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February 5, 2007 6:52 PM   Subscribe

I want a labradoodle, but a goldendoodle would be OK if it could talk. Then there’s Sam.
posted by Huplescat (62 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
This Sunday's NY Times Magazine article re: same...
posted by vito90 at 6:55 PM on February 5, 2007


This stuff makes serious breeders apoplectic. I leave it to a serious breeder to explain why.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:57 PM on February 5, 2007


You know what this post needs? More Winkle.

Poor ol' Sam... may he rest in peace.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:05 PM on February 5, 2007


peekapoo? cockadoodle? Makes you wonder if these mixes were created for the names alone.

I'm waiting for "breeders" to come up with corblimeys (corgi/Irish setter) and bullshits (Staffordshire/Shih Tzu).
posted by rob511 at 7:10 PM on February 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


NPRFilter :) jk, but I did catch both airings of Fresh Air today
posted by Satapher at 7:14 PM on February 5, 2007


The problem with pure-breeds is they carry a high risk of having genetic defects. When a specific breed has a high rate of a specific recesive gene, it's more likely that any offspring will have bth sets of recessive genes and thefore also have the associated genetic defect. One of the benefits of the new "hybrids" is it drastically reduces the risk of the genetic defect. In that regard, I consider hybrids (and all mutts, really) superior to it's pure bred parents.

As for why to purchase from a breeder, that's a personal choice. There's something to be said about "rescuing" a pooch, but I don't judge anyone who doesn't want to fix someone else's problem. When you buy from a breeder, you have the chance to meet the parents and see for yourself what genetic dispositions/characteristics you're getting. Additionally, you can be sure you're getting a first generation hybrid (second generation and on introduce the risk that both parents can carry the recessive genes found in the pure-breeds).

The quiz linked goes solely on the dogs looks (absolutely the worst reason to pick a pet) and gives no indications to the animals disposition. Having raised both shelter dogs and dogs purchased from respected breeders, I can tell you there's a world of difference. Raising a dog with certain characteristics bred out (agression, seperation anxiety, etc...) is significantly easier than raising a dog with these characteristics. Not all shelter dogs are defective, of course, but having the chance to meet the parents of any pet is a huge help when picking out a pet.
posted by Crash at 7:17 PM on February 5, 2007


they are cheaper at the pound
posted by caddis at 7:19 PM on February 5, 2007


and by the pound.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 7:21 PM on February 5, 2007


Are they de-clawed? Can they drink at the bar?
posted by peeedro at 7:24 PM on February 5, 2007


eponysterical.
posted by quonsar at 7:24 PM on February 5, 2007


Gaze in horror at the 2006 ugliest dog contest entries. Several of the dogs are actually physically disfigured. And meet the winner, Archie. Who is only slightly less ugly than old Sam, may sweet clean Jesus Christ have mercy on his tortured soul.
posted by bob sarabia at 7:24 PM on February 5, 2007


I myself have my eyes on a Puggle
posted by afx114 at 7:27 PM on February 5, 2007


Let me know when they can cross breed octopi with dogs. Dogopus? Octodog? Whatever you call the things they would be deadly smart.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:32 PM on February 5, 2007


Eh, it was bad when they could chase their tails. But how much worse would it be when they could chase their legs?
posted by Richard Daly at 7:36 PM on February 5, 2007


My folks have a GoldenDoodle, now about 1 year old. I am unimpressed -- the dog is more hyper than the Golden Retriever they used to have. It's also fairly large -- at one year old it has the potential to be large than their old (and much loved/missed) Golden. It also terrifies my 2 year old daughter.

So, meh on these designer breeds.
posted by mosk at 7:40 PM on February 5, 2007


But how much worse would it be when they could chase their legs?

They could eat their own legs if you forgot to feed them, and the legs would just grow back later (if you eventually got around to feeding them, that is.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:41 PM on February 5, 2007


When you buy from a breeder, you have the chance to meet the parents and see for yourself what genetic dispositions/characteristics you're getting.

No, you absolutely cannot, because the traits aren't fixed. If you cross a lab and a poodle, one puppy might be a lab with a curly coat, and another might be a poodle that tends to fat, and anything else. Cross and a pug and a beagle and maybe you'll get a pug with longer legs, or a beagle with a smushed nose, or a dog that looks like a pug but is strongly and stubbornly scent-motivated. You have absolutely no fucking way of knowing what you're going to get. The only way to know is to go to the pound and look for an older dog whose traits you can reliably evaluate.

