No, "Labradoodle" is the monster, not the doctor
September 30, 2019 7:36 AM   Subscribe

 
What really interests me about Conron's reaction is that it doesn't seem to be about regret about breeding dogs in general, but about setting off the breeding of cross-bred dogs, which I would have assumed to be healthier overall than purebred. I don't really buy the argument that prior to crossbreeding, breeders were super conscientious about breeding the healthiest dogs possible, and crossbreeding let the riffraf in.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:44 AM on September 30, 2019 [26 favorites]


I love all dogs, but I never had a soft spot for doodles. You would think they would combine the sweetness of labs with the cleverness of poodles, but the ones I've met combine the indifference of poodles with the dopiness of labs. Still, I know they must be best boys to their own folks.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:56 AM on September 30, 2019 [10 favorites]


Labradoodles are basically the Comic Sans of dogs.
posted by elwoodwiles at 7:57 AM on September 30, 2019 [41 favorites]


dinty -

Generalizing "breeders" may not be the best way to phrase it. There are a ton of very poor backyard breeders out there for sure, but there are also a significant number of professionals who put a great deal of effort into careful genetic selection.

All of our Labradors and Goldens have been from breeders who are very involved in the community, carefully select, and actively try to improve the breed.

That said, I know of a great number of people with Goldendoodles and Labradoodles who have had nothing but excellent experiences with these breeds. In terms of genetic issues, they've generally been the same afflictions that Goldens and Labs face as they get up to 9-10 years of age: hip and knee issues, skin rashes, and the worst of them all - a high prevalence of cancer.

Like most things, your mileage will vary. Our breeders were recommended by people within the respective retriever community who take their dogs very seriously, and, their litters were generally sold out upwards of 18 months in advance.
posted by tgrundke at 8:01 AM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


I grew up with a standard poodle and this:

But after trialling 33 different standard poodles, Wally came to the conclusion that the poodle didn't have the right temperament to be a successful guide dog.

is a very diplomatic way to put it (lol).

There’s a very nice, gentle labradoodle in my neighborhood who’s the elder stateswoman of the dog park, so I can see their good side. She’s a lovely dog.
posted by sallybrown at 8:04 AM on September 30, 2019 [9 favorites]


breeders were super conscientious about breeding the healthiest dogs possible

Oh, they definitely weren't/aren't.* They're conscientious about meeting the breed standard which, in some cases, is arguably not healthy. See for example the changes to the pug breed standard over time. They used to have a snout, albeit a small one, rather than the current squished face that causes breathing issues and other health problems.

See also: German Shepherds and past controversy around the "show dog" standard vs. the working dog standard.

*Not all breeders, etc.
posted by asnider at 8:11 AM on September 30, 2019 [25 favorites]


Generalizing "breeders" may not be the best way to phrase it. There are a ton of very poor backyard breeders out there for sure, but there are also a significant number of professionals who put a great deal of effort into careful genetic selection.

Often a little too careful, which is why we have inbreeding problems to begin with.
posted by ocschwar at 8:14 AM on September 30, 2019 [7 favorites]


At this point in time there is such a thing as a double doodle, breeding two doodles together with the intent that you only get certain characteristics such as non shedding and hypo allergenic in a litter of puppies.

I don't know if it this kind of trend he was talking about or the fact that his intention was to breed a working dog out of two working dog breeds and now lots of labradoodles are purchased by people don't understand the needs of either breed.
posted by domino at 8:16 AM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


I've known a few families with "labradoodles", and I use the quotes on purpose since a lot of them were obviously overbred and are genetic nightmares. Some look nothing like a poodle or labrador and I have to wonder how they got sold in the first place.

But there is a group in Australia that's trying to redo the breed and have renamed it as a Cobberdog. While the AKC will never recognize them, these breeders admit that the ALD got out of control and they're trying to at least document and control how far these new dogs will go.

I'm biased because I own one of these critters, descended from the Rutlands group I linked here, and he's an absolute marvel. All the qualities we could ever expect from the breed: smart, gentle, loving, playful, super low-allergen, perhaps a little too attached to my wife... but we couldn't be happier with him.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:16 AM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


With all due respect, there is a poodle-based hybrid that predates Mr. Conron - the cockapoo, which started showing up in the 1950s. They tend to be a little more outgoing than the doodles, and they're also smaller and cute as heck so they can be popular. (Also the name "cockapoo" is fun to say.)

The "cute as heck" aspect lead to some unscrupulous breeders over the years, and the UK cockapoo associations are focused more on "make sure the breeders aren't being dicks" than they are on "make sure the generations of cockapoos are breeding true" or whatever.

