Breeding designer dogs

 
August 4th, 2008
The labradoodle, a designer dog

Designer dogs or just plain old mixed breeds? Nadia Crighton digs up some interesting information about the influx of new breeds appearing on our shores.

It seems no matter where you turn, the term designer dogs is being used. Whether you’re watching TV or strolling in your hottest off-leash zone, designer dogs are becoming the next big thing in the dog world.

But what does it actually mean? And why are these mixes so popular within the community given their short existence in the dog world?

Nowadays, we have all become victims of metropolitan living. Looking good and feeling good is of high priority for many families and modern singles. From strutting our stuff in the latest apparel to ensuring our dogs get only the very best, including their own designer threads and accessories, it seems only natural that sooner or later we would be designing the perfect dog to fit our very structured lives.

No longer do people want to purchase a dog and find out down the track that it simply doesn’t suit their lifestyle. Today, dog owners want their dogs to have certain traits and characteristics to make dog ownership a more enjoyable task and, to some point, easier.

However, can cross-breeding dogs really do this? Can people be assured that when they purchase a designer dog they are getting what they paid for? After all, purebred dogs, which have been on the scene for hundreds of years, still have occasional hiccups with temperament and characteristics. Even the odd lovable Labrador has been known to express aggression problems, or a Dobermann or two not has not exhibited any idea on how to guard, despite their good breeding and blood lines. So how can designer dogs be any different and how can you be sure the claims being made are true and you are not putting your family at risk?

To dig up all the facts, Dogs Life caught up with a variety of people, from veterinarians to welfare groups, industry gurus and breeders from both sides of the fence to shed some light on this very hairy subject.

A bit about breeding designer dogs

The term designer dog has been used so loosely it is time we clarified exactly what it means. A designer dog is one that has been crossbred with two popular purebreeds. Designer dogs are said to come from sound purebred dogs of different breeds, which have been specially chosen for certain traits and characteristics.

Unlike purebred dogs, designer dogs are not considered a breed in Australia as they are not registered or recognised with the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) or your local Canine Council. This means breeders are not regulated and scrutinised for their breeding practices and the breed has no real standard.

This is not to say that particular breeders of designer dogs aren’t breeding using safe practices; it just means there is room for more cowboys who are cashing in on this new generation of dogs and putting the general public at risk with sick or unbalanced dogs. There is also the risk that the bad traits of the purebred are what is being transferred into these designer dogs, rather than the other way around.

Dr Paul McGreevy from the University of Sydney has researched dog breeding extensively and its genetic implications. McGreevy also discovered that some breed standards of purebred dogs, which seem to be based more on aesthetic qualities than working properties, have actually led to some health and behavioural problems in the domesticated dog.

Health and behavioural problems

Selection for what humans regard as desirable traits has repeatedly involved the retention of juvenile morphological and behavioural characteristics in adult examples of a breed, McGreevy told Dogs Life. Dependence for food, care and leadership, readiness for play, acceptance of substitute objects to elicit hunting behaviour or a relatively high tolerance for unfamiliar humans are all juvenile traits that were selected when humans started to keep dogs as pets. We have made dogs dependent on us so we shouldn’t be surprised that some surveys have shown that up to 50 per cent of dogs have separation-related distress.

McGreevy also highlights one example of the effect breed standards can have on the physical form of a dog.

In some cases, traits that are better regarded as defects have actually been included in breed standards, he said. For example, brachiocephaly (a skull abnormality which can lead to respiratory problems) is prompted by the standard for the Boston Terrier (American Kennel Club 1990: FCI Standard No140) that requires an animal to be short headed and possess a square head and jaw with a muzzle that is short, square, wide and deep shorter in length than in depth; not exceeding in length approximately one-third of the length of the skull’.

There have also been findings into coat colour and the possibility that some pigments are linked with aggression and other problems.

