Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"Designer Dogs"...or Mutts?

Edited to add:  Please don't be offended by my use of the word "mutt".  I don't mean to use it in a negative way whatsoever.  I say it the same way I refer to myself as a "crazy dog lady" - happily and with pride!

During the first few months of my venture into pet blogging, I was just starting to dip my toes into the community.  I hadn't yet made any connections with brands - in fact, I'm pretty sure I didn't yet know that was possible!  I was in the phase where I was desperate for blogging buddies and more pageviews.  A new friend had just posted about the differences between reputable and backyard breeders.  In response to the article, I posted a comment about how I had purchased a puppy from a breeder before knowing anything about rescue, and how I was "so thankful" that looking back, the breeder was a very reputable one.

"We bought a Mal-Shi, and the breeder was wonderful!" is what I think my comment said.  

Sigh.  You guys, I didn't know.  When I posted that comment last year, I had NO idea that deliberately breeding mixed-breed dogs was not a good thing.  But I was in for a rather rude awakening.  Let's just say there were some emails.  "A breeder who sells mutts for a living shouldn't call himself a breeder at all!" one woman hissed.  (Okay, it was an email, so I don't know if she actually hissed...but the tone was definitely a "hissing" one.)  "I don't know what a "Mal-Shi" is even supposed to be, but I certainly hope you didn't spend hundreds of dollars on a mixed breed!  That would be a huge error in judgment!" another email announced.

(Photo found here; this link actually promotes "hybrid" dogs, calling them healthier than purebreds and more hypoallergenic.  Please note that I do not agree with this.)

I was hurt.  I was unpleasantly surprised.  I didn't know.  That's all I could say.  

I was 20 years old, and my now-husband had just proposed to me.  We were young, and silly, and eager to start a little family.  We wanted a puppy to complete that picture.  I had never set foot inside an animal shelter, and I don't think I had ever even heard the words "puppy mill" or "backyard breeder."  A family friend had just bought what she called a "Yorkie-Poo," and I thought it was the cutest thing ever.  I didn't think about unhealthy genetic traits...I didn't think about the cost.  (Which was...a lot.  *Hides under chair in shame*)

I didn't think, period.

Oh goodness, it's a "Boxbulliehuahua"!  (Photo from here)

The truth is, designer breeds are just mutts (which, in my mind, is not a negative word - I love all dogs, mixed or purebred) with fancy names.  Reputable breeders focus on breeding purebred dogs and passing down only the best genetic traits.  They don't focus on putting an $800 price tag on a breed that ends in "Poo" or "Oodle".  You can read here about the original creator of the Labradoodle, who regrets what he did (beginning the designer breed craze) and says, "I released a Frankenstein."  Purposefully cross-breeding, in all honesty, is irresponsible - it opens the dog up to a myriad of possible future health issues.  

The designer dog craze is only made crazier due to celebrities and their adorable pups, like Ashley Tisdale here with her "Maltipoo" (Photo from here)

Her name is Bella.  Jared was allergic to her, and the breeder (who, I will say, was a very nice man) told us we could bring her back.  Instead, Bella now lives with Jared's parents, my in-laws, and is devoted to picking on her big brother and barking at the neighbor dog.  She is a great dog and is so loved, and for that reason, I don't regret what I did.  But I know it's something I would never do again.  Mixed breed dogs who are just as cute and cuddly can be found at a rescue or shelter; plus, instead of spending a fortune, you'll be saving a life.  

This is Bella.  Hell yeah, she's cute!  ...So are the mixed breed dogs at your local shelter.

What do you think about "designer breeds"?  I'd love to know.

If you'd like to read more about this topic, the following links are great sources:


  1. Bella is adorable. Every single breed of dog started out by mixing others to end up with the desired traits and hopefully to eventually reproduce them with certainty going forward. (This is where designer breeds fall short.) It does sound like you found someone who is reputable because he would take the dog back (which is more than some rescues I know would do). But you hit on something. Breeding is about more than trying to capitalize on the current celebrity trend. It takes dedication and knowledge of the breed and a knowledge of proper health clearances and proper structure. It is more than just putting two dogs together which is unfortunately what many who breed so called designer breeds do (some not all because I think many Goldendoodles are health tested these days).

    Thanks so much for joining the hop.

  2. Bella is such a cutie! I agree with Linda. However, though I've had purebred dogs in my life, my favorite breed is mutt. Rescued mutts.

  3. Bella is adorable! I've had both mutts and purebred dogs and have loved each and everyone of them. All of our purebred dogs we were rescued from a situation they were in. So we really didn't get them because we wanted a purebred. If I'm lucky enough to have anymore dogs, they will all be adopted from the shelter or a rescue!

  4. Hi there!

    Bella is adorable! There are so many mixes of breeds these days. It makes us wonder what the future holds for breeds.

  5. I agree with 2 Brown Dawgs too. Sampson is the result of a back yard breeder and I wouldn't trade him for anything in the world. When I was a kid though, we got our dogs because someone else's dog accidentally got pregnant.

    I would like it if the media stopped photographing celebrities with their 'designer' dogs, I cringe every time I see one.

    Thank you for joining the blog hop.

  6. All dogs are precious, but they are all prone to certain health issues. I've come to realize that you do your research and find the problems that you can live with. I do find it outlandish that people pay so much for a mixed breed.

  7. We did a lot of research on this for my documentary and most "pure breeds" are fairly recent given dogs have been around so many thousands of years. Humans have always manipulated dogs to get the qualities they want and breeds can change in several generations or years. I think there are some amazing pure breeds, especially with jobs like hunting, herding or service dogs. Then I love the new poo or doodle breeds- many of the therapy dogs we know are "designer mixes" and less allergens, smart, delightful dogs. I have had mainly "mutts" from rescues or the street and wonderful dogs. However I have to say Kilo the Rescue Pug has a lot of issues I hope we can resolve. XS

  8. Hi Y'all,

    2browndawgs is so correct. Pure breds were once cross bred to develop specific breed traits or to enhance certain breed traits. After many years of selective cross breeding and generations later, a new breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club.

    The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a truly American Breed. If you go to you can see how this breed was developed from other breeds and what traits the breeder was seeking in his quest for the perfect retriever for the icy winter waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

    The "designer dog" craze seems to have gone crazy and is no longer "selective" to develop a specific trait. It seems everyone is breeding these crosses of various breeds and selling them for ridiculous prices. Often you can purchase a registered pure bred with known traits for considerably less than a "designer pup".

    We moved to

    Y'all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  9. We love all dogs so I don't mind designer bred dogs, as long as they are bred by responsible breeders. Our bigger concern is with the irresponsible pure bred owners who bred for show and create many health and genetic issues in their 'pure' bred dogs. Just take a look at the Bulldog or Pug or GSD over the last 50 years and you'll see what I mean. The health and well being of the dog should take precedence over appearance. If Bella's parent were healthy and fit and cleared by their vet and the breeder willing and able to care for them if they were returned for whatever reason, then go for it.

  10. The other day I heard of a BoxerDoodle and all I could think was "Why?" What traits are they going for, exactly? I think these "breeds" just make it easier for puppy mills to work with whatever they have making up ridiculous mixes to sell for inflated prices, but as long as people will pay, it will keep happening. Great post!