(Disclaimer: our family dog when I was a kid was a cockapoo and was an awesome little dude. We went the "a neighbor's family had puppies and were giving them away" route, and my father grew up taking care of my grandfather's coonhounds so he knew a lot about how to check out if a dog was healthy.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:20 AM on September 30, 2019 [10 favorites]


They're conscientious about meeting the breed standard which, in some cases, is arguably not healthy.

I don't think it's arguable anymore. There are entire, distinct, recognizable breeds that literally cannot reproduce without human intervention. Breed standards are crimes against the entire species.
posted by Etrigan at 8:25 AM on September 30, 2019 [38 favorites]


I don't think it's arguable anymore. There are entire, distinct, recognizable breeds that literally cannot reproduce without human intervention. Breed standards are crimes against the entire species.

Came in here to argue exactly this point. It's human-centric intervention, intended on inbreeding these poor dogs to the point where basic biological systems like respiration or movement are severely impeded, simply because it would make the dog impure in the eyes of the American Kennel Club to dilute their DNA with any genetic diversity. It's like an ongoing weird horrible eugenics experiment, conducted on animals that we know damn well can experience the pain and fear it results in.

Adopt mutts, people.
posted by Mayor West at 8:33 AM on September 30, 2019 [41 favorites]


That said, I know of a great number of people with Goldendoodles and Labradoodles who have had nothing but excellent experiences with these breeds.

[Janet] Not breeds. [/Janet]

All the various oodles are mutts, no different than mutts from the pound. A poodle and lab fuck, you don't know what you're gonna get; it's just a big crapshoot from their combined genetics. Might well get basically a poodle but with a greasy, superallergenic lab coat.

[40footlettersoffire]OBVIOUSLY THERE IS NOTHING WHATSOEVER WRONG WITH MUTTS[/40footlettersoffire] but you are kind of a dink if you're paying umpty-thousand dollars for one, especially (as is almost certainly true) one with no health testing behind it. And you're a weapons-grade asshole if you're intentionally breeding them, especially for the truly disgusting prices you see out there given the lack of apparent effort or care.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:37 AM on September 30, 2019 [13 favorites]


I don't think it's arguable anymore.

I was originally going to write "definitely not healthy," but walked it back before hitting the "post comment" button because I felt like I was maybe risking a flame war by not hedging my words.
posted by asnider at 8:42 AM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


A poodle and lab fuck, you don't know what you're gonna get; it's just a big crapshoot from their combined genetics. Might well get basically a poodle but with a greasy, superallergenic lab coat

This is more or less what happened to a friend of mine. She runs a daycare our of their home, so they wanted a mellow non-shedding non-allergenic dog. Their very expensive labradoodle puppy grew up to be the exact opposite of that.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 8:50 AM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


You can't trust breeders. IF you want a dog, the only way to do it is to have one follow you home one day and it refuses to leave when you kick a little dust at it and say "get away, scamp." When it stays you know it has accepted you as it's pet. If you didn't meet your dog this way, you might be a monster.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:51 AM on September 30, 2019 [15 favorites]


As a tiny piece of anecdata, my pupper is most likely a Lab/GSD mix. She looks like a tall, leggy lab body with GSD markings. When she was a pup, the vet said to keep a close eye on her hips because GSDs have issues with hip dysplasia, arthritis, etc...and it wasn't clear "how much" GSD she had in her. Luckily, she has "Lab Hips" (or, hips of one of her parent dogs of mystery) and, at age 11, she has not shown one sign of problems that plague purebred GSDs. The vet says that she has the physical traits of a dog half her age and says "hybrid vigor!" about it.

Tempermentally, Luce seems to have inherited the recessive traits of both labs and GSDs: unlike most Labs, she is terrified of water. And unlike most GSDs, she is a big huge chicken. She was a freebie from the pound (leftover last puppy from a litter). I know that Labradoodles are essentially mutts like her, and I do raise an eyebrow when I hear of someone who paid $$$$ to get a dog with the exact temperament that they want...especially from a mixed breed. Who knows - you might want a brave guard dog that loves water, and wind up with a lazybones chickendog who can't be coerced into the room with the bathtub even with the most tempting of doggie treats.
posted by Gray Duck at 8:57 AM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


but you are kind of a dink if you're paying umpty-thousand dollars for one, especially (as is almost certainly true) one with no health testing behind it. And you're a weapons-grade asshole if you're intentionally breeding them, especially for the truly disgusting prices you see out there given the lack of apparent effort or care.

I mean, I'd argue that you're kind of a dink for spending that money on any type of 'designer dog', whether it's purebred or a mutt. Working dogs, I kind of understand. But I don't really see the difference between paying for a purebred or paying for a mutt in terms of foolishness. The mutt might be more of a crapshoot, but the purebred comes with known problems.

You can't trust breeders. IF you want a dog, the only way to do it is to have one follow you home one day and it refuses to leave when you kick a little dust at it and say "go away, scamp." If you didn't meet your dog this way, you might be a monster.