There is definitely an association between pigmentation and neurological defects, such as deafness and eye disorders in merle dogs, in which both homozygotes and heterozygotes are affected (Klinckmann et al 1986). Breeding for hypo-pigmentation is a questionable strategy, he said.
Sadly, it seems the more we continue to breed for aesthetic and superficial qualities, the greater the risk our canine companions face of suffering from health and behavioural problems.

The problems with limited gene pools have also been well documented and studies have shown that even the best-bred dogs still carry at least one deleterious recessive gene.

The average number of deleterious recessive genes carried by an individual dog (or cat or horse or human) could be as high as 20, McGreevy said. Lists of canine disorders known to be caused by deleterious genes have been published in various reviews. An online catalogue, which is maintained and regularly updated by one of the present authors, includes more than 400 disorders that have been reported in dogs, of which 72 are definitely due to a deleterious gene at a single locus.

The importance of good breeding practices

The risk of these genes presenting a problem is so low that it is rarely seen in many purebred dogs, unless bad practices take place, such as interbreeding (when dogs from the same family are bred). With many breeds being faced with such a small gene pool, some breeders are bending the rules of what they consider interbreeding (in terms of the generation gap).

The rarer the breed, the more significant the problem, and this could potentially be a huge problem with the continuing breeding of specific designer dogs. This is why good breeding practices are extremely important in preventing future problems in dog breeds.

To borrow a phrase from the late Professor I A Watson, a plant geneticist at the University of Sydney, these breeds are puddling in their own gene pools. Their gene pools are so small that there is no choice but to mate close relatives, and hence to increase substantially the level of interbreeding and thus the prevalence of inherited disorders due to recessive genes, explained McGreevy.

These problems are being documented after hundreds of years of breeding good dogs, and purebred breeders take valuable steps to ensure their bloodline is free of many known hereditary problems to ensure the continuation of well-bred dogs. We are unlikely to know the full impact of crossbreeding purebred dogs in terms of genes until much later down the track. As explained above, breeding two healthy dogs, no matter what breed, does not guarantee producing healthy, disorder-free pups.

Research before purchase

We have seen that crossing breeds which are not prone to the same disorders, such as hip dysplasia, eye problems etc, can reduce the chance of it appearing in any of the pups. However, if you are crossing two breeds which are predisposed to a condition that shows in their bloodline, you will certainly be setting up future generations for problems and heartbreak for owners.

Knowing the questions to ask is vitally important, hence the reason why researching your desired breed and prospective breeder, no matter what breed, is essential before purchase.

In light of this, it seems almost absurd to purchase a designer dog from an unknown source like a pet shop, where there is no chance to ask the right questions and check out mum or dad. Beverley Manners, from Rutland Manor Labradoodles Breeding and Research Center in Australia, and the co-founder of the Australian Labradoodle, agrees dogs should not be purchased from this source.

Customers may not be getting the breed or crossbreed that they think they are getting, warned Manners. Education on how to care for the puppy is not usually available past the first couple of weeks. There is no assistance for any problems in the future and no help available if the dog needs re-homing later on, often leaving the owner no other recourse than to leave the dog at a shelter. Finally, pet shops in general will not accept a puppy older than six weeks (the smaller the better), which is far too young to separate a puppy from its mother. In Australia and some other countries, it is illegal to sell a puppy or kitten under six weeks (teeth all through), yet pet shops seem to get away with this all the time because the law is not policed.

Dogs Life contacted a well-respected and registered purebred breeder, Anna Hatherly, from Bellebriar Cocker Spaniels. Cocker Spaniels are a popular purebred used to develop designer dogs, despite the concern of many Cocker Spaniel breeders.

On the other side of the ring we have Chelle Calbert, photographer and co-owner of DesignerDoggies.com, and her partner Andre Calbert, who is also a co-owner of the website. We also enlisted the expertise of Beverley Manners from Rutland Manor Labradoodles Breeding and Research Center. Beverley is also the co-founder of the Australian Labradoodle.

These are all highly regarded and respected breeders and industry gurus in their circles, with many being instrumental in protecting the name of breeding and our canine companions.

