Certain breed crosses, especially between the Labrador Retriever and Poodle, are being touted as valuable, desirable, and expensive. You wouldn’t think that “expensive” should be a feature of any saleable product, but there is an appeal to the ego involved when it comes to these so-called designer dog breeds. The labradoodle is generally pictured as an adorable dog with the basic body structure of a Lab and the curly coat of a Poodle. There are many (including one of my Facebook friends) who assume that breeding a Lab to a Poodle will yield the combination of genes responsible for that specific look.
Now: the whole ugly, sordid truth. Breeding “designer dogs” is a business. These crosses have no more intrinsic value as canine specimens than the offspring of your Dalmatian who got caught by the neighbor’s Boxer. A mutt is a mutt; a cross-breed a cross-breed. Why? Because these combinations will not predictably breed true-to-type every time. More simply put: you never really know which characteristics from the Lab are going to come out in any given puppy, and which ones from the Poodle. So “breeders” (who do not deserve to be called such) usually keep for sale or breeding purposes the one or two from the litter that fit the profile, and many cull the rest. In other words, destroy them. This leads people to believe that a certain “look” will result every time, since these are the only dogs that ever make it into the public eye.
Regardless of the fact that both parents are AKC registered, a mixed-breed dog is not eligible for AKC registration, nor is it considered purebred. This holds true for the cockapoo, peekapoo, and all the other combo-named dogs.
Another important factor when considering one of these novelties is that, is order to get the look, the gene pool has been opened wide. An undesirable trait from one breed can combine with the same trait from the other, potentially doubling the chances of offspring getting such genetic diseases as hip dysplasia, subaortic stenosis, corneal dystrophy, or a myriad of other problems that translate to even more money spent, as well as an unhealthy pet.
Recently, I saw a photo on Facebook of a so-called “Pomsky.”This purported “breed” is a Pomeranian-Siberian cross. Now, each breed is prone to cataracts, so imagine the problem in doubling up on that gene! But of course the designer dog makers neither check for possible genetic faults or question what the doubling up of these genes might mean.
Reputable breeders always compensate for any expenses incurred due to a genetic defect in a puppy they sell. They are able to offer this because they have done their homework and removed from their breeding stock those animals that exhibit or carry a major faulty gene. Designer dog breeders, in it for the money alone, rarely do.
A coworker once bragged to me that her friend had just paid four thousand dollars for a rare, parti (not solid-colored) Poodle. Her plan was to breed this dog and make a lot of money. Imagine her surprise when I told her that parti-colored Poodles are disqualified from AKC competition, and have no value whatsoever beyond those abundant gifts that any shelter mutt can bring to its owner.
Before you throw away good money for one of these fancy Fidos, know that you are buying image only. You are much better off going to a reputable breeder (and I do not mean someone advertising in the newspaper). You can find one for whatever breed you have in mind through The American Kennel Club’s website, http://www.akc.org. Or, of course, you might look into giving a shelter or rescue dog a second chance. Either way, you come out a winner.
Read “Designer Dogs–Part 2” on this site to see what the man who created the labradoodle thinks of his project now.