If people want to make a puggle breed, fine. People make new breeds all the time; Shiloh shepherds and black Russian terriers are both quite new. But the way to do this is to work from existing stock towards a set of dogs with definable, repeatable traits. Not to just let a pug fuck a beagle and see what happens.

The dangers of genetic disorders in most breeds of dogs are very overblown and easily preventable by simply buying from a reputable, ethical breeder who can document that all of the ancestors of the current litter were free of genetic disorders back N generations. The problem comes in that most breeders are not ethical, being either ignorant backyard breeders or puppy mills.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:49 PM on February 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh lil' brudder.
posted by peeedro at 7:55 PM on February 5, 2007


One of the benefits of the new "hybrids" is it drastically reduces the risk of the genetic defect.

Not really. Given the fact that most of the people who breed these designer mutts don't bother with health testing their breeding stock, and the fact that they cannot obtain well-bred, health tested breeding stock from extensively health tested pedigrees in the first place (because no ethical breeder would sell to them), not to mention the fact that many of the dogs used as breeding stock do not even have valid, researchable pedigrees, you see plenty of genetic disorders in these dogs.

There are genetic disorders in all dogs, indiscriminate breeding without pedigree research and appropriate health testing increases the risk of seeing one, but being purebred only increases the risk if the disorder is actually present in the dogs being bred, and indiscriminate crosses are made. There are plenty of mutts with hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy and any other genetic disease you care to name. There is such a thing as outcrossing depression, just as there is inbreeding depression - dogs aren't inherently healthier just because they're mutts.

I have no problem with people creating new breeds, as long as they follow an ethical, clearly-defined plan. This is not the case with designer mutts, the whole point is to breed mutts, and since there is no "breed" to be working on, no breed standard to be breeding to, the only reason someone would breed these dogs is to make money.
posted by biscotti at 7:57 PM on February 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


when did this place become talkingdogfilter? that's like the 3rd post in the last week a talking dog video link!
posted by spish at 8:01 PM on February 5, 2007


rob511: "I'm waiting for "breeders" to come up with corblimeys (corgi/Irish setter) and bullshits (Staffordshire/Shih Tzu)."

Also coming soon: the Shitbox (Shih Tzu/Boxer) and the PussyHound (Cat/Foxhound).
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:02 PM on February 5, 2007


While I have some problems with these "flavor of the month" dogs, I lived with a Golden Retriever-Irish Setter mix (Jake) while in college.

Best.
Dog.
Ever.
posted by Marky at 8:09 PM on February 5, 2007


biscotti writes "I have no problem with people creating new breeds, as long as they follow an ethical, clearly-defined plan."

It's my understanding that the Australian breeders who originally bred Labradoodles did exactly this, and that they did a very good job of it. The dogs from this effort have fixed traits and a breed standard. Unfortunately, they named the damn things "Labradoodles", which made every idiot think that he could breed one himself in his back yard.

If they had called them "Australian Water Dogs" or something, they wouldn't have had that problem.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:16 PM on February 5, 2007


It's my understanding that the Australian breeders who originally bred Labradoodles did exactly this, and that they did a very good job of it.

So the NYT article indicates. Of course, the "labradoodle" breeders in the US are by and large not doing that.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:23 PM on February 5, 2007


Been there, done that.

Are the joke names in the first link (Collapso, Poinsetter, Terribull, Blabidor) any worse than the real ones in the second (Affenpoo, Bagle, Beago, Bullmatian, Chug, Corkie, Cockalier)?
posted by wendell at 8:57 PM on February 5, 2007


i dont think i know enough dog breed names to know what any of these mean. they all sound like silly gibberish words. flumpenoodle. blageroodle. plabistruedel. oobleooble.
posted by Tones at 9:07 PM on February 5, 2007


My folks have a GoldenDoodle, now about 1 year old. I am unimpressed -- the dog is more hyper than the Golden Retriever they used to have. It's also fairly large -- at one year old it has the potential to be large than their old (and much loved/missed) Golden. It also terrifies my 2 year old daughter.

We have a golden doodle or goldendoodle or whatever as well, and I completely agree: hyper, and larger than advertised. Ours is pushing 50 pounds and can't handle visitors without freaking out. He's lovable, just a little on the retarded side.
posted by chlorus at 9:50 PM on February 5, 2007


MetaFilter: let a pug fuck a beagle and see what happens.

