Designer Dog Myths

Or how to make big $$$ with a mutt

Trendy Desinger dogs such as puggles and schnoodles combine the best of both worlds and eliminate all the bad information in the genetic pool of the pure breds – or do they???

Well, they may. There is a tiny chance that your mutt will not have any of the bad treats that come with the pug or beagle; it is more likely that the dog has some of both though, and even possible that he has ALL bad treats combined. 

The truth is: creators of Designer dogs have no influence on the traits of the mix breed puppy, other than the influence a really responsible breeder has and always had: through careful line selection. Since the mutt breeders generally believe that by combining two breeds the result will be a great dog with all the good and none of the bad, they usually don’t even worry about the quality of either one of the parents, as their babies will somehow miraculously skip those bad genes anyway. Right.

You may get lucky and get a really nice mutt with no health problems. If that is what you are looking for…fine. There are many of those poor creatures in shelters across the country and guess what: the adoption fee is usually about $70. If you rather want to pay 1,500 for a Puggle, or a Labradoodle, well, I can’t help you with that; but I may have a bridge to sell, just in case you are interested.

Reputable breeders with a passion for their breed will not waste their good lines – which are sometimes hard to buy into – to breed a mutt, even if that is where the money is. In fact, it can be assumed that most lines that are interbred, are of very inferior quality for that very reason. Once reputable breeders who mix their respective breeds (if they breed more than one breed) will be dropped from their networks like a hot potato as soon as word gets out and they will no longer be accepted by their piers and lose access to high quality lineages which turns into a downward spiral for mutt breeders as they now can’t even buy quality breeding dogs any longer even if they wanted to.

So what makes designer-mutt breeders do what they do? If you had a very substandard Pug and a similar poorly bred Beagle, or, if you bought them as pets, without breeding rights (quite possibly because the original breeder did not deem them breed-worthy) and you were trying to cash in on some puppies, your predicament is that you can’t make any money if you stay within the breed. However, if you mix the two, the result is something so different that you will never know how bad the parents were. The chances to get a miracle dog are therefore rather slim and the risks to get the worst out of both worlds of inferior parents are irresponsible.

I am not opposed to adopting a mixed breed and have in fact done so myself. I found two nice large breed mixes at the shelter and did not spend a fortune on them. While I love them both, it turned out that one of the two has some issues and he is mentally not completely stable. He gets irritated easily and has nibbed several members of our extended family and some friends as well. He has some anxiety issues and at times shows fear aggression. Those issues may be due to the fact that he was already a year or two old and we do not know much about his history, however, mixing up genes can also lead to unexpected results in many ways.
The AKC has a very clear stands on mixed breeds and does not approve of cross breeding for numerous reasons.

Before you buy a mutt, please consider this:

1. Mixing up genes can lead to unexpected results in many ways as mentioned above. The reason why it is actually more likely to have a mutt with bad traits is simply that there is no reason to use superior parents with exellent traits.
Inferior quality will do as there is no mixed breed standard to comply with, no baseline to compare with, and the results of using inferior parents who were deemed unfit to breed will not show in the mutt. Hence any dog is eligible for crossbreeding as neither disposition nor any typical breed characteristics really matter.

Essentially, this opens the door for breeders with inferior quality to make a buck. How much do you think they care about health issues or proper upbringing?
Think about it: if a German like myself has a child with an Italian, you may get a kid with a sense for fashion that actually makes it on time for the interview. On the other hand, your kid may dress in socks and sandals and also be late for every appointment. Now: if the German is bowlegged and hairy and the Italian is unusually short and has bad ears, you are likely to get a bowlegged, hairy elf; and it does not even matter if your elf is on time and knows how to dress! Unfortunately, the results of breeding dogs are often a bit more serious and the consequences can be heartbreaking and expensive.

Except for possible health issues, there may be character and temperament issues as well. Adopting a pure bred on the other hand is very unlikely to unveil future surprises as standard breeds have well known characteristics, provided the puppy has been socialized well, which leads us to our next point: 
2. Breeders of designer dogs have often questionable motives and the socialization and care that the puppies receive may very well reflect those motives which, just like the genetic factor, may quite possibly result in mental issues. The simple truth is that there is a lucrative market for “designer dogs” based on the “consumers'” lack of knowledge, insight and understanding.

3. It is a well established fact that mixed breeds are disproportionately represented at animal shelters and one has to wonder why it is so much easier to give up a mix.

While I am worried about many of those poor puppies ending up in shelters one not so far day, I have to welcome and embrace this ridiculous trend from the standpoint of a purebred fancier, as it will ultimately increase the quality of my breed again after years of decline, as many inferior pugs (or Havanese) are disappearing through their breeding into puggles and thelike, while the superior quality will remain in the hands of breeders who nurture those lines into an even healthier breed, unfortunately, but very likely at a higher price for the general public. The reduction in the genetic pool available to pug or havanese breeders as well as other purebred fanciers may turn out to be a blessing after years of epidemic breeding to satisfy an ever increasing demand. The more backyard breeders jump on that money train (breeding “Designer-dogs”), thereby diluting their inferior lines as they are creating puggles and schnuggles, the better for us who are truly interested in selective breeding of a wonderful breed. It will be our responsibility to avoid mistakes of the past and not sell our dogs for breeding to just anyone again. Which brings up the issue of limited registrations.

Limited registrations do not help eliminating designer dogs as they don’t need papers anyway; and it does not cure the problem of breeding inferior parents of the same breed either, as long as competing organizations are willing to register a dog not eligible with the original organization and provide legitimate papers for a dog deemed to be unfit for breeding by his breeder.