What is a Designer Dog? Everything You Need to Know

A Goldendoodle
A Goldendoodle enjoying the outdoors

There are a million and one different names for specific hybrids and breeds of dogs, and keeping track of all the names can sometimes be confusing. Recently, the term “designer dog” seems to be popping up more and more often. But what exactly is a designer dog in the first place? I had the same question, so I sat down and did a bit of research, and this is what I learned.

A designer dog is a cross between two purebred dogs of different breeds. Purebred dogs have pedigrees that show their ancestors are of the same breed and conform to breed standards. Because purebreds are so predictable in character and appearance, designer dogs are also, so you know what to expect.

Once you dig a little into it, there is a whole world of designer dogs that you might not have known existed. It is fascinating how much thought and effort goes into creating a designer dog with specific qualities and characteristics.

There is a lot to go over, so let’s just get right into the good stuff. Below I will go in-depth into the world of designer dogs, some of the in-demand designer dogs, and answer some of the most common questions that you might have.

What Exactly is a Designer Dog?

Designer dogs aren’t a new concept or thing. They have been around for a long time, but their recent surge in popularity is mostly due to their association with prominent public figures and celebrities.

But to fully understand what designer dogs are and where they come from, you have to go back to the basics.

Kennel clubs, such as the American Kennel Club (AKC), regulate purebred dogs and set standards for each breed. To be considered a purebred dog, they have to be recognized by kennel clubs, have a well-documented pedigree, and conform to specific breed characteristics.

Purebred dogs have very predictable traits because responsible breeders have documented their ancestors, and desired characteristics are passed down from one generation to the next through selective breeding.

When you breed purebred dogs of the same breed, the puppies are very predictable in appearance, temperament, personality, and other possible traits. Naturally, when you mate two purebred dogs from different breeds together, their puppies are also very predictable.

And this is precisely what a designer dog is; a cross between two purebred dogs of different breeds that results in another “designer” dog.

Breeders that specialize in designer dogs have it down almost to an art form at this point. They have to be extremely careful when breeding designer dogs because, naturally, mating between different dog breeds is rare and sometimes dangerous.

There is also a lot of planning that goes into breeding designer dogs. Breeders have to plan out what dogs are good candidates carefully, so the resulting puppies have all of the desirable traits.

Most designer dogs are F1 generations, meaning that they are the direct result of two purebred dogs of different breeds mating. They are half of their father’s breed, and the other half is their mother’s breed.

How are Designer Dogs Different From Hybrids and Mutts?

Now that we have gone over what exactly designer dogs are, the next question that people usually ask is, “how are designer dogs different from mutts or hybrid dogs?” In this section, I’ll explain exactly that.

Put simply, mutts, hybrids, and designer dogs are all mixes between two dog breeds, but with a few key differences.

In the previous sections of this article, I went into great detail regarding what a designer dog is. Just to recap, though, designer dogs are the offspring of two purebred dogs of different breeds.

Mutts, on the other hand, have no documented ancestry and are usually a mix of many different breeds. Without extensive DNA testing, there is no way to know what mix of dog breeds a mutt is.

The main difference between mutts and designer dogs is that designer dog’s parents are documented and purebred. In contrast, a mutt’s parents are usually mutts themselves or at least of an unknown breed.

Now that you know the differences between a mutt and a designer dog let’s look at hybrid dogs. While this might seem a little confusing to some, there is no difference between a hybrid dog and a designer dog or mutt. “Hybrid dog” is just another name for a mixed breed dog, and could refer to either designer dogs or mutts.

According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, the term “hybrid” refers to “an offspring of two animals or plants of different races, breeds, varieties, species, or genera.”

By definition, the term “hybrid dog” can refer to both a mutt dog and a designer dog. To make things just a little more confusing, a “true” hybrid dog would refer to the offspring of a dog that has mated with another species of animals, such as a coyote.

These “true” hybrid dogs are pretty rare and usually don’t make good pets because they are partially wild animals.

What are Designer Dogs Bred for and Why are They So Popular?

cute cavapoo puppy in streets of nyc
Cute Cavapoo Puppy in the Streets of NYC

There are many rationalizations why someone might want a designer dog instead of a regular mutt or a purebred dog, but it usually comes down to one of these reasons:

● Certain designer dogs can be good for allergies or other medical reasons

● Designer dogs have aesthetic appeal and are popular

● Some designer dogs are bred to work or complete specific tasks well

Designer dogs that have a poodle parent are great for people with dog allergies or other medical conditions. Poodles, and other dogs, are hypoallergenic and when crossed with another purebred dog, sometimes the trait is passed on to their puppies.

People often want designer dogs because they are aesthetically appealing and cute. Many celebrities and people in the public eye often have designer dogs, which boosts their popularity and gives people one more reason to get one.

Another less discussed reason for getting a designer dog is that they can be bred to perform specific tasks exceptionally well. Designer dogs such as the Goldador (a mix between a Golden Retriever and a Labrador Retriever) are sturdy and robust, making them great for search and rescue teams and other intensive tasks.

Where Did the Name “Designer Dog” Originate?

Crossbreeding of two purebred dogs has a long history, dating back to as early as the 1960s. One of the first designer dogs created was the Cockapoo, which was developed in the U.S. in an attempt to make a good companion dog that had the qualities of a Cocker Spaniel and a Miniature Poodle.

Since then, designer dogs have become increasingly popular, and there are no signs of the hype slowing down. But where exactly does the name “designer dog” come from?

Before the common term “designer dog” was widely used, designer dogs were often just referred to as crossbreeds or hybrid dogs. However, this all changed in the 1960s when people crossed a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle to create the Labradoodle.

Human nature is to value more prestigious “designer” things, so in an attempt to make crossbreeds more popular, breeders began to refer to them as “designer dogs.” The name’s popularity was also fueled by celebrities who owned designer dogs as well as the media.

Examples of Popular Designer Dogs

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different designer dog breeds out there. They vary in size, build, temperament, and pretty much every other quality that you can think of.

There are, however, a few designer dog breeds that tend to be more popular than others. These in-demand designer dogs are popular for various reasons, but most of them are hypoallergenic and relatively small dogs, which increases their overall appeal to a general audience.


Goldendoodles are a trendy designer dog because they make great companions for individuals and families, but are also good guide, therapy, and assistant dogs. This designer dog is created by crossing a Golden Retriever and a Poodle.


The parent breeds of the popular designer dog breed, the Puggle, both have pretty significant downsides to them. By creating the Puggle crossbreed, breeders hoped to make a companion dog that had the qualities of a Beagle and Pug, but without the high energy and breathing problems found in the parent breeds.


Possibly one of the most popular and first modern designer dogs, the Labradoodle has been a favorite of dog lovers for a very long time. This designer breed is created by mixing a Poodle and a Labrador Retriever. Labradoodles can, if appropriately bred, inherit the hypoallergenic qualities that Poodles have, making them great for people with medical problems who are sensitive to dog dander.


Cockapoos are a famous designer dog breed that has been popular for a very long time. They are created by crossing a purebred Cocker Spaniel and Poodle. The size of Cockapoos can vary pretty drastically depending on the size of the parent Poodle. Breeders typically use Miniature Poodles in the crossbreeding, so Cockapoos are generally lapping dog-sized.

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