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The Myth of Designer Dogs

March 12, 2012
Am I a Snob? Why I Don’t Like Doodle Dogs – 21

In my last blog about the AKC registration statistics, Gun Dogger Garry Pennycuff took exception to a line about the fad of crossing an absurd number of breeds with poodles. I didn’t want to sidetrack the conversation at that point, but I will gladly go into more detail now.

For the record: I don’t mind the difference of opinion. In fact, I thoroughly enjoy it, and the fact that someone voiced their view. Whether the topic is dogs or politics, our differences in life only spur discussion and facilitate the exchange of information. I don’t even mind being called a snob or being compared to Voldemort, the entity of evil from the Harry Potter franchise. I lived in a fraternity in college, and to survive in that environment you had to have a thick skin — it’s something that has served me well as a writer.

However, I will defend my purebred “snobbery” and low opinion of “doodle dogs” with some facts:

Firstly, the idea of crossing Labradors, cocker spaniels, golden retrievers and almost any other breed with the poodle to produce the perfect combination of both breeds in conjunction with a hypoallergenic coat is most definitely a fad whose marketing scheme is nothing more than … wait for it … bullshihtzu.

Far be it from me to comment on what breed of dog a family chooses for a pet. I mean, I have a bulldog, yes a purebred one, which cost $1,200. He literally does nothing. Unless you count running up vet bills and filling the air with noxious gas as some sort of contribution to mankind. However, he’s brought many years of joy and laughter to family and friends.

The difference with “doodle dogs” is that they’re mutts. There are no established purebred lines, they’re not recognized by any legitimate registry and they cost more than some damn fine purebred field dogs.

The cost of my bulldog is directly related to the impregnation, prenatal care/testing and birthing procedures (artificial insemination, c-section births, etc). The costs of most purebred dogs, or really any type of purposely bred animal, are that legitimate, conscientious breeders perform a myriad of genetic tests on the parents before breeding so as to ascertain the quality of offspring being produced. Those costs are usually passed on in the form of how much the animal costs.

What someone is paying for when buying a doodle dog is an extremely overpriced mutt. You might as well go to the pound, pick out a mutt and make a several-hundred-dollar donation. It would be put to better use there than rewarding the overwhelming number of unscrupulous breeders using the poodle’s supposed-hypoallergenic coat as an untrue selling point for the mutts they’re producing.

Very few doodle-dog breeders perform genetic testing and therefore are gouging puppy buyers when attaching the overinflated price tag to these pups. Not only are they failing to perform genetic tests to ensure they’re producing physically sound puppies, they’re making false claims as well.

Breeders of doodle dogs claim that by crossing a poodle with another breed, that the best of both breeds is represented in the offspring. It’s not. In fact, it’s genetically impossible. What you do get, however, is a watered down and convoluted mixture of both breeds with little rhyme or reason. Further breeding of these mixed dogs with other mixed dogs only serves to devalue each breed’s strong points even more.

Done within a small pool of genetic specimens, which would at least lend some credibility to a breeding program, the need for genetic testing to ensure dogs with undesirable genetic issues aren’t bred together is only reinforced. If the dogs are outcrossed, even more dilution and randomness takes place within the offspring. There’s no line being produced, but just high-priced mutts being crossed with high-priced mutts; usually by backyard breeders and puppy mills.

The other claim is that the hypoallergenic coat of the poodle is found on all the offspring. For starters, it’s genetically impossible to produce a litter that has 100 percent of the puppies with the coat of one parent. Further, research is showing that the coat of the dog has little, if anything, to do with allergic reactions to the animal. Rather, it’s the dander from the dog’s skin that causes the reactions. Individual dogs might produce more or less dander than another dog, but that has nothing to do with the breed of dog but rather the dog itself. The hypoallergenic dog is a myth.

If you want to pay big bucks for a mutt, far be it from me to tell you how to spend your hard-earned cash. We all have our own level of discretionary income; however the saying about “a fool and his money [being] soon parted” does come to mind.

If you want to have a family pet that amounts to a mutt and costs more than a conscientiously produced purebred dog, knock yourself out. Just don’t try to sell me a poop-scoop full of lies that the dog will possess all the best traits of the parents. It’s genetically impossible, and as a hunter I want a consistently produced dog that’s reliable in the field. A doodle dog won’t ever, yes, I said ever, be able to hold court with a purebred field specimen on their turf, be it Labrador, golden retriever, pointer or whatever other breed the next offhand breeder comes up with to market as the latest fad in the doodle world.

But don’t take my word on the mutts known as designer dogs. The man who started the doodle crazenow regrets his actions because of the disingenuous marketing, lack of genetic care and inflated prices attached to them.

His Frankenstein now terrorizes the globe disguised in lies and marketing, perpetuating genetic mistruths and blackening the eye of purebred dogs and breeding programs.

Call me a snob if you want, but those are the facts behind doodle dogs. Want a pet? Any mutt will do. Want a dog with a consistent type and that can perform in the field? Get a purebred from field lines.