Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.
What Is a Hybrid Dog Really?
What are hybrid dogs exactly? Why are they so costly, and is hybrid vigor in dogs true, or is it a myth? I was wondering about this when I met a Goldendoodle who suffered from major health issues and had several temperament issues on top of all that. Sadly, the owner confessed that she had been told about how this breed was superior in many ways to its purebred counterparts because of hybrid vigor.
In this case, it turned out hybrid vigor wasn't very much in force. As I discussed this with other trainers, they also reported a high number of doodle dogs with health and temperament problems. In this article, we will take a glimpse into the interesting world of canine genetics, see why some designer dogs are so costly, and tackle studies on hybrid vigor.
1. They Aren't Purebred Dogs
Goldendoodle, Labradoodle, Maltipoo, Shischon—these are just a few names portraying the hundreds of hybrid dogs who nowadays populate the world. Their cutesie designer "mutt" names may suggest dogs belonging to some prestigious breed, but it turns out that a hybrid dog, also known as a "designer dog," is not a purebred dog at all.
A purebred dog by definition is a dog that has been selectively bred over many generations to "breed true." When a dog breeds true, it means that every puppy produced will look alike and share the same characteristics. It's almost as if these dogs are crafted with a cookie-cutter, which roughly produces dogs with similar traits. Rottweilers come in black and tan colors, Dalmatians come with spots, Dachshunds come with long backs, Shar-Pei come with wrinkles, and Great Danes come with their impressively tall statures.
So when you plan to get a purebred puppy of a certain breed, you can rest assured you know to a good extent what you will be getting. These traits are what make dog breeds so valuable to us; they come with that special look we have enjoyed throughout the years.
Breed standards were crafted so that breeders (hopefully!) follow certain guidelines to ensure their purebred dogs follow the ideal description of the breed. In dog shows, judges evaluate dogs based on the standard (hopefully!), and the closest the dog gets to it, generally the better.
2. They Are Genetic Wild Cards
When it comes to hybrid dogs, these dogs are the product of two purebred dogs being crossed. According to the New World Encyclopedia, "In biology, a hybrid is the offspring of individuals of different taxonomic groups or, in another sense, an offspring of crosses between populations, breeds, or cultivars within a single species." To be more specific, we are not talking about hybrids derived from crossing different species here; those are called interspecific hybrids, but about intraspecific hybrids just like Mendel's hybrid peas, known as F1 hybrids.
The term hybrid in this article is used to depict "the mix of two animals of different breeds " A hybrid dog is therefore not a breed and therefore, as we have seen, is not purebred. Unlike purebred dogs, these dogs do not breed true; this means that like a shot in the dark, or crapshoot if you will, when you cross two purebred dogs, you'll likely be getting a puppy with mixed traits that cannot be reliably predicted. Therefore, you'll have to expect to see any combination of characteristics found in either of the parent breeds.
Because hybrid dogs lack reliable traits and they're not a breed, there's no official breed standard for them. To put it bluntly, some people call hybrids a "glorified mutt" with a hefty price tag. Indeed, their costs often easily surpass the price of purebred dogs!
Instead of breeding out problems, clueless and unscrupulous breeders are breeding them in. For every perfect one, you're going to find a lot of crazy ones.
— Wally Conron, Creator of the Labradoodle
3. They Are Overbred
A problem with hybrid dogs is that they often become quite popular, and when a dog gets very popular, the wrong types of breeders get involved. So, what may start as a good thing ends up getting out of hand. Soon, dogs get overbred, causing careless breeding without paying attention to health or temperament while aiming just for the mighty dollar.
Labradoodles and Goldendoodles are often made popular because they're marketed as hypoallergenic, non-shedding, and odor-free—something that attracts many allergy sufferers. The truth is, no dog is totally hypoallergenic as the causes of allergies may vary from one person and another. There are many causes of dog allergies that go past the fur. This sales pitch brings in lots of interest because people think they are dealing with some sort of wonder dog.
Wally Conron, the person who created the first labradoodle by breeding a Lab with a Poodle in his quest for finding the perfect guide dog for a woman in Hawaii whose husband was allergic to dogs, feels somewhat responsible for the spread of "Frankenstein" designer dogs with horrible temperaments and a plethora of health issues. He claims: "Instead of breeding out problems, clueless and unscrupulous breeders are breeding them in. For every perfect one, you're going to find a lot of crazy ones."
Additionally, sadly, many hybrid dogs are mass-produced on puppy farms, and the puppies are poorly socialized and often removed too early from the litter, which may result in serious behavior problems down the road!
"A new study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, indicates that mixed breeds don’t necessarily have an advantage when it comes to inherited canine disorders."
— UC Davis Press Release
4. They Aren't Necessarily Healthier
There's this common belief that hybrid dogs are much healthier than purebred dogs, a phenomenon known as "hybrid vigor" or, in scientific terms, "heterosis." This phenomenon has often been used by unethical breeders to advertise their hybrid dogs as superior so they could ask for exorbitant prices, but how true is this?
This conventional wisdom likely stems from the belief that shallow gene pools, as often seen in purebred dogs, predispose them to inherit health problems and loss of vigor (inbreeding depression) which includes lower sperm count, lower conception rates, smaller litter sizes and shorter lifespans.
It's a known fact that the introduction of another breed or even a different line of the same breed adds genetic variety, which adds vitality. This is known as "hybrid vigor," and it's a strategy long-time dog breeders have been implementing in their breeding programs, explains Carol Beuchat, a vertebrate biologist with Ph.D. in animal physiology.
