Designer Breeds

Cross breeds have started to become common as 'designer dogs'.  In the 1980's a labrador was crossed with a poodle in an attempt to produce a guide dog which was non shedding, and therefore suitable for people with allergies.  But no one wanted a 'mongrel', as a guide dog, and so the breeder coined the term 'Labradoodle' to give this new cross breed some credibility.  The original breeder has now come to regret his actions, as it has resulted in people breeding any two dogs together to create a new 'breed', hence we have Cockerpoos, (cocker spaniel cross with a poodle), Schnoodles (schnauzer and poodle cross) and Puggle (pug and beagle) etc etc etc. 

There is a myth that mongrels have fewer health problems than pure breds, but unless it's a particular weakness in the breed, they are just as susceptible to normal dog dieases and problems as a pedigree dog.  And with the designer crosses the resulting puppies may inherit the genetic health problems of both parents.  There are a very few good breeders of designer cross breeds who do relevant health testing, but the majority of these puppies are a result of people seeing an opportunity for money, and breeding their pet with another's with no regard (or knowledge of) health testing.  These designer puppies sell sometimes for a lot more than their pedigree parents, and are often named 'rare' or 'unusual'. 

Please think very carefully before buying a designer puppy.  If your heart is set on a Cockerpoo, for example, be prepared to search around as much as you would for a pedigree dog to try and find the right breeder who understands the health problems in both parents, and has carried out the appropriate testing on both parents. 

You might end up with a healthy designer puppy, but it's a sad fact you're more likely to end up with one that either spends most of its unhealthy life running up vet bills, or that dies within weeks or months of you bringing it home.

You also cannot predict what a designer puppy will look like as an adult as the original breeder of the Labradoodle found.  It is as likely to look like one parent as a mixture of the two.  So you might buy a Cockerpoo, and end up with a Cocker Spaniel.  And as with looks, the same goes for behaviour.  It's a lottery.

Benefits of Pedigree Dogs

The benefit of a pedigree dog is a long history of breeding in traits which are characteristic of that breed.   There are many books and website articles that talk about breeds which are suitable for families with children, best suited to living with adults, which need lots of daily exercise and which are content to be lap dogs.  The Kennel Club of Great Britain classifies dogs into xx groups.  To narrow your search itís useful to consider what the breed was originally bred for.  Although it may have been many generations since hunting or herding dogs were used for their original purpose, the instinct to chase or gather up is still extremely strong. 

The type of dog you end up with will in part be a personal decision.  You may be influenced by a breed you grew up with, or a breed that appeals to you.  You might like a particular colour, or may have a fancy for a large dog or small.  What suits one person might not suit another.
Perhaps you had a certain type of dog in childhood, or have been influenced by dogs owned by friends.  Most of us will use a prior good experience as a basis for our choice of breed. When considering what type of dog will fit into your family you should consider a number of factors first. 

All dogs have different requirements in the amount they eat, the exercise they need, and the human environment they are best fitted to.  One thing for certain is that in this case SIZE MATTERS.  Here are some things to think about:

Many things influence our choice of four legged companions.  

Choosing What Breed or Type of Puppy to Have

Pedigree or Crossbreed?


The size that the puppy will grow is important to most people.  A cocker spaniel, for example, can be taken for walks by older children, but a Great Dane weighing in at 10 stone can be a problem to handle for a full grown man! 

Having had a Great Dane I know at first hand how small a house can seem with a large breed dog in it.  Large dogs are clumsy - they just cannot help it.  Anything within reach of that large swiping tail will be knocked off the shelf and broken.  Unless you live in a large house with plenty of space then a smaller dog might be best for you.

The look of the breed

Some dogs appeal more to some people that others.  However, apart from just the asthetics, it can be quite difficult keeping some dogs looking their best.  A short haired dog like a Boxer doesn't need a lot of grooming, but on the other extreme, an Afghan Hound will need a lot of attention every day it keep its coat looking good.  Some dogs shed, others don't, or only moderately.  Some dogs with feathers on their legs and feet can trample in a lot of mud. 

Although you might have the image of the 'Dulux' dog in your mind, could you really cope with the reality of muddy wet fur and the time you'll need to spend to keep it clean and it's coat from getting matted?   In the end most owners, unless their dogs are show dogs, opt for practicality and have fluffy dogs clipped each year which is also kinder to the dogs so they do not overheat in summer.  But this does mean that your dog may not look the image of the breed you originally had in mind when you first brought it home.

Breed Types

The Kennel Club of Great Britain classifies the breeds of dogs into 7 groupings.  Each group were bred for specific reasons, and their character and behaviour will reflect the original reason for those traits being bred in. 