Wendell, I'll have you know that I was considered quite the cockalier back in my college days.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:08 PM on February 5, 2007


I loved how they showcased one of the biggest puppy mills in the US. Thanks, NYtimes. We all really needed those kind of people to get even slightly-positive publicity.

Responsible breeders make sure that their dogs are certified free of breed-specific genetic defects, make sure the dogs have been properly socialized and take care to plan breedings for the betterment of the breed. There is a reason dogs are expensive from reputable breeders- you get what you pay for.

If you cannot afford a dog from a reputable breeder, get a dog from a rescue or the pound.

Stop Puppy Mills

What is a Reputable Breeder?

What to ask a breeder when purchasing a new friend.

Buying a purebred dog means you may know more about what your dog will be like. I have an adopted greyhound from a racing rescue. She is lazy, and a little nervy, and she likes to run. I know how her mind works, because greyhounds were bred for specific things. You can't tell with a hybrid as clearly what they will look like or act like. That's not always a bad thing- I've owned hybrids from the pound and they were marvelous dogs, but the primary benefit to a purebred dog should not ever be 'status' or 'looks'. It should be that the breed is compatible with your lifestyle. The best way to know that a dog will be compatible with how you live is to buy a purebred dog. That is not a dog from a random breeding by someone who 'just wants to see what happens'.

I will step off my soapbox now.
posted by winna at 10:09 PM on February 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have a mixed breed black lab/chow. She was a rescue puppy, and she's the best dog ever. I love my dog, and she loves me, but I think if I tried to call her by some silly Wonkian style name like Chowbadore, she'd bury my good china in the duck pond.

I guess what I don't get about this whole "designer dog" phase is that the pounds are full of mixed breeds. You're not going to find AKC papered dogs at the local shelter, but you can surely find the misbegotten results of a moonlight encounter between two disparate breeds.

Puppy mills and backyard breeders creating vanity dogs, in an era where we are euthanizing millions of animals every year is beyond loathsome.
posted by dejah420 at 10:31 PM on February 5, 2007


I screwed up a link.

What to ask to find out if a breeder is reputable.
posted by winna at 10:52 PM on February 5, 2007


The problem with pure-breeds is they carry a high risk of having genetic defects. When a specific breed has a high rate of a specific recesive gene, it's more likely that any offspring will have bth sets of recessive genes and thefore also have the associated genetic defect.

True, but a good breeder doesn't breed a dog with a genetic defect. Hip dysplasia affects as much as 30% (some sources say even more) of Golden Retrievers, yet not one dog produced by my breeder in 25 years has had bad hips. Ditto for elbow, eye, and heart problems.

On the flip side, poodles are also at fairly high risk for hip dysplasia, and if mixed with a golden retriever to make a goldendoodle, would retain the very high likelihood of creating a dog with bad hips. Now considering that your average goldendoodle breeder is in it for the money, it's safe to assume that a goldendoodle has a higher incident of hip problems than a purebred golden or poodle from a good breeder.
posted by hindmost at 11:16 PM on February 5, 2007


I'm waiting for someone to create a cockadoodlepoo.
posted by rhiannon at 11:18 PM on February 5, 2007


Biscotti writes: This is not the case with designer mutts, the whole point is to breed mutts, and since there is no "breed" to be working on, no breed standard to be breeding to, the only reason someone would breed these dogs is to make money.

1) I'm not sure I buy that labradoodle breeders are any worse than other breeders (do the people breeding greyhounds have some sort of a high moral calling?). There are an awful lot of purebreds who are - lovably - stumbling into walls and walking with limps, so it's basically self-evident that at least some of the purebred breeders are either not very good at what they do, or not very good people. Either way, genetic diversity buys you a bit of insurance against poorly-managed breeding. As does doing your homework, of course (check references, avoid puppy mills, etc.).

2) From an n of 1 that I know very well, I can at least say that some goldendoodles are pretty much as-advertised: affectionate, adorable, quick learners, good with kids, easy on the allergies, low-shedding, etc. I know (less well) maybe a half dozen other goldendoodles. There's variability across the lot, but they are generally more alike than different. My personal theory is that the poodle traits (which include being somewhat territorial, and needing a lot of running, and being very social) work out to be more dominant, but I'll defer to the geneticists.
posted by genug at 11:29 PM on February 5, 2007


I have a dachshund terrier. I was just trying to figure out what she would be called. Terrischund? Dachier? Ahhh.. but then it suddenly dawned on me. Turns out I own an adorable little DERRIER!