So is variety really the spice of life when it comes to genetics and is hybrid vigor the secret recipe for a healthy dog? Perhaps, but not in the way that some unethical breeders portray it. A study on hybrid vigor speaks volumes when it comes to heritable health conditions and offers a different view of the story.
According to a large, five-year-old study conducted by Thomas P. Bellumori et al. and published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, after analyzing more than 90,000 health records, it was found that no difference was seen between purebred and crossbred dogs when it came to the incidence of 13 heritable conditions. There were only a few exceptions where it was actually found that some hereditary conditions remain isolated to specific breeds, but other than that, the superior health benefits claimed by breeders seem to be a myth.
However, it must be said that this is often the result of poor breeding practices which focus more on conformation and certain traits rather than health. For instance, if Labradors that are prone to hip problems are crossbred with Poodles who are prone to eyesight problems, you may end up with puppies prone to both conditions, explains Marc Abraham, a popular veterinarian making appearances on TV in the UK.
Claims by unethical breeders stating that hybrids are healthier and get the best of both worlds from their parents are quite unfounded. “It's a nice story, but when you tell it, geneticists laugh," claims Stanley Coren, professor and author of the book 'Why do Dogs Have Wet Noses?"
For a list of health disorders common for each dog breed and suggested testing, visit the Canine Health Information Center website.
"A new study on the prevalence of inherited disorders among American mixed breed and purebred dogs has negated the common assumption that a mixed breed dog is always healthier than a purebred dog" .
— Quickfall 2013
Hybrid Dogs: Best of Both Worlds or Worst of Both Worlds?
A bad apple, though, doesn't have to spoil the batch. This article is not meant to give hybrid dogs a bad rap. I have met wonderful hybrids and not-so-wonderful purebreds. Also, it's always good practice to see both sides of the story to make a good argument. The take-home message, I guess, is to practice caution as hybrid dogs aren't necessarily the healthy, wonderful dogs with terrific temperaments as they're often portrayed to be. Here is some food for thought.
A Starting Point
Hybrids aren't necessarily badly bred. There are wonderful hybrid breeders who have health test and temperament test on their purebred breeding stock before allowing them to mate. They breed hybrids in the same way they would breed for purebreds. If we think about it, in the old days, somewhere along the lines, dogs with desirable traits were matched and bred repeatedly over the years, and that has led to the purebred dogs we see today.
People who argue that creating hybrids is like designing dogs' bodies must understand that dogs were crafted this way for hundreds of years ever since selective breeding practices took place. The only difference is that selective breeding in the past was mostly done over the years to create the perfect herding dogs, hunting dogs, and in some cases, lap dogs.
There are chances that some designer dogs we see today may get recognized one day as a true breed if in the right hands of knowledgeable breeders. By cross-breeding, this is how several recent breeds have obtained recognition.
Pleasant Looking Dogs
Let's face it: many designer dogs look adorable, but are they worthy of costing hundreds if not thousands of dollars? Most likely not, especially if they are bred by backyard breeders, which may lead to additional costs with the potential health issues popping up. Your best bet is to look for breeders who health test their breeding stock, but these dogs may cost as much as purebred dogs.
If you fell in love with hybrid dogs or are looking for an eye-catching dog that'll make heads turn without costing a fortune, consider that you can often find many hybrids at the shelter for a fraction of the cost. These dogs can be just as unique as the expensive designer dogs with cutesie names advertised in the newspaper.
Best of all, when adopting, what you see is generally what you get as the chances for major "guesswork" are practically eliminated. The only difference is that often instead of being purposely bred by mating purebred dogs, these mixed breeds are likely the result of an accidental breeding (think momma's mutt falling in love with your neighbor's mutt) or intentional breeding where one or both parents were not purebred dogs. Just keep in mind that they are dogs, and as such, they have needs and aren't meant to be used as fashion accessories a-la-Paris Hilton style nor attention-grabbers because of their unusual looks!
A Vast Array of Choices
While it's saddening that there are so many unethical breeders and puppy mills pumping out designer dogs at astounding rates, on the bright side, we can say that there's quite an assortment of hybrids available that can match every taste. To see an extensive list of hybrid dogs, visit the American Canine Hybrid Club.
So with that many choices, if you like a certain purebred dog, but it's too large or active, some hybrids may offer the looks of that breed but with the advantage of coming in a smaller package or coming with a calmer disposition--even though this isn't always the rule as we have seen how traits can be quite unpredictable! So the good thing is that sometimes hybrid dogs can offer solutions to what would otherwise make life difficult if they were purebred dog.
Possibly Healthier Specimens
Wait! Didn't you show studies making claims of how hybrids often inherit health problems and hybrid vigor is a myth? Well, let's face it: studies sometimes miss important aspects, and we need to admit that some purebred dog breeds are plagued with several health disorders that can be quite scary.
For instance, the English bulldog has a long list of health problems that can be quite frightening and impressive to deal with. The same can be said of many brachycephalic dog breeds with smudged-in faces. So if say you like the pug but you don't like to deal with snorting and breathing difficulties, a puggle (the mix between a pug and beagle) may offer an alternative since they often turn out to have a longer, healthier nose.
So ultimately, some purebred dog breeds with bodies that make them prone to health issues can be somewhat "bettered" in the health department, but only if breeders know what they are doing if they're conscientious in health testing and are also somewhat lucky to not end up with a dog displaying a host of health problems.
