Pets

What dog is that? Crossbreeds decoded

Crossbreeds can be wonderful pets – if you know what you’re in for.

By Melissa Field
When you see a cute dog at the park or walking down the street, sometimes it can be hard to determine which breed they - more so if they are a mix. These crossbreed dogs are rapidly gaining popularity over purebreds with one type even taking out the title as the most popular dog breed for 2016. To get all the information on the different types of dog crossbreeds we spoke to Dr Peter Higgins, a vet and University of Sydney lecturer, and Ian Shivers, a dog trainer and behaviourist.

What is a groodle?

Ian says:
This is a cross between a golden retriever and a poodle – one of the most common crossbreeds.
What people hope to get in a groodle is the best temperament from both breeds. So, in a groodle, you’d be hoping to get a dog as smart and inquisitive as a poodle and as gentle and loving as a golden retriever.
Groodles can be prone to barking and skittishness (poodle traits), sensitive to sharp movements – and this makes them want to chase, run and play; not ideal if you’re hoping for a sedate dog.
One of the big pluses is that groodles are non-shedding, so pretty low maintenance.

What is a labradoodle?

Dr Higgins says:
A labradoodle is a mix of poodle and Labrador*. First bred in Australia in 1988, the labradoodle started the crossbreed trend when it was created as a seeing-eye dog which wouldn’t trigger allergies for its owner.
Any of the “oodle” dogs make a good choice because poodles, despite their slightly cartoon-y reputation, are actually very intelligent, hardworking dogs.
A labradoodle is a medium-to-large dog, weighing up to 30kg, which means it will need more exercise than a smaller dog.
However, with a gentle and easygoing temperament, a labradoodle makes a good, grandkid-friendly pet.
Downsides are the possibility of erratic behaviour and bone or joint issues, especially around the hips.

What is a puggle?

Dr Higgins says:
A cross between a pug and a beagle, a puggle’s a fun, good-time dog.
They won’t need too much exercise but will want to play, and because of their beagle traits, sniff at things a lot.
With their “pushed-in” faces they can have breathing problems. If your puggle is snoring and it’s not cute, it’s a sign of trouble breathing.
Also, their skin folds can be quite close together, which can lead to infections, so your puggle will need lots of baths.

What is a shorkie?

Ian says:
Crossing a small, furry shih tzu and an alert, inquisitive Yorkshire terrier gives you a shorkie!
They’re a very cute, but hairy dog, weighing between 3-6kg. While they’re not very big, don’t tell them – they think they’re one of the tough guys of the dog world, but can be sensitive, too!
Yes, they bark a lot but they’re loyal and loving. Their energy levels mean diligent feeding and walking.

What is a cockapoo?

Dr Higgins says:
A cocker spaniel crossed with a poodle is an intelligent, affectionate, medium-sized dog which won’t require anywhere near the same amount of grooming as a purebred poodle.
Like any of the “oodle” dogs, cockapoos are less likely to cause allergic reactions as they have less scurf (dandruff), which can cause more allergies than other breeds.
They won’t bark excessively but can be prone to ear infections because of their (adorable) floppy ears, which can trap moisture and require regular cleaning. A small price to pay!

What is a jug?

Ian says:
This is a “toy” cross between a Jack Russell and a pug. While their longer faces (a Jack Russell trait) should minimise breathing issues associated with pugs, crossing longer and shorter-faced dogs results in jaw issues.
At worst the bottom jaw doesn’t sit in the socket properly and can cause pain.
A jug’s an affectionate, fearless and very loyal companion, but they can bark a bit and be prone to separation anxiety, so training is a must!
Gentle daily exercise is also needed but any kind of pug dislikes the heat so skip the walk on boiling hot days.

What is a jackahuahua?

Ian says:
This small lap dog is a cross between a Jack Russell and a chihuahua. As they’re so little, they won’t need too much exercise.
That’s not to say they’re not lively and energetic: Jack Russell traits may make him curious, playful and on the go!
Some smaller crossbreeds can have behavioural or health issues as their brains can be too big for their skulls (they may be sensitive to being touched at the neck or shoulder, have intermittent pain or bad posture.)
Sadly, these issues won’t usually become apparent until they’re a bit older so you won’t know until you’ve had your dog at home for a while.

What is a Mal-Shi?

Dr Higgins says:
A mix of Maltese terrier and shih tzu, this is one of the most popular crossbreeds in Australia.
These friendly dogs are small, lightweight – on the scales they hit a maximum of about 3kg – and easy to train.
They’re very sociable and enjoy a cuddle at the end of the day. Aww!
Mal-Shis were bred as non-shedding low-allergy risks to owners, although there’s no truly non-allergenic dog.
Remember that small dogs such as the Mal-Shi can be susceptible to joint and knee dislocation issues.
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