You joke, but that's essentially how most of the folks I knew who had dogs growing up got them - either that, or you know someone who had a litter or was moving or something. Going to the pound was a distant third, and paying was unheard of. Hell, that's how cat ownership generally works, and nobody thinks that's weird.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:58 AM on September 30, 2019 [5 favorites]


I see what you did with the title ...

I've got a mini labradoodle (I didn't pay umpteen whatever for her). She's a very good dog. I don't think she's very smart (she's could be but she isn't smart in the easy to train way). She's in some ways the calmest dog I've had. She can get very excited about her people and likes to bark at strangers but she's unflappable with other dogs, isn't scared at all of thunder, totally cool with fireworks, etc.

She's not my favorite dog of all time but she might be #2. She's spoiled but generally so able to go along with anything that it generally doesn't matter. If she were bigger (she's 24 pounds) she would need better training but only with how she plays with her family. She's not quite 3 and health issues haven't appeared but she's still young.

In conclusion, yadayada land of contrasts.
posted by jclarkin at 8:59 AM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


But after trialling 33 different standard poodles, Wally came to the conclusion that the poodle didn't have the right temperament to be a successful guide dog.

I admit I'm a cat person, but this is the sort of thing I always find really fishy. People introducing me to their dogs have often tried to talk about what kind of temperament that breed has and how it therefore applies to their dogs... and half the time, they seem to be viewing it through some really rose-colored glasses to come to that conclusion, and the other half the dog is just generally well-trained and well-socialized.

And so I start googling, and it turns out that... in fact, plenty of people now train standard poodles as various assistance dogs. Where did this guy get the idea that poodles weren't suited for it, and were his attempts at using poodles influenced by his feelings about poodles, or did he just get vastly different poodles than some of these other working poodles? How many people now are supposedly buying these sorts of crosses for desirable personality traits that are not actually determined by the breeds of their antecedents?
posted by Sequence at 9:10 AM on September 30, 2019 [5 favorites]


Shelters are full of Very Good Dogs who need homes. With few exceptions, I don't understand why people buy from breeders.
posted by biogeo at 9:19 AM on September 30, 2019 [21 favorites]


Hell, that's how cat ownership generally works, and nobody thinks that's weird.

Honestly, it was only in the past few years that I even realized there was such a think as a purebred cat and people who breed them. It makes sense, since things like Persians exist, but I truly never thought about it before because most people don't care about purebred cats the way they do about dogs.
posted by asnider at 9:28 AM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


"I don't understand why people buy from breeders"

I'd say mostly from various fantasies they have in their heads about the dogs. Looking around nowadays it's easy to see how fantasies can run lives in a lot of ways. Though I'm sure there are a smaller number of reasons I don't know about where it's a good idea to do it that way.
posted by aleph at 9:34 AM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


The only Labradoodle I have experience with is one owned by a lady in my apt complex. It's a very large and excitable dog that she can't handle. I feel sorry for her. It plays way too rough with my reasonably sized Beagle mix. Not a fan of it or large dogs in general.
posted by Justin Case at 9:35 AM on September 30, 2019


I've had a friend who's more of a dog person get very nervous about people with larger dogs and no/little training.
posted by aleph at 9:36 AM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


With all due respect, there is a poodle-based hybrid that predates Mr. Conron - the cockapoo

Copper
prefers Cockadoodle, because Cockapoo immediately makes small children giggle and she deserves better than that, and Spanoodle is just kind of dumb.
posted by philip-random at 9:42 AM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


*shrug* Of all the 'doodles I know, there is a much stronger correlation between "time spent on training/attention" and "good behavior" than there is with any breed essentialism.

Given the smarts and tractability of both halves of the mix, it's never too late to start, too!

My neighbors have one, my parents have one, we meet them all over, and we even considered getting one until we got some prices. Instead we got an "open-box" dog from a Texas rescue and he's a mess -- but there's no guarantee that a $3000 puppy would have turned out any better.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:44 AM on September 30, 2019 [5 favorites]


Where did this guy get the idea that poodles weren't suited for it, and were his attempts at using poodles influenced by his feelings about poodles, or did he just get vastly different poodles than some of these other working poodles?

Well from the front lines...I used to foster puppies for a guide dog training organization and I also now have some experience with poodles. To make a great guide dog, you need a dog that is going to be obedient enough to follow through on its training, including things like lying still when its person is at work etc., but also willing to 'disobey' if say, there's a hole in the ground ahead. While I can see that a poodle would have the intelligence and definitely the ability to "say no" to his/her owner in a guiding situation, plus they can be really loyal, poodles also need a lot of exercise and attention so they don't go nuts. They're also fairly alert/excitable/territorial.

