Tag Archives: Rodents

Curious About Cross-Breeds!


Cross-Breed or Hybrid

Cross-breed means the animal is of mixed blood; the animal is often a mix of two different breeds, or a mix of several breeds. These are often referred to as mongrels for dogs, or moggies for cats, mules in sheep, or just known as a cross-breed with other species. Cross-breeds often display traits from all the breeds that make up the mix. Cross-breeds can reproduce, as they are just different types of the same species.

A cross-breed is different to what is referred to as a hybrid. A hybrid is cross between different species, as with cross-breeds, hybrids often display both physical and personality traits from both parents species. However, hybrids tend to be infertile (they cannot reproduce their own young) and therefore the only way to get the particular hybrid is to cross the 2 original species. A few hybrid animal examples are:

  • Mule (female donkey x male horse)
  • Hinny (male donkey x female horse)
  • Liger (male lion x tigress)
  • Tigon (lioness x male tiger)
  • Leopon (lion x leopard)
  • Beefalo (buffalo x domestic cow)
  • Dzo (yak x domestic cow)
  • Cama (camel x llama)
  • Zorse (zebra x horse)
  • Donkra (zebra x donkey)
Tigon
Tigon (lioness x male tiger)

Cross-Breed Dogs

It is important to think about this when acquiring a cross-breed as a pet; if the mix of breeds is known, you can research into them to see the likely physical characteristics, as well as the likely personality traits you may see in your pet.

Cross-breeds are becoming increasingly popular with dogs, and cross-bred dogs are being sold as designer breeds. Some of the more popular designer dog breeds are:

  • Labradoodle (Labrador x Poodle)
  • Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel x Poodle)
  • Chorkie (Chihuahua x Yorkshire Terrier)
  • Puggle (Pug x Beagle)

As you may have noticed, these  deisgner  breeds have been given their own, new name that combines the 2 breeds they have been crossed with.

Chihuahua x Yorkie
Chihuahua x Yorkie

Due to the fact that cross-breeds have ability to reproduce, there is dispute about designer breeds and what makes them up. Take the Labradoodle for example, most breeders will only accept a dog as being a Labradoodle if it is the first generation; i.e. one parent is a Poodle, the other parent is a Labrador. If 2 Labradoodles have offspring, most breeders do not class the puppies as Labradoodles, but rather as mongrels. If one parent is a Labradoodle, and the other is either a Poodle or a Labrador, the offspring is also termed as being mongrels along most breeders of the designer breed.

Labradoodle
Labradoodle

Aside from the designer cross-breeds, most cross-breeds are not recognised as “breeds”, but rather just referred to as crosses. The crosses from just 2 different breeds that are not designer dogs are easily differentiated by the fact they are referred to as cross-breeds, and do not have their own “breed name”.

Often cross-breeds are similar breeds that have been mated, such as the Scottish Terrier and the West Highland Terrier. These are 2 similar looking breeds; similar height, coat, ears, face, as well as having a similar temperament.

Cross-breed
Cross-breed dog (2 breeds crossed)

However, due to the ability to reproduce, cross-breeds become more and more diluted in breed terms and eventually just get termed as a mongrel. A lot of mongrels are so mixed with breeds that a similarity to any one breed is very hard to see, others have a distinct breed that stands out; such as the Alsatian mix and the Tibetan Terrier mix, pictured below.

Cross-breed
Cross-breed dog (Mongrel)
Cross-breed
Cross-breed dog (Mongrel)

All breeds, including the ones that are now classified as pedigree breeds, have come about from mixing different kinds of canines to get the desired appearance and/ or personality out of the animal that the breeder desired. The Bedlington Terrier for example, is thought to be a mix of; the Rothbury Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, Wheaten Terrier,  Otterhound, Poodle and the Dandie Dinmont Terrier… so basically a mongrel with a lot of breeds mixed in! However, nowadays it is its own recognised breed, a pedigree.

Bedlington Terrier
Bedlington Terrier

Other Cross-Breed Animals

Dogs may be the most popular animals to mix breeds, but they are certainly not the only ones! Cats, birds, fish, rabbits, rodents, reptiles, sheep, cows, pigs, horses and ponies can all be cross bred; but some species cross-breeds are more common than others. For example, cross-breed rabbits are fairly common, often due to un-neutered pets having accidental litters!

Cats cross-breed often too, however in one litter there can be a different father for each kitten, so the crosses cannot always be determined and may not be known – unless the cross-breeding was intentional and artificially selected. Cats are usually bred via artificial selection for their pedigree, so in the way we get designer dog breeds, it is not the same with cats. Some cat crosses  can be seen clearly, but most are unsure and just get termed as a moggie.

