So-called designer dogs (which are actually cross-breeds created from the planned mating of two unrelated pedigree breeds) are very popular in the UK today, with some of the most common and well-known of them outnumbering several breeds of pedigree dogs, such as the Cockapoo, Goldendoodle and the ever-popular Labradoodle.
There is a lot to be said for such breeds, which are generally bred to combine the best of their two respective breeds, such as the non-shedding coat of the poodle with the outgoing and kind temperament of the Labrador in the case of the Labradoodle. Outcrossing also brings with it the added genetic diversity that comes from crossing two unrelated breeds in the form of hybrid vigour, and greatly reduces the chances of hereditary health conditions that can be passed on through the breed line to subsequent generations of pups.
However, buying a hybrid breed or “designer” dog can also bring with it a number of unknowns, and in some cases, problems-for instance, if a breeder is producing desirable crosses because they are unable to breed and register litters from their pure-bred dogs, due to a prevalence of health problems or other undesirable traits. The price point that hybrid dog breeds are offered at can vary considerably from breeder to breeder too, and learning to understand the price point that a certain dog is offered at can be helpful when making the right choice on a potential purchase.
In this article, we will cover five important questions that you should ask the breeder of any hybrid dog breed that you may be considering buying, in order to avoid some of the potential pitfalls. Read on to learn more.
One good question to ask anyone who is breeding and selling their pups is why they wanted to breed from them in the first place. This can help to give you a valuable insight into the mind of the breeder, and help you to make an informed decision about their reasoning and so, the suitability for any pup that you might be considering.
This can also be an important part of establishing the veracity of any claims made by the breeder, and help you to ensure that you are buying a pup that was bred for the right reasons, as well as avoiding buying from a potential puppy mill or backyard breeder.
Breeders of hybrid dogs have many different reasons for getting into hybrid breeding, such as a desire to produce dogs with a low-shedding coat for people with allergies, or because they identified certain desirable traits in the two parent dogs.
Crossing two dogs from two unrelated breeds is generally considered to be a good thing from the point of view of their genetic diversity, and reducing the incidence rates of breed-specific health conditions that can be passed on through the breed line. However, it is important to remember that even hybrid breeds can be subjected to inbreeding, or being bred back to closely or distantly related dogs of the same type, if they are particularly desirable.
Find out about the blood line of the pups going back at least three generations, and pause carefully to consider your decision if you can identify close back-crossing or inbreeding within the line.
Hybrid dogs by their nature are more genetically diverse than pedigree dogs, which means that they are less apt to suffer from hereditary health problems than pedigrees, as most hereditary canine conditions are transmitted by means of autosomal recessive heredity, and so, a dog needs to inherit two copies of a mutated gene (one from each parent) before they are likely to be affected by any given condition themselves.
However, hybrid dogs can of course still inherit gene mutations that run in one side of their respective bloodlines, and if a hybrid dog is bred with another hybrid from the same two core breeds, the potential for hereditary gene mutations being passed on in the active rather than carrier form is much higher.
For this reason, it is a good idea to ask about any hereditary health tests that either parent dog might have had, or any other dog in their bloodline, and also, if the parent dogs and further bloodline relatives have any hereditary health conditions.
In some cases, breeders of hybrid dogs will produce hybrids because of known health issues in their pedigree breed dogs, or to avoid the need for testing, whilst still being able to charge a price point near to that of a pedigree puppy, but without the associated monitoring that is in place for many pedigree breeds.
As mentioned, there can be a lot of variation between the prices of different hybrid dogs, which can make it hard for the uninitiated buyer to sort through-why might two dogs that look ostensibly similar in appearance and on paper often have several hundred pounds of difference between their prices?
Try to get a good idea of what the averages are for dogs of the type you are considering in your area, and if you spot a litter that is a lot cheaper or a lot more pricey, try to find out why.
Cheaper pups may be simply the result of a mis-mating incident, while more expensive ones may have had health tests performed and/or be from particularly desirable lines-but if you cannot establish why the price point falls outside of the norm by doing your own detective work, it is important to ask the breeder and ensure that you are happy with their answer.
When you buy from a breeder of registered pedigree dogs, there is usually a formal contract involved, which also mandates what will happen if there are any problems after the sale, and what would happen if the dog proved to be ill or otherwise not as sold.
Check if any such coverage is offered by the seller of your hybrid bred, and make your decision accordingly.