Yeah, be all kindsa jealous. You know you are. I've got a kickass little red derrier and you don't! Even strangers on the street go crazy over it. They want to pet it and stuff, but I don't really let them. My derrier isn't some floozy or something.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:55 PM on February 5, 2007


They should have gone with Poobrador over Labradoodle. Much funnier.
posted by diddlegnome at 12:07 AM on February 6, 2007


My folks have a GoldenDoodle, now about 1 year old. I am unimpressed -- the dog is more hyper than the Golden Retriever they used to have. It's also fairly large

...to which George B. Shaw replied, "Yes, but what if it had my looks and your brains?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:50 AM on February 6, 2007


I guess what I don't get about this whole "designer dog" phase is that the pounds are full of mixed breeds. You're not going to find AKC papered dogs at the local shelter, but you can surely find the misbegotten results of a moonlight encounter between two disparate breeds.

I couldn't agree more. My dog is a mutt from the pound. Totally sweet and well-natured, no "issues" whatsoever. (Not all dogs from the pound were abused, abandoned, or mistreated; and even the ones that were aren't always daunting projects.) Almost all our dog-owning friends have mixed-breed pound dogs, and they are all sweet dogs. Dogs that turned out not to be sweet went back to the pound after their three day trial period.

In her book, Temple Grandin makes an interesting argument that purebred dogs are (generally) primarily selected for looks, and once you have invested $2000 in a dog you will overlook some bad behavior. But dogs from the pound have been selected very harshly for good disposition --- a pound dog that shows aggression is killed (at most pounds) or put in the unadoptable pool (at a no kill shelter). So the adoptable ones have both "hybrid vigor" from mixed genetics and have had to pass multiple tests for good disposition. (The best of the good breeders do pay attention to disposition, but they are what, 1% of breeders? Maybe a tenth of a percent? And the very small backyard breeders inadvertently select for disposition, because they own only one or two dogs, which are their pets. But these are really the exceptions, in my experience.)
posted by Forktine at 3:50 AM on February 6, 2007


I'm not sure I buy that labradoodle breeders are any worse than other breeders (do the people breeding greyhounds have some sort of a high moral calling?).

Of course there are bad breeders of greyhounds, beagles, pugs, vallhunds, Norwegian lundehunds, and Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers. Some are in it to make money, others mean well but don't do their research, others just like showing dogs but don't really care about their welfare when push comes to shove. But there are also solid, ethical breeders of these and just about any other breed.

On the other hand, there aren't ethical breeders of trendy mutts. It's essentially impossible to be one, for the reasons that biscotti outlined.

Either way, genetic diversity buys you a bit of insurance against poorly-managed breeding. As does doing your homework, of course (check references, avoid puppy mills, etc.).

Better just to get a dog from well-managed, well-researched, and carefully planned breeding than from poorly-managed breeding.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:01 AM on February 6, 2007


you're not going to find AKC papered dogs at the local shelter

I'm afraid you find papered dogs in the shelter all the time. "AKC papered" just means that someone ostensibly witnessed a mating between two ostensible purebreds and sent in the paperwork. In other words, it's the barest of bare minimums - most puppy mill dogs are AKC registered, and they are badly-bred, badly-raised and sold to pet stores (no ethical breeder sells to pet stores). You do not find purebred dogs from ethical breeders in the shelter, simply because ethical breeders take responsibility for every single dog they produce for the entirety of the dog's life, and as such they research their potential puppy buyers very carefully and require that the dog be returned to them if the owner cannot keep it.

Sure, there are plenty of bad purebred breeders as well - the argument isn't between purebred and mutt, it's between ethical and unethical, and no ethical breeder breeds mutts on purpose without a specific plan to create a new breed.
posted by biscotti at 6:16 AM on February 6, 2007


Temple Grandin makes an interesting argument that purebred dogs are (generally) primarily selected for looks, and once you have invested $2000 in a dog you will overlook some bad behavior

Again, though: ethical breeders select for looks AND temperament AND health (and they make up far more than 1% of breeders, the problem is that the unethical ones are far more prolific). Ethical breeders not "primarily" select for any of the three, if you don't have all three, you don't have a breeding prospect if you're a truly ethical breeder. Sure, you get nice dogs in shelters, but being a sweet mutt doesn't mean the dog is healthy, and some of the worst cases of hip dysplasia I have ever seen were in mutts - if the foundation stock carries the genes, the offspring are at risk of inheriting it, and it makes no difference WHAT breed they are.
posted by biscotti at 6:22 AM on February 6, 2007


And the very small backyard breeders

I'm going to have to stop you right there. Backyard breeders aren't ethical breeders. An ethical breeder will never advertise in the newspaper, will spend as much time evaluating you as you would them, will health test their dogs extensively, offer health guarantees, and will make you sign a contract that you will give them first refusal if you ever give up your dog. They will be able to answer questions about the breed and pride themselves on being a resource even if you don't buy a dog from them. They will also not hesitate to send you to the local breed rescue. Making the sale is not the primary objective.

