What’s The Deal With Designer Dog Breeds?

Kate Barrington
by Kate Barrington
Should you bring home a designer dog? Learn more about these breeds to see if they are a match

If you spend much time on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, you have probably seen your fair share of posts about the cutest new dog breeds. In reality, there are few “new” breeds – in most cases, they are actually a hybrid of two or more parent breeds that are grouped under the heading of “designer dog breed”. So what is the draw of designer dog breeds and what are some of the most popular examples?

What are Designer Dog Breeds?

As was previously mentioned, the term “designer dog” is often used interchangeably with the term “hybrid dog” because most designer breeds are nothing more than a crossbreed of two different purebreds. A purebred dog is one that has been bred over several generations from parents belonging to the same breed – this is also referred to as “true” breeding because the puppies all exhibit similar characteristics and temperaments to the parent dogs. Purebred dogs also typically have a published breed standard that indicates the desired characteristics of that breed – these standards are typically published by breed enthusiast clubs or larger bodies like the American Kennel Club (AKC).

A hybrid breed is typically a cross of two purebred dogs – this is what distinguishes a hybrid from a mutt, because mutts have uncertain ancestry. Hybrid dogs typically exhibit a combination of the characteristics and personality traits of the parent breeds which can vary greatly depending on the breeds used for the cross. It is also important to note that designer dogs are not always a 50%/50% cross of the two breeds – if the parents are not 100% purebred, the resulting hybrid may have a greater percentage of one breed than the other.

Registering Designer Dogs

Because a designer dog is, by definition, a cross of two purebred dogs it is not technically a distinct breed. For this reason, designer dogs are generally not recognized by the AKC. There is, however, another governing body that was established purely for the purpose of registering and promoting designer dog breeds – the International Designer Canine Registry (IDCR). This registry was established in 1995 and currently provides registration services for breeders and pet owners throughout the US, Canada and all over the world. In fact, the IDCR is one of the fastest-growing canine registries in the world. Registering dogs is very important because it helps to track the ancestry of not only an individual dog but of the breed as a whole. This is essential for tracking and eliminating inherited medical conditions such as hip dysplasia and other diseases.

Popular Designer Dog Breeds

What makes designer dog breeds so popular is the fact that the options are virtually unlimited – you can breed any purebred dog to another purebred dog to create a designer dog breed. The first designer breed is thought to be the Cockapoo, a crossing of the Cocker Spaniel and the Poodle, which first appeared during the 1960s. Some other popular designer breeds include:

As is true with any dog, you need to be very careful with breeding to reduce the risk of proliferating inherited diseases. Hybrid dogs/designer dog breeds are particularly at risk for certain inherited conditions because if both parent breeds are carriers, the likelihood that the pups will develop the condition is greatly enhanced. With responsible breeding, however, designer dogs can actually be very healthy and may in fact exhibit fewer health problems than the purebreds used to create them.

Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

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