So anecdatally, I can see that a poodle could give its eventual owner a bit of trouble. Just because someone needs a guide dog, it doesn't mean they will be in a position to provide the amount of exercise and sort of intelligence games that poodles really need. And when I was raising puppies, barking in particular was something we really had to stay on top of because at that time the view of a service animal included that the animal would not be a nuisance that way.

That said, back in the days that I was training pups there weren't doggy day cares and the kinds of things that might make poodle ownership more possible.

I'm absolutely sure there are individual poodles who can make great dogs, and they're hypoallergenic, and that's why organizations are training them.

But if you're investing in litters of dogs and training foster parents and all those things, you don't necessarily want a breed where there's a high failure rate either before training or in placement.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:45 AM on September 30, 2019 [10 favorites]


also, if want an "ahhhhh" moment, do a google search on cockapoo.

Or I could just do one for you.
posted by philip-random at 9:48 AM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


Also on the issue of breeds and why would people choose purebred puppies (or in this case a crossbred puppy), etc....my experience again is that it's a bit tougher than it looks on the outside.

The dog of my adult heart was a Shepherd/Rotweiller mutt that we got as a rescue when he was still not full grown. I loved that dog, he loved me...and my husband and I had to work that dog constantly and arrange our lives carefully, because he was 95% great...and 5% fear-aggressive, enough that we worried for other dogs and small children. 12 years of constant vigilence and also, not having our extended family stay with us, or when they did keeping the dog separate or sending him to a friend's/kennel.

Obviously that breed combination gives some indication of where things might go, plus the cigarette burns (!!!) all over him when we got him, so I'm not saying this is completely typical but...I think my husband and I were originally unprepared, especially as all my dog experience before that was with labs and lab-cross mutts.

But now that I have kids, the few times I've contemplated getting a dog, I've come down to...I would want a breed that generally speaking suits our somewhat madhouse lifestyle* and also, I want to know everything that happens to this dog from like 8-12 weeks onwards. If you've owned a tough rescue dog, it stays with you.

Anyways, all that is to say that I understand why people go the pure/crossbred route, especially with the marketing out there.

*No such breed actually exists, and also I do have some issues around breeding practices, so we don't have a dog.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:06 AM on September 30, 2019 [8 favorites]


But I don't really see the difference between paying for a purebred or paying for a mutt in terms of foolishness.

With a not-half-assed purebred at least you can reasonably bet on the temperament, drives, and adult size of a puppy you're looking at. Any dog is always drawing a card from the deck, but actual breeds are drawing from a heavily stacked deck.

I don't understand why people buy from breeders

There are all sorts of snooty and dumbfuck reasons, but the core for some people is that they know what kind of dog they'd like to live with and want some assurance that it at least comes from a healthy background and maybe even healthy early socialization.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 10:09 AM on September 30, 2019 [18 favorites]


also, if want an "ahhhhh" moment, do a google search on cockapoo.

This is essentially our dog K.C..
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:12 AM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


My wife and I show and breed an obscure terrier breed from Ireland, the Glen of Imaal terrier (population estimated at several hundred to a thousand in the US, and we have five of them in our house) so I know a couple things about this.

Pretty much all existing dog breeds were a mixture of various types before humans started breeding them to a standard. Some breeds were even explicttly mixes of pre-existing breeds (e.g. Bullmastiff) while others had specific breeds introduced into their lines later to introduce specific traits or to improve the health of the gene pool. So there is nothing particularly new or objectionable about the Labradoodle or how it has been bred, at least in prinicple.

The trick is getting a new "breed" to breed true (i.e., breeding a Labradoodle to another Labradoodle should produce a litter of Labradoodles). What happens otherwise is that breeding an F1 dog to another F1 dog (F1 means generation 1 after the initial cross, i.e. the offspring of a Labrador and a Poodle) allows genes that were recessive in the original litter to match up and be expressed in the next generation. It's a real crapshoot. Even in established breeds with generations of careful breeding, sometimes you'll get a "throwback" puppy that reflects genes that were thought long bred out.

It's my understanding that most Labradoodles are still Labrador x Poodle crosses, simply because that's the easiest way to get them, and most people breeding them are not interested in doing the work necessary to establish them as a true breed.

Now, how would you get the Labradoodle to breed true? Well, since breed type is hereditary, i.e. genetic, you need to create a genetic bottleneck so that all breeding animals are genetically similar. The quickest way to do that, in fact the *only* way to do it until the advent of genetic technology, is to breed related animals, i.e. "line breeding." All dog breeds, in fact all domesticated animal breeds, were created this way. It is extremely effective, to the extent that in some breeds, if you have a multi-sire litter, which does happen occasionally, it is difficult to tell who each puppy's father is even with genetic testing.