The best of the good breeders do pay attention to disposition

ALL of the good breeders pay attention to disposition. By definition.

Almost all our dog-owning friends have mixed-breed pound dogs, and they are all sweet dogs. Dogs that turned out not to be sweet went back to the pound after their three day trial period.

If a good breeder sells you a dog it's because they believe you and the dog will make a good match. They will stand by that for the lifetime of the dog. They will spend their own money fighting to get that dog back if the family situation does not work out.
posted by hindmost at 6:53 AM on February 6, 2007


On the other hand, there aren't ethical breeders of trendy mutts. It's essentially impossible to be one, for the reasons that biscotti outlined.

I gotta disagree on that. Many may be unethical, but all? I know of at least one that I consider highly ethical. My sister-in-law has one of their golden-doodles, and I personally know of other 4 golden doodles from this breeder (btw, I hate that name, there's no second d in golden doodles.). It's a small sample, but the are extremely alike in characteristics and looks.

The breeder not only is ultra-selective in the dogs she breeds, but tests both parents and puppies for genetic defects as well as gaurantees her dogs for 2 years. All dogs are microchipped, spaded, and vaccinated before leaving her kennel, and she will usually phone interview perspective owners before selling a dog.

Sure, puppy mills are evil. No argument there, but to flatly state all cross-breeders are unethical is a bit much no?

As for ROU_Xenophobe's argument that you can't tell what type of dog you're getting based on the parents, I still disagree. Meeting the parents of a puppy (and knowing their health history) is one of the best things you can do when picking out a puppy.
posted by Crash at 7:04 AM on February 6, 2007


Octodog.
posted by rodii at 7:34 AM on February 6, 2007


Almost all our dog-owning friends have mixed-breed pound dogs, and they are all sweet dogs.

Our dog-owning friends have pound dogs and they are all sweet, but problematic. For example, Aaron and his wife just got their third pound dog who introduced poop-eating to the other two dogs. Joe's newest pound dog cannot be left alone in the house otherwise he wees everywhere. John's new pound dog has had several health problems resulting in large vet bills.

Then there is my dog, Fanny. We wanted an English bulldog but didn't want all the health issues. We found a local breeder of the "Valley Bulldog" (3/4 English, 1/4 Boxer) which is turning out to be a very popular mix. And with good reason. Fanny has all the characteristics of the bulldog with none of the health problems (no need for throat, nose, or eye surgery.) She is sweet-smelling, phlegmatic (it takes a lot to make her bark) and smart. Also the absolutely friendliest dog on planet Earth. She falls to pieces with pleasure whenever she meets anyone. People on the street are tickled by how excited she gets by just seeing them.

The only problems are she loves water, but sinks like a stone and I live in fear that one day her skinny, boxer-like legs are going to snap like twigs carrying around her massive (60 lb) bulldog frame.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:43 AM on February 6, 2007


All of these "mega-mixes" are simply mutts. Seriously, the AKC is being a bunch of right prats in certifying all of these oddball breeds.

Is it any wonder that I find dog shows completely pointless these days?
posted by songfta at 8:58 AM on February 6, 2007


I think the above comments offer great definitions of "ethical" breeders, and if I ever bought a dog from a breeder that is the sort I would look for. I guess I'm just not convinced that there are all that many of them, nor that they are producing a very high percentage of the dogs for sale, compared to the big puppy mills and sketchy backyard operations.
posted by Forktine at 9:50 AM on February 6, 2007


No, there aren't that many ethical breeders, and no they don't have a high percentage of the dogs for sale.

That is a feature, and not a flaw.

An ethical breeder takes care of her dogs and doesn't breed a bitch over and over again until the poor creature is totally worn out and broken from back to back litters. An ethical breeder makes sure that every single pup goes to a good home, and is invested in each of those dogs for their lifetime. An ethical breeder spends a lot of time researching her breed and doesn't breed unless she believes that the litter will benefit the breed as a whole.