Seems like with these breeds, people either love them or hate them! Many people are very angry about these breeds, say Chelle and Andre Calbert. However, the pair is quick to note the importance of loving your dog for what it is and not considering it a fashion statement.
If you’re a dog lover, you’re going to love any dog you have and not treat it like a fashion statement, regardless of whether its a purebred AKC animal, a Designer Dog or a Mutt, they said.

The couple own two Puggles (Beagle-Pug cross) along with their purebred Boston Terrier. They are all too familiar with the popularity of the designer mixes and believe its because they add a point of difference in the dog world. The Calberts are also aware that many of these cross-breeds publicised on their website are not recognised by governing dog authorities, like the American Kennel Club (AKC) or the Canine Council.

It may take a while for any of these breeds to be recognised with the AKC, they said. Apparen’tly, most breeds registered came from two different breeds in the beginning (for example, the Boston Terrier came from two different purebreds) so it should be just a matter of time (maybe a long time) before any do get recognised. Our personal point of view is that the dog doesn’t necessarily have to be recognised by the AKC because it is a hybrid, growing by leaps and bounds, and should remain recognised by its own organisations like the ACHC (American Canine Hybrid Club).

The Calberts are also aware of the dangers irresponsible crossbreeding can produce and the need for good breeders to be registered to ensure healthy pups.

You would take the same measures that purebred breeders take in making sure there have been no genetic defects in the previous generations, and when it springs up, you make sure the ill dog is not used for breeding. Labradoodle breeders have spent many years perfecting this breed, just as all others should do with the other breeds, they concluded.
Manners from Rutland Manor Labradoodles Breeding and Research Center agreed the Labradoole falls into a different category, regardless of registration.

First, it is important to understand that the Australian Labradoodle is not a designer dog, she stressed. It is a purpose-bred dog and we created and developed it from a vision which had definite goals in mind. These goals were: a) for a healthy dog as free as possible from the many hereditary diseases so common in pure breeds (most pure breeds have a minimum of 40-plus hereditary diseases each) and b) for a non-shedding and allergy-friendly dog suitable as Service and Therapy Dogs and superlative family companions, she said. Breeders of purebred dogs must be feeling the impact of the popularity of designer dogs by finding it more difficult to place their puppies. This could partly account for their usually violent and insulting reaction to designer dog breeders. Breeders of Australian Labradoodles would not be feeling any impact from the designer dogs popularity, because their puppies are destined for specific homes, mainly people who suffer from allergic reaction to the majority of dogs.

Designer dogs not a breed

Let’s not make the mistake of calling them a breed; they are not, pointed out Anna Hatherly from Bellebriar Cocker Spaniels. To be a breed they must conform to a specific standard and none of the above-mentioned crossbreeds can do this. There are many things to be wary of; the biggest is paying upwards of $1000 for a dog that you have no idea of how it will eventually look, behave, or what health problems will come with it.

Hatherly is all too aware that cross-breeding dogs has been a common practice for many years, however she also notes that most of these were backyard mistakes and not meant for financial gain.

Crossbreeds have always been around, however putting names to them seems to be problem of the political correctness that we see today, she told Dogs Life. What is wrong in saying I own a crossbreed?

Hatherly, like many purebred dog breeders and industry folk alike, echoes the concerns about claims being made in terms of shedding and allergies, and the health and behavioural implications crossing these breeds may have.

There are concerns about anything from heart problems to luxating patellas (slipping knee joints), aggression, PRA (hereditary blindness), HD (hip dysplasia), skin complaints and more, she said. Then there is the problem of crossing breeds that are bred for specific purposes, such as Kelpie/Rotty, a working dog with a guard breed. In the wrong hands the temperaments could be a disaster, not to mention the problems that can occur from breeding a light-boned, fast-moving dog with a very heavy-boned dog.

Many of the designer breeders will publicly state that their dogs are allergy free.

