Morkies. Cockapoos. Chiweenies. These dogs may not have serious names, but they’re a serious business. Known as ‘hybrid’ or ‘designer’ dogs, these canines are bred with a purpose – to optimize the best qualities of each parent.
Unlike some mixed breeds, designer dogs are generally born from two purebred parents. Depending on the qualities of the offspring, one puppy can be like having two dogs in one. Labradoodles, for instance, were first bred from labradors (which are common guide dogs) and poodles (with a low-shed coat) to be hypoallergenic service dogs. Puggles – a cross between a pug and a beagle – usually have a muzzle of a beagle, which can eliminate breathing problems often associated with the short-nosed pug.
Not all hybrids are desirable. Designer-dog critics says genetic experimentations are exacerbating the problem of puppy mills. For instance, when a puggle inherits a short snout from a pug and the hunting instincts from the beagle, it may not have a respiratory system that’s equipped to handle all the exercise it needs. These unwanted dogs often end up in shelters.
Despite the controversy, designer breeds have made a mark on the $60 billion pet market by commanding high prices that often exceed their purebred counterparts. And so long as the market continues to demand them, cavachons, pekeapoos and schnoodles are here to stay.