DESIGNER PUPPYS: Everything you wanted to know about raising designer or mixed breed dogs,
featuring The BOYZ: Prince Alvin His Cuteness (on left) and Sir Simon The Sad, Cockapoo pups.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

First Steps to Finding a Designer Pup

What designer pup combo best fits your needs?

Designer pup or rescued mix breed?
The biggest difference is that you'll know the background of a designer dog purchased from a reputable breeder. You won't know anything about the background of a rescued dog (unless you know the dog's prior owners). "Mutt" is a four-letter word when you talk about designer dogs.

Got a family and small children?
A small dog may not be the best choice. Some of the smaller hybrid pups will not tolerate children and/or may be injured by a child.

Need to leave a dog home alone all day while you work?
A lot of dog people would ask "Why do you want a dog if you're going to leave him/her alone all day?" But realistically, this is the only way some dog lovers can have a dog. Get a breed that's easily trained so that your living space isn't trashed. And do take time off to train the pup!

Think you may be allergic to dog fur?
Find a designer combo that's likely to be hypoallergenic (for example, a Cockapoo or a Bichon mix). These dogs have hair, not fur.

Live in an apartment? Will the pup need to exercise?
Then get a small designer dog (not more than 10 - 20 pounds as an adult). Also, if the pup will need a lot of exercise, make sure you can find an area where the dog can run - every day. Alvin needs to run frantically in circles to release pent-up puppy energy, so we set up up a big playpen for him in the back yard.

Is maintenance an issue?
Some designer pups require little combing, brushing, and grooming but others require daily maintenance. Alvin (Bichon Cockapoo) needs to be brushed every day, else he resembles Raggedy Andy. Also, it appears he'll need grooming about every six weeks. I may learn how to groom him because it sure is expensive to use a groomer! Here's Alvin before and after grooming:

Can you handle the vet bills?
If a dog comes from a breeder, it's possible he may arrive with internal/external bugs. Make sure you're prepared for the standard vaccinations (Rabies, distemper) as well as monthly heartworm and flea/tick control. Also, some hybrid dogs, like their parents, are subject to health problems.

More about bugs later. Alvin arrived from the breeder with three types of bugs!

Defining a Designer or Hybrid Dog

What's a designer pup?

Here's the recipe for a designer or hybrid pup:

Take two purebred dogs - the most popular combos are Cocker Spaniel and Poodle (Cockapoo), Pug and Beagle (Puggle), and Labrador and Poodle (Labradoodle) - and breed them. The resulting litter has (hopefully) the best characteristics of both breeds, although that's not always the case. The web is full of variations on this recipe - just google "designer dog" or "hybrid dog."

You can see live examples of the three most popular types of designer dogs on YouTube: Designer Dogs on "Mornings with Kerri-Anne," an Aussie program.

A slight variation on the original recipe is a cross between a designer dog and a purebred. Case in point - Alvin the Bichon Cockapoo. Here's his picture at 8 weeks from Note the eyebrows - I wanted to call him Groucho, but that name didn't work for his co-owner.

Alvin is a handsome pup with prominent black eyes and the colors of his parents and grandparents – a white Bichon Frise mother, a Cockapoo father, and black Toy Poodle and buff American cocker grandparents. Also, he’s an easily trainable (house and otherwise) and friendly pup with a stubborn steak. I’m not sure about the stubbornness, but the other traits are inherited.

And oh yeah - he's hypoallergenic, a trait that's absolutely wonderful for people who are allergic to dog fur.

So, that's the definition of a designer dog. More on Alvin and how to find a designer pup in a future post.