Designer Dogs Deserve Breed Recognition

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Designer dogs are an attempt to breed dogs that make sense for current life. Many established breeds have outlived their usefulness and don't belong in urban life.

Designer dogs are an attempt to breed dogs that make sense for current life and not a passing fad.

That’s the surprising opinion of Louise Louis, the creator of which is devoted solely to American Kennel Club (AKC) Toy dog breeds. “It’s an ugly truth that some breeds have outlived their reason to exist in urban America.”

Many of the established dog breeds in Herding, Hound and Working groups are too large and too active for today’s urban and busy family life she believes. Designer dogs are an attempt to breed dogs that fit in with contemporary life.

One of the fastest growing groups buying dogs are retirees who often treat their dogs like their children. These owners, however, are often downsizing and needs dogs that can live in RVs or patio/garden homes.

“Dogs like the Border Collie have been bred for generations to herd. With no sheep in the suburbs, it’s not surprising they herd small children,” Ms. Louis said. “This is rarely acceptable conduct but at the same time, few people today have the time, training and patience to channel a dog’s natural instincts into acceptable behavior.”

The designer dogs are a cross of Poodles with other breeds in an attempt to capture the best traits of both breeds. With the explosion of allergies among children and adults, Poodles are prized for the minimal shedding as well as their intelligence and trainability. What people don’t like are their high energy and sometimes high-strung personalities or even the Poodle-look.

Breeding a purebred Poodle with a purebred of a different breed is an attempt to breed a slightly larger and/or more mellow dog. That’s the reason for new crossbreeds such as the Cavoodle (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Poodle) or Maltipoo (Maltese and Poodle).

“There's no denying that some breeds have been bred so much for appearance that their health has sometimes been jeopardized,” Ms. Louis said. “That’s the reason for the widely popular -- and expensive -- Puggle.”

A Puggle is a cross of a Pug with a Beagle. Pugs have great temperament but they have breathing problems as a result of their flat, squashed-in faces with small nasal openings, narrow windpipes and long soft palates.

All those breed characteristics limit breathing, contribute to airway obstruction and result in wheezing and snoring. The Beagle strain is intended to improve the Pug's physiology but retain the Pug's good nature -- but with a bit more of the Beagle’s energy.

Opponents of designer dogs are correct that no one can guarantee that the best traits of each breed will be in the new breeds. It’s possible for a cross to have the worst of both breeds including genetic problems of both breeds.

This criticism, she says, has been made about dog breeds forever. Every breed recognized by the American Kennel Club started with cross breeding for specific reasons. Today’s popular and pampered Yorkshire Terrier began life as the product of at least three other terrier breeds and was bred down in size to facilitate catching rats and other small mammals.

There’s no magic number of dog breeds that should exist, she noted. The dog community needs to do what makes sense for contemporary life, not try to live in the past.

Her opinion is that the reputable kennel clubs such as AKC and United Kennel Club should embrace designer dogs and encourage responsible breeding by championing breed clubs for these new breeds.

“As usual, the American Kennel Club (AKC) is mired in yesterday and attacks the popularity of these dogs as being nothing more than high-priced mutts. There is truth to that”, she concedes. “but the unwillingness of the AKC and dog community to support the process of creating official dog breeds is the reason for that."

If the responsible elements of the dog community don’t recognize and embrace cross breeding, it leaves the market to those who only want to breed for money without any regarding for furthering and defining a breed.

“In a few years, the Cavoodle could be just as refined and posh as today’s Yorkshire Terrier.

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Louise Louis
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