Where dogs are concerned, the norm is to own a purebred. It is quite easy to spot one of the popular dog breeds and an owner will easily tell you that it is a Labrador Retriever, a Great Dane, a Bulldog, a Golden Retriever or an Australian Malamute. You know a Labrador Retriever from its strongly built structure, short dense coat, an otter-like tail, clean cut head and always friendly eyes. The Labrador is chosen as a good companion dog because of its calm temperament and friendly nature.
But who has ever heard of a Chabrador, a Goldador or a Labradinger? What do they look like and what are their personalities? Here we are talking about hybrid dog breeds which put some excitement and fun into the whole business of owning a dog.
To understand better the concept of hybrid dogs, it is best to know how it evolved. Hybrids are derived from purebred dogs. Purebred dog breeds have been bred for many generations and over time have emerged to have the same characteristics, appearance and temperament. Both the sire and dam of a purebred dog have the same genes from a recognized breed.
The ancestry of both dogs is also of the same breed; there is no mixing of breeds or genes. They are said to breed true, not mixed with any other breed and therefore have emerged to be of a certain pedigree. According to the Dog Breed Info Center (2015), there is a standard written for breeders to follow when breeding for purebreds. Only dogs that fit the requirements of the standard should therefore be bred as a purebred.
Characteristics of purebreds
One of the advantages that you have with purebreds is that you know exactly what you are getting if you should purchase or adopt a purebred puppy.
You know how agile the dog will be, how capable it is of hunting and searching, how friendly it is and therefore, whether it is suitable as a companion dog.
Purebreds have the same physical traits – If you should place fifty purebreds of the Lakeland Terrier in a room for example, you would notice that they all look alike. You can always breed two Lakeland Terriers together and the puppies will come just like their parents. This is because they have the very same set of genes that are unique to the Lakeland Terrier breed.
If you want a purebred Lakeland Terrier, you would want those physical characteristics that are always those of that dog – sturdy build, deep slender body that can easily squeeze through narrow passages, characteristically long legs, and a double coat of hard and soft hair of black, blue, liver red and wheaten colors.
Purebreds’ behaviors are predictable – Dogs do display behaviors whether wholesome or undesirable. Purebreds come with predictable behaviors because they are carried by the genes. The Lakeland Terrier therefore, is known to be independent, intelligent, will-full and determined, always ready to go. It therefore demands an owner or a trainer who is firm, fair and who can present a variety of challenges.
Although it is polite with strangers, it easily picks up when something is not right. Among many other personalities, a terrier is protective of its things.
The playing field of dogs however, has been leveled with the breeding of hybrid dogs. You ask, “What are hybrid dogs?” These are the result of a cross between two different breeds of purebred dogs. Sometimes you will hear the term “Designer Dogs”, and you get the image of specially made dogs designed to a particular look, with matching collar to fit. It may not go exactly like that; hybrids come from two different breeds of purebreds.
A history of hybrids and crossbreeding
It is not to say that hybrid dogs have just recently come on the scene. There have been instances and or circumstances in which hybrids have been bred ever since man and dogs have been together and this goes far back in history. In more hunting and farming communities dogs were bred for their usefulness in helping to gather food and later on in managing farm animals. More efficient and effective breeds emerged. In such circumstances they would not have been given trendy names as exist today, but they were nevertheless deliberate products of crossbreeding.
Let’s take for example the Rat Terrier. This dog was specially bred in the 19th century to be a terror to the annoying rabbits that used to plunder the farms. The Rat Terrier came out of several breeds including the Fox Terrier, the Manchester Terrier, Whippets and Italian Geyhounds (Jaratz, 2014). We’ve written a piece about the amazing Rat Terrier, do check it out.
Here is also a mix of breeds in the Australian Cattle Dog; a very determined dog that would take on the wildest cattle of the 1800s. The Australian Cattle Dog came out of breeding Dingos with Black and Tan Kelpies and also Collies to produce what we have today of a mottled, spotty Cattle Dog.
The Doberman Pinscher had also the ingenuity of Karl Friedrich Louis Doberman who as a tax collector was an unpopular figure in his day in the 19th century. You can imagine the change in his status as he bred the Doberman from the Rottweiler, the Great Dane, Greyhounds and Beaucerons.
No longer was Karl Doberman such a disliked character, going after people’s taxes; but had come to be known as the one responsible for the fine dog that many have as companion. The Doberman Pinscher that we know today stands tall like an aristocrat with all these breeds in him and you will never know that he is a hybrid dog making a great police and military dog.
Likewise the Akita is a hybrid bred from dogs out of the Honshu islands of Japan with English Mastiffs, Great Danes, St. Bernards and Tosa Inus to develop a dog with fighting qualities. During World War 2 the Akita was bred again with the German Shepherd for qualities to perform police duties. You can read about the Akita breed in our article featuring this magnificent dog.
