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Should you get a Designer Dog?

Three Purebreds make Designer Dogs
Three Purebreds make Designer Dogs
Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images

What is a designer or hybrid dog?

One Part of the favorite Designer Dog
Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images

The past few years it has become apparent that many purebred dogs can successfully be bred with other purebreds to create what is called a Designer or Hybrid dog.

The term hybrid is defined in the dictionary as "an offspring of two animals or plants of different races, breeds, varieties, species, or genera." The Designer dog is the result of controlled cross-breeding between two purebred dogs.

When reviewing the number of Designer Dogs available for purchase, you will find the list astronomical. The Designer Dog has become so popular the choices are numerous and cross breeding has grown to encompass as much as 1000 different types.

What are the Concerns?

When considering a crossbreed dog you will need to review not just one breed’s genetic disposition but two breeds. If a dog is a cross between two purebred dogs, it will have the genetic disposition of either breed or both breeds.

For example, the Cavachon is absolutely adorable but although it will inherent the hypoallergenic qualities of the Bichon it may also inherent their tendency to be difficult to train. They may have the heart problems which can be inherent in the Cavalier King Charles purebred. And the list goes on.

The common health problems conducive to smaller breed dogs such as progressive retinal apathy, patellar-luxation, hypoglycemia and collapsed trachea will still exist in the smaller designer dogs.

What determines their description or name?

The dogs are usually classified with a name that contains both breeds. For example: the Labradoodle, the Goldendoodle, the Cavapoo or Cavachon. These are the most common ones but many more exist.

Hybrid groups have put together guidelines for these animals and there is even a registry for them called the American Canine Hybrid Club.

In the small dog arena there are two Designer Dogs worth a peek.

A Shichon is a Shih Tzu / Bichon mix. The breed is also referred to as Teddy Bear or Zuchon. They are playful and fun much like a Shih Tzu but have all the enduring qualities of gentleness and sweetness of a Bichon that make them the ideal lap dog. An extra bonus is that they are considered hypoallergenic and owners testify that they are loving and easy to train.

A Shorkie is a cross between a Shih Tzu / Yorkshire Terrier. As both breeds of dog have a high demand, the cultivation of the Shorkie is widespread.

The dog will have the stubborn willful traits of the Yorkie and the poor teeth of the Shih Tzu but will have all the playfulness of both breeds.

Although the Shorkie is currently in its developmental stages, the goal of breeders is to get the Shorkie accepted as a purebred of its own by breeding first generation Shorkies. It will take at least seven generations of stringent breeding for this dog to potentially be recognized by the prestigious breed registries.

Examine the three breeds

Shih Tzu: The Shih Tzu is believed to be a cross between the Lhasa Apso or Tibetan mountain dog and Pekinese. It was the house pet for most of the Ming Dynasty and was discovered by soldiers in England during World War II. The Shih Tzu is sweet and playful but also will stand up for itself if pushed. It ranges in size from 9 to 16 pounds ideally, and can be as much as 20 pounds on occasion.

The Yorkshire-Terrier: This tiny dog is known as the portable pooch because of its small size of four to seven pounds and in rare cases the top weight being 15 pounds. The Yorkie has all the characteristics of the terrier breed making him active and energetic with a strong will. The Yorkie is known as a big personality in a small package. Their long lustrous coats were originally used by the weavers in Europe’s working class society. Eventually the tiny dog became a companion animal to families of European high society. The Yorkshire Terrier is ranked the number one most popular dog by the American Kennel Club.

Bichon Frise: This cheerful little white dog descended from the Barbet or Water-Spaniel, from which came the name "Barbichon", later contracted to Bichon. They were once favorites of Italian Nobility and Spanish painters.

The Bichon is a great companion animal and is considered hypoallergenic for allergy sufferers. It is gentle with children but sometimes difficult to train. Used as a circus dog for many years because of its agility, the Bichon has since became a companion dog. The Bichon ranges in size but average is between 15 - 20 pounds.

Should be noted:

A Yorkshire Terrier and a Shih Tzu fall into the Toy Breed Category of the American Kennel Club, whereas the Bichon falls in the Non-sporting Group because of its size potential and pedigree.

The Shorkie will also be small in size like the Yorkie with the top weight being 15 pounds. A Shih Tzu can weigh as much as 20 pounds as can the Bichon. Thus logic would tell us that the Shichon has the greater potential of being the larger dog.

Should you adopt a Designer Dog?

When breeding two different breeds of dog the attributes and qualities may differ from each litter so much so that they become undesirable. This is why there is a great increase in the number of orphaned dogs that were meant to be “designer quality”.

When a desirable outcome is not achieved a homeless pet ensues. When adopting a dog of any bred, be sure you know all the drawbacks as well as the positives. When you choose a dog whether you purchase or adopt, you are their parent for life. Remember you are making a commitment when deciding to add a pet to your family.