Knowledge Is Power
Hybrids are cute; they have cool names, and there are many types, but they don't always turn out to be the wonder dogs some breeders portray them to be. But isn't this ultimately true of all dogs?
If you really want a hybrid, you can take a peek at your shelter for an older dog, or if you want a puppy, you can look for a good breeder, but it's important to conduct good research before purchasing a hybrid dog. Just as when searching for purebred dogs, perspective designer dog owners should look for ethical breeders who health test both parent breeds to lower the chances for heritable conditions from being passed on. Consider, though, that not many ethical breeders are interested in creating a hybrid dog, so be very careful.
For instance, the Labrador Retriever Club warns that Labradoodles are nothing more than an expensive crossbred and clearly states its opposition to deliberately crossing Labrador Retrievers with other breeds as it's an attempt to mislead the public about advantages that aren't true.
Knowledge is power, so look for healthy specimens bred by responsible breeders willing to health test, breed for good temperaments, give health guarantees and take back puppies if there should ever be any problems. Yes, you can find code-of-ethics breeders, even for hybrids!
The Bottom Line
Hybrids are unique, they have intriguing names, and they come in a vast array of shapes, colors and sizes, but hybrid dogs aren't purebred dogs; they are not a breed, they don't have breed standards to adhere to, and they're very costly for being bred often with little interest in the health and temperament department. Hybrids are also often portrayed as hypoallergenic, but allergies can be caused by many other things than fur, and because hybrids are like wild cards genetically, their non-shedding coat qualities cannot be reliably predicted.
Hybrids are also not immune from health issues as often claimed. They may suffer from heritable health conditions passed down from the parent breeds. So the take-home message is to use caution, and if you happen to hear a breeder asking a premium and making claims of no need for health testing because hybrid vigor will magically wipe all health problems off the face of the earth, don't walk away—run!
- Institute of Canine Biology: The myth of hybrid vigor in dogs...is a myth
- Healthy Pets: The Surprising Truth About Mixed Breed Dogs
Hybrid Dogs: Designer Breeds or Mutts?
- Dog Breeds: The Different Types of Rottweilers
American, German or Roman? What type of Rottweiler do you own? Learn the differences between an American and German Rottweiler and how to avoid falling victim of a scam set by unscrupulous breeders trying to make fast money.
- Dog Breed Groups: Understanding The Terriers
Terrier dogs are not your average dogs. They need specific training methods, special toys, and most of all, special owners!
© 2015 Adrienne Farricelli
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 25, 2020:
Hi Dog Lover,
My source for the study information comes the respected Veterinary Information Network (VIN). According to VIN, the study "shakes the notion that mixing breeds is a surefire way to help lessen the incidence of disease. "
Researchers looked at some 90,000 medical records of dogs seen between 1995 and 2010 and 27,254 dogs presented with at least one of 24 genetic conditions.
"The cases revealed that mixed-breed dogs are nearly as susceptible as purebred dogs to 13 heritable medical conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, mitral valve dysplasia, lymphoma and hip dysplasia."
dog lover on August 11, 2020:
Your reference to the Thomas P. Bellumori study is incredibly misleading- the study investigated 23 total heritable disorders and while 13 did not have an increase in incidence among purebreds, TEN DID. (It's worth noting that one had an increased incidence in mutts.)
Aylin jaliki on June 21, 2020:
I want one toy poodle dog for my baby
Paula lovik on June 15, 2020:
Its a scam,putting your dog under ,to take exays forcing there hips to grined bull shit u just want money from people you people want a commodity. On nothing more then an opinion. Any dog in this world can have bad hip and other conditions..like sards.do you exay peoples hips.so muchs crap.
Andrew Miranda on June 02, 2020:
I forgot to say before that my dawg cookie that we received from a rescue in Concord North Carolina. Just happens to be an aussiedoodle. she is the most amazing dog that I have ever owned on my wife Kelly has ever owned. This dog gets tired from sleeping. Lovable friendly healthy! We would only adopt from a rescue! I would never adopt from a breeder! Our dog put out a prayer for us to find her! We put out a prayer to find her! Oh and yes by the way oh, she also has some tan color. If you wish to see an aussiedoodle a bernedoodle or an Irish wolfhound. Just look online. You will be amazed.
Andrew Miranda on June 02, 2020:
My dog was adopted as a labradoodle. She is black white 10 Gray with sometimes a red beard bushy eyebrows thick paws unbelievably beautiful dog her name is Cookie. her first veterinarian said that she was not one and a half years old as the rescue had told us but she was maybe eight months. She has doubled in weight from about 35 to 70 lb. She was housebroken in 7 days. The dog, are baby! Understands us, reads our minds! The dog loves children loves us pretty much loves anyone she meets. If someone were to break in the house, she would probably lead them to the jewels, money and food of course! Lovable and child-friendly. She knows when it's time to go out when it's time to eat and when it's time to get into bed with Mommy and Daddy. Cookie is the most Loved dog in this world! Oh, she is an aussiedoodle!
Libby Cameron on May 29, 2020:
I have a Doodle.. after 50 years of registered AKC dogs, which I showed.. Yes, this one is very different.. And we Love his personality. coat is an issue because I never owned a dog with a curly coat.. But to be honest, he is amazing, we Love him, yes, he is different.. My partner who is an AKC judge, of 50 years, thinks this is the greatest dog he ever had... Quite an endorcement.. Got him when my granddaughter got one and I had lost my last house dog..He is a gem...