These statements are completely unfounded, said Hatherly. You cannot cross two different breeds, such as a Poodle (non-shedding) with a Cocker Spaniel or Labrador (both of these shed coat) and get a non-shedding dog. The pups have the genes of both parents; some may shed a little less than others in the litter, but they will all shed to some degree.

Respected Labradoodle breeder, Beverley Manners, agrees no designer dog has been scientifically proven to help allergies; any allergy relief noted is purely anecdotal and based on the breeders own observations, she said.

There is no scientific evidence whatsoever that the Australian Labradoodle will not aggravate allergy issues, because there have never been any scientific studies done to provide that evidence, she confirmed. All evidence is anecdotal, with literally thousands of people across the world documenting both to the breeder and in public, that their Australian Labradoodle does not affect their allergies, whereas they have never before been able to interact with other breeds (sometimes not even with Poodles). It is important to recognise that such allergy friendliness does not apply to all Labradoodles, but only to the Australian Labradoodle bred specifically with allergy issues in mind.

What about registration? Should these mixes become registered by the correct authority to help reduce the risk of problems through strict monitoring and quality control?

No, they are not breeds. To be a breed they must be able to conform to a standard for so many generations before being recognised by the ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council), said Hatherly. To date, none of these has been able to do this. We have many pure-bred dogs which fill the category of being non-shedding, such as the Poodle and Irish Water Spaniel, just to name a couple, and I could go on and on with different breeds which have been bred for different purposes. I think that the Canine Council should place all its energies into promoting pure-bred dogs and their dedicated breeders, who are not in it to make money.

Canine council response

According to Dogs NSW, previously known as the Royal NSW Canine Council (RNSWCC), these designer breeds are not registered in Australia.
These breeds are not recognised by the RNSWCC as this organisation can only recognise those breeds approved by the Australian National Kennel Council, which is affiliated with the English Kennel Club, the American Kennel Club and the FCI, said Keith Irwin, President of the RNSWCC, now known as DOGS NSW (check out the new website at www.dogsnsw.org.au).

Designer dogs are not considered to be a recognised dog breed, Irwin told Dogs Life.

The main requirement for registration and the national and international recognition that flows from that registration is that there must have been five generations of dogs produced, under an approved develop register program, he said, where all the dogs in the five-generation pedigree are confirmed as being, say, a Cavoodle.

The breeder then needs to produce five generations to ensure the same type of dog is produced, that is the same size, coat texture, general appearance, temperament etc.

This a long, involved process and does not suit those involved in making that fast buck, so they short-cut the process by simply mating one purebred to another, normally from other backyard breeders or council pounds, related Irwin. They then put an inflated price tag on the dog, wave a magic wand and in a flash its becomes a designer breed.

Dogs NSW feels very strongly about the subject of designer breeds. I can see no reason to incorrectly label these dogs. They are not breeds, but crossbreeds, and in the main they are being produced in suburbia by what we refer to as backyard breeders, continued Irwin. I believe strongly that the state government must ban the breeding of all dogs, irrespective of parentage, unless the owner is a member of a recognised body, the RNSWCC. The commercial production and sale of any dog where the number of breeding bitches exceed 50 must be controlled and regulated by state legislation.

Labradoodle breeder Beverley Manners is also wary of registration for many of these designer breeds. As a general rule, designer dogs are bred indiscriminately, she said. Many different breeds are being crossed together and intermingled with one another and there is no attempt being made at the current time to standardise their qualities as to type, coat or temperament.

Beverley does state that the one exception is the Cockapoo, which has a parent club and is being bred through the generations to develop an actual breed. Cockapoos are known in Australia and countries other than America as Spoodles, she said.

She also noted that in many cases, registration is not necessary because there are not many breeders you could actually reward.
There are very few good breeders of crossbred dogs and those which do breed designer dogs with integrity (perform health testing on parent stock, for example) would already be rewarded by their own reputation as breeders of healthy, well-raised puppies, enabling easy placement of the puppies they breed, she said.

