Are they really as great as they say, or is it all a sales gimmick?
HYBRID VIGOR & GENETIC DIVERSITY?
A quick lesson! A "crossbreed or hybrid" refers to an animal with purebred parents of different breeds, varieties or populations. The process of breeding such an animal is practiced often with the intention of creating offspring that shares traits of each parental lineage, producing an animal with what is known as “hybrid vigor”. The practice of crossbreeding helps maintain the health and viability of the offspring.
Heterosis, also known as hybrid vigor or outbreeding enhancement, is the improved or increased function of any biological quality in a hybrid offspring. Heterosis in terms of breeding thus refers to the occurrence of a superior offspring from mixing the genetic contributions of its parents.
Based on the principal of "hybrid vigor," mixed-breed dogs are thought to live longer and generally be healthier than purebred dogs based on genetic diversity.
Specifically with dogs, a crossbreed refers to an animal that is a hybrid of more than one specific breed. Contrary to what some purebred enthusiasts will argue--the term HYBRID certainly applies to most dogs and should not be confused with a “mutt” or “mongrel”; these terms refer to dogs whose specific parentages are not known.
Historically, some of the oldest breeds were once hybrids of two or more breeds. Today people purposefully and selectively cross-breed dogs to create specific new breeds of puppies. It’s no wonder that several dog lovers today prefer the cross breed over a purebred dog. In fact, recent studies have given rise to the belief that perhaps cross breeds/hybrids are healthier in the long run than their purebred relatives.
HEALTH ISSUES WITH PUREBREEDS
There are significant differences between a crossbreed and an inbred dog. An inbred dog is one whose parents were closely related to one another; this often results in brain damage, health problems and deficiencies in physical development. While inbreeding will occasionally happen by accident, a responsible dog owner will avoid this mishap at all costs. We avoid these issues related to inbreeding all together---- by keeping a close eye on our lines, staying in touch with families that have adopted a puppy from us and working closely with our veterinarian.
Purebred dogs often have many congenital problems from inbreeding; the most common being hip displacement. Breeding dogs prone to parallel health troubles significantly amplifies the risk of health problems in the litter. When two dogs of varying breeds and health issues mate, the odds of serious health-related harms are decreased. Since hybrid dogs come from a wider gene pool they tend to have fewer problems. A crossbreed is definitely not a lesser dog than a purebred. There are a lot of positive benefits to adopting a hybrid as opposed to a purebred, and many prospective dog owners choose to adopt the hybrids for their qualities.
You may have heard that purebred dogs are "inbred" and therefore plagued with inherited health problems, as well as nervous, high-strung dispositions. To some extent, this is true of poorly bred purebreds. The reality is that all living things are prone to inherited problems, and dogs are no exception. Purebred dogs do inherit problems, as can any dog that is not bred by a responsible breeder.
All of the "purebred" dog breeds in existence today came about in one of two ways. Breeds developed out of rough groupings of animals from a particular geographic region loosely selected and interbred for a specific function. For example, poodles fall into this category. As do the "rough" terriers of the British Isles who were divided into several dozen separate breeds based on physical characteristics, color and locale. When showing and breeding dogs became fashionable during the Victorian era, many of these landraces were divided into multiple breeds. In short order, stud books were established and standards were written for each. Additional crosses were initially made as needed to improve performance or to correct structural defects. Once breed type was established, stud books were closed and no further new "blood" was allowed.
The second method of creating new breeds in the Victorian era came about through hybridization, or the deliberate crossing of two or more already established breeds. Now, many show breeders insist a hybrid is the offspring of two different species and therefore the statement "there are no hybrid dogs" is flat-out incorrect.
The Golden Retriever, the Doberman Pinscher, the Boston Terrier, the Bedlington Terrier and the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon are all examples of breeds whose creation for a particular purpose through hybridization are well-documented and each attributable to a single breeder!
Within a few generations these "new breeds" were accepted along with the landrace breeds into the newly established all breed registries, notably the Kennel Club in England and the American Kennel Club in the US.
