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Designer Breeds...Bursting The Mutt Myths

 by Shirley Greene

The advertisement says: "Exotic New Dog Breed For Sale" and goes on to give a very cute, designer name, such as a Labradoole, DobeADoodle, BullyDoos or even the more commonly heard Cockapoo. Many such classifieds in newspapers and on the Internet are claiming to offer a wonderful new breed of dog.

Advertised as "designer" dogs, many breeds are being crossed with the poodle. A recent sweep of the Internet shows everything from Bulldogs to Dobermans mixed with a poodle. Not only is this irresponsible behavior on the part of the breeder, it is dangerous to the unsuspecting consumer and downright sad for the dogs.

 Why A Poodle?

Why are so many crossing other breeds with poodles? Some of the reasons for adding the poodle are that it is clean, non-shedding, no dander to aggravate allergies, intelligent, easy to train and available in a number of colors and sizes.

Any quality breeder will consider mixing another breed with a poodle outrageous behavior, no matter whether it is the person owning the poodle or the cocker spaniel used to make a Cockapoo. No American Kennel Club member will be a party to this type of activity. In fact, they’ll be outraged and very outspoken against it.

Responsible kennel owners have pups in order to improve the qualities of their chosen breed. Buying a purebred pups means that the consumer knows what to expect in size, health and temperament. It means the breeders’ knowledge and experience, together with their breed club’s statistics and documented pedigrees, are backing your purchase and written guarantee.

 Beware of the Puppy Mill Mentality

No American Kennel Club breeder, who has dedicated their life and their reputation on producing the very best dogs possible, will sell one of their pups to be knowingly mixed with another breed of dog.

Responsible breeders select their dogs’ mates very carefully and rely upon genetic testing and knowledge and histories within specific lines. They breed for outstanding health and character to procreate pups whose characteristics and temperament will be an asset to the breed and to their future owners.

Mixing dogs in a random fashion is a recipe for disaster. It is no more certain than the random mating of two dogs meeting on the street corner. If the top quality breeders will not sell to those creating designer dogs, where does their breeding stock come from? What are your chances of getting a genetically healthy pup with a good disposition?

Selling mixed breed dogs is endorsing unplanned, uneducated mating. It is a toss up and a crapshoot as to what will result. It is one of the reasons that unwanted pups end up in shelters awaiting euthanasia.

 Breeding Is A Science, Not A Game of Chance

Properly selecting mates for purebred dogs is a science. Breeders select not only for conformation (body type) but also for personality and character traits. Their ideal mission is to maximize the positive and eliminate the negatives within their particular breed. This requires knowledge, patience, experience and science in choosing the bitch and sire. It is a goal that is achieved over many generations, not a game of chance.

When mixed-breed dogs are mated, the outcome is anyone’s guess. Perhaps both carried recessive genes for a physical deformity or personality flaw. Mixing a dog who may be very shy with a dog who is extremely hyper could create a littler of designer pups who bite out of fearfulness and are nervous chewers.

Not all characteristics blend well. If a person is trying to create a designer dog and matches a very nervous, medium-sized dog with an aggressive, dominant mate, those puppies may look cute but will not be good pets. They’ll end up in the local pound for nipping, biting, aggressive behavior and hyperactivity disorders. Certain naturally aggressive or neurotic dogs with bad temperaments can create very real dangerous situations when paired with each other or even with gentler breeds.

A mixed breed may not always be the sum of the best traits of either breed. In fact, this is likely, as both the parents should be presumed to be over-bred. Those who advocate for mixed breeds fail to mention that the pups can end up with the worst possible characteristics from both breeds.

Do we really need to create more problems and increase the number of unmanageable and unadoptable dogs in our shelter holding pens?

 Health Problems May Multiply

All breeds have health problems, some more than others. Responsible breeders are aware of the genetic predispositions within the breed and within specific lines.

Those who state that mixed breeds are healthier than their purebred counterparts are just plain wrong. Mixed breeds are subject to the very same diseases and structural problems as those breeds used to create them.

In a mixed breed, it is difficult, if not impossible, to track a disease because the dogs are highly unlikely to have been genetically tested, x-rayed or checked for inherited disorders. Mixed breeds are not listed with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or other health related registries that track the occurrence of disease specific to certain breeds of dog. This is a huge gap in being able to find out about the true genetic health of your prospective purchase.

In all likelihood, your mixed breed puppy may be more likely to suffer poor health, including autoimmune disorders such as allergies. When it comes to structurally related problems, many multiply through the generations and your pup may be a prime target.

Wouldn’t it be great if a mixed breed pup received only the very best genetic and behavioral makeup from each of the respective breeds? Don’t believe marketing magic and lies. The likelihood of that happening is no greater than winning the Lotto.

It takes dedication, hard work, science and spending money on reliable testing procedures to produce a litter of healthy purebred pups.

 The Mutt

If you want to save a life, rescue a pup and help undo some of the breeding wrongs, by all means go to your local shelter and consider adopting a mixed breed dog. Realizing there are many unknown health and temperament issues, up front, is different than paying an exorbitant price for a pup advertised as the Dog De Jour. And, I highly recommend that you have that rescued pup examined by a veterinarian and evaluated by a professional trainer so that you know exactly what to expect as it matures.

If you cannot afford a purebred dog, you have two choices: continue to save your money or visit local rescues and ask their experienced personnel to match a likely candidate with the lifestyle and dog-experience level of your family. Paying money for a designer dog, a mixed breed or a mutt is, in reality, supporting irresponsible breeders and puppy mills. Putting money into their pockets perpetuates their fraud upon an unsuspecting and uneducated public. And worse, it harms even more dogs.

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