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Hybrid dog types are some of the most popular and in-demand dogs in the UK, and many of the best-known hybrid crossings that produce dogs such as Cockapoos and Labradoodles far exceed all but a few pedigree dog breeds in terms of their sheer numbers.
In fact, far more dog lovers could probably correctly identify a Labradoodle on sight than the majority of pedigree breeds, and this is just one indication of the versatility and popular appeal that cross breeds, hybrid dogs, designer dogs, mixed breed mutts, or whatever else you want to call them have!
Whilst for some dog owners, only a pedigree dog with papers will do, for many others, the pedigree status of their pooch is unimportant. Also, given the Kennel Club’s somewhat chequered reputation in terms of its commitment to canine welfare, some dog lovers find a lack of Kennel Club oversight or interference into the traits of hybrid dog types a distinct advantage.
There are some drawbacks and disadvantages of choosing a hybrid dog type over a pedigree for some people as well, and these are things you should consider if you are shopping around to pick a breed or type of dog to buy.
But if you’re wondering whether choosing a hybrid dog type over a pedigree has any specific advantages or benefits for either dog or owner, this article will tell you five of them. Read on to learn more.
The main, most obvious and ultimately most important advantage that a hybrid or cross breed dog has over a pedigree is the benefit of hybrid vigour.
Hybrid vigour is a genetic term to refer to the tendency of hybrids – that is the offspring of two very genetically different individuals (animal or plant!) to display superior traits to that of either parent, in terms of areas such as health and other key evolutionary benchmarks.
Theoretically, and generally in practice too, the average hybrid dog should be healthier than its parents, because the chances of the hybrid inheriting two copies of any harmful genes that can cause health issues are greatly reduced.
Pedigree dog breeds are by definition subject to limited genetic diversity, because only dogs of the same breed (and those with Kennel Club paperwork of said breeds) can be bred together to produce pedigree-eligible pups. This limits the available gene pool of the breed and so, increases the chances of hereditary health issues being passed on, reinforced, and spread ever-more widely.
Hybrid vigour is no guarantee of lifelong health, and hybrid dogs can and do still inherit health problems – but their odds of good health and lower occurrence rates of hereditary defects are much better than for pedigrees.
Many pedigree dog breeds get a lot of negative attention due to the prevalence or introduction of conformation exaggerations by means of selective breeding, which can be directly harmful to the health of affected dogs.
Many of the most popular brachycephalic dog breeds are afflicted by a trend among buyers and breeders for ever-shorter and flatter faces, a type of exaggeration that can be hugely detrimental to the health of the dogs that possess it.
However, outcrossing a dog of one breed with another unrelated breed results in the moderation of exaggerated traits and so, their impact on the dog in question.
For instance, take the Jug – a cross between a pug and a Jack Russell. The pug is a very high-profile breed in terms of its conformation and health, and so outcrossing to the very different Jack Russell produces a dog with a much milder facial conformation than the average pug and so, better health, whilst retaining many of the pug traits that people love.
Some of the earliest deliberate hybrid crossings were bred specifically to achieve two desirable traits in one dog, which don’t tend to be seen in any one individual parent breed.
A good example of this is the Goldendoodle, which some breeding programmes chose to develop with the goal of achieving the personable nature, superior trainability and aptitude for assistance dog work found in the golden retriever, with the much lower-shedding coat of the poodle.
Hybrid crossings can achieve the development of a “best of both worlds” type scenario, in which two unique traits from two breeds are fused in one hybrid offspring.
The other side of that is of course that deliberate hybrid breeding programs can be used to not only retain the most desirable traits of a parent breed and mix it with others from the other side of the parentage, but also to reduce less desirable traits found in individual parent breeds too.
What constitutes an undesirable trait in a dog is of course something each individual determines for themselves – for some, needing several hours of walks a day would be an undesirable trait, but for others this would represent a dog that is a great fit for their lifestyle where a more sedentary dog couldn’t keep up!
Hybrid crossing enable breeders to produce dogs that contain the most in-demand or desirable traits of both parent breeds in terms of what puppy buyer want, whilst reducing the type of traits that tend to be less popular (such as heavy shedding, or being very prone to barking).
There can be a huge amount of variance in terms of the appearance and traits of individual hybrid dogs, even among pups from the same litter. This can of course be a disadvantage, as it makes knowing what you will get when you buy a pup something of a lottery, particularly when choosing a hybrid that is just a generation or two removed from the two parent breeds.
However, it does also mean that every single hybrid dog is unique, and nobody can say with any authority or point of reference what a hybrid dog should look like. Obviously there is a general if diffuse consensus in terms of what people want and expect from hybrid dog types, but the lack of a formal breed standard means no authority body dictates what traits to breed for or reward in the show ring and so, more choice for buyers and freedom for breeders to determine what is in the best interests of the dogs that they produce.
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