Donna on November 22, 2019:
Designer dogs are actually the original purebreds bred for a purpose such as Poodles being bred to be water retrievers for fowl. The mixes now are just that, mixes.
Ilene on June 25, 2019:
Let's be real.. "Doodle breeders" aren't trying to create a new breed so don't use that argument that the purebreds we have now came from hybrids at some point. It's comparing apples to oranges. Of course purebreds now came from hybrids at some point. HOWEVER, they were being bred on purpose to create a new breed that would fit all that they needed.
"Doodle breeders" are just breeding mutts just to breed mutts with no intention of having any consistency and with a goal of someday becoming a purebred (with its own name). If they were, I would absolutely support this, but they're not.
Brian on May 04, 2019:
99 percent of dogs-breeds in the past have been mixed to create other breeds , do lab just showed up one day. If you get an akc Registered dog dna tested and you’ll find at least two breeds in their bloodline unless you don’t count wolfs
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 02, 2019:
Eeek, Holly I never realized that Epic Explorer made such a claim for some reason I thought it was an 18 month old and 16 month old dog.. Now that I re-read the post I see it where it is claimed "I have a 18 year old hybrid female & a 16 year male who just fathered a litter of pups last spring." That's scary! I wonder if this was accidental or purposeful.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 02, 2019:
Skunkbear, I deeply agree, the big point is "if you breed them right". If you read the article in its entirety, you will see that this is what I am trying to point out. Unfortunately since some hybrids are being sold for lots of $$$ this is attracting the wrong types of breeders, those who focus only on the money.
Holly on April 30, 2019:
Epic Explorer the fact that you're breeding teenage dogs speaks volumes about what kind of breeder you are. NO dog over 8 or 10 at most should ever be bred on purpose. That's like an 80yr old women having a baby. Sounds to me like you are as the article described only looking to line your pockets!!
SkunkBear on April 05, 2019:
What a load of crap. Appreantally a pure breed seller is just pissed that now more people are enjoying hybrids over pure breeds. I see more of a positive outcomes than the negative outcome that this writer is writing. Not all dogs are perfect but if you breed them right then the hybrid will be better of than a pure bred. I hd many pure breds and some that say there were but really weren’t I’m on a quest to get a hybrid. My family member is allergic to dogs and when he got a goldendoodle he was fine. So To be continued.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 03, 2019:
The big issue is unethical breeders asking premium prices for mixes just for making them sound "trendy." Other make false claims about dogs being 100 percent hypoallergenic. Of course, there are good ones and bad ones. Due diligence is always a must. Buyer beware.
Jacqueline on March 31, 2019:
So what are we all supposed to do adopt a pitbull mix because that is all that is left in the shelters. Most rescues (at least in our area) can not even go into a home with a young child. Or should i pay 1800 to a person breeding ex..."golden retriever" purebreds. Then find out most of the purebreds come from puppy mills
I have not decided on and purchased any dog yet. But my online search shows. A majority of the designer mix breeders use ethical and humane ways to breed dogs. Usually with a majority of the bred dogs living in homes with gaurdians. And they dont usually breed the females more than 2 or 3 times. And that is dependent on how well she does. Sounds like more thought money and care goes into these puppies than alot of bred purebreeds.... there are many many flaws in where your article is leading people into believing there is no value in what you label an over priced "mutt".
Flyerik on March 13, 2019:
I enjoyed reading this article and appreciated many of the very diplomatic points which were made about crossing breeds and designer dogs. As our family began to consider the possibility of a puppy, we started with "hypo-allergenic" at the top of our list, but after some thoughtful research found out that there isn't such a thing, as was collaborated here. Some people are simply allergic to dander or saliva, so having a hypo-allergenic dog is virtually impossible, though one may obtain a dog and have no allergic reaction in the home to the dog sold to them as such.
I also read the letter from the Labrador Retriever Club mentioned in the article and felt awful after reading it. It made me feel guilty for even considering a designer dog......BUT, in some roundabout way, I was linked to a blog and through that blog I found an incredible woman in Australia. This woman - while concurring with the conclusion that backyard breeders had taken off with the Labradoodle and Goldendoodle in various degrees of ethical standards - realized that a need for an intuitive service dog which had allergy-friendly qualities existed, but simply had to be bred using the highest standards. Having bred horses and German Shepherds, as well as judging dogs at accredited canine events, she embarked on a painstaking journey to develop the Australian Labradoodle. In the end, she had to rename the breed altogether, as thousands of people began to breed Labs and Poodles - some carefully, and some carelessly.
After years of heartbreak, struggle, persecution, and tireless persistence, she's broken through and now consistently produces dogs with the ideal qualities she first envisioned.
I read her book, her website, and simply was drawn to her as a loving human being whose passion for animals made me realize I couldn't get a dog anywhere else.
I'm not here to advertise for her, despite my shining endorsement of her hard work. But I truly appreciate the objectivity of this article and its vital points. Purebred dogs ARE superior, because so many people have collaborated to maintain each breed's individual characteristics and conformation. Decades of blood, sweat and tears have gone into each breed, with so many people trying hard to rid their breed of any inherent or lingering negative genetics. Some have been more successful than others, but there's just no comparing someone's puppies who they've bred to specific, established standards to those of someone who's just a dog lover and tries to do their best. We have different breeds because people have different wants, needs and desires when it comes to a canine companion. Crossing these breeds in the hopes that something good will result, and taking hope from the one or two in a litter which exhibit these desires is still not good enough. The dogs deserve more. Families, individuals, and those with special needs deserve more.