The type of breed will affect the amount of time you need to invest it in by way of exercise and grooming, how much it will cost to feed and how easily it will fit into your household. 

Some of the factors to be taken into consideration are listed below.

Dogs need the right amount of exercise for their breed.  If they are not given sufficient time each day to get rid of their energy in the park or across fields, they are likely to become destructive and unmanageable in the house.  Exercise keeps both you and your dog fit.

Some dogs do not need as much exercise as others.  Be honest about how much time you can spare each day, and your inclination towards walks in the cold, dark and wet before deciding on the type of breed you can honestly care for.

The size of the dog does not necessarily reflect the purchase price.  Dogs currently in vogue will cost more that less popular breeds.  But as far as upkeep goes, big dogs come with big bills.  The larger the dog the more they eat.  Each time you take a large breed dog to the vet it will cost you more that a small breed as they will need more of everything. 

Kennel Club Classifications


Examples in this group are Afghan Hounds, Basset Hounds, Beagle, Greyhound and Irish Wolfhound.  Originally hounds were bred for hunting.  Most are therefore energetic and need a lot of exercise.  They also tend to be large dogs.


This group includes Spaniels, Setters, Retrievers, Pointers and Weimeraners.  They are also hunting dogs, but were bred to hunt with guns and are mainly used to hunt birds.  Sometimes their name describes the activities they were bred to do.  Setters set the game by sitting where the birds are, Retrievers retrieve the birds, and Pointers point where the game is.  These dogs are used to working with their masters all day, and hence are active dogs with high exercise needs.


Most of this group have the name terrier in the title and includes Jack Russell terriers.  Originally they were bred to hunt vermin.  Terriers tend to be a smaller group of dogs.  They are active dogs but the length of walks needed are not quite so long as the larger breeds.

Working Dogs

Careful consideration and thought must be given before taking some of these dogs in the working group as pets as they tend to grow very large.  Boxers, Great Danes, Bull Mastiff, Doberman, Rottweiler and St Bernards are within this group. 

Pastoral Dogs 

These are the herding dogs which have been bred to work with cattle and sheep.  The group includes Sheepdogs, Collies and Corgis.  These dogs were breed to run and work all day, and normally need a lot of exercise.

Toy Dogs

The original toy dogs were bred as lapdogs but nowadays the group also includes dogs which have been bred down in size.  Firstly it was a sign of affluence to be able to afford a dog which did not need to work, and secondly they were carried close to  so the fleas would go on them instead of the owner!  Examples of toy dogs are Chihuahuas, King Charles Spaniels, and Yorkshire Terriers.
Airedale Puppy
Jack Russell Terrier
Utility Dogs

This is a group of dogs who either do not fit into the other groups, or the purpose for which they were bred no longer exists.  For example, we no longer need Dalmatians to run alongside horse drawn carriages.  Poodles, Lhasa Apso, Schnauzers and Bulldogs are examples of utility dogs. 
Jack Russell
Airedale Puppy
There are a lot of reasons why it's good to buy a pedigree dog.  Some dogs are known not to enjoy the company of boisterous children, others are know to be ideal family pets.  If you are buying a pedigree puppy then youíll know the breed traits and will be able to pick the type of dog which will fit well with your circumstances whether you live alone, or in a family. 

Cross bred dogs are often the result of accidental breeding, and youíll be able to know the breed of each of the parents.  The true mongrel, or Heinz 57 as they used to be known, is where the ancestry can only be guessed at although parts may remind you of one type or another.  With a cross bred or mongrel you can only have a rough idea from looking at the parents of what size the pup will grow, and what itís temperament may be like.  That said, these dogs can be extremely attractive and make very loving family pets.  My first dog as a child was of completely indeterminate breeding (although spaniel and Labrador were in there somewhere) and he remains one of the most attractive dogs Iíve ever seen, with a fantastic personality.  The best guide to what kind of dog your pup might grow into is the knowledge of the breeder.  IMPORTANT NOTE:  Never buy a pup when you cannot see the mother.

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What is your budget?  Not just for the initial purchase, but what size of dog can you afford to feed and pay vet bills for?

How large is your home?  Have you got a good size garden?

Be honest about how much walking do you want to do, or will be able to do.

Do you have children whoíll want to take it for walks?  If so, a smaller breed will be easier for them to handle (young children should not walk any size of dog alone).

The decision should be made carefully, as you'll be living with the result for up to fifteen years. is produced by Trish Haill Associates Ltd Copyright 2014
Pages you might like to look at next:

Where to buy a puppy (and where not to!)
STAND! A Complete Guide to Showing your Dog from Companion to Champion A fantastic new book that takes you through everything you need to know about dog showing, from training your puppy to showing at Crufts and even abroad!  Available in paperback or for Kindle.