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Dog Hybrids and Crossbreeds

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A dog hybrid is a cross between two purebred dogs of different breeds (selectively bred varieties). 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. A dog of unknown parentage is called a mongrel.

In biology, the word hybrid refers specifically to a cross between two different species e.g. the dog and coyote. In less technical conversation and particularly in the dog world, the word refers to selective crosses and their progeny, even if outcrossed to other breeds. For example, the Queensland Wild Dog Management Strategy, September 2002, states that hybrid will also refer to the descendants of crossbred progeny.

Some dog hybrids are now being selectively bred. The term designer dogs has been coined to refer to these crosses. The practice causes much controversy; opponents cite the often exorbitant prices charged for these puppies, the 'impulse buy' nature of such purchases (which leads to a high abandonment rate), the unpredictability of temperament or type and the lack of pedigree history, particularly any defective genes or genetic illnesses in the breeding lines.

Proponents argue that supply follows demand, and point out that there are bona fide reasons for the breeding of some of these crosses, notably to provide pets for people with allergies.

Among the better known dog hybrids are Labradoodles and Australian Bulldogs, which each have their own breed fancy associations. Poodle crosses are also popular.

Dog hybrids are not recognized by the main registries. They should not be confused with independent breeds, which are also not recognized. The difference lies in the longevity of the breed, the numbers of breeders and the existence of a legitimate breed club, the number of specimens of the breed past a certain number of generations, whether or not it breeds true to type, for how long a breed registry has been maintained, and the reason for the non-recognition. Often independent breed clubs oppose recognition, for reasons which usually concern maintaining independent control of the qualities of their chosen breed.

Casual crossbreeds

With the long-time popularity of the "breed" name cockapoo, used since at least 1970 and constructed by combining elements of its two contributing breeds (Cocker Spaniel/Poodle), it has become extremely common to find mixed-breed dogs named with breed names invented in the same way. The tendency for using such names in a jocular way dates back at least to Queen Elizabeth's Dorgis (Dachshund/Corgi). However, extremely few of these become mainstream "breeds" over long periods with determined breeders, and, as of 2004, cockapoo is still the only such combined name to make it into the dictionary. None-the-less, names such as these commonly appear in for-sale ads.

Among these:


  • Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed., 2004

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