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Hybrid dog types are known by many different names by many different people! Whether you call them hybrid dogs, hybrid breeds (although by its very nature, a hybrid is a dog type, not a dog breed), designer dogs, cross-breeds, mutts or mongrels, most dog lovers know that hybrid crossings like the Labradoodle and Cockapoo are really popular in the UK today.
The whole phenomenon of hybrid dogs and their popularity is an interesting one, particularly when you consider how some hybrid dog types are way more popular than all but a few pedigree breeds – and in many cases, more expensive for the average puppy too!
The popularity of hybrid dogs as a whole does in many ways speak for itself in terms of the great traits many hybrid dogs possess, and there is no denying the fact that hybrid dogs themselves, and choosing a hybrid dog from an owner’s perspective, have a number of advantages over pedigrees.
However, there are also a number of disadvantages to choosing a hybrid dog type over a pedigree dog too, which not everyone is aware of, and which prospective buyers of hybrid puppies of any type need to consider.
With this in mind, this article will discuss five of the potential disadvantages of choosing a hybrid dog type over a pedigree, and what they may mean in practice. Read on to learn more.
First of all, pedigree status is afforded little to no importance by many dog buyers, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. However, you do need to understand what a lack of pedigree status means before you can discount it as unimportant to you.
The fact that a hybrid dog isn’t a pedigree means that they’re not recognised by the Kennel Club as a breed in its own right. This in turn means they can’t be registered with the Kennel Club – so no records are formally kept of any given dog’s ancestry, breed line, relatives, breeder and history etc.
You can’t look up health test results for individual dogs, nor get even broad information on the facts about hereditary health issues within the type, or individual breed lines.
There’s no breed standard set, which means no formal definition that breeders adhere to when trying to produce quality puppies, or for puppy buyers to refer to in order to assess the quality or desirability of any given dog’s traits.
Finally, hybrid dogs can’t enter Kennel Club breed shows either.
As mentioned, none of these things are necessarily important to individual hybrid dog buyers, but they are worth knowing in advance.
In many pedigree breeds, certain health tests are mandated by the Kennel Club for all breeders, and in many more breeds, mandatory for Assured Breeders and strongly advised for others. Many breeds also have other health tests that are recommended too, all for hereditary health issues known to be a threat to dogs of the breed.
When it come to hybrid dog types, there is no formal reference for breeders or puppy buyers to look to in order to know what health conditions are prevalent within the type, or that might be a threat to individual dogs. In fact, no records are kept centrally on this at all for hybrid dog types, and so many hereditary health issues might be in play in certain hybrid types and affect a notable percentage of such dogs – but no one knows for sure what they are.
Health issues that affect the parent breeds of a hybrid are often less likely to develop in hybrid crosses due to the genetic benefits of outcrossing. We refer to this as hybrid vigour.
However, a lack of mandated testing protocols, databases of recommended heath tests by hybrid type, and no formal information on the risk of certain hereditary health issues in specific hybrid dog types all mean that hybrid dog types are rarely tested for health conditions prior to breeding.
This is true even when there are known health issues in one or both parent breeds, or even the same health issue found in both parent breeds and so, with the same odds as being passed onto a hybrid litter as a pedigree one of either breed.
A dog’s pedigree shows their parentage and ancestry in great detail, and must be comprised of other registered pedigree dogs to demonstrate the provenance of the dog that possesses it.
This lets puppy buyers know not only who their dog’s ancestors were, but also even more basically, what type (breed) of dogs those were, all formally verified as part of the dog’s registration.
When it comes to a hybrid dog type, a lack of formal oversight means that anyone can advertise and sell a dog as a specific hybrid, but there is no proof of this – and a different dog type entirely than either of the two stated parent breeds might have been used.
There might even be more than two parent breeds in the ancestry going back two and further generations, or even if the claimed ancestry is sound, different size variants used than stated – so someone buying a hybrid with a poodle parent or ancestor might be told that a toy poodle was the relative in question, but realise when their pup keeps growing ever-larger as the months go by that the dog was a huge standard poodle!
It can be hard to tell the future traits of any puppy when you view a litter even if you know a lot about the breed or type, and if you’re not well versed in the type (and even if you are) what you end up with when you choose a hybrid might not be what you were told you were getting.
The traits of individual hybrid dogs can vary a lot too, because when you cross two breeds, the resultant pups and later offspring from future generations will rarely comprise of an even, down the middle split between the traits of the two parents.
Much as human children tend to favour one parent or the other when it comes to some of their individual features, so too is true for hybrids. The more generations removed from the individual parent breeds a litter is, the more uniform their traits are likely to be – but this is never guaranteed, and hybrid pup buyers must manage their expectations in this respect.
You might fairly expect that choosing a hybrid dog type would save you some money over buying a pedigree dog, but this is not always the case. When it comes to some hybrid dog types, most dogs of the type offered for sale are sold for higher prices than pedigrees of most breeds; and even in some case, pedigrees of their own two parent breeds!
A good example of this is the Cavapoo – the 2nd most popular hybrid dog type in the UK and the 18th most popular dog breed or type overall, so not a rare hybrid, and one that has a lot of breeders serving the market.
Here are the average advertised prices for the Cavapoo and its two parent breeds at the time of writing (September 2019):
Therefore, the hybrid Cavapoo costs more on average to buy than a pedigree of either parent breed, and significantly more than their closer equivalents, the non-pedigrees of each parent breed.
This makes some hybrid dog types prohibitively expensive to buy, and in hybrid types where the cost of the average pup is higher than that of pups from either parent breed, is simply due to buyer demand rather than any associated higher expenses incurred in breeding a dog of that type – plus all the variables and disadvantages that come with hybrids needs to be factored in too.
Additionally, sometimes breeders use pedigree dogs that aren’t considered to be of a high enough standard to keep within pedigree breeding programmes or that have been refused pedigree registration for one of a number of reasons to produce their hybrid lines, which should lower, not raise prices in theory!
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