There are of course health risks in breeding closely related animals, which is why responsible breeders are so fanatical about health testing. In our breed, a group of breeders paid researchers at Cornell to hunt down the genetic cause of progressive retinal atrophy, which causes gradual blindness starting at 5-6 years of age. (Being creatures of scent, blind dogs can actually live full and happy lives, but everyone agrees it would be better not to have this in the gene pool.) PRA was particularly problematic because an affected animal would have been bred by the time of onset, which made it difficult to breed out the trait. The research was successful in finding the gene and we now have a blood test for it, so no Glen ever need go blind from PRA again.

As to why purebred dogs cost so much, I wrote a [lengthy reddit post](https://www.reddit.com/r/rarepuppers/comments/bw2ldf/the_sweetest_golden_couple/epvl4gi/) on that topic not too long ago. There is nothing a typical Labradoodle breeder does that justifies a similar price.

It's my understanding that some bredeers in Australia are undertaking the process to make the Labradoodle a true breed, and intend to pursue registration with a national kennel club. Good on them; that's how you do it. The breed is not there yet, however.
posted by kindall at 10:20 AM on September 30, 2019 [21 favorites]


Shelters are full of Very Good Dogs who need homes. With few exceptions, I don't understand why people buy from breeders.

I'm also super pro-rescue, but I do know that in some areas of the country, it's hard to find dogs in the shelter that aren't pit bulls or pittie mixes and anything that isn't gets snapped up really quickly. Pitties can be great dogs, but if they're not what you're looking for in size, weight, temperament, it can get frustrating. That's partly why some rescue groups import dogs from other areas of the country which is when stuff like this kind of auction thing happens.

I'm anti-Labradoodle right at this moment because at the dog wash, a guy with a tshirt that said BEST DOG DAD EVER parked his giant truck badly and eliminated the parking spot I was going into, and then gestured and said, "There are tons of parking spots OVER THERE" like I was a prissy idiot for being mad. At least his two labradoodles seemed relatively sweet. They were also enormous - they had to have been around a hundred pounds, if not over.
posted by PussKillian at 10:20 AM on September 30, 2019 [9 favorites]


I can understand buying a pure-breed for a working dog, and by the nature of having to work for a living they usually don't have the horrendous "breed standard" deformities. But for looks? It's just cruelty.
posted by tavella at 10:32 AM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm also super pro-rescue, but I do know that in some areas of the country, it's hard to find dogs in the shelter that aren't pit bulls or pittie mixes and anything that isn't gets snapped up really quickly. Pitties can be great dogs, but if they're not what you're looking for in size, weight, temperament, it can get frustrating.

Yep, if you look at the ACC here, it's like 90% pits, 10% tiny insane chi mixes. I love pits, but many people simply can't have them. I know I'd have to litigate it with my building if I ever tried it.

My nephew dog is a labradoodle of about 22 pounds and he is a very good and sproingy boy, though not as much of a cuddler as one would like.
posted by praemunire at 10:56 AM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


"IF you want a dog, the only way to do it is to have one follow you home one day ... If you didn't meet your dog this way, you might be a monster."

"I don't understand why people buy from breeders."

"I'd say mostly from various fantasies they have in their heads about the dogs."


So, I'm just going to offer some reasons people go to breeders in hopes of expanding empathy for people who made a different choice.

> Sometimes people had a fear-aggressive rescue that, despite years of training and despite being good around children it knew, was not good around new children.

> Sometimes people have experience training puppies and enjoy it and are maybe good at it but have a limited time frame when their life is conducive to a new puppy.

> Maybe they desire a dog that has some traits that are easier to predict by breed but difficult to predict in a mutt puppy that just showed up at the pound, like a dog with a soft mouth that enjoys going on runs and hikes.

> And yes, sometimes people prioritize having a dog that looks like a teddy bear and they just get tired of literally years of having adoption applications rejected from breed specific rescues orgs because both adults in the family work full time. That's not my style but no shade to those people.
posted by midmarch snowman at 1:24 PM on September 30, 2019 [14 favorites]


> Sometimes people have experience training puppies and enjoy it and are maybe good at it but have a limited time frame when their life is conducive to a new puppy.

> Maybe they desire a dog that has some traits that are easier to predict by breed but difficult to predict in a mutt puppy that just showed up at the pound, like a dog with a soft mouth that enjoys going on runs and hikes.


Okay, this is the part that gets me - if people are getting a specific breed of puppy with the hope that it will grow up to have a specific personality (or even a general size). . . why aren't they adopting adult dogs? They have personalities that you can evaluate for real instead of guesswork and are going to be that size.

Discrimination against pitts is a real issue, yes, and I'm sympathetic to people who have issues with homeowners insurance or rental leases that exclude pit bulls. I'm also sympathetic to size constraints. But the argument that the only way to know your dog's eventual personality is to get your dog from a breeder just doesn't track.

