorkshire Terrier)
- Yorkiwawa (Yorkshire Terrier and, Chihuahua)
- Chiweenie (Chihuahua
It would seem that it you bred the dog, you get to name
it. If you bought the dog, you get to
name it and if you don’t name it, someone else will.
Some of this craziness originated when people
decided that their lovable mutt adopted from a shelter had to have a breed
name. More officially, the Canine Designer Dog Registries often decide on the
name they will use when the dog is registered.
Registries for Designer Dogs
Since designer or hybrid dogs are not purebred, they cannot be registered
by an organization such as the American Kennel Club.
Owners of these designer dogs do have the
option to register with
Designer Breed Registry (DBR),
Canine Registry (IDCR),
Designer Dogs Kennel Club (DDKC) or
The American Canine
Hybrid Club (ACHC).
A dog can be registered
if the parents are purebred and preferably registered with a recognized dog
registry such as the AKC.
Some registries such as the IDCR are beginning to
develop “breed” characteristics for the designer dogs they register but as yet,
no breed standards exist for these dogs as they do for purebred dogs.
There are now many different hybrid dog varieties and these
numbers appear to be growing.
world society enamored by the exotic, ever demanding unique and different
products, it makes sense that they would want these unusual characteristics in
their beloved pets.
Dog breeders respond
to their customer’s wishes by producing yet another designer combination.
Have a Great Story to Tell About Your Designer Dog?
Share your favorite tale about your very special Designer Dog. Don’t forget to tell us what mix you have.
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