Designer Dogs

February 26th, 2007 by Kathleen

What kind of dog do you prefer? A Labradoodle or a Peek-a-poo? Oh, a Schnoodle. That’s a great choice! Just as long as you didn’t want a Puganeese. They have a tendency to loose their eyeballs.

What!?

If that paragraph made sense to you then you have probably heard of the latest “trend”; Designer Dogs. My first reaction upon hearing about these customized breeds was that I couldn’t understand why someone would pay thousands of dollars for a mutt. After all, if it isn’t pure bred it is a mutt, right? But on the upside, I thought, the animal shelters should have record adoptions since mutts have become so popular.

Not that there is anything wrong with mutts. My beloved Pepper is a mutt. Of course I prefer to call him a Border-pyre-lab-oty. If you’ve never heard of that I really am surprised. It is the ultimate farm dog, really. He can herd your cattle, guard your sheep, retrieve the ducks you’ve just shot and even kill and pluck your chickens. He was carefully bred to acquire all of these traits, I assure you.

Ok, ok. Pepper doesn’t kill chickens. They just aren’t that much fun once they stop moving. Plucking them on the other hand…well, never mind. Back to my point. How many shelters have you seen with signs out front saying “Needed: More dogs”. None I’m betting

Yet people pay thousands of dollars for these same dogs because they are “designer” as if they are a Gucci handbag. This picture seemed a little out of focus to me. So I decided to research designer dogs.

Where did Designer Dogs Come From?

I read an interesting article from National Geographic that explained how it all began. The Labradoodle was born out of a need for a service animal that caused fewer allergy problems. That all sounds very noble and legitimate; and they really are very cute, I must say. Then it went on to talk about the man with the dog farm who just bred together whatever had the desire to breed. While I’m sure that the dogs thought this was wonderful, I’m thinking this guy wasn’t a genetics expert.

Apparently this farm is where the first foundation stock for the Labradoodle came from. Now, I really feel that I need to mention at this point that pure bred dogs have taken sometimes hundred of years to be what they are today. Breeding is a complicated endeavor. This dog farm sounds like a genetic nightmare.

Remember my opening paragraph where I said that a Puganeese has a tendency to lose its eyeballs? That probably sounded awful but that is a real possibility if the wrong dogs are bred together. Mixing two dogs with the same negative characteristics is asking for disaster.

I’m sure there are many reputable breeders out there who are very knowledgeable about genetics. I’m also fairly certain that there are a slew of back yard breeders who think it would be cute to mix a Rottie and a Chihuahua with no consideration for the possible outcome. Unless a breeder can show several generations with minimal heath issues how can they know that they have produced a healthy, quality dog? How can you as a buyer know for sure either, for that matter? Would you want to plunk down your hard earned money for a dog that may require costly surgery within a year or worse yet, may die because the breeder has little understanding of genetics?

Now, before I get all the designer breeders in an uproar I want to mention that I have known of some irresponsible breeders of AKC registered dogs. We had a Rottie once who’s breeder didn’t know how to check for hip dysplasia. I felt sorry for the dog and took him anyhow since I am a marshmallow at heart. Later I found out that all her other puppies died of Parvo. Another example was the breeder of Bullmastiffs who had unknowingly acquired a female that had bad hips. She, being a responsible breeder, was going to have her spayed and sold as a pet. Her friend said, “Give her to me, I’ll breed her.” Ugh!

The Bottom Line

I guess the bottom line is: Don’t fall for trends. Find out what type of dog meets the needs of you and your family. If that dog is a pure bred, wonderful; if that dog is a shelter dog, wonderful too. If, on the other hand, you decide on a designer dog please be sure of what that “breed” is all about. Whatever type of dog you choose, understand the possible health issues that may be present in the dog. Also, steer clear of any breeder whose top priority is money and not the best possible dog that they can breed. They are not going to be a responsible, ethical breeder.

Oh, by the way, for those of you who are just dying to get a Border-pyre-lab-oty. I’m sorry but Pepper won’t be bred. Even though he is a beautiful specimen, I’ve already had him fixed. Because that is also the responsible, ethical thing to do. Don’t forget to check out your local animal shelter for your perfect mix. Trust me; they still have plenty to choose from. Even though Pepper is just a mutt he can provide me with just as much happiness as any designer breed.

Designer Pepper





3 Responses to “Designer Dogs”

  1. Kathy Says:

    There was a very interesting article about this subject a couple of weeks ago in the New York Times magazine. You can read it here:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/04/magazine/04dogs.t.html?ex=1172638800&en=d4b7384b8e9fc510&ei=5070

  2. Kathleen Says:

    That really was a great (and long) article. Thanks so much for posting it!

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