Honestly, I'm doing pretty okay for myself right now, but I still can't imagine having that sort of money to throw around when there are great dogs available. Keeping the dog alive eventually, sure. Also, I can't help but think that could cause a weird sort of issues where their owner expects way too much from the dogs because they paid so much for them. They're a dog, they're going to have their own personality and occasionally misbehave.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:05 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


The up-front cost of any dog is dwarfed by the cost of caring for it over its lifetime. In that sense, a purebred dog may not be any more expensive than a shelter dog in the long run.
posted by kindall at 2:36 PM on September 30, 2019 [5 favorites]


why aren't they adopting adult dogs? They have personalities that you can evaluate for real instead of guesswork and are going to be that size

This sounds to me like you are familiar with rescue dogs only in the abstract. It actually often takes months for a rescue dog's full personality to emerge--they are so dazed and disoriented from the events that brought them to wherever they are that they take a long time to feel comfortable expressing themselves. Separation anxiety is notorious for taking a couple of months to manifest itself. Even for those rescues that permit trial periods, the periods aren't that long. Also, if a rescue dog has a known issue it is almost impossible to guess how intractable it is. Some dogs just need a few sessions with a trainer. Other dogs will attempt to murder anyone wearing a red cap who walks by for the rest of their lives, and you're going to have to adjust your own life around that.

I support a lot of rescues, but it's idle and counterproductive to downplay the issues that can go along with bringing a poorly socialized or badly traumatized dog into your home.
posted by praemunire at 3:28 PM on September 30, 2019 [22 favorites]


Okay, this is the part that gets me - if people are getting a specific breed of puppy with the hope that it will grow up to have a specific personality (or even a general size). . . why aren't they adopting adult dogs?

Because they want to raise a puppy.

Because they want to do any of the various things you can do with dogs where starting training at a young age is better.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 3:29 PM on September 30, 2019 [6 favorites]


This sounds to me like you are familiar with rescue dogs only in the abstract. It actually often takes months for a rescue dog's full personality to emerge--they are so dazed and disoriented from the events that brought them to wherever they are that they take a long time to feel comfortable expressing themselves.

I volunteered for animal rescues for years, but thanks. I also have a lot of experience dealing with abused and abandoned animals, and I fully realize how dangerous they can be. The dogs you see available for adoption are more likely than not those dogs. Seeing their personality in person and reading volunteers/fosters reactions and notes on the dogs, that will tell you a lot more about them than just knowing their breed. Yes, personalities can change over time, and after they leave a shelter setting.

Acting like all dogs that show up in animal rescues are horribly traumatized is also just. . wrong. People have to give up their dogs for a lot of reasons. Sometimes they came from a loving home but giving up the dog was the for the best, and the dog has been treated well up to that point. More bewildering is the idea that all breeders treat their dogs wonderfully. There are some breeders that do, some that don't. And just like with humans, some dogs go through that shit and end up fine, some are nervous wrecks for no apparent reason.

Look, you're getting a living creature. There is never going to be a 100% guarantee on their personality, and you shouldn't expect one. Breeds can influence intelligence and activity level, but there's so much individual variation that on a one-to-one basis, it's almost meaningless.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:17 PM on September 30, 2019 [6 favorites]


The dogs you see available for adoption are more likely than not those dogs.

This is just flat-out not true. Major city shelters do the most modest of aggression testing, once. Unless they are explicitly recovered in some sort of abuse operation, they don't have histories on most of their dogs. You don't know what you're getting.

Acting like all dogs that show up in animal rescues are horribly traumatized is also just. . wrong.

I didn't say that they all were. I said that you can't know their personalities from a week's foster-to-adopt or a handful of walker notes at the city shelter, and it's just irresponsible to say otherwise. "Just adopt an adult dog! You can see its personality for yourself!" is very misleading.
posted by praemunire at 6:25 PM on September 30, 2019 [8 favorites]


Yep, if you look at the ACC here, it's like 90% pits, 10% tiny insane chi mixes. I love pits, but many people simply can't have them. I know I'd have to litigate it with my building if I ever tried it.

My insurance wouldn't let me get a pit if I wanted one. I hear that is an issue with a lot of rental places and/or insurance.

I normally would not care about purebred vs. whatever, but I used to dog sit for a corgi that was adorable, so now I want a corgi. Not that I will ever get one because the lady that had her said her last one was $1500 and then she didn't even end up keeping it because that dog was kind of a brat and peed in the other dogs' food.

Dogs are a land of contrasts, I guess.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:37 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


they just get tired of literally years of having adoption applications rejected from breed specific rescues orgs because both adults in the family work full time.