The allergy issue

No dog is 100 per cent allergy free. Numerous degrees of allergy are present and numerous reasons why a certain allergen will affect a certain person. For instance, some people are allergic to hair, some are allergic to dander (skin flakes) and some even get a reaction to dog saliva. Many of these things cannot be controlled by any level of breeding.

Dr Wilvene Hill from the Allergy Centre in Melbourne is all too familiar with the problem dogs can have to the allergic population and agrees that some of these claims of allergy-free dogs have gone too far.

I don’t think anyone should be claiming anything to be allergy-free, she told Dogs Life. These dogs may be less likely to cause allergies for some people, but that is as far as I would go.

Hill also pointed out that even the precious Poodle, which has been known to help allergy sufferers due to its wool-like hair, can cause a reaction in certain people.

They do talk about Poodles having wool instead of hair, but look how many people are allergic to sheep wool, she said.

All dogs shed skin. Breeds may shed less hair than others, but you cannot prevent your dog shedding skin. Dander allergy is one of the most common problems that affect allergy sufferers.

We all shed skin, said Hill. The nature of skin is that its being replaced all the time. They say human skin is completely replaced every seven years and I’m sure a similar sort of thing goes on with animals. These breeds may not shed as much hair, but they will still shed some and from that point they have helped some allergy sufferers. However, breeders should never make the claim that there is no allergy as I think that is potentially dangerous for those people who suffer from severe allergies.

So what can you do if you know you are allergic to dogs but you want a dog? First, see a specialist allergy doctor, not a dog breeder, and get your allergies tested. Go on a desensitisation program if you are able to do so. (Through a series of injections, your allergy specialist can try to desensitise your dog allergy by injecting small amounts of the allergen into your blood stream. This allows your immune system to gradually get used to the idea of having this allergen around without going into attack mode.)

However, when attempting a desensitisation program, you cannot live with the animal that is causing the allergy. Hill also suggests you spend time with your desired breed to see if you get a reaction. There is nothing more heartbreaking than returning a pup you have already fallen in love with because it is making you ill.

Designer dogs explained

Here is a small sample of the 340 designer dog hybrid-breeds recognised by the American Canine Hybrid Club, names may vary from the Australian known mixes. None of these breeds are recognised in Australia or by the official breed governing body in American (the American Kennel Club) and some do defy the odds in comparison to size, especially the Chihuahua/Dalmatian cross known as the Chimation! Howe’ver all are legitimate crossbreeds being sold across the USA in unbelievable proportions and cost.