An explanation from Neils C. Pederson at UC Davis, excerpted from a current PCA grant proposal below:
All autoimmune diseases recognized to date in dogs and humans have one thing in common—they all are associated with genes that regulate the immune response. These genes are gathered in a distinct region on the dog chromosome 12. An identical region, albeit located on different chromosomes, exists in all species of mammals and birds and is known as the major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC). The MHC of the dog has been designated the “dog leukocyte antigen’ (DLA) complex. The MHC (DLA) is divided into four regions, containing Class I, II, III, and IV genes.
A strong association between autoimmune disorders and the DLA class II genes has been shown for a number of disorders, including Pug Dog Encephalitis(6), a Vogt-Koyangi-Harada (VKH) like disease in Akitas (7), autoimmune hemolytic anemia, immune arthritis and hypothyroiditis in several breeds (8-10), type I diabetes mellitus in Samoyeds, Cairn and Tibetan Terriers (11), anal furunculosis in German Shepherd Dogs, and a systemic lupus erythematosus-related complex in Nova Scotia Tollers (13). This supports the hypothesis of Svejgaard (14) that many autoimmune disorders of humans, and now dogs, may be MHC- associated.
Autoimmune disorders, affecting a wide range of organs and tissues, are becoming increasingly common in purebred dogs. The main reason for this is a decrease in genetic diversity within the various genes of the DLA complex. This loss of diversity is particularly noticeable with the DLA class II genes, DLA-DRB1, DLA-DQB1, and DLA-DQB1. There are currently 143 known alleles for DRB1, 26 for DQA1, and 66 for DRB1.(April 2010) . In all dogs, these various alleles are linked in various three-gene combinations called haplotypes. Over 143 such haplotypes have been found in the DLA across all dogs. (2010) However, most purebreds have only a handful of alleles at each of these three gene loci, and have as few as 4 to 8 haplotypes in the entire breed (18, 19).
The main function of the MHC (DLA in dogs) is what is called self/non-self recognition. The immune system must be able to identify every foreign protein that invades the body, whether it is on a bacteria, virus, fungi parasite, etc, as being “non-self”. Conversely, the body must be able to recognize every protein that is part of itself and not react immunologically to it. As genetic variability is lost in the DLA, the ability to differentiate between what is self and what is non-self becomes more and more tenuous.
When discernment of what is self from non-self becomes extremely difficult, the body will mount an immune response to its own proteins. The first self proteins that are recognized as foreign are most often the product of glands (thyroid, sebaceous glands, perianal glands, adrenal glands, tear glands, parathyroid glands) and the proteins on the surface of blood cells (white cells, platelets, red cells). This is probably because the proteins on these types of cells more closely resemble the proteins on invading (foreign) pathogenic organisms.
Hybrid or Cross Bred dogs: a fancy name and expensive price-tag for a MUTT?
Most breeders of Hybrids and the informed pet-owning public would disagree. Not only is the comparing of Hybrids to Mutts like comparing apples to oranges, this argument is simply ignorant. As we have learned, science suggests a much different situation. One survey shows that over 50% of Puggle owners had previously bred or owned purebred dogs at one time or another, and that it was due to struggling with health issues that they investigated other options for dog breeding.
Breeders and prospective families alike choose hybrids because they want more predictability in size, temperament and coat than they would have with a mixed-breed of unknown parentage, without the heartbreaking and often expensive health issue that they have experienced with their previous purebred dogs.
Can hybrids deliver on this promise?
Within certain parameters, there's absolutely no reason to assume that they can't. So how much trouble are purebred dogs, from a "lack of diversity in the genes that control immune function" standpoint? Apparently, more than was originally believed. Although most breeds have 4-7 DLA haplotypes (out of a possible 11,000,000 possible combinations), research has shown that in most breeds tested, over 70% of the dogs within each breed share only 2 haplogroups, and close to 50% are homozygous.
"The most logical and painless way out of this dilemma is to simply press upon the advantages of hybridization that created many of these breeds in the first place. Refusal to do so because of some antiquated and scientifically discredited notion of "genetic purity" is,
Science tells us the TRUTH!