That is a lot more work, and takes a lot more time than to just dump two animals in a pen every time the bitch goes into heat.
posted by winna at 10:13 AM on February 6, 2007


When I say there aren't that many ethical breeders I am referring to the percentage of ethical breeders against the total dog market, which is unfortunately composed of a lot of puppy mills, backyard breeders and random breedings that end dogs up in the pound because the owners were 'sure' they could find homes for the puppies.

I have met a lot of people who are devoted to the idea of responsible and ethical dog breeding, but you have to look for them. They don't have to advertise, because if you want a good sound steady dog of a particular breed you do the research to find a good breeder.
posted by winna at 10:16 AM on February 6, 2007


I have a Labradoodle. It never barks.
posted by tehloki at 10:58 AM on February 6, 2007


"From that moment on, the creature called dog was doomed. Through ensuing centuries he has been interbred, crossbred, inbred, overbred, stretched, reduced, lengthened, shortened, his face pushed in to make his eyes pop, hair over his eyes to blind him, tails off, ears clipped, and latterly fired to the moon. Today, the creature has lost all knowledge of what he really is; the saving grace is the Mongrel (Thank God for him!) who is course shunned by the Canine Hierarchy." -Spike Milligan
posted by squeak at 11:19 AM on February 6, 2007


This has been well touched on in this thread already (thanks winna) but I feel the need to hop onto the soapbox myself:

One of the chief problems with selling labradoodles and peekapoos and the like, is that most people who wander into a pet store and fall in love with one, don't realize that it's nothing more than a very very expensive mutt. They are being sold as a premium item based on a clever name. Normally, I'd be OK with that, as it should be up to the consumer to be smart enough to do their due diligence when spending large sums of money.

But the problem here is that the breeders that are putting these dogs into pet stores are not interested in the health of the animals at all. (See some of the above links regarding puppy mills and you'll get the idea.)

Most breeders are going to make their very best efforts to rid their line of genetic defects. It makes sense from the fact that many breeders show their dogs and don't want to lose their competitive edge, and it makes sense financially; people are going to be more interested in spending hundreds and thousands of dollars on a dog where they can trace it's heritage back through several generations to healthy animals.

Now, back on the subject of designer mutt: There is nothing inherently wrong with mutts.They generally exhibit a healthy robustness that comes with the avoidance of inbreeding. The problem with mutts, is that they are unpredictable. An AKC dog is going to have a temperament predictable to it's breed. Labs will be big, dumb, and sweet. Jack Russel terriers will be clever and energetic. There will be variations within the breed, but you will know where the starting ground is.

A designer mutt won't have this. Since there is no specific standards into what makes a yorkiepoo, you might end up with something that is mostly poodle, with just a little Yorkshire. Or vice versa.

Even this would be forgivable were it not for the unethical people who view the ignorance of the public as a financial windfall. They know that people are just buying the cute puppy and since it has an expensive name, it makes perfect sense to spend $600 dollars on it. Right? I mean, that's the kind of money you spend on a purebred. So it must be good...

There is no motivation to make sure the dogs are healthy, there is no drive to ensure that there is consistency in the dogs' behavior. There are just baskets full of warm fuzzy dollar-signs.
posted by quin at 11:25 AM on February 6, 2007


the AKC is being a bunch of right prats in certifying all of these oddball breeds.

What? The AKC doesn't "certify" any mixed breeds, for anything. The AKC only registers purebred dogs, and they offer what's called an ILP number for spayed/neutered dogs of unknown parentage which look similar enough to an AKC recognized breed to be called that - but these are ONLY desexed dogs, and the ILP is only offered for performance events.

I'm not sure where you got the idea that the AKC recognizes mutts, but they don't - the article states that some people are trying to get the "Labradoodle" recognized, but it takes years to get purebreds which are recognized elsewhere to become AKC recognized, and even longer if you're trying to get a new breed recognized since you need a certain number of years of reliable pedigree-keeping plus proven true breeding. As far as I know, Labradoodles still aren't recognized by any major registry anywhere in the world (and since they don't yet breed true as far as I know, they won't be recognized by any reputable registry until they do).
posted by biscotti at 11:32 AM on February 6, 2007


I gotta disagree on that. Many may be unethical, but all?

By definition, yes, all of them except those working to actually create a new breed.

Ethical breeding is not about creating puppies for people to enjoy. Ethical breeding is about improving or maintaining the breed, and puppies are just the only way that you can do that. Having puppies to sell is an incidental part of ethical breeding, not the goal of it.