  • Afghan Hound-Rottweiler = Rottaf
  • American Bull Dog-Boxer = Bulloxer
  • American Pit Bull Terrier-Bulldog = Old English Bulldogge
  • American Rat Terrier-Boston Terrier = Brat
  • Australian Shepherd-Labrador Retriever = Sheprador
  • Australian Shepherd-Poodle = Aussie-Poo
  • Australian Terrier-Jack Russell Terrier = Rustralian Terrier
  • Basset-Beagle = Bagle Hound
  • Basset-Boston Terrier = Basston
  • Basset-Dachshund = Basschshund
  • Basset-Miniature Schnauzer = Bowzer
  • Beagle-Cocker Spaniel = Bocker
  • Beagle-Dachshund = Doxle
  • Beagle-Golden Retriever = Beago
  • Beagle-Labrador Retriever  = Labbe
  • Bichon Frise-Chihuahua = Chi-Chon
  • Bichon Frise-Cocker Spaniel  = Cock-A-Chon
  • Bichon Frise-Japanese Chin =  Ja-Chon
  • Bichon Frise-Lhasa Apso =  La-Chon
  • Bichon Frise-Poodle  =  Poochon
  • Border Collie-Labrador Retriever = Borador
  • Boston Terrier-Chinese Shar-Pei = Sharbo
  • Boxer-Bulldog = Bull Boxer
  • Bulldog-Dalmatian =  Bullmatian
  • Bulldog-Pug = Miniature Bulldog
  • Cairn Terrier-Yorkshire Terrier = Corkie
  • Cavalier King Charles-Cocker Spaniel = Cockalier
  • Cavalier King Charles-Poodle = Cavapoo
  • Chihuahua-Dalmation =  Chimation
  • Chihuahua-Poodle =  Wapoo
  • Chinese Crested-Poodle = Poochis
  • Cocker Spaniel-Golden Retriever = Cogol
  • Cocker Spaniel-MinPinscher = Cockapin
  • Cocker Spaniel-Poodle = Cock-A-Poo
  • Collie-Poodle = Cadoodle
  • Dachshund-Poodle = Doodle
  • Dalmatian-Golden Retriever = Goldmation
  • Dobermann Poodle = Doodleman Pinscher
  • German Shepherd -Poodle =  Shepadoodle
  • Giant Schnauzer-Poodle = Giant Schnoodle
  • Golden Retriever-Poodle = Goldendoodle
  • Golden Retriever-Siberian Husky = Goberian
  • Golden Retriever-Weimaraner = Goldmaraner
  • Jack Russell Terrier-Poodle = Jack-A-Poo
  • Japanese Chin-Poodle = Poochin
  • Labrador Retriever-Poodle = Labradoodle
  • MinSchnauzer-Poodle = Schnoodle
  • MinSchnauzer-Yorkie = Snorkie
  • Papillon-Poodle = Papi-Poo
  • Poodle-Saint Bernard = Saint Berdoodle
  • Poodle-Scottish Terrier = Scoodle

What does industry experts think about designer dogs?

Dogs Life also caught up with various industry groups to get there comments on designer-dog breeds. Here are a few comments in regards to this highly talked about topic:

PIAA

Gower Executive Officer Member Liaison Pet Industry Association of Australia. “From the PIAAs perspective, as long as these pets are brought into loved homes of pet owners who are prepared to put in both the financial and the time resources required to ensure a great pet/owner interaction, mixed breeds, along with all pets are a positive enhancement to the dog community. All breeding of dogs should be controlled in a way that only the best quality of pups is produced. Genetic problems occur in both pedigree and mixed breeds, minimizing and removing these should be the aim of all breeders, so future generation of the breeds are strong and robust. So called Backyard Breeding” and accidental breeding must be minimised through education and where required registration, so that bitches do not produce more litters than what is healthy for them or pets at home produce a litter for the education of children. So called “Designer Dogs” require the same amount of dedication from the pet owner as any other pet does. Pet owners need to ensure regular visits to their Pet Care Professional to keep their pet happy and healthy. Like all pets which are for not for breeding, these pets should be desexed to ensure that they do not become accidentally pregnant or be the cause of an accidental pregnancy. Lastly, ensure that any pet is purchased through a PIAA member to ensure you receive education, advise and support before, during and after the purchase of your new best friend. Do not support unregulated back yard breeders by purchasing pets advertised in classified adverts, the internet or at itinerant market stalls.”

RSPCA

Jane Speechley, Communications Manager RSPCA Australia, “The RSPCA thinks mixed breed dogs can make great pets. Regardless of breed of dog, the same rules for responsible pet selection and ownership apply (choosing appropriate pet based on how much time, space and money you have, the importance of training and socialisation, being willing to make a lifetime commitment.  Also, adopting an animal in need from a shelter if possible . otherwise go to a responsible registered breeder, and make sure you check their credentials). The RSPCA believes all dog breeders, including breeders of designer dogs should approach the practise with due diligence for the care, health and future wellbeing of the animals they produce.

The RSPCA firmly believes that no animals should be used in excessive breeding, and no animals should be used in breeding programmes that produce weak or deformed offspring. All dog breeders should strive to produce healthy, hardy and robust animals. Remember designer dogs are still a cross breed albeit a carefully managed cross breed. Remember there are plenty of cross breeds at your local RSPCA shelter that don’t have the fancy names and clever marketing behind them but make just as wonderful a pet!”