Cross-breed cat
Cross-breed cat

Just to clarify – the terms horse and pony refers to the height of the same animal. They are measure in hands high (hh) – horses are 14.2hh+, whereas ponies are up to (and including) 14.1hh. Horses and ponies are usually selected for their pedigree too, due to needing pure bloodlines for race and show animals. However, there are a few recognised cross-breeds:

  • Welera (Welsh pony x Arabian horse)
  • National Show Horse (American Saddlebred x Arabian horse)
  • Morab (Morgan x Arabian horse)
  • Appendix Quarter Horse (Quarter horse x Thoroughbred)
  • Quarab (Quarter horse x Arabian horse)
  • Walkaloosa (Tennessee walking horse x Appaloosa)
Cross-breed horse
Cross-breed horse

There is also a mongrel of horses – a mix breed of many breeds that has come to be recognised as a breed, the Pony of the Americas (POA).

Mix breed horse (POA)
Mix breed horse (POA)

A lot of people do not believe birds and fish can be cross bred, however this is just due to the occurrence of this being very low (lower in fish than birds). Birds can cross breed as long as they belong to the same sub-species; for example, 2 of the same type (such as 2 conures, or 2 cockatoos) of parrot can have offspring, 2 of the same type of aviary bird (such as a pair of different finch types) can have offspring, 2 different chicken types can have offspring… And the list goes on. It is just uncommon, but the ability is there.

 So really… they’re all mongrels and moggies and mixed breeds, our pets! But whatever we have, we love them regardless!
 Any questions or comments?
Please use either contact page, thoughts comment box below, or social media site (Facebook, Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn).

Guinea Pig Care


Guinea pigs are small, sociable, ‘chatty’ rodents and like living in pairs. They have a lifespan of around 5 years of age, and come in a variety of breeds, colours, and sizes. Once fully grown, guinea pigs average an adult size of  20-25 cm in length, and weigh approximately 1 kg.

Guinea pigs are a mammal, belonging to the species of rodent, and the family “cavy” (pronounced “kay-vee”). They are precocial species – meaning that they are born fully furred, with eyes and ears open, and walking within 30-60 minutes after birth. By 3 days old, baby guinea pigs (pups) are able to eat solid food, however still suckle from their mother.

General Care

The cage/ hutch should be cleaned out thoroughly at least once a week; if guinea pigs are left in an unclean environment for too long they can get foot problems, like bumble-foot. Ensure your guinea pigs have constant access to safe hiding places where they can escape if they feel afraid, tunnels and hides can be placed in cages/ hutches for your guinea pigs.

Guinea Pigs

Provide your guinea pigs with safe toys to play with and chew, this helps keep their minds stimulated and their teeth from overgrowing – check your guinea pigs teeth and nails weekly, as they are constantly growing, and may need to be clipped if they become overgrown – to prevent health problems (see my post on nail clipping).

Guinea pigs should have at least one hour interaction and handling, daily where possible, as this gets them more used to and more comfortable with their owners. Be quiet and gentle around your guinea pigs; never shout, they are very unlikely to understand and can become more nervous or scared. 

Make sure your guinea pigs have opportunities to exercise every day to stay fit and healthy – this can be running indoors (supervised!), ensuring they cannot escape anywhere or do themselves harm, or access electrical wires – or this can be free roaming outdoors (supervised from escape and local predatory pets) or safe in an enclosed run. Ensure there is shelter in outside runs, from both bad and sunny weather.

In warm weather you should check the fur and skin around your guinea pigs rear end daily, as urine staining or droppings that are stuck will attract flies, and can cause ‘fly strike’ (flies lay eggs in the dirty fur, the maggots hatch and eat away at your guinea pig), which is often fatal.

Provide fresh clean drinking water at all times. Check the water supply regularly, more so on hot days and during the summer; make sure the water does not freeze in winter – bottle covers help with this.

Hay should make up the most of your guinea pigs’ diet, and should be available at all times. A fresh portion of guinea pig pellets be available daily. Guinea pigs are grazers – they like to eat little and often – so food should be available as much as possible. Feeding your guinea pig the correct diet will help prevent a lot of common disease. One day a week off from feeding fruit and vegetables should be given as too much can make your guinea pig ill, although fresh grass, fruit and vegetables should be given on a regular basis.

Guinea Piggies

 Safe Foods to Feed

  • Oranges
  • Peppers
  • Cabbage
  • Bananas
  • Kale
  •  Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Apple (pips and core removed)
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Dandelion leaves and flower
  • Asparagus
  • Tomatoes (NOT leaves and stalks)
  • Apricot
  • Celery (including leaves)
  • Corn on the cob
  • Mango
  • Pear (pips and core removed)
  • Watercress

Foodstuffs to Avoid

  • Lettuce (can cause a swollen tummy and the runs)
  • Lawnmower clippings (these can upset a guinea pigs tummy and make them ill)
  • Avocado
  • Beans
  • Chiles
  • Coconut
  • Daffodils
  • Lemons
  • Ivy
  • Garlic
  • Buttercup
  • Watermelon
  • Foxgloves (flowers)
  • Nuts
  • Olives
  • Grapes/ raisins
  • Privet (plant/ bush)
  • Rhubarb (including leaves)
  • Anything with artificial additives in it
  • Anything cooked
  • Anything sugary (including honey)
  • Anything stale, wilting, mouldy or otherwise ‘off’ vegetables or fruit