Thank you for writing this article! I hope many people read it and can benefit from the facts contained therein.
Charlee on January 27, 2019:
I had doodle of some sort long ago before they became a thing
She was such a sweet dog. Who would have know that it would have turned into such a craze. I would love to find a new other one but the prices are crazy. I got my for free. Crazy how times have changed.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 10, 2018:
Epic Explorer, I feel you are interpreting things incorrectly and feel perhaps under scrutiny just because you are crossing two different breeds .
The article's title is clear that it's mostly about unethical breeders. It's about putting a hefty price tag and scamming the public into believing these crosses are valuable and rare.
It's about making claims that just because two different breeds are crossed, hybrid vigor is a certainty. There is never a certainty in genetics. Even within a litter of purebred pups there may be tossed in certain traits that were believed to have been buried decades ago ( and this really happens!)
It's about backyard breeders breeding with no knowledge and not having the decency of health testing.
It's about hybrids being mass produced to make quick money.
If you read well, I even make claims that go against the study saying that there are purebred dogs that have serious issues that should be bred out by outcrossing. I am all for those professionals out there breeding to improve dogs for their health, longevity and temperament.
For example, let's say English bulldogs. I applaud all those ethical breeders who are working hard on outcrossing this breed to produce healthier specimens. The English bulldog is currently a disaster and I have no longer board and trained them because they scare the crap out of me. Seriously, they always give me a heart attack when it's hot outside and they go out to just potty and come back snorting and choking and take so long to recover from the panting. I hear stories of them dropping dead from going on walks. Too much liability, they make me uneasy and I can do without that.
I don't personally feel that the goldendoodle issues stem from the poodle. The poodle has a history of being selectively bred for being a hard working dog and shouldn't have a history of having major behavior issues. I think it's just because breeders are breeding mainly for obtaining a specific coat type that is curly and therefore traps dead hairs rather than shedding making them appear as hypoallergenic.
There is so much search for hypoallergenic breeds and non-shedding dogs nowadays that people want to make fast money. When one breeds for just one trait, all the rest goes to the backburner and this leads to health and temperament issues.
Epic Explorer on November 05, 2018:
Of course you have some valid points, but I called BS on the article because the overall tone of the writing reinforces a common notion that is patently false. That purebred dogs are superior, which generally speaking, nothing could be further from the truth. Statistically speaking 'mutts' of all types are healthier and live longer lives.
Most working dog pure breeds have their working traits bred out of them by AKC breeders, breeding for color, lazy couch dog temperaments etc. I find it amazing that people will spend twice as much for a dog because it's purebred, because they think they are 'better', when in fact, they are not.
In the case of the Goldendoodle specifically, as an example I would say those problems stem largely from the standard poodle. I am not an expert on the breed by any stretch, but I have never met one that wasn't 'nuts'. I also do boarding so I have met my fair share of them. I would be willing to bet that there's likely less issues with the golden doodle than with the purebred standard poodle? Just a theory.
Bottom line for me is that I think the article is overall misleading and promotes a stigma that is not honest.
I have had many people look at me funny when they come out to see my AKC malamutes and I tell them I also have Siberian/Malamute mixes. Even after I explain the benefits of the mix and they see that the dogs are beautiful they can't seem to get past the programming that they have received that only 'backyard breeders', breeding junk dogs mix breeds.
In addition there's a whole bunch of 'mutts' at nearly every shelter across the country that in many cases are superior to many purebreds, but due to the stigma attached to 'mutts' many people view them as junk dogs and won't even bother looking at the pound. I have personally rescued many 'mutts' that turned out to be fantastic working dogs.
In addition I don't do genetic tests on sled dog breeds, because they only get bred once they have proven themselves in harness. A dog with dysplastic hips for example will show that early in their sledding career, before they reach 2 years of age(breeding age)Fortunately with the hybrids, joint issues are virtually nonexistent, but I can't say that for the purebreds. 2 purebred parent dogs even with OFA Excellent hips occasionally throw a dysplastic pup.
There's a lot of negative rhetoric or even propaganda about dog breeding and I feel your post overall, is an example of this trend.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 04, 2018:
Dear Epic Explorer, before calling the article BS, please read carefully. First off, the title says unethical breeders, let's face it, there are many unethical breeders who are crossing dogs left and right without having the decency of health testing or considering temperament and who stick to them a shocking price just for profits. If you are a reputable breeder for more than 20 years, and put an emphasis on health, then this article doesn't apply to you. Second notice that there is an entire section discussing that in some cases, you can actually improve certain breeds and it seems like you are witnessing this. But we can't make claims that this happens all the time. I don't breed dogs currently, but I breed plants and do crosses all the times. My F1 hybrids are sometimes amazing but other times they go to family and friends because they have very little potential, they should go in the garbage bin, but I don't feel like tossing something that I worked hard on producing and that somebody may enjoy. The issues with poorly bred Goldendoodles is real, ask any trainer and they will tell you they have one point met the Goldendoodle with terrible temperament. So in case you haven't read the whole article, you likely missed the conclusion " Knowledge is power, so look for healthy specimens bred by responsible breeders willing to health test, breed for good temperaments, give health guarantees and take back puppies if there should ever be any problems. Yes, you can find code-of-ethics breeders even for hybrids!"
Epic Explorer on October 31, 2018:
As a sled dog musher and protection dog trainer & reputable breeder of over 20 years I am going to have to call BS on this article!
