Morkies, Labradoodles, and Teddy Bears: Are Designer Puppies Bad?
What Is A Purebred Anyway?
I was reading an old book published in the first years of the 20th century, Dogs and All About Them, authored by Robert Leighton. It discussed the origin of many dog breeds from an early 20th century perspective and was interesting because at the time of publishing, no clear rules existed for a lot of breeding kennels, and there was no such thing as a designer dog.
One example he gave was of a Fox Terrier Kennel. When the puppies were born, the owner would look at them and say, “Oh, those must be Jake´s pups because they look like him,” and record it as such in the breeder´s book. When developing a breed, like the Yorkshire terrier, the breeders had the black and tan wire haired terrier and then used the Maltese to make the dog smaller with a smooth coat, the Skye for the ears, and the Dandie Dinmont (for something, although I have no idea what). Were these dogs considered mutts? No, at the time they were just considered crossbreds and the progenitors of a new breed.
So are purebreds really purebreds?
Not as far as any of us can tell. Being a registered purebred only signifies that a group of people somewhere have decided to give you a piece of paper stating that your parents were of pure breeding. (It is also supposed to signify that a purebred animal will pass down known characteristics.)
Perhaps the Siberian Husky is pure, since it was so isolated that no other breeds were able to come in and mix with it. Very few breeds can meet those standards. Even some of the isolated purebreds were mixed with other dogs when they were introduced to Europe, however.
Other than Sibes and Samoyeds, all of us are mixed breeds.
Qualities of Purebreds and Designer Dogs
Qualities of a designer dog
- Heterozygous (there is no way to tell how the offspring will be born).
- Characteristics that dog owners are looking for at this time.
Qualities of a purebred
- Homozygous (the offspring will be born the same as the parents).
- Characteristics someone wanted at one time, and may still want now.
Are Designer Dogs Bad?
Since designer dogs are just mixed breeds, if one is bad, so is the other. What is wrong with all of these new designer dogs?
In my opinion, nothing is wrong with them. Some of crosses, like the labradoodle, fit the desire of customers who think they want a specific breed (the Labrador Retriever) but cannot deal with all of the shedding around the house, so they really want a Poodle. Is there something inherently wrong in producing a F1 hybrid that fits the customer´s needs?
There are others, like the Mauzer, the Morkie, the Chipom, the teddy bear…there are really too many to list them all here. Any two breeds of dogs thrown together are going to breed and some buyers will think they are good dogs.
Which Dog Is Better?
Why get a registered purebred instead of a designer dog? If both dogs are equal, the main reason to focus on a purebred is health. Some purebred dog breeders will tell you that since the designer dog breeds are usually the product of backyard breeders, they rarely have the necessary genetic screening.
It is true that designer dogs rarely have genetic screening. Sometimes it is because the designer dog breeder is trying to save a buck, at other times it is because many of the genetic diseases are a product of generations of line breeding (a polite way of saying incest) and the dogs may show up with two recessive genes at one location, in some cases revealing an inherited defect that had otherwise been disguised by a dominant gene.
The designer breeds are heterozygous, that is they have a mixed up genetic picture, and are unlikely to demonstrate a genetic disease, even if they are carriers.
Should designer dogs be spayed and neutered? Most of them are, and most of them should be. It is never clear how cross bred puppies are going to turn out, and when they are bred again there are so many variables that many families will not want to adopt them.
What Do You Think Is the Best Mixed Breed?
If you find yourself wanting a Puggle instead of a Pug, he is more likely to be healthy than at least one of his parents. Do your best to look at the parents, however, and do not accept one of these puppies from a puppy mill that is marketing their dogs through the internet.
A purebred is nothing special. A mixed breed is not such a bad thing.
How many of you out there can claim to be purebreds, after all?
Questions & Answers
© 2012 Dr Mark