What makes a Designer Dog?

While traveling this past week I came across a great article at a news stand in the airport.  It really hit home since hours earlier I dropped off my Tiny Toy Poodle for a week of romping with her beau, Romeo.  She is in her heat cycle and Romeo has sired 2 previous litters of pups for Daisy.  Romeo, however, is a gorgeous Maltese not a Poodle.  The result from their pairings have been a designer breed called Maltipoos.   We have always supported the "F1 only" theory and as such we sell our puppies with a strict guarantee to neuter or spay at 6 months.  When I read the article with the comments by Rury Todhunter from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, I simply had to share it.  I hope you enjoy his input.  Larry Weisman writes and edits for Gannett Custom Media/USA TODAY Specialty Magazines as well as other outlets.

From Pet Guide Spring/Summer Issue
Designing Dogs by Larry Weisman: 

The aim of the process is to reduce undesirable traits.  Common goals:  Less shedding, better temperament, more intelligence and elimination of genetic deficiencies such as eye and heart disorders and hip dysplasia. 

Genetic Split

A designer dog is created through first-generation breeding.  The dog gets half of its chromosomal material from each purebred parent.  Consumers should only purchase designer dogs bred this way, says Rury Todhunter, professor of surgery at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
But if breeders mate designer dogs (the offspring of two purebreds), their puppies can have different genetic combinations, and some of the unwanted characteristics may return, says Todhunter.  Even the 50/50 cross does not guarantee the predominance of positive traits and the absence of "flaws".

Take the Labradoodle, which has a purebred poodle and a purebred Lab as parents and is genetically designated as F1.  "On average, the Labradoodle will look like half of a Labrador and half of a poodle.  On average, you'll have a mixture of the two," Todhunter says, "They'll have a bit of curly coat, they'll have less of an undercoat.  The won't shed quite as much, but they might have hip dysplaysia.  They might still have elbow dysplaysia.  It's not like they're perfect.  It's what we call hybrid vigor.  People breed two purebreds together and you may get less of a problem in the F1s, but you can still get problems."

Steve KotowskeComment