Some Truths About Designer Dogs

by Ragtimelil

People have dubbed them “designer dogs” and they are, without a doubt, adorable. But is breeding them really a good idea?

If you look at the local paper or online, you can find puppies and dogs called “designer dogs” for sale for hundreds, sometimes even thousands more than you would pay for a purebred puppy from a reputable breeder.
Some people claim these dogs are a new breed or that they are bred for a specific trait and have the best of both parents. It’s hard to find the truth in some of these claims.

What is a Designer Dog?

A designer dog, by definition is a hybrid of two purebred dogs. The breeders of these dogs claim that they are reducing the health problems of purebred dogs and creating a dog with the best traits of both parents.



There really is nothing wrong with trying to create a new breed of dog by breeding two pure breeds. That is how many of our breeds originated. The breeders bred the dogs that showed the desired traits and did not breed the others. According to some sources, in order to prove that the dogs are a true breed, they must then breed and document about 50 generations of dogs that breed true.


Photo of Jackson, by Mike Pettey, used by permission

Purebreds, Designer Dogs and Mixed Breeds

The reason people do get a purebred is because they want the trait that the breed offers. When you breed two cocker spaniels together, you can pretty well be assured that what you will get will be cocker spaniel puppies. When you breed mixed breeds or hybrids together, you can’t guarantee what the pups will be like.

dogWhen the first two purebreds are mated, the offspring will have 50% of the genes from each parent. These are called hybrids. That doesn't necessarily mean that the pup got the best traits of both parents. It could have been the worst traits that were passed on. There are no certainties when it comes to breeding dogs.

If the breeder decides to mate the next generation, lets say, for example, two Lab/collie hybrids, the offspring will still have 50% of the genes from each parent, but which genes is the question. It is possible for a pup to inherit all or most the collie genes from both parents. Another pup in the same litter could get all or most of the Lab genes. Which genes and which traits will be passed on? You could have a dog that looks like a collie but wants to swim and retrieve or a dog that looks like a Lab who constantly wants to herd.

According to Wally Conron, the creator of the Labrodoodle, his intent was to develop an allergy-free guide dog with the poodle’s coat and the Lab’s working ethic. He stated in the article, My Story: I Designed a Dog, in Reader's Digest Magazine that the first generation was a success. Subsequent generations were not.

My Story: I Designed a Dog, by Wally Conron, in Reader's Digest Magazine pps 28-30, 7/10/2007

Hybrid Health

The health of the dogs is another issue that designer dog breeders claim they are improving. Collies and Labs are both susceptible to hip dysplaysia. Breeding them together without screening for it doesn’t do anything to improve the pup’s chances of not having it.

While there is a thing called hybrid vigor where the offspring of two different breeds is bigger and stronger than the parents, that only holds true for the first generation. There is also a thing called outbreeding depression which means the offspring can be weaker than the parents.



Mixed Breeds and Purebreds

Many of the dogs in my life were mixed breeds. They were fantastic dogs and I loved them dearly. They were all adopted and there were no claims about their breeding. I didn’t spend a great amount of money for them. They were what they were.

Border Collie

I only got purebred dogs when I wanted them for a specific purpose, such as herding sheep. Then I turned to breeders who only bred herding dogs who could work. I was not disappointed. The Adopted Dog Bible: Your One-Stop Resource for Choosing, Training, and Caring fo...

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While I have no problems with the so-called designer dogs themselves, I do object to people making claims about them and charging wildly inflated prices. I’ve seen them for sale for as much as $1,500, for what is essentially a mixed breed dog. The same dog could be found at the local shelter. In fact, many of those same dogs who didn’t work out are at the local shelter.

The breeders who are successful in selling pups often are running puppy mills. One ad online said that they would not allow pickups. Dogs would be shipped only. I assume that means they didn’t want anyone to see their operation.Jackson reclining


I think the tag “designer dog” has a lot to do with their popularity. It sounds like a hand bag or dress that is in fashion. They are many wonderful dogs out there.Don’t be fooled into paying a puppy mill breeder good money for that cute puppy. 


Photo of Jackson by Mike Pettey. Used by permission.

Updated: 01/14/2013, Ragtimelil
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Doggy Comments

Ragtimelil on 10/31/2012

Yeah, when I hear some owners bragging about how much they spent on their mixed breed, I just want to cry. They could have found that dog in a shelter.
Good for you. I hope you find your special dog soon. Most of mine have found me rather that me looking for them.

sheilamarie on 10/31/2012

I've been seeing more of these dogs lately. They are attractive, though I wondered about them. I've only had dogs that needed a home and whose former owners could no longer care for them. I'm without a dog now. Maybe soon.

Ragtimelil on 10/21/2012

Yea! Good for you for getting her from a shelter! She's a lucky dog!

koffeeklatchgals on 10/21/2012

I have what is considered by some as a designer dog. I got her from a shelter. She is a puggle. She had been abused. We have loved having her - she is a loving dog.

Ragtimelil on 10/21/2012

Yes, if someone wants a designer dog, all they have to do is look in a shelter. Thanks.

Ragtimelil on 10/21/2012

The debate about breeding for the show ring is another topic in itself. Maybe I'll get worked up enough to do that!

BrendaReeves on 10/21/2012

So many of these dogs end up in shelters. The puggle for instance. I always see lots of puggles. Great article!

2uesday on 10/21/2012

Good subject an interesting topic. I know some types of dogs suffer from health problems due to their 'design' features such as the wrinkly skin of the Shar Pei. Not that they are of the type of dogs that you describe here like the Labrodoodle. My childhood pet dog was a collie cross or maybe a mongrel with more collie genes than any others. She had a lovely temperament and did not seem quite as energetic as the pure breed working collie dog. Nice to read about your knowledge of dogs and the photos of Jackson are lovely.

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