What you see is what you get in hybrid dogs
The question however is whether hybrids are pedigree dogs. Many people wish to think that their dog is a pedigree stock. However, hybrids do come from pedigree dogs but they are not in themselves pedigrees. A pedigree is a dog whose lineage can be traced back through generations and both their parents are of the same pedigreed lineage. The breed has not been broken.
Although a hybrid may come from two pedigreed dogs, the breed has been broken and can no longer hold true to be of one particular breed. You may consider the hybrid as having two types of genes in its DNA.
Therefore, this is the reason that you may not be able to tell what type of dog you will be getting especially if you acquire it at the puppy stage. In many cases it gets its characteristics from both sides of the parents’ fence. If you desire to own a designer dog, expect to get a combination of characteristics from both sides. The recommendation is for you to look at the temperaments of the purebreds that are crossed and expect to get a mix of those in your hybrid.
If the temperaments seen in both crossed breeds are what you are looking for and that suits your family’s personality and lifestyle then you may consider that this may be good for you. However, it may not be wise to determine that the dog will change its personality if there is anything negative in any of the breeds. It will not be fair to the dog also, since you may want to change this behavior if it arises later. The dog will live true to any personality that is dominant in its appearance.
While it is usual to breed hybrid dogs from 100% purebreds, you must be aware that not all designer dogs are 50% to 50% purebreds. Dog breeders can breed dogs from multi-generation crosses. That is, there can be a cross between a purebred and a dog that has already been produced from a cross. The more crosses you get further down the line, the greater the chance of loss in vigor. The vigor of the hybrid dog would be strengthened at the first generation, but is lost the more multi-crosses are done. If you’re wondering what’s the difference between hybrid and mixed breed dogs, see our article on the topic.
Distinguishing features of hybrid dogs
One of the first things that you would observe about a hybrid dog is that it is given a designer name that sounds unusual with a mix of syllables from both breeds that it is coming from. You will therefore hear of a Schnoodle, a cross between a Schnauzer and a Poodle, the Boxita which comes from the Boxer and Akita, the Pom-A-Poo a fix of the Pomeranian and Poodle and the Golden Shepherd, a mix of the Golden Retriever and the German Shepherd.
Where a crossbreed takes place for a particular purpose such as for hunting or for guarding, they are not given designer names as those for pets but instead are called Eurohounds for racing sled dogs, or Lurchers for hunters.
In many instances, the laws of genetics do come into play and the fewer puppies in a crossbreed litter, the greater the chance of them resembling their parents. The puppies in some instances will also look alike. However, hybrid dogs come with their own characteristics and appearances. Hybrid dogs also are characteristically bred as pets and companions.
Dogs designed for hunting and guarding are only considered as crossbreeds and as indicated before, would not be given a designer name. One exception however, is the Labradoodle, a cross between the Labrador and the Poodle which is many times done to get a dog to act as a guide or assistance dog as in helping the visually impaired and the elderly. The Labradoodle is often used as a family dog for its mild nature.
The advantages of hybrid dogs
A new appearance – Some purebred dogs do not have appearances that make them very appealing and in some cases the “deformities” cause problems for the dogs. Tiny or giant size, long back, short noses, crooked feet, loose jowls, long heavy ears, protruding or hidden eyes, and wrinkled folds of skin are just some appearances that are unappealing.
Crossbreeding does give a more refined and balanced appearance and we see dogs with more interesting looks. A hybrid from a purebred bulldog and some other breed, for example, does have a more natural face and it can even breathe better than its bulldog parent. Bulldogs are known to have difficulty breathing because of the position of the nose.
In other instances, some purebred dogs do shed a lot, for examples the Akita, Australian Shepherd, Alaskan Malamute and the Beagle. Some owners will tell you that their dog sheds right the year round.
Whether just for the inconvenience of having to clean up furs, groom more often, or because there is allergic reactions to all this hair, many people although they love their dogs, would prefer that they did not shed half so much. Crosses with dogs that shed, and others that do not shed in the same way, often produce hybrids that are way more tolerable than their parent purebreds.
A balanced personality – When you consider that purebreds have personalities that can be extreme, hybrids tend to temper this aspect of dog characteristics and make them more suited for household living. Most purebreds were developed for certain purposes especially to be guards, hunters and herders.
Of course they have the traits to carry out these functions and so they are chasers, aggressive, high energy, diggers, and independent thinkers. These traits many times call for dog trainers and managers such as the Dog Whisperer to help to tame the temperaments of dogs. This is not what many dog owners want in any case; they prefer a warmer, friendlier companion instead of the rough and tumble found in some dogs.
Better health outlook — In some circles it is believed that hybrids will inherit any genetic disposition that their parent purebreds would have, including any that causes health issues. Welton (2014) however puts this issue into perspective. She argues that purebreds have a higher risk at getting the diseases of their parents since they are of the same breed.
If on the other hand both purebred parents of different breeds have some sort of genetic defects, the chances that the hybrid dog would come with these defects are still there but would not appear on the same scale as in the parents. Furthermore, Welton argues that a wider variety of genes in the crossbred dog makes for a stronger immune system.
