F1, F1b, F2
What are Generations F1, F1b and F2?
They're all the rage, designer dogs, usually part poodle. "Purists" refer to doodle breeders with much disdain. I have read numerous comments on the web pages of golden retriever and poodle breeders that say, "We don't doodle," and some even add, "so don't ask!" Many purists suggest, or outright state, that mixed breeds are less healthy and less desirable. They discuss purity of breed as if it held moral connotations and/or political correctness. Then there are doodle breeders who explain that they have been breeding so long, that they have developed "multigen" puppies, implication being that multigen is better. They have become purists in their own right, but instead of golden retriever purists or poodle purists, they are doodle purists, explaining that an F2 is better than an F1 and an F3 is better than an F2. In fact, they say, if you cross seven times, you can develop an entirely new breed. But is that a good or bad idea?
Poodle, doodle and golden retriever breeders, along with lab and Bernese mountain dog breeders, can fall prey to emotional issues that get confused with facts. To make matters worse, the study of genetics is confusing, and lots of breeders with a little good information, draw and propagate wrong conclusions. Untrained consumers believe untruths about genetics in general, not necessarily because an unscrupulous breeder has intentionally misled them, but because there seems to be more ignorance being printed on websites and by "experienced breeders," than fact. If the science was simple, fewer people would be confused, and perhaps fewer breeders would print bad information on their sites. But the fact that it is not simple does not mean you need a degree in molecular biology to understand the basics. Because I enjoy breeding, because I have answered so many questions from puppy buyers, and because I did major in molecular genetics, I decided I'd try to explain the scientific facts in as simple a language as possible, hoping to be a resource for anyone who wanted to navigate the puppy websites with headlights instead of blinders.
P1 is the label given to any parent generation of unlike organisms, meaning a red eyed fruit fly bred to a white eyed fruit fly, a red flowering pea plant bred to a white flowering pea plant or a poodle bred to a golden retriever. The resulting progeny are the F1generation. So when you breed a poodle to a golden retriever, or to a bernese mountain dog, or to a labrador retriever, you produce an F1 cross. When the puppy from that cross is bred back to another pure bred like either one of the parents, it produces an F1b. The norm is to breed back to a poodle, but technically, any back cross is an F1b cross. The advantage of an F1b cross comes from the extra poodle DNA. The F1 is half poodle and half golden retriever. When a dog from that kind of cross is then bred to a poodle, the amount of poodle DNA inherited from parents is increased, and the nonshedding trait enhanced. Theoretically, an F1b will be MORE HYPO-ALLERGENIC than either an F1 or an F2.
There are many people raising designer dogs, most of them with the utmost integrity, trying to educate the buying public regarding the difference between F1, F1b and F2 generations and the genetic implications of each. However, most of the breeders, while sincerely believing they are giving out good information and repeating concepts that seem to make sense, are not geneticists and do not themselves always understand that while an F1 generation goldendoodle puppy is a 50/50 poodle and golden retriever mix, the F1b is NOT a 75/25 combination, and an F2 may be 50/50, 80/20, 20/80 or 70/30, etc. The following explanation may be too technical to comprehend or too complicated to sustain your interest, but I would be glad to explain in more or less detail if you have the interest and want to ask. (See the Contact Us Form.)
When you mix one cup of water and one cup of ink, you get a mix of half water and half ink or 50/50. Makes sense. If you take a cup of that 50/50 mix and add a cup of water, you will get a 75% water and 25% ink mix. Still makes sense. However, DNA does not behave in the same manner as water and ink. An F1 generation is indeed 50/50, because it is a mix of 100% poodle and 100% golden retriever. That poodle can only give poodle DNA, because that is all it has to offer, and the golden can only give golden DNA, because that is all it has to offer. However, the puppy produced by that cross, that is the 50/50 (F1) puppy, does NOT GIVE its DNA to the next generation in an equal split of its two parents' DNA. Its DNA is half poodle and half golden, but it may give its progeny more poodle DNA than golden, or vice versa. Therefore the percentages of poodle and golden in subsequent generations is only a guess and produces unexpected traits for that reason. (No, I am not a geneticist, but I did major in molecular biology and the structure and function of DNA.) F1b's with a poodle parent will be at least half poodle, but the exact percentage is only a guess, and F2's will be close to half and half, but because neither parent is a pure bred and will therefore provide a mix of DNA, the puppy could in fact be less than half poodle.