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A "designer dog" is a relatively recent term, often used to describe a selectively cross-bred dog from purebred parents. Some dislike the term "designer dog," and argue that it's no different than any other mixed breed. However, a so-called designer dog is often priced as high, if not higher than, a purebred dog. The cost for a designer dog can be as much as $2,500 US Dollars.
The most popular type of designer dog is the Labradoodle, a cross between a Labrador retriever and a Poodle. The first Labradoodle was bred in Australia in the 1970s, when a guide dog service requested a breed of dog that would not cause allergy problems. The solution was to cross a Labrador — the standard breed for a guide dog, due to its high intelligence and obedience — with a Poodle, which is known for being a hypoallergenic breed. Though the Labradoodle has increased substantially in popularity, it is not currently recognized as an official breed by the American Kennel Club.
There are many other types of designer dog, including the Puggle — a cross between a Beagle and a Pug, and the Cockapoo — a Cocker Spaniel - Poodle mix. Many people believe that, by crossing two purebred dogs, you can eliminate health problems specific to the breeds, and the offspring will carry the best features of each breed. Skeptics believe that this is not the case, however; because designer dogs are not official breeds, their disposition and qualities are always unknown, and may vary greatly even among the same litter.
The designer dog trend has taken off in the United States, with celebrities including Jessica Simpson, Tiger Woods, and Sylvester Stallone paying thousands of dollars for mixed breed dogs. However, if you are interested in a so-called "designer dog," there's a better way to get one than by paying a fortune to a breeder. Instead, why not stop by your local animal shelter? You'll find tons of mixed breed dogs there, and any one of them would be grateful to go home with you.
Honestly, what is the real difference between a "designer dog" and a plain old mutt? Perhaps the difference is one of perception -- mutts are inexpensive or free whereas people charge a lot of money for "designer dogs."