Holy crap that's my story right there.

My son and I spent months volunteering at the county shelter hoping to find a dog that would be compatible with the kid's personality and allergies, to no avail. We finally found a Samoyed rescue that had a dog that looked absolutely lovely but holy freaking hell the hurdles we had to jump through with these people. Background check with an existing veterinarian. Multiple pages of application forms. Character references... and they called every single one. Could we meet the dog in advance? No.

The last straw was the rescue's leader requesting - no, demanding to inspect the home and meet the family before one of their dogs would even be considered for placement into our family...and then she blew off the appointment. Our kids were heartbroken.

So, fuck THAT shit, we called the Cobberdog breeder the next day.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:18 PM on September 30, 2019 [9 favorites]


This is just flat-out not true. Major city shelters do the most modest of aggression testing, once. Unless they are explicitly recovered in some sort of abuse operation, they don't have histories on most of their dogs. You don't know what you're getting.

The first time I was volunteering, the number one reason why dogs ended up being surrendered was the dog having too much energy, in which case we have history and some personality notes from the owners. The second time, it was 'moving/could no longer afford', and we got a lot of loving personality notes from the previous owners. Which sucks a lot for both the dog and the owner, but poverty doesn't mean you beat your dog. In both of those cases, we know something of the dog's history and they don't involve dog abuse.

(Yes, I'm inclined to believe people who surrender their dogs. It's a hard thing to do, especially go face to face with someone and explain why they can no longer take care of the dog. Sure, there are those who don't care, but more often than not, the dog was loved. Owners who don't care don't surrender their dogs, they just abandon them)

Every place I've volunteered - even animal control - has been incredibly strict about monitoring for dog aggression. Any sign of aggression, they don't get adopted out. Do things sometimes show up later? Sure. But pretending it's just one quick test is ignorant at best.

There was also a major behavioral difference between encountering abandoned dogs on the streets/in the parks where they're dumped and interactions within the animal shelter. If you really need more details, I can send you more details, but unsurprisingly, food and safety makes dogs friendlier and more predictable. But even underfed stray dogs are far less dangerous than their reputation. And yes, really, these abandoned dogs were statistically unlikely to ever end up in a shelter, much less the adoption floor.

Yes, it's entirely possible a dog was abused before it ended up in the shelter. It's also entirely possible that the breeder you're getting a dog from isn't taking the best care of their dogs.

You might not know what you're getting 100%, but you never know what you're getting, not really. But actually meeting the dog and interacting with it will tell you a hell of a lot more about the dog than their breed. And yes, they do have a personality, even when they're horribly traumatized in a shelter. Volunteers who foster a dog for a month or play with the dogs daily might notice what it is.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:26 PM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


The first time I was volunteering, the number one reason why dogs ended up being surrendered was the dog having too much energy

This is not consistent with my experience. There simply aren't many people surrendering dogs here; most of the dogs that are available are strays that have been brought from other states. I know more people with Puerto Rican dogs than dogs born in the mainland. They are delightful dogs, but some of them were really hard work, and I know I'm not equipped to handle one right now.

Rescues around here are also notorious for being very invasive with their screening processes. I've only had experiences with adopting cats, but some also tend to be less than forthcoming about health issues. After having two cats die in rapid succession of FIV, likely caught from a new kitten which the rescue claimed was FIV-free, I'm not sure I'll ever get a rescue cat again.
posted by snickerdoodle at 8:42 PM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


You need a puppy when you are training a service dog. We aren't talking pets here. People buying pets from breeders do so for different reasons to people who train service dogs. Doodles were bred for service work. You need a dog that is has no previous trauma because they're going to be stressful situations. You need to have a good grasp on that animal's history. You need to know how big they will be because if you are a deaf person who wants a hearing dog to move into your flat with you a Mystery Mutt that might turn out to be wolfhound size is going to be a problem, for example, or an epilepsy assistance dog to roll you over needs to be bigger than a chichi. There's no room for surprises here. These dogs are doing critical work. And personality is just one of the factors. Size and strength is super important too.

It also takes a damn long time to get a dog to working level, and their working lives can be super short. A dog that lasts to ten might only spend half of that working, depending on their role. Even seeing eye dogs work maybe eight years barring accidents. You don't have the time to start with an adult dog. You start with a three or four year old dog instead of a six week puppy and you're getting half the work for the same cost. It sounds brutal, but given the cost that extra time *matters*.

