The words Dog Breed Info with the letter D inside of a black paw print

Designer Dogs

Jett the black Cockapoo sitting in a house next to a white window sill with his head cocked slightly to the side

Jett the Cockapoo at 1 1/2 years old

Designer dog?? What the heck is a designer dog, you ask?? A "designer" dog (as the media has labeled them) is a cross between two purebred dogs. A purebred dog is one that has been bred over many generations to breed true, meaning each puppy that is born looks and has the same temperament and characteristics as the others. In most cases a standard is written and breeders must follow this written standard. Only dogs that make the written standard are to be bred. Purebred dogs are beneficial in that when you buy a purebred dog you know what you are getting. You know how big your puppy will grow and you know basically what type of care the dog will need. You know the dog’s limits, whether it is capable of agility, hunting, search and rescue, police work, herding, flock guarding, or just simply being a companion dog. You have a pretty good idea how much exercise the dog will require. When one breeds purebred dogs great care must be taken to ensure the lines do not become too thin. Even with all the best DNA testing available genetic problems can occur, however with the proper testing these problems can be greatly reduced. To give you a simple analogy, let's say there was a law passed that stated only people with red hair and green eyes with a high IQ could have children, with the end goal being everyone in the USA to be smart with red hair and green eyes. If this were to happen, as you can imagine, our gene pool would eventually become thin, and many genetic problems would occur. This is why it is very important to ask breeders of purebred dogs what types of genetic testing they perform.

Other Names
  • Hybrid Dogs
  • Mix Breed Dogs
  • Purebred crossed with a different type of purebred
Close Up - Harley the brown brindle Bug dog is standing on a wooen porch

Harley the Buggs (Boston Terrier/Pug mix)

What's the difference between a designer dog and a mutt? Generally, a mutt is of uncertain ancestry. A designer dog has documented purebred ancestry, and one knows for sure what it is. The ACHC is the leading registry for designer dogs.

So what's up with these hybrid "designer" dogs? Are they healthier? Hybrid dogs can still have genetic problems because you are crossing two first-generation dogs, however the percentage of hybrid dogs with genetic problems is much lower than purebred dogs because the gene pool is mixed. Breeders who breed purebred to purebred creating a first generation hybrid believe in the heterosis effect and hybrid vigor. Vigor means "physical or mental strength, energy, or force. "Unlike purebred dogs, when you adopt a hybrid, you do not know exactly what the temperament, size of the dog, or exact look of the dog will be.

When you breed two different types of purebred dogs together you can get any combination of any of the characteristics found in either breed. If you are stuck on a hybrid dog how do you know which one to choose? Read the temperament and care for both breeds in the cross and be prepared for any combination of the two. If everything about both breeds matches your and your family’s personality and lifestyle, then you can most likely assume this cross will work for you. If there is ANYTHING about either breed in the cross that you do not feel matches what you are looking for, avoid that cross. Do not assume or take the chance that only the good characteristics will emerge. You may be in for a big surprise and it is not fair to the puppy to chance that.

It is also important to be aware not all of these designer hybrid dogs being bred are 50% purebred to 50% purebred. It is very common for breeders to breed multi-generation crosses. A simple F1 generation cross is said to produce the most hybrid vigor in the dog and the further down the multi-generation chain, the more vigor is lost in the hybrid, but there are some benefits to multi-generation crossing. If you want to greaten your chances of certain traits, such as non-shedding, sometimes it is necessary to move further down the generation chain, risking less vigor.

To help you understand this concept we will use the Goldendoodle as an example. A Goldendoodle is a cross between the Golden Retriever and the Poodle (usually the Standard Poodle). In general we will call the first purebred "purebred-A" and the second "purebred-B." Note: the examples of the differences in coat only apply to the Goldendoodle hybrid; all other hybrids will vary in their own way depending on what breeds are in the cross.

F1=first generation puppy—50% purebred-A and 50% purebred-B. For example, a Golden Retriever to Poodle cross is first generation, resulting in healthier offspring. In this particular Goldendoodle cross, hair type can be smooth like a Golden, wiry like an Irish wolfhound or wavy/shaggy, they can shed or not shed and pups in the same litter can vary. This is not the best cross for people with severe allergies.

F1b=backcross puppy—25% purebred-A and 75% purebred-B. For example, an F1 Goldendoodle and Poodle cross; this is a Goldendoodle bred back to Poodle— the wavy, curly, shaggy-look doodle (poodle cross) is very consistent in coat types. F1b is the MOST likely of any doodle to be non-shedding and allergy-friendly, and is the easiest coat to take care of.

F2=second-generation puppy—F1 hybrid crossed with an F1 hybrid. For example, an F1 Goldendoodle crossed with an F1 Goldendoodle. In this combination you get the same percentage of purebred-A as purebred-B as you would in an F1 hybrid. In the case of the Goldendoodle, they are more likely to shed.

F2b=second-generation backcross puppy—F1 bred to a F1b (hybrid backcross)

F3=F2 hybrid to F2 hybrid

Multi-generation=F3 or higher-generation hybrid crossed with F3 or higher-generation hybrid

To sum things up:

Purebred-A x Purebred-B = F1 Hybrid Dog

F1 x Purebred-A = F1b Hybrid Dog

F1 x F1 = F2 Hybrid Dog

F1 x F1b = F2b Hybrid Dog

F2 x F2 = F3 Hybrid Dog

Dogs are not to be disposed of like old toasters when they do not perform as you wish. They are living creatures. Cross a Labrador with a Poodle (Labradoodle) and you may or may not get a dog that sheds. Most experienced breeders can give you a pretty good idea what characteristics in a pup will emerge as the puppy grows. For example, in the Labradoodle, some breeders are able to tell which coat the pup will have, the Poodle’s or the Labrador’s, but still, this cannot be guaranteed. Sometimes it is harder to tell what type of temperament the pup will take on, as some characteristics do not appear until the pup is older, past adopting age.

Zoë the black and tan Pomapoo is standing on a tan couch

Zoë the Pomapoo = Pomeranian mother/Toy Poodle father

Whether or not you choose a purebred dog or a "designer" hybrid mix, do your homework and research, research, research. Remember, adopting a dog should be a life-long commitment and not something that should be taken lightly. Before you adopt a dog ask yourself, Are You Ready for a Dog?

Maggie the curly cream Yorkipoo is laying on a tiled floor with her mouth open and tongue out looking relaxed

Maggie the Yorkipoo (Yorkie/Poodle cross) from Brazil at 18 months old