I cross breed Alaskan Malamutes with Siberian Huskies, because it produces a better sled dog every time. The resulting hybrid is healthier, stronger, more energetic and lives a longer life, as well as works to an older age, than either purebred does. On average my hybrids live to 15+ years old. It's almost impossible to find a purebred Malamute over 10 & it's very rare to find a Siberian over 12.
It's also very common for the hybrids to work until 12-13 years old, while the Malamutes, & Siberians, respectively never make it past 8-10 years old before their bodies can't do it anymore.
Hybrid vigor is VERY real!
I am freight musher which is very different than racing(for those who don't know) so I don't breed for speed. I breed for strength, stamina & hardiness. Do you suppose that it's a coincidence that not a single team of purebred dogs, has won either the Yukon Quest or the Iditarod in the last 30+ years?
Every year the winning team in both races are a type of dog(not a breed) called the Alaskan Husky. There is NO breed standard for this dog recognized by any kennel club. It's a mutt. Every musher, that's ever won either of these 1000 mile races will tell you that hybrid vigor is very legitimate.
I can also tell you that my Rottweiler/Boerboel hybrids are far superior to purebred Rottweilers for protection.(I started crossing them because the show breeders were breeding the working traits out of the breed, which made finding out crosses very difficult.)
Again they are healthier across the board, than either purebred. Both breeds rarely make it past 10 years old. Right now I have a 18 year old hybrid female & a 16 year male who just fathered a litter of pups last spring.
I find the hybrid to be more intelligent, easier to train and their temperaments on average, to be more stable & predictable, not less so.
You can talk about all the scientific studies in the world, but let me just quote Bob Dillan:
"You don't have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows"
Janet on July 22, 2018:
Pure breeds are too interbred. Their genetics needs opening up. Mixed breeds bred from healthy screened dogs with therefore open up the gene pool....Its that simple.
I have pure breeds and hybrid dogs. All healthy tested parents, that what we need, legislation that says all dogs are health tested before breeding whether pure or mixed breed.
And why should everyone have shelter dogs? maybe we dont want to pick up what others have messed up. Its not our fault after all.....
Mary Withrow on April 20, 2018:
Local shelters are full of designer dogs "mutts" mixed and pure bred; adopt!
Mark on April 11, 2018:
I have a goldendoodle great dog. All dogs have their problems so I wouldn't pay too much attention to the article.
Barbara on April 11, 2018:
it takes a very long time to establish a purebred breed that one can be quite confident will reproduce consistently, temperament, looks, movement etc. and most things required by the standard of the breed you have chosen. so, when someone who decides to put two purebred dogs together and then decide they have a name, to pretend they are as good as purebreds, they are making their first big mistake. it is no different than those, many many years ago who patiently worked and researched and passed on their information to finally come ujp with a purebred that is 'solid' in most ways desired. so, the mixed purebreds being mated are no different, it will takes years and years, could be 50 or60 years, or more to come to the same conclusion, puppies that are very consistent in all the ways that are important, but NO, these people instantly advertise their cross bred dogs, as if they are purebreds, and people buying them, could get anything and everything in temperament and looks and type, it isn't the right way to create a new breed. but it does suck in many people who just listen to the b.s. and like what the pups look like, and buy one, and on it goes.
Jennifer Rolls on April 11, 2018:
Shelley hit the nail on the head. The purebred dogs being used to create these dogs are NOT coming from reputable breeders which therefore calls in to question their quality.
"One BIG problem with "hybrids" or purposely breeding mutts is that GOOD breeders of ANY breed that I know would NEVER let a well bred dog go on an open contract (not required to be spayed or neutered) to be purposely bred to make mutts-so the original gene pool of any so called "hybrids" has got to be initially compromised."
Bunnie Heinz on November 18, 2017:
I have a designer dog. Part toy poodle and shih tzu and both breeds can have sebaceous cyst which came out in my dog. They itch he chews and in the end they have to be removed and this can be costly. He is adorable and wonderful pet, but will never get another designer dog
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 03, 2017:
Anne, in biology, by definition, a hybrid, or crossbreed, is the result of combining the qualities of two organisms of different breeds, varieties, species or genera.
Melissa A Smith from New York on July 02, 2017:
Dog breed culture is so strange. Why are they called 'hybrids' when every other dog breed was created the same way? There's nothing special about this. All dog breeds are 'designer'. These are just new, early breeds in progress. The so-called pure breeds can vary from the standard as well. They come from different genetic lines. I don't see much difference between all these dogs.
Louise on July 01, 2017:
A colleague has a 2 years old Golden Doodle that is afflicted with many different health issues. Starting as a puppy, 5 000$ dollars in vet bills when she bought it from what she still perceives as a "reputable breeder" when it was a 2 months old puppy. This dog weighs 85 pounds and is 29" tall. Not a golden, neither a poodle...The dog has skin problem, had recently a surgery to remove kysts, has many allergies. What a shame!
Anne O'Neill on June 27, 2017:
Mixed breed dogs are not hybrids. Hybrids are from two different species, like a wolf and a dog or a lion and a tiger. Mixed breed dogs are just mixed breed dogs.
lizzie SMall on June 21, 2017:
Our Goldendoodle is 6 months old..... her 'breeder' was less than impressive, but I think we got very lucky... she didn't leave mum til she was 14 weeks old and she is THE most biddable, gentle natured hound I have ever met. I think we just got very lucky indeed .....