My experience here is with largely my mother's assistance dogs. She trains service animals as well as using one herself - she's inside the system, as it were, and has a vested interest in making sure the dogs and their handlers are well served. She's onto her second doodle assistance dog. She has MS. He's huge, as PussKillian notes, because she needs to be able to use him as a prop if her legs go unexpectedly. He also needs to be able to move her if she has an event and becomes paralyses. He's a F3, I think. Her last dog was an F2, I think. Both dogs are pretty much what they were bred to be - large, woolly, strong and trainable. Her newer dog is a bit more distractable than her last dog, who had to be retired because a fuckhead rammed him with a shopping trolley. Dog One is reactive around wheels now, which is a huge issue for a service dog, and she got maybe three years of serious service out of him. Given the sort of work he was doing she was likely to get at most another two - he developed some hip arthritis, not uncommon in larger breeds, but it was enough to make him unable to help her move in an emergency.

Dog Two is a bit more resilient in terms of his temperament, so we'll see. He's a year into his training and isn't quite there yet, though she's decided to take her time with him a bit more.

You want a pet? Sure, go a rescue dog or a mutt or whatever. But there are some pretty solid reasons why people seek breed specific traits for service animals.
posted by Jilder at 8:43 PM on September 30, 2019 [11 favorites]


> There are entire, distinct, recognizable breeds that literally cannot reproduce without human intervention. Breed standards are crimes against the entire species.

> It's human-centric intervention, intended on inbreeding these poor dogs to the point where basic biological systems like respiration or movement are severely impeded, simply because it would make the dog impure in the eyes of the American Kennel Club to dilute their DNA with any genetic diversity. It's like an ongoing weird horrible eugenics experiment, conducted on animals that we know damn well can experience the pain and fear it results in.

non-self-selecting non-lamarckism.
posted by kliuless at 11:42 PM on September 30, 2019


After having two cats die in rapid succession of FIV, likely caught from a new kitten which the rescue claimed was FIV-free, I'm not sure I'll ever get a rescue cat again.

Do you mean FeLV? FIV transmits primary by one cat biting the other deep enough to draw blood, and features a typically lengthy dormant period. I have one FIV positive cat and one FIV negative cat who have lived together for almost a decade now with no transmission. Unless your cats are getting into fairly serious fights, it's low risk.

FeLV, on the other hand, spreads through mutual grooming or sharing food and generally becomes symptomatic much faster.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:43 AM on October 1, 2019


> The first time I was volunteering, the number one reason why dogs ended up being surrendered was the dog having too much energy

This is not consistent with my experience.


Maybe this is because you are two different people in two different places volunteering at two different shelters and therefore you maybe had two different kinds of experiences and are therefore both right?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:59 AM on October 1, 2019 [15 favorites]


My grandparents were breeders and they ran an animal rescue, so their house always had purebred award winning Labs and scarred pit bulls (excuse me, American Staffordshire terriers) running around, plus an old German Shepherd whose prior owner cut off his paw. They all got the same home cooked meals and they all acted pretty much the same, with little individual quirks. The same goes for my $0 mutt who wandered out of the woods of North Carolina and likes to play with the TINY dog down the street who’s a $2000K rare breed something or other from Manhattan.
posted by sallybrown at 4:52 AM on October 1, 2019


Do you mean FeLV?

Yes, I guess I must. Honestly, I was such a wreck that I could barely hear the vet. I wasn't prepared to have 2 otherwise healthy cats die suddenly within months.

Maybe this is because you are two different people in two different places volunteering at two different shelters and therefore you maybe had two different kinds of experiences and are therefore both right?

Yes, that's exactly my point. Getting a pet from a shelter here in NYC was very different than getting my rescue pets from the Midwest. People who blithely say "just adopt" may not be aware of this. I didn't understand why people would buy a pet before I moved here. Now I do.
posted by snickerdoodle at 4:21 PM on October 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


A poodle and lab fuck, you don't know what you're gonna get; it's just a big crapshoot from their combined genetics.
You know, for some reason it occurs to me that you just described the ancestry of every single person, though I guess screening is a lot more advanced than forty years ago when we started having kids.

As for shelter vs. buy-em dogs, my wife spent some time trying to "adopt" a dog here in Minnesota and what a bunch of pretentious dickheads the people running the various dog adoption outfits are. You want to come and inspect my house to make sure I'm a good "dog parent?" You want me to sign something saying you can come snoop around whenever you like? You want the right to take the dog back if you don't like the cut of my jib? And you want me to pay you top dollar? Fuck you. Raise them yourself and get off my lawn.

We ended up with a semi-damaged Heinz from a rescue in Alabama that is deathly afraid of thunder, rain (!) and loud noises (the vacuum is a major nemesis), barks an unreasonable amount (truth: to me "any" is an unreasonable amount), is kind of needy, and great with the cats and the grandkids. We could have bought a "purebred" dog for about the same amount and I guess we could have traded her in when the noise thing came to our notice, but by then we'd have bonded with her and what kind of monsters would we be? It was a decision that slightly improved the world which I guess is all you can hope for.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 7:16 PM on October 4, 2019


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