Thanks to the good folks at Pets in the City magazine, I have an editorial column in which I can opine…sharing my pet peeves with all.
Reprinted below is my opinion piece from the October 2012 issue.
Due to limited space, the attached case study didn’t make print but is included here.
Designer Dogs ~ Not Exactly Gucci
Rare is the beloved dog who lives its life with one family. Less than 35% pass their whole lives with the original owner.
More common are dogs who live with two or more families…
…Or those – stray, lost, or unwanted – who converge at shelters. At many pounds, they have but a matter of days for the right person to walk in the door. If not, death there is equal opportunity for purebreds to mutts, puppies to elderly. Annually, 1.8 to 2.4 million dogs are killed for lack of a home.
Why are so many dogs “euthanized”? Too many are born to be supported as commodities in a market of supply and demand. Why? Too much breeding: casual breeding by strays and pets, but mostly purposeful breeding with the intent to sell the litters.
This long-term problem, exacerbated by puppy mills and backyard breeders, is now worsened with the clever marketing of so-called designer dogs. This trendy ploy sells mixed breeds to a public thinking they’re buying fancy new breeds (labradoodles, bogles, etc.) and paying accordingly.
Then the cycle continues: some live happily ever after, while many end up in a shelter, no longer puppies, with attention and exercise demands. And those designer dogs? Gone are the cutesy names of chiweenie or schnoodle. They’re simply mixed breeds, aka “mutts,” competing with recognizable breeds, and their numbers overwhelm the shelters. Mixed breeds comprise 75% of shelter populations.
“Designer” sounds so cool, though, like Gucci shoes and purses. Surely, designer dogs must be something special to cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. On KSL classifieds in early September, labradoodles (Labrador/Poodle mixes) cost up to $2,500. Instead of $95 paid for my poodle mix (which included spay costs) at the Humane Society, I could have paid $600 for a chorkipoo (Chihauhau/Yorkie/Poodle mix). Yet, despite the price tag, there are no AKC pedigree papers, and many are without shots. If docked, the breeder likely performed this painful procedure. And smaller breeds are sometimes sold unweaned to suggest they’ll be smaller than they really are. It’s a sham.
So why are people buying designer dogs? These dogs are labeled with colorful names to suggest they are new breeds. They’re not. Breeds take generations to establish recognized standards such as appearance, size, temperament, and intelligence. If you mix two breeds, you get mixed results, with no guarantees of which genes will dominate. One argument is that they are the “best” of the breeds involved. Maybe, but how is that determined? I also hear “low allergens” for some mixes…but that’s because at least one breed involved doesn’t shed anyway.
You want a unique, special dog? Don’t reward bad behavior. Plenty of designer dogs await you at the shelter. You’ll save your pocketbook, and you’ll save a life.
 Euthanasia is technically defined as painless. However, most methods are not painless. The animals are killed by lethal injection (ingredients varying), decompression chambers, gas chambers, and electrocution.
Ringo: A Case Against Designer Dogs
Ringo fit into the palm of a hand, all fluff and soooo cute. Who wouldn’t fall in love? M & D did and shelled out $500 for this all black “designer” pup.
The seller called him a yorki-poo, not that M& D ever saw the sire and dam as she insisted on meeting at a friend’s. If there’s any Yorkshire Terrier in the DNA mix, they can’t tell. She also claimed he was 8 weeks old and wouldn’t get much larger. She lied: turned out he was younger and unweaned. Not that the size issue made a difference to M & D, but the breeder thought being a “miniature” would seal the deal. She also had docked the tail, which was too short and poorly done. And the so-called vet and shot records never materialized, despite multiple attempts to follow up with the breeder.
Ringo is one of the lucky ones, now in his sixth year with M &D. Yet, despite being raised in a loving family, he’s always been skittish and quick to nip. Theories run from his being traumatized when prematurely pulled from his mother, to simply being wired wrong. M & D console themselves that they were the ones to find him; otherwise, he would have likely been taken to a shelter by anyone less patient. Unfortunately, they rewarded the breeder with $500, and she likely bred more Ringos as a result.