Shelley on October 31, 2016:
One BIG problem with "hybrids" or purposely breeding mutts is that GOOD breeders of ANY breed that I know would NEVER let a well bred dog go on an open contract (not required to be spayed or neutered) to be purposely bred to make mutts-so the original gene pool of any so called "hybrids" has got to be initially compromised.
As a show/performance Collie breeder of 35 years-all of my puppy buyers sign a contract about NEVER breeding a puppy from me to any dog that is not of top quality of its breed (another Collie in my case). I would sue anyone who went against what is in their contract.
Wonderdog on August 28, 2016:
I think the author astutely and purposely used the term hybrid for a noble purpose: telling the truth about what's truly going on with these dogs. Let's face it: unethical breeders use the term to imply hybrid vigor so the term is wide spread, what will people therefore look up to learn more about these dogs? It won't likely be mutts and it won't likely be mixed breed. So yes, you got it, it'll be hybrid dogs. So kudos for this choice of word.
J.E. Jefferson on August 27, 2016:
Hybrid vigour ONLY occurs when species are cross-bred - the most common example being horse and donkey to create a mule, or wolf to coyote to create a coywolf. You cannot have hybrid vigour when you breed two different breeds of dogs. You bring into the mix all of the flaws from each breed - if both are susceptible to hip dysplasia, the offspring have a chance of carrying genes from both parents and be affected. Please get your facts straight and stop lying to people about mixed breed dogs - they are not necessarily hypoallergenic - as many buyers have sadly found out. People are not allergic to the dog hair - they will be allergic to the dandruff dogs have - so if there's a breed in the mix that leans toward that tendency, they puppies very likely will also carry it and produce the allergy causing dandruff. Mixed breeds are not hybrids - they are mixed breeds and do not have any extra vigour, they are not necessarily hypoallergenic and they do not warrant the exorbitant prices charged by unethical people who lie about what they are producing
Shelly Wiggins on August 26, 2016:
I think MIXED-BREEDS would have been the preferable TERM when writing this GREAT article. Hybrid is a somewhat confusing and basically incorrect term, and using it just reinforces that these mix-breeds are somehow unique and health-wise are healthier animals.
Muchos Gracias on August 08, 2016:
Dobebcmom, please provide some reference to back up your statements. I have read through all the comments and all suggest from reputable references that the use of hybrid is correct.
Jerry on August 04, 2016:
Dobebcmom, and your sources to back up your statement that hybrids are dogs crossed with wolves or coyotes are? .... Yes, wolf hybrids are hybrids, but there are hybrids and hybrids: 1) those crossed with different species and 2) those crossed with breed of the same species. Look it up in a scientific book or read the comments before you, we learn something new every day, don't we?
Dobebcmom on August 03, 2016:
Mixed breed dogs are not hybrids. A hybrid would be a dog crossed with a wolf or coyote, not a different breed of dog.
Healthy Babe on August 01, 2016:
Farkle, can I give you a hug? You did a marvelous job explaining that! I own a "mutt" and yes, I hate that label, so stereotypical of a non-valuable dog. My princess baby has no price tag, because she's the very best thing that happened to me in life. She is more worthy to me than the most expensive multi-title champion dog in world. What about the term mongrel? What does it mean exactly, I see it pop up every now and then in dog forums.
Alexadry, loved this article, very helpful and insightful!
Alex Ferris on August 01, 2016:
OK, here is a clarification from my research conducted as this intrigued me. The term mutt is indicative of inferior dogs, I would never ever suggest use of that term as it would offend many owners of mutts, (bless their hearts, these dogs make great companions, why give them such as awful label?!)
The term mixed breed is also incorrect because it implies a dog that was the result of an accidental breeding, and is of unknown ancestry.
Hybrid is the needed term here as it implies intentional breeding of purebred dogs something that mutts and mixed breeds are NOT.
Crossbred may be OKish, but it is also inaccurate as my references says "Hybrids are also known as crossbreeds or crossbreds, although the term crossbreed is also used to refer to a mixed-breed dog where the breed of only one parent or grandparent is known." So again, nope, sorry to say, crossbred won't fit either, so ladies and gentlemen, hybrid is the winner word here, like it or not, it's the correct term.
Anyhow, regardless of terminology (who gives a dam about nit-picky semantics anyway!), the point of this article comes loud and clear: buyer beware! I fell into the trap once and never again after spending tons of $$$ on the costly dog.
Kelly17 on August 01, 2016:
To all those complaining about the term hybrid, it is totally correct. To that person saying that it's not good to use the scientific term as it validates these unethical breeders, consider that it's needed so to debunk the "hybrid vigor" advantage that so many breeders claim of.
Craigmers on August 01, 2016:
An awesome read, sharing it around. People need to be more aware of this, thanks!
Steven on August 01, 2016:
I think the term hybrid is totally correct and have no problem with that. I was foolish enough to get one and back then these were called "designer dogs."
Kim on August 01, 2016:
It's totally impossible to make everybody happy! If the author would have mentioned mutt or crossbred, then there would be oodles of people complaining about those terms. There's nothing wrong about hybrids, and those who ever studied plants or basic breeding know about F1 and F2 hybrids. Just as simple as that! This article is carrying an important message, and that's all that counts, buyer beware!
