Over recent years, there’s been an increase in people breeding crossbreed puppies, often to try to combine the best traits of different dogs. But this isn’t always as straightforward as it may seem, and it’s often difficult to predict what the puppies will look like or what their temperament will be, especially when mating two very different breeds. If you’re thinking about producing crossbred puppies, then it’s important that you consider it very carefully, think about all the associated risks and ensure that you are breeding responsibly and for the right reasons.
Can dogs from different breeds mate?
Although there’s a big difference in how dogs look and behave, they all belong to the same species, which means that, in theory at least, all dog types can naturally breed. If you are new to dog breeding and are thinking of breeding two different breeds together, you should consider seeking out experienced breeders for advice on how to breed responsibly. As with all types of breeding, your priority should always be the health and welfare of the puppies you produce and the dogs you use for breeding.
Different ways to produce puppies from more than one breed
What is a crossbred dog?
A crossbred dog usually comes from parents that are from two distinctive breeds, or from several generations of dogs that were originally made up from two breeds. Crossbreeds often have a mix of their parent’s traits and characteristics, so it's important to think about how this mix could affect the puppies. Some popular crossbreeds have nicknames that combine the names of their parents’ breeds, such as ‘Labradoodle’ (Labrador Retriever and Poodle) or ‘Cockerpoo’ (Cocker Spaniel and Poodle). Crossbreeds with these nicknames are often referred to as ‘designer dogs.
What does F1, F1b and F2 mean?
The ‘F’ in F1, F1b and F2 stands for ‘filial’, which means the offspring of a cross. If two separate breeds are bred, such as a Pug and a Jack Russell, then the puppies are known as an F1 cross. If two F1 dogs are bred together, their puppies are known as an F2 cross. If an F1 puppy is bred to a dog that belongs to one of the original founding breeds, then the puppies are known as an F1b cross. The ‘b’ stands for ‘backcross’. There may be different reasons to produce an F1, F1b or F2 puppy, including balance of genetic diversity and predictability of looks and temperament.
What is a mixed-breed dog?
Mixed-bred dogs don’t usually have a pedigree or a known family tree and are either made up of three or more breeds, or they may come from parents whose breed combinations are unknown. Not knowing which breed combinations make up a dog can make it very difficult to predict how the puppies will look, their temperament, and if they will be at risk of health problems.
What is an inter-variety mating?
This is the breeding of dogs from two varieties of a breed. Examples include mating a Toy Poodle with a Miniature Poodle or a Long-Coated Chihuahua with a Smooth Coated Chihuahua. These dogs are usually bred together to improve genetic diversity while keeping the predictability of the look and temperament of the puppies.
Crossbreeds often display a mixture of their parents' traits, so it's important to consider this if you’re thinking about breeding crossbred puppies. This mix of traits can combine in lots of different ways, making it difficult to predict how the puppies will look and behave. Knowing the mix of breeds might tell you more about what your dog might be like physically and in terms of their temperament, but it’s very much dependent on how their mother and father’s DNA randomly combine.
Factors that can vary include:
- Temperament – although a dog’s character is influenced by socialisation and training, their breed plays an important role too. Choosing two breeds that behave very differently could give you a spectrum of temperaments and may make it more challenging to train them.
- Size – choosing two dogs of similar size is likely to lead to puppies that grow up to be roughly the same size as their parents. Choosing two wildly different breeds can make it difficult to know how big the puppies will be, both when they’re born and when they grow up.
- Look – when you combine the genes from two very different-looking dogs, it’s impossible to know how they’ll combine or what each puppy in the litter will look like (they could all be very different).
- Coat – depending on the breeds used for mating, the texture and colour of a puppy’s coat can be difficult to predict. A mixture of two very different coats, such as a Standard Poodle’s coat and a Labrador Retriever’s coat, may not give you puppies with one of the other but may produce a coat that’s a hybrid of the two and requires extensive grooming.
Are crossbreed dogs always healthier?
All dogs, like people, are at risk of inheriting diseases. Some health conditions may be more common in some dogs than others. This could be as a result of the way they look, inbreeding or because of the types of genes they’ve inherited. In general, puppies that are produced from two unrelated parents tend to be healthier, but this very much depends on the health and genetics of the parents. For example, mating dogs from two different flat-faced breeds, e.g., a Pug and a Bulldog, could still produce puppies that are predisposed to health issues related to the shape of their head (e.g., breathing problems, eye conditions etc.) or mating two different breeds that both have issues with hip dysplasia (e.g., a Labrador Retriever and a Standard Poodle) could still produce puppies that suffer from joint problems.
Mating and whelping issues to consider
Mating two breeds that are very different sizes can lead to problems when giving birth, especially if the stud dog (male dog) is much larger than the bitch (female), or he’s from a breed that has, for example, a particularly large head. If the female struggles to give birth, it can cause whelping complications and may require a c-section. Mating problems can also occur if the male is significantly larger than the female.
Do I need to use health tests and screening schemes?
Yes. Regardless of what type of dog you’re breeding, the health and welfare of your puppies should always be your top priority. It’s important that you use appropriate ‘breed’ specific health screening schemes and DNA tests to help reduce the risk of your puppies being affected by a number of inherited health conditions. For some breed crosses, crossing two pedigree dogs may make it less likely that certain inherited conditions will be passed on to their litter of puppies. However, for many breeds, especially for complex conditions like hip or elbow dysplasia, the same faulty genes are involved, which is why it is important to screen any dogs used for breeding. So, for example, if you’re thinking of breeding a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Standard Poodle, you should consider carrying out all of the tests for both breeds, e.g., BVA/KC Hip and Elbow Dysplasia Schemes, BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme, DNA tests and breed club recommendations.
Find out which health tests and screening schemes we recommend for each breed in our Breeds A-Z.
Is inbreeding an issue for crossbred dogs?
It’s essential to consider inbreeding when breeding any kind of dog. Pedigree dog breeders continue to work hard to increase the genetic diversity of the breeds because they know this is important to reduce the risks associated with inbreeding and to conserve the breeds for the future. If you’re breeding crossbreed dogs, it is just as important to work hard to not breed dogs that are closely related. Inbreeding may not be an issue when breeding dogs from two different breeds, such as a Cocker Spaniel and a Miniature Poodle, but will be an important consideration if mating two ‘Cockerpoo’ crossbred dogs together. We have lots of information and data on pedigree dogs, but, unfortunately, these data are not available for crossbreed dogs; therefore, it is vital that you keep your own mating records to help you avoid using closely related dogs for breeding.
Can I register my crossbreed or mixed breed puppies with The Kennel Club?
We’ve registered crossbreed and mixed breed dogs for many years. More recently, the registration of these dogs has been restricted to our Activity Register. The Activity Register is open to all dogs that are not eligible for registration on our Breed Register. This registration will also allow you to enter a range of licensed Kennel Club events, such as Agility etc. The dog must be registered in the owner's name to be able to take part in these activities.