So-called hybrid dog breeds have become very popular in the past few years. As a shelter volunteer, I get to see hundreds of these dogs every year when they’re over-bred or a buyer didn’t get quite what he or she expected. Hybrid dog breeds offer traits that are not available in traditional breeds, but they still require extensive research before getting one. If you are thinking about buying or adopting a hybrid dog, you should understand a few basic facts about hybrids. Hybrid dogs vary in temperament and appearance according to the breed mix, and each individual will have its own quirks, but a little research can go a long way.
Hybrid dogs are often referred to as “designer dogs” because breeders are looking to create a dog with desirable traits from two purebred parents. Hybrid dogs can be bred from any breed, and may be a few generations removed from their purebred lineage. A mutt is different from a hybrid because the breeder has intentionally crossed different breeds. A mutt’s breeding is unintentional and often unknown — or, as is the case with thousands of backyard breeders, the mutt’s parents are not documented or health tested, though they may still be sold as a “designer dog.”
Benefits of hybrid dogs
● Appearance – One advantage of hybrid dogs is that a breeder can target certain physical traits that are desirable to pet owners. Most often, pet owners are looking for dogs that are attractive or charming — “cute” dogs. Some pet owners may want dogs with a certain type of coat or a certain adult size. Owners who can’t find a traditional breed that looks the way they want may consider a “designer dog.”
● Ability – Another benefit of hybrid dogs is that you can have dogs with a variety of abilities and skills. Traditional breeds are usually skilled in one particular area because their original use was quite specific. Hybrid dogs often have a blend of talents from each parent. These mixes are usually used to improve speed, stamina or intelligence for working and service dogs.
● Health – Genetic disorders are often recessive, making those disorders more common in purebred dogs. By extension, many believe that hybrid dog breeds are healthier than purebreds. Selective breeding can cause serious medical issues in purebred dogs, so by mixing breeds you are reducing the risk of recessive genetic problems which can be stressful and costly. Regardless of breed purity, the health of the dog’s parents will affect the offspring. Remember that just because you buy a hybrid, does not mean the dog will be free of any health problems.
Precautions when shopping for a hybrid dog
Unscrupulous breeders across the map will label their pups as “designer” or “hybrid” as a means of increasing the price. Be extremely wary if you’re buying a dog. Ask to see health certifications, parental bloodlines, and any other applicable paperwork. If all you want is the appearance of a certain “designer breed,” then consider local shelters or rescues for a much cheaper dog with confirmed vet checks. Insist on meeting a prospective puppy’s parents. Breeders who do not require home checks, a puppy purchase agreement and a spay/neuter contract should always be suspect.
Bear in mind that the vast majority of hybrid dog breeds are not hypoallergenic. Some mixes, such as labradoodles, are sold at high prices to people with dog allergies under the pretense of being hypoallergenic. While the mix does, rarely, produce a hypoallergenic dog, most do still have dander. Astronomical numbers of ostensibly hypoallergenic dogs land in shelters because their allergic owners can’t live with them, and they didn’t know the breeder was lying. If that specific animal hasn’t been tested as hypoallergenic, then assume that it is not.
What to expect from your hybrid
Breeding is a complicated process; do not expect that your hybrid puppy will be the ideal combination of its purebred parents. Some puppies may end up looking like a combination, while others could look exactly like mom or dad. You will have the same issue with the puppy’s temperament — it is unlikely that the puppy will have the best personality qualities of each parent. When you purchase a hybrid dog, you are taking a gamble. You might get exactly what you want, but it is more likely that your puppy will be a unique mix of certain parental traits. If you want to know exactly what you’re getting, then get a slightly older dog from a shelter that already expresses its unique personality.
Before you make the decision to purchase a hybrid dog for your family, you need to have all the facts. You need to understand the misconceptions associated with hybrid dogs as well as the advantages of owning a hybrid dog. Remember that just because you like the characteristics of one dog breed, doesn’t mean that you will like the hybrid.