C Lynn Kiaer on August 01, 2016:
Language defines the argument. By using a scientific word like hybrid, you create a subtext that the breeding of these dogs has some scientific validity. You go on to suggest that some of these breedings might turn into registered breeds, which further validates these breedings. Call them cross-breds: that is what they are. Call them mutts. Acknowledge that the breeders of these cross-bred dogs typically have less than stellar examples of the purebred parents, because the good ones, carefully bred by serious breeders, most of whom have devoted years of their lives to breeding healthy, temperamentally sound, correct dogs of their chosen breed, and are not likely to sell their best quality dogs (or any dog, really) to someone who wants to use that dog to produce mutts. Your article implies that these cross-bred dogs, while pricey, cost less than a well-bred purebred. Some breeds - often large breeds who require that the breeder have more resources (land to exercise the dogs, food, etc.) - may be more expensive than the so-called designer dogs, but many well-bred purebreds typically cost $1000 or less, while most something-doodles are at least $1500 in the northeast. Yes, there are responsible breeders of cross-bred dogs - some of whom are really trying to gain acceptance for a new breed. But this article implies that such breeders could be found just by asking a few questions. Responsible breeders of purebreds can be found at dog shows (look at the web sites of the organizations holding dog shows to find one near you - the AKC and UKC in the US, the CKC in Canada, the Kennel Club in the UK, the FCI in many other countries - to find one. They can also be found (or at least, you can ask to competitors with dogs you like who bred their dog) at agility trials, obedience and rally trials, dock diving events, ... Many of those events (pretty much all except dog shows) also allow cross-bred dogs to compete. The tone of this post is that you can get an adorable hybrid dog who is happy and healthy if you just ask the right questions. It takes a little more than that, and you will be looking for a long time before you get the right answers.
Bonnie on July 31, 2016:
The few mentions of cost of these deliberate mutts is way off.
I have bred and exhibited purebred dogs for 40+ years and I have had some really good ones that won a lot.
Nevertheless, I have never asked $2-3,000 for a puppy! In fact, I have GIVEN away more puppies than sold just because I knew that the home was excellent.
A mature dog, with a good pedigree and a winning record may be in the thousands of dollars, if one would even sell such a dog. But a puppy? You have little idea what that puppy will turn out to be as far as showing goes. And for someone wanting a pet? Thousands of dollars? No way. Good homes are far more important than gouging people who are great homes.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 30, 2016:
Katb, those are called interspecific hybrids. Here we are talking about a different type of hybrids, In biology, hybrid has two meanings. According to Science Direct, "The first meaning is the result of interbreeding between two animals or plants of different taxa ( interspecific hybrids or crosses) The second meaning of "hybrid" is crosses between populations, breeds or cultivars of a single species."(intraspecific)
Katb on July 29, 2016:
Please re-write this article using correct terms.
Hybrid= offspring of two different species, ie a liger, lion and tiger hybrid.
Mutt=offspring of two dogs of different breeds.
t-inam on July 29, 2016:
no such thing as "good" breeders, or "bad" breeders - except in the sense , are they producing a viable being, yes, no. This is breeder competition propaganda. Everyone who breeds dogs will be producing dogs which are below par : each litter will have its runts and problem dogs - some problems, physical ones, will be immediately apparent, some will be inherited health problems, some will be temperament problems. Very few breeders can (or wish) to offload problem dogs to remain in the breeding pool as competition, therefore they will have the surplus and problem dogs destroyed :Rubbishing the competition by claiming they are less "caring", or "ineffectual", or even "cruel" keeps competition down.
Breeders have a business to run and a profit to make (I personally wouldn't do it) but if you want a dog, and you specifically want a good chance of getting a dog that suits you, then breeders are a necessary evil and you have to accept that there will be a large proportionofdogsdestroyed
Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on August 01, 2015:
Our dog Barney us a purebred Cairn Terrier. We don't have the papers to prove it aa he was uplifted as a pup wheb really young from a breeder who was getting too old and the SPCA had to step in.
Before that we had whatever mutt was in need of a home. We love Barney and he's got real character but truth is there's no difference between the "Mutt" and the purebred healthwise!
Really enjoyed the hub and next time tge wife asks for a labradoodle I know where to come for an argument against it!
I find it interesting that both the Golden retriever and the Poodle are working dogs by nature. They just don't (shouldn't) be the silly things we want to make them. Its not fair on the dog or the owner!
Chantelle Porter from Ann Arbor on July 21, 2015:
I think most doodles are so cute. However it seems everyone is on the bandwagon to mix with poodles and make a fast buck. These aren't handbags they are animals and more care needs to be taken by breeders and consumers to ensure the health of pets. The dogs shouldn't have to suffer.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 20, 2015:
Dressage husband, I feel for the breeder who now feels bad these dogs took a turn for the worst due to mass production and bad breeding practices.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 20, 2015:
Thanks for stopping by Bob, your insights are always appreciated, thanks for the votes up.
Stephen J Parkin from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada on July 18, 2015:
I think everything said here is true. While some of the positive traits may get transmitted the Goldendoodles are often quite obnoxious in their behavior.
Bob Bamberg on July 18, 2015:
Interesting and helpful hub, Adrienne. In my daily dealings with pet owners I talk with a lot of "designer dog" owners. It seems that most of them talk about their dogs with a certain degree of reverence, as if it was something special. When designer dogs first started cropping up here in my neck of the woods, I heard a vet tell one of her techs, "Yeah, the shelters are full of designer dogs," implying that they were just what most people call mutts.
Breeders, as a group, have lost a lot of credibility with vets, and this phenomenon is apparently one of the reasons. For breeders, there is no licensure, minimum competency standards, continuing education credits, or other checks and balances. Anyone with a pregnant dog can call themselves a breeder and be bound only by current state and local laws and ordinances. Caveat emptor. Voted up, useful and interesting.