All dogs have something that makes them special to their owners. Whether it's the knowledge that Champ has the strength and vigor of ten dogs put together, or the fact that you know Lady could whoop the fur off the Poodle next door in the show ring, everyone has something that attaches them to their pet emotionally. They're all there for us at the end of the day, ears perked and tails wagging. In the end, hybrid versus purebred is just another silly contest. You don't have to be blood (pure or otherwise) to be family!
An article written by a Geneticist on the subject, who supports our position on genetic diversity and responsible breeding practices.
Here’s what Hekman, the dog geneticist, wishes dog lovers knew about genetics:
What do dog lovers seem to get wrong about dog genetics? “Thinking that genetics are destiny — that if a problem is ‘genetic,’ it can't be changed. Sometimes that's true, but very rarely in the case of behavior problems. A dog's personality is inextricably made up both of genetics and experience, and if you're seeing problem behaviors, it's always worth exploring what it might take to fix them. (On the other hand, if you're trying to get your retriever to be less interested in balls, this is likely to be an uphill battle.)”
What do you wish purebred dog owners knew about dog genetics? “Inbreeding is real and is a serious problem in many, if not most, pure breeds.”
[Hekman has previously weighed in on this topic. In the post ‘How to Make the World Better for Dogs’ at Companion Animal Psychology, Hekman describes a number of well-known challenges that purebred dogs face. Here’s Hekman: “We can make the world better for dogs by making dogs who fit into the world better. I would love to see dog owners draw a line in the sand and insist on dogs with muzzles long enough to let them breathe normally, or dogs who are not born with a 60% chance of developing cancer at some point in their lives due to their breed, or dogs whose heads are too big for them to be born without a C-section. I'd love to see more breeders taking matters into their own hands and starting to experiment with how we breed dogs instead of continuing to use dogs from within breeds lacking in genetic diversity. I'd love to see more breed clubs supporting outcrossing projects to bring an influx of genetic diversity and healthy alleles into their breed. I'd love more dog lovers to become aware of the problems with how we breed dogs — how even the most responsible breeders breed dogs! This year, it is time for change.”]
What do you wish mixed-breed dog owners knew about dog genetics? “Finding out the breeds that make up your mixed breed dog is unlikely to be helpful in predicting your dog's behavior or future health problems. It's just fun!”ed in mutts. Based on earlier studies, this might be more difficult than you’d think. Give it a try!]
A Lion & Tiger Hybrid
Napoleon Dynamite wasn't kiddin'!
Parent Breed Infusion
The Habibi Bear's ancestry is an infusion of diverse, healthy rare breeds that are descendants of the Bicon Family. Each breed was selected for the unique traits they bring to the gene pool. Each generation was carefully combined, to ensure optimal genetic diversity without line-breeding or in-breeding. Not a simple cross breed, this breed boasts 5 breeds in the background! This is hybrid vigor on steroids. We have maintained the level of genetic diversity (hybrid vigor) without doubling up on same breed lines. The Habibi was bred to be the perfect hypoallergenic companion animal that excels as a therapy dog.
The Habibi Bear is one of the healthiest breeds available, with no known inherited genetic defects. We attribute this to the wide gene pool. In twenty years, no known genetic issues have been detected through our testing on our parent dogs in our breeding program. All Parents have been Health-tested with OFA & Cerf. We only breed healthy dogs.
Genetic Testing Facts You Should Know
Our adult dogs have been tested and we have not found any genetic disorders such as; hip, patella, eye, hearing or organ disfunction. We strive to produce healthy puppies, and this is why we offer an unheard of 5 Year Guarantee on all of our dogs. Most breeders offer one or two years, which is before any genetic issues would show up. If your dog develops any genetic disorder, we stand behind that dog! Why? We care about our families and our dogs. In safeguarding the health of our Habibi Bears, we need all the information available to help us with the development of our breed. Testing and careful breeding work hand in hand.
Tests are tools to be used by breeders for making sound decisions. They certainly do not ensure that a puppy will be healthy, or guarantee you will receive a replacement if your dog develops a genetic problem. Only an extensive health guarantee DOES! That is why the background knowledge of the breed and the dogs BEHIND the parents is important