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Hybrid Vigor

Maltipoo  Hybrid Vigor

What is Hybrid Vigor and What Does This Mean For Your Maltipoo?

Many owners of the Maltipoo dog have heard the term “Hybrid Vigor” and are a bit mislead by this term. This is a term that is used quite often to refer to the breeding of two purebred dogs (a purebred Poodle and a purebred Maltese in this case) and that in doing so, the puppies will be exceptionally healthy due to the crossbreed. Why? Because this term leads one to believe that 1st generation puppies do not carry the genetic health problems that are common to the 2 purebred breeds of the parents.  

Is this true? Yes and No. IF both parents (dam and sire) have been properly tested before breeding and IF both dam and sire do not have health problems in their line, the chances of the Maltipoo health problems are REDUCED…NOT completely taken away.

To be technical, a Maltipoo ( or any other crossbred such as the Pomadoodle (Pomeranian and Poodle mix) is not actually a hybrid at all. In order to be an actual hybrid, an animal must be the product of two different species: donkey and a horse, for example. The offspring is a mule which is a hybrid. Another example is a tiger and a lion, the offspring are called tigons. Domestic dogs are the same species: familiaris. This means that when you cross breed domestic dogs (Canis familiaris ), you are within the same species; and for that reason, not creating an actual hybrid.

This is, however just semantics, since all purposely bred crossbreeds with one parent each of a certain purebred are referred to as hybrid dogs. 
How Hybrid Vigor Does Affect Dogs

So, even though the actual meaning of the term is the pairing of two different species of animals, there is still some health benefits to pairing two different purebred dogs together. And these benefits are given the term of hybrid vigor.

Just very recently, there has been a surge in what is termed 'hybrid dog's such as the Maltipoo.  Less often, they are referred to as designer dogs or crossbreeds. Due to this popularity, studies have been conducted to see if resulting litters really are healthier overall than both parent purebreds.

The results are quiet interesting. 

The health records of over 90,000 dogs were studied at the University of California, Davis. The goal was to see if crossbred dogs were healthier than purebred dogs.

For some issues they were and for some they were not.

Hybrid Vigor Does Reduce Some Health Issues

While Maltipoos and other such dogs were not free and clear of any conditions, certain medical issues appear quite a bit less. 
Maltipoo hybrid vigor
Jaxon, 3 years old
Photo courtesy of Wanda
  • Aortic stenosis - A narrowing just above the aortic valve in the heart
  • Atopy or allergic dermatitis -  Chronic skin issues seen with allergies
  • Bloat - A dangerous twisting of the stomach (not common with toy or small breeds, but it is very serious and life threatening)
  • Cataracts - A clouding of the eye lens that can cause minor cases of blurry vision or serious cases of blindness.
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy - A decrease in the heart's ability to properly pump blood.
  • Elbow dysplasia - A slippage of the elbows from the socket
  • Hypothyroidism - Under-active thyroid gland
  • Intervertebral disk disease - The disks of the vertebrae bulge or burst
  • Portosystemic shunt - Abnormal connection of the liver valve
It must be noted again that hybrid vigor does not mean that a Maltipoo is safe from developing any of these medical conditions. In fact, luxating patella is common with this breed. It does, however, mean that occurrences appear to be less than with purebred dogs.
Maltipoo puppy healthy
Loki, 7 months old
Photo courtesy of Debi
Hybrid Vigor Does Not Help with Some Health Issues

The following health issues were seen at the same rate for both purebreds and crossbreed dogs. Unfortunately, many of these are related to the heart or are a type of cancer:
  • Hip Dysplasia- Malformation and eventual slippage of the hip joint and socket
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy- A disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick
  • Mitral valve dysplasia - A congenital heart defect in which the valves are out of place
  • Patent ductus arteriosus - Abnormal blood flow that mainly affects young puppies
  • Ventricular septal defect - A hole in both the ventricles of the heart
  • Lymphoma - Cancer of the lymph nodes.
  • Osteosarcoma - A malignant bone tumor 
  • Hemangiosarcoma - A type of cancer found throughout the body
  • Mast cell tumor- The most common type of cancer found in canines
  • Patellar luxation - Slippage of the kneecap
  • Hyperadrenocorticism - Cushing's disease; over production of cortisol
  • Hypoadrenocorticism - Underproduction of the adrenocorticotropic hormone
  • Lens Luxation- the eye lens separates and moves out of place
This term of Hybrid Vigor, while misleading, is also non-existent when a Maltipoo is not a first generation dog. What does this mean? It means that once a Maltipoo puppy is born, that dog cannot be used for breeding to create other Maltipoo dogs...
If so, the next litter will not be Maltipoo puppies… they will be ¾ Maltipoo and ¼ of either Poodle or Maltese. 

Therefore, if you are looking for a Maltipoo, you must take care to know exactly who the parents (dam and sire) are…and to ensure that you have a first generation dog. One day in the future when the Maltipoo is accepted as a recognized breed, this will all change. And we are still many, many generations away from this. In looking at the development of other breeds (just about all were the product of cross breedings) it takes multiple decades if not longer. 

While hybrid vigor will keep your Maltipoo healthier and less prone to certain diseases, it will still be vitally important to provide proper care, an excellent diet, appropriate exercise, good dental hygiene, to keep regular vet visits and more. 
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