‘Designer’ Cross Breeds

When two dogs from different breeds are mated together the offspring are known as cross breeds. This can happen by accident but increasingly nowadays mating two breeds with one another is done deliberately.  The resulting offspring have become very popular in some cases with puppy seekers deliberately choosing to have one of these designer cross breed puppies.  Two popular examples are the Labradoodle (a cross between a Labrador and a Standard Poodle) and the Cockapoo (a cross between a Cocker Spaniel and either a Miniature or Toy Poodle)

The original idea for a Labradoodle in the 1980s was to breed a dog capable of being a Guide Dog and with zero allergy responses.  However, buying a Labradoodle nowadays does not necessarily mean low allergy as coat types can vary even within the same litter

Designer cross breed dogs have become popular partly because people believe that in opting for a cross breed, they will be getting a genetically healthier dog.  This may be true in a first generation cross (F1) because to inherit a genetic disease which is caused by a single recessive gene, offspring would need to inherit the gene from both parents.  So the F1 puppies would not have the disease but may be carriers of it.  In subsequent generations a carrier mated to a carrier, say, Cockapoo to Cockapoo (known as the F2 generation) could produce offspring which are affected by the recessive disease. Any of the genetic diseases associated with the original breeds could crop up in this way.  Designer breeds may not benefit when a disorder is not caused by a single recessive gene.  It may be caused by a number of genes acting together, or by a dominant gene (which a puppy would only need to inherit from one of its parents).  You should check which genetic diseases each of the parent breeds are associated with, whether the appropriate health testing has been carried out, and what the results are.

So when choosing a designer cross breed, it may be best to have an F1 generation offspring.  It is worth adding that an F1 cross produces larger differences than the average of their parents – a phenomenon known as heterosis.

Equally important is the temperament of a dog when you are looking for a family pet. There are breed tendencies but you will find the whole range of temperament types within practically any breed.  The important thing is to have knowledge of the temperament of the individual parents of any litter of puppies.  You will also need to be assured that the puppies have stayed with their mother for at least eight weeks and have been properly socialised by the breeder in her home environment.