Better outlook for future purebreds – Many purebreds today were once bred to develop traits that would make them more amenable to some specific tasks. These traits have been refined through the years and we have dogs that are suited for guarding, herding and hunting. It means that breeders can take the same approach and refine traits through crossbreeding so that they are better suited to more homely purposes.
The trouble with hybrids
Health issues — Although all purebreds are susceptible to diseases, some breeds do have specific illnesses that affect them. Labradors and the German Shepherd, for example are especially prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, eye diseases and in a more recent discovery, Addison’s disease, a deficiency in the adrenal hormones. In some other breeds it is eye diseases, epilepsy, neurological disorders, bronchial defects and kidney disorders.
Therefore the subject has been raised pretty often as to the health of hybrid dogs. It means that you cannot just look at a puppy and think that it is healthy and you chose to purchase or adopt it based on this. As dogs get older that’s when they start to show any defects.
Those breeders of hybrids do assure that crossbreeding eliminates many of the health and other problems that do exist in purebreds. However, the evidences have shown that there is no guarantee that hybrids will come with less health issues than their purebred parents. The likelihood of genetic health problems is even greater if both purebreds have been affected.
No personality guarantee — Dog owners often have a purpose for their dog – to guard, guide, as companion, etc. Purebreds have been bred along particular lines and someone can tell the temperament of the Poodle, the Labrador, the Cocker Spaniel and the Australian Malamute. However, the bringing together of two breeds with different temperaments does not say you will get what you think should come in the hybrid. Two purebred breeds with calm personalities do not guarantee a dog of calm temperament. Our piece on how to keep your dog calm is a good read to give you more insight.
Lower prestige? — The hybrid does not represent the status that comes with having purebreds. It is much easier and more assured to say that your dog is a Poodle, a Doberman, or a Rottweiler. Like it or not, purebreds from early times is representative of a higher class especially because they are expensive. Crossbreeds may not carry the same prestige as purebreds.
Can be pricey – Probably because of the process involved, hybrid dogs are more expensive than purebreds. You may be able to get purebreds between $300 and $500; however, hybrids are selling for even $1000.
A list of popular hybrid dogs
There are hundreds of hybrid dogs that are on the dog breeders lists. There are crosses between every type of dog and as such they no longer bear names of breeds of purebreds. They are given what are called “Portmanteau” names – a mix of the names of both breeds. The following are some varieties (Dog Breed Info Center, 2015).
- Aki-Poo — Akita and Poodle
- Akita Pit — Akita and Pit Bull Terrier
- American Bull Aussie — American Bull Dog and Australian Shepherd
- Alusky — Alaskan Malamute and Siberian husky
- American Bullador — Labrador Retriever and American Bulldog
- Bassador — Basset Hound and Labrador Retriever
- Basset Retriever — Basset Hound and Golden Retriever
- Bernese Rottie — Bernese Mountain Dog and Rottweiler
- Bo-Dach — Boston Terrier and Dachshund
- Boxerman — Boxer and Doberman Pinscher
- Cadoodle — Collie and Poodle
- Cavador — Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Labrador Retriever
- Cheeks — Chihuahua and Pekingese
- Dalmatian Husky — Dalmatian and Siberian Husky
- Dameranian — Dachshund and Pomeranian
- Doxle — Beagle and Dachshund
- English Mastweiler — Mastiff and Rottweiler
- Foxy Rat Terrier — American Rat Terrier and Toy Fox Terrier
- German Sheprador — German Shepherd dog and Labrador Retriever
- Golden Border Retriever — Golden Retriever and Border Collie
- Goldmatian — Golden Retriever and Dalmatian
- Havashu — Havanese and Shih Tzu
- Huskita — Siberian Husky and Akita
- Labradoodle — Labrador Retriever and Poodle
- La Pom — Pomeranian and Lhasa Apso
- Mally Foxhound — Alaskan Malamute and Foxhound
- Mastador — Labrador Retriever and Mastiff
- Rat-Cha — Chihuahua and Rat Terrier
- Rotterman — Doberman Pinscher and Rottweiler
- Taco Terrier — Chihuahua and Toy Fox Terrier
- Weeranian — Pomeranian and Westie
- Woodle — Welsh Terrier and Poodle
- Yorkie Pin — Miniature Pinscher and Yorkshire Terrier
Times have changed in how things are done in everything. People have stepped out of their comfort zone and nothing remains standard anymore, even where dogs are concerned. Different breeds of purebred dogs have been bred to produce all types of hybrids. One may say that they are designer dogs and so they are called.
Dog owners look with anticipation for a blend that is calmer, less aggressive, less self-willed and a companion. But the word is out that there is no guarantee that hybrid dogs will develop the mild temperament that we want. Neither is there any guarantee that a dog will not come with the same health issues as its parents. It is therefore advised to choose carefully when selecting dogs. Who is to say that a hybrid will not one day be a purebred?