What Do “Generations” Mean Within Dog Breeding?

Dog Breeding

One thing that confuses newcomers to dog breeding and prospective puppy owners is the meaning of “generation.” In human terms, a generation is about 30 years, with the parents being one generation, their children another, and the grandparents a third.


But how does that relate to dogs? Does it really matter whether you have an F1 or an F1b Goldendoodle? In this guide, we’re going to explain everything that you need to know about generations, including all those pesky abbreviations!


Dog Breeding


Why Do You Need To Know Which Generation Your Dog Is?

For many dog owners, it really doesn’t matter but if you have very specific needs, such as a dog whose coat sheds very little, then it can be important to understand the background of both the mum and dad. With Labradoodles, for example, how far back were the original Labrador and Poodle mating? The percentage of Poodle within the breeding will determine how much hair is shed.


When you’ve been searching for a pup, you may have seen them advertised as F1 or F2, let’s look at what that means next.


P Generation

The P Generation is purebred dogs. So, if you were breeding a litter of Labradoodles, then the Labrador and Poodle would be classed as being Ps.


F1 Generation

When the Labrador and Poodle are bred and the pups born, then the litter will be classed as the F1 generation, the first cross. The F stands for filial, which comes from the Latin term filius, which means “son,” and filia meaning “daughter.”


The pups would be 50% Labrador and 50% Poodle; however, there might still be some variation in how each one might look and behave. Some may have a coat that’s curly and more like a Poodle, while others might have a wavy coat, more similar to that of a Labrador.


If you think about how this applies to humans, even with the same mum and dad, two sisters could look very different to each other; one might be more like mum while the other has more of the dad’s appearance.


F1B Generation

The F1B generation is when a crossbreed dog is bred back to a purebred dog; the b stands for ‘backcross.’ So, using our Labradoodle example again, there could be two possible matings –


  • Labradoodle bred to a Labrador
  • Labradoodle bred to a Poodle


In the first example, the puppies will be 75% Labrador and 25% Poodle. That means that you can expect more Labrador traits to appear than Poodle and the pups are likely to have a wavy coat rather than a curly one.


In the second example, the puppies will be 75% Poodle and 25% Labrador. Now you can expect the litter to behave more like Poodles and see more curly coats. If having a pup with a coat that doesn’t shed much is important, then this breeding would be more suitable for you.


F2 Generation

When F1 dogs are bred together, you get an F2 generation, the second filial generation. This means that the pups will be two generations removed from their purebred ancestors.


So, in our labradoodle example, this would happen when two Labradoodles were bred to each other.


There are all kinds of variations in who the Mum and Dad are, but who will still produce an F2 generation. These include –


  • f1 x f1
  • f1 x f1b
  • f1b x f1b
  • f1 x f2


Depending on what the breeder is trying to achieve, each combination of parents will get slightly different litters of pups. Two f1 dogs, for example, will produce f2 puppies with a range of characteristics. While they are still 50% Lab and 50% Poodle, that’s an average, and the exact geneses that each pup receives from Mum and Dad will vary from pup to pup.


If the breeder used an f1b sire (dad) or dam (mom) to create an f2 generation, then it will increase the odds of the pups having Poodle or Labrador traits, depending on the breeding of the f1b dog.


F2B Generation

Now we’re at the second-generation dogs who are backcrossed. Each F2b dog has one parent who is an F1 and one parent who is F1b. For example, an F2B Labradoodle will have one parent who is 50/50 Labrador x Poodle mix and the other parent who is either 75/25 Labrador x Poodle or 75/25 Poodle x Labrador.


Multi-generation Labradoodles

In theory, you could use the F system as a counting system with no real limits, so that means that you might see Labradoodle pups advertised as F3 or even F4.


By the time you get to F3, a Labradoodle is the third generation of breeding, making their great-grandparent the closest relative that is a pedigree dog.


Few breeders use the F3 term; instead, they refer to these litters as multi-generational. At this point, the litters tend to be much more stable in the characteristics and appearance of the pups. However, it’s not too unusual for Mother Nature to occasionally throw in a curveball!


Choosing a Mixed Breed Puppy

If you’re looking for a Labradoodle or other mixed breed pup, the most important thing is to be clear in your requirements for your new arrival. If, for example, it’s important to have a low shedding dog, then you’ll be looking for a breeder who can demonstrate consistency in the coats that their pups have.


Do remember only to consider pups when you have met the mum and ideally other relatives too; appearance can be an important consideration, but you also want to ensure that you have a happy and confident youngster to be your new canine companion.


It’s also important to find out if the parents of the pups have been health checked. Many medium to large dogs, such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers, can suffer from hip dysplasia. This genetic condition is passed from the parents to the pups and can result in the youngster becoming lame and needing a series of operations to along them move without being in pain.


Responsible breeders will check their dogs for hereditary conditions before they consider breeding from them.

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