These people, while they seem nice enough, are breeding dogs for no other reason than to sell them to people, to satisfy a demand for puppies. Given the huge numbers of mutts in pounds or worse, this is an unethical reason to breed dogs.

Meeting the parents of a puppy (and knowing their health history) is one of the best things you can do when picking out a puppy.

Of course it is. But if you meet a poodle and a lab, you can't make any solid bets about what kind of dog you're going to end up with from them. There's way too much variation among their offspring for that. Maybe you'll end up with a lab that's curly-coated and less sheddy. Maybe you'll get a poodle with a greasy, sheddy coat.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:51 AM on February 6, 2007


Ethical breeding is not about creating puppies for people to enjoy. Ethical breeding is about improving or maintaining the breed, and puppies are just the only way that you can do that.

Ethical breeding is about breeding healthy, happy dogs that end up with humans, either as part of a family or as a worker. Maintaining the breed seems to be a legit goal, but the only goal? I still think you're over simplifying. How do you think we got different breeds?

These people, while they seem nice enough, are breeding dogs for no other reason than to sell them to people, to satisfy a demand for puppies. Given the huge numbers of mutts in pounds or worse, this is an unethical reason to breed dogs.

Or they might actually just love dogs and/or the mix that results when certain breeds are combined. I doubt the breeder I linked above makes much money based on the limited number of litters she produces.

As for buying a puppy given the number of mutts in the pound, how is this any different than buying a pure-bred puppy (given that you're not a breeder yourself and trying to enhance the breed)?

Regarding meeting the parents, I was assuming the puppy was already alive and available for inspection. I wouldn't recommend anyone buy a dog based solely off the parents, since there's a fair bit of discrepency even in a single litter.
posted by Crash at 12:21 PM on February 6, 2007


Maintaining the breed seems to be a legit goal, but the only goal?

Essentially. There are plenty of pound dogs to satisfy the demand for puppies, so breeding for that demand is unethical. Intentionally breeding dogs can only be ethical if in service to some other decent goal that can only be achieved by breeding dogs that then have to be sold (or kept).

How do you think we got different breeds?

Fine, creating a new breed can be ethical breeding too.

Or they might actually just love dogs and/or the mix that results when certain breeds are combined.

Then they're overgrown backyard breeders who do their health checks, not ethical breeders. Ethical breeders don't breed their dogs because they just WUUUUV widdle puppies.

As for buying a puppy given the number of mutts in the pound

Not buying, breeding. A very different decision.

Buying is about finding the right dog for you, and to a lesser extent about not encouraging particularly bad breeding practices. It's nearly morally neutral. As long as you're not dealing with downright immoral puppy millers, and as long as you're willing to care for the dog properly, it doesn't make much difference to me whether you get an existing dog from the pound or from a breeder or even from the nice labradoodle people.

Breeding is about deciding whether or not to bring some new dogs into the world. Dogs that almost certainly aren't strictly needed for anything. Dogs in a world that habitually mistreats dogs, and in a world with an existing surplus of dogs. If you're going to breed a litter of puppies, you really should have a bloody good reason to do so. Because this cross will help preserve a rare breed for the next generation, that seems a decent reason. To help weed out a genetic malady from the breed, that seems like a good reason. To help maintain working ability in a breed and leave it better for the next generation, that seems a decent reason. So that people can have puppies, that's just not good enough.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:05 PM on February 6, 2007


The majority of dogs in pounds/shelters are there because someone screwed up. Someone failed to spay/neuter their pet and wound up with a litter they couldn't find homes for, or someone bought a dog for one of a thousand bad reasons and then dumped it on the shelter (or abandoned the pet and it was sent to the shelter).

It's not my responsibility to make up for some moron's failure, nor is it the breeders responsibility to not sell great dogs because there's puppies avialable in a shelter somewhere. If you want to adopt a dog from a shelter, that's great, but no one is obligated to rescue someone else's mistake if they'd rather have a dog from the time it's a puppy and want a specific type.

I just fail to see any moral difference between people that breed pure-breds and sell them as family pets and people that cross breed dogs and sell them as family pets.
posted by Crash at 1:46 PM on February 6, 2007


nor is it the breeders responsibility to not sell great dogs because there's puppies avialable in a shelter somewhere

Well, that's where we differ, isn't it? Though again I'm not talking about the selling, I'm talking about the breeding.

If you want to adopt a dog from a shelter, that's great, but no one is obligated to rescue someone else's mistake if they'd rather have a dog from the time it's a puppy and want a specific type.

