New breeds in “fashion”

In this day and age as a vet it never ceases to amaze what combinations of dog breeds are mated with the resulting very adorable puppies. The names of which vary from “jack-doodle” (jack russell x poodle), “puggles” (pug x beagle), “chug” (chihuahua x pug) – the list goes on. However are these the best crosses to be taking on as a pet? Should cost come into it with crossbreeds – how much is too much? What health issues are we seeing? Are these breeds being combined for the financial gain rather than what is in the best interest for the dog?

What has happened to dog breeding?

This is a complete mine field where owners often pay thousands of pounds for what 15 years ago would have been classed as a cross breed. Going back to the origins of domestication of the dog, every breed has descended from wolves, the basic genes are all the same but sizes and shapes are so different. Technically aren’t all “pure” breeds a “cross” breed?

Don’t get us wrong pure breeds have their own issues in this day and age, whether that is because the gene pool has reduced in size and the concern is more in breeding. For example a few years ago, in 2016, when the German Shepherd breed won best of breed award. If you ask any vets about the conformation of this particular dog we all were shocked this won at the Crufts level, promoting awful conformation and a sloped back. The dog had such a sloped back and bent hind limbs a long way from 20 years ago the conformation which would have been expected.

Similarly the last few years has seen a rise in flat nosed (brachycephalic) breeds such as the French Bulldog, English Bulldog, and pugs. Social media has accelerated these breeds into the limelight with many celebrity owners. The problem comes with breeding for the flatter nose which causes multiple breathing issues, many of which can cause life threatening emergencies when these dogs fail to cope with hot summer days.

So are crossbreeds helping to reduce the health problems we see in pure breeds? To a degree – yes. However breeders are charging a lot of money for crossbreeds sometimes beyond a pure bred dog would cost. As vets our advice whether a pure bred or cross breed dog always ask to see the parents of the puppy, ask if there has been any health scoring or genetic testing performed (not vital). Get a feel for the breeders and how the dog has been brought up. If it doesn’t feel right then it is ok to walk away.

Take time to consider what breed of dog is right for you? Both the size and the exercise requirements. Also do your research into the likely health problems the breeds can suffer from and always consider insurance.