Is a Morkie a designer dog?
The Morkie is often called a hybrid or designer dog. These cross-breeds or hybrid dogs as they’re called, are all the rage – in fact they’re often advertised as designer dogs and can cost more than the foundation or parent breeds.
So what’s the difference between today’s designer dog and yesterday’s mutt or mongrel?
Today’s designer dog is the planned combination of two purebred dogs. Popular crosses (such as Cockapoos) are intentional and done by design — in this example, the Cocker Spaniel and Poodle mix.
The mutt or mongrel on the other hand, generally has unknown origins and so the mix of breeds is uncertain.
Why combine two different dog breeds?
Every single breed has its pros and cons – Golden Retrievers for example, are possibly the very best dogs for children, but that hair!! Hair, hair everywhere!
When we had ours, it was like tumbleweed, drifting across the hardwood floors, no matter how often you swiffered!
So by combining this gorgeous breed with the non-shedding, hypo-allergenic poodle, the hope is you’ll get a lovely dog with all the great characteristics and temperament of the Golden – that doesn’t shed (and Poodles have great qualities too).
It doesn’t always work out that way
Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate. In my example above, you could end up with a rather high strung dog (from the Poodle side) who sheds a ton (from the Golden side) … However, by consistently breeding two different dogs – Yorkies and Maltese in the case of Morkies – and then cross breeding that second generation, chances are the characteristics people want will “stick.”
Another reason dogs like Morkies are popular
Today, it’s all about me! Consumers want a unique experience, a fully customizable car, a special perfume blended just for them, or a one-of-a-kind wedding dress.
In the university journal, Psychology & Marketing, this phenomenon is called the search for individual differences in unique consumer products.
And it certainly describes the trend to want a one-of-a-kind animal companion, versus a perfect specimen of a specific breed, which other people can also have.
Are dogs like Morkies really hybrids?
In a word, no. That’s because by definition, a hybrid is the crossing of two different species – a donkey and a horse for example are two different species and when they’re bred the result is the hybrid known as a mule.
All dogs on the other hand, originated from a single species, the grey wolf.
Over centuries, differences have been selectively bred, so that dogs have become priceless working companions to man. Just think of the value of herding dogs, or dogs who could carry or pull big loads.
From that one grey wolf species, there are about 400 variations today, in an amazing array of sizes, shapes and colours.
Are cross-breeds like Morkies more hardy?
The theory goes that the gene pool is “deeper” when two different breeds are combined, so there’s ‘hybrid vigor’ at play making the offspring stronger.
But unfortunately, this theory doesn’t hold water scientifically, again because all dogs are the same species. So there are no ‘new genes’ coming into the equation – they are all dogs, or Canis lupus familiaris to use the formal term.
And sometimes, two breeds that are combined will be prone to common hereditary illnesses, so chances of that particular problem can actually increase. (Both Yorkshire Terriers and Maltese dogs for example, are prone to a condition called patellar luxation or floating kneecaps, where the kneecap literally slips out of its groove in the legbone, causing pain and lameness. So this is a condition to be watchful for if you have a Yorkie, Morkie or Maltese.)
A purebred dog is bred to be as close as possible to its breed standards, in appearance, temperament and everything else. Generations and generations of selective breeding result in a consistent ‘product’ – the pure breed.
A designer or cross-breed dog, on the other hand, is the mixture of two different purebreeds, chosen specifically for their unique characteristics. Over time, these offspring are selectively bred to one another, so that eventually a new breed forms once the results are consistent from one generation to the next..
A mutt or mongrel is the happy combination of two dogs, often not purebreds, and sometimes the father’s parentage isn’t even known.
But at the end of the day, they’re all dogs and they all have the potential to be wonderful lifetime companions.
More about cross-breeds
- Dogbreedinfo.com – a comprehensive site on dogs
- Wikipedia on Dog Cross-Breeds
- Hybrid dog information on dogster.com
- “What the heck are designer dogs?”