I haven't said that they are. I've only said that breeders should not breed to purposely service that market. Ethical breeders sell the puppies they aren't planning to use. The difference is that, ex ante, they're planning to use a puppy from this litter in their program, working towards some goal.

I just fail to see any moral difference between people that breed pure-breds and sell them as family pets and people that cross breed dogs and sell them as family pets.

I don't see one either. I see a difference between people who breed dogs to sell them and people who breed dogs for a variety of other purposes related to preservation and improvement and sell the excess puppies that are an unavoidable consequence of their activity.

If all dog breeders were ethical -- and relatively few are -- then there would still be plenty of purebred puppies available.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:43 PM on February 6, 2007


I know of at least one that I consider highly ethical.

I'm gonna disagree there. For one thing, I'm deeply suspicious of a breeder who can't spell hip dysplasia properly, for another, I'm even more suspicious of a breeder who makes demonstrably false claims about how hybrids are healthier than either parent, who sells puppies without even meeting the prospective owners, who doesn't refund deposits and who breeds litters specifically for holidays like Valentine's Day.
posted by biscotti at 3:18 PM on February 6, 2007


Crash : I just fail to see any moral difference between people that breed pure-breds and sell them as family pets and people that cross breed dogs and sell them as family pets.

To me the distinction is being put in the wrong place here; there isn't any ethical difference between someone who is breeding mutts and someone who is breeding AKC purebreds. Both may have the same desire create a strong healthy dog, it's just that one is trying to get to a measurable standard, and the other may be breeding for strength, intelligence, etc. Regardless of appearance. Point is, I don't view these people as the problem, because they aren't doing it for the money.

The people who are viewing this as an opportunity to sell the animals for a huge profit regardless of it's health. These are the ones I have an issue with.

By way of example, I have two dogs. One is a purebred Australian Cattle Dog. Beautiful animal. From champion parents, we were told that if we wanted to, we could get her papers and show her. We said 'nope', got her fixed and have had a happy, hyper-intelligent, totally crazy dog. We paid about $500 for her, which considering her background was a steal. I also have a mostly-rat terrier, farm bred mutt. Breeder was probably just looking for a good ratter and ended up with more than they needed. He cost me $25. (In fact, the flea bath we got him on the way home cost more than he did.)

In both these cases, I have no doubt in my mind that I ended up with quality animals. In one case it was because there was documented heritage, in the other we have a breeder who is looking for a specific and robust trait. The farm breeder could have tried selling them as a designer dog, but since he wasn't in it for the money (obviously), I felt much more confident about the health of the dog I was getting. (Though it was damn near impossible to choose between him and his siblings. Rat terrier puppies are cute in a way that defies description.)
posted by quin at 3:25 PM on February 6, 2007


Ok, Rou, I guess we're going to have to agree to disagree. The measurable standards for a breed were created by us, I just don't see why trying to breed recessive traits to match man-made criteria is ethical but trying to breed healthy happy dogs for family pets is not.

The NYT article talks about how pugs normally can't mate due to the body size and almost all pugs are delivered by c-section because the traits we've bred into them make it impossible to have a normal birth. It seems trying to meet the breed standards is crippling pugs. I fail to see the higher calling in this, so I guess we're just on different pages.
posted by Crash at 4:44 AM on February 7, 2007


Sure, but most breeders are not ethical, and the dog world really is deeply fucked-up. Even at the collective level, some breed organizations seem to be downright pathological. Lots of the sort of breeder I have in mind would be working against common practice in show-ring breeding, not with it.

Take pugs. Imagine a breeder working, against the grain, to breed and maintain pugs that can actually achieve the miracle of natural childbirth.

Imagine a set of cavalier King Charles spaniel breeders actually doing what's necessary to eliminate the dreadful mitral-valve problems they have, largely fixed there by show breeders who don't care about the health of the dogs they breed.

Or look at the English springer spaniel breeders who worked to breed springers without the terrifying unprovoked-aggression problems that were appearing in the breed.

Or, as a smaller scale, imagine breeders working to maintain working ability in dogs whose "show lines" seem to have lost the ability, so that people in the next generation can see what an actual border collie or Australian shepherd looks and acts like, as opposed to the thing in the AKC ring that can't herd.

These sorts of things might be worthwhile reasons to bring yet another litter of puppies into the world. Just to satisfy the demand for puppies, less so. But, yeah, just to have pretty show dogs for dog shows so you can win awards, also not so much a good reason.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:33 AM on February 7, 2007


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