Dogs NSW

Royal NSW Canine Council (now officially known as Dogs NSW) President Mr Keith Irwin: The Royal New South Wales Canine Council, or DOGS NSW as our organisation is now referred to, has an enforceable code of ethics for members and breeders which must be followed by owners and breeders. Breeders must also undertake an educational program and examination before being allowed to sell purebred dogs.

Members are required to not only sell healthy sound dogs but also encouraged to provide a follow up service for all puppies sold. Most members are easily contactable by their puppy buyers for information on feeding, housing, noise control etc and more importantly a responsible breeder offers to take the puppy back if sometime in the future the owner is not able to keep the dog any longer. All of the above are contributing factors to the extremely small number of purebred dogs that are actually being surrendered and eventually destroyed by the RSPCA or local Council Pounds.

While the number of designer dogs destroyed increases monthly and the yearly figure nationally is in the 1000,s  Dogs NSW is committed to the concept of Responsible Dog Ownership, and unless breeders act responsibly, we may all lose the right to own a companion animal particularly man’s best friend (the dog) as the anti dog lobby etc wins out.

I personally believe that the state government should prohibit the selling of any dog: purebred or designer or crossbreed though retail outlets unless the Pet Shop and/or like business is accredited by the Pet Industry Association of Australia. This organisations accreditation program is similar to the RNSWCCs Code of Ethics for breeders and this ensures that not only are healthy puppies sold, but that dogs are matched to new owners household, lifestyle etc.

Almost all of our most popular breeds, have rescue programs which are constantly involved in rescuing and re housing pure bred dogs, but when are those producing designer dogs going to accept their responsibility to rescue and/or re house dogs they have produced and collected big dollars for.

Labradoodles Breeding and Research Center

Beverley Manners, Rutland Manor Labradoodles Breeding and Research Center and Co-Founder of the Australian Labradoodle.

“I think that their popularity stems from two major considerations.  The first, is that breeders of pure breed dogs, breed their puppies predominantly with the aim of producing top show dogs. Health status and temperament are all too often of secondary importance to the conformation and general look of the dog.  The saying “that ones ONLY good for a pet” is commonly heard amongst breeders of pure bred dogs, as the family pet type puppy is considered inferior. As the majority of people looking for a puppy, are seeking a family companion or good natured kids dog, the emphasis on show ring traits is of no importance to them.

The second consideration is that people have become familiar with the concept of hybrid vigour the euphoric belief that vibrant health is always enjoyed by the progeny of two different breeds when crossed together. This is not necessarily true, because if both of the breeds mated together are plagued with the same hereditary diseases, there will be a doubling up of the genes carrying these diseases.  However in some cases, hybrid vigour will result in healthier progeny if the same diseases are not shared by both parent breeds.

The original Australian Labradoodles, developed over 17 years of trial and selection, are a completely different dog to the  lab poodle mixes currently using their name, especially in the United States of America.  In fact the theft of the name by Labradoodle Associations in America, has led the two founders of the breed, Rutland Manor and Tegan Park to the drastic measure of trade marking a new name for the breed, The Australian Service Dog (ASD).

In my opinion many of the Designer Dogs are extremely cute and many have lovely natures.  But crossing two breeds who share major hereditary diseases together is a recipe for disaster.

American Canine Hybrid Club

Garry Garner, ACHC Supervisor: “We accept any hybrid combination if the paren’ts are purebred. Our website is not complete, but we have registered over 340 different designer dog combinations as of this date. ACHC simply registers the dogs as produced by breeders. We do not get involved in the business of the breeders. Our only concern is whether the breeders follow our code of ethics and have not been convicted of animal cruelty. Producing any designer dog for registration with ACHC is as simple as crossing any two purebred dogs of different breeds. We are merely a documenting and registration service. We do, though, allow for continued breeding of hybrids such as Labradoodle x Labradoodle.”

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