Designer Dog Debate Heats Up

One of the newest trends in dog breeding today is the designer dog. Designer dogs often referred to as hybrids, have caught on with a growing number of pet owners. There is debate brewing over whether these designer pups are worth the price many folks are willing to pay.
Many breeders of purebred dogs are skeptical of the trend can contend that crossbreeding can result in medical and genetic problems. Supporters of the practice dismiss these concerns, with many hybrid breeders claiming that crossbred dogs are healthier than their purebred cousins.
As a consumer society, many people measure their social status by what they own. While most of us see a womans purse, others see a designer handbag. The same can be said for shoes, luggage and other personal accessories. Since a suitcase performs the same function as a 0 Louis Vuitton designer suitcase, there seems to be little difference. An argument can be made that owning a designer suitcase is merely an attempt to create a self-image. The owner of the designer bag may argue that spending more money means getting a higher quality bag.
Now dogs are not handbags and dog breeding is a multi-billion dollar business, both in America and abroad. Dogs of all breeds enjoy a status similar to children in many homes and an entire industry has grown up around showing, grooming and caring for these special creatures. There are several large organizations that have taken the lead in defining the standard for what are considered recognized purebred dogs. These groups have a vested interest in maintaining control over defining the standards for purebred dogs.
What Is a Designer Dog?
The basic idea behind designer dogs involves the marriage of two distinct dog breeds. According to the American Canine Hybrid Club, breeders of designer dogs use a rating system to designate the generational breeding tree. For example, an F1 crossbreed results from the breeding of two purebred dogs. A popular type of hybrid breed is the Labradoodle, a cross breeding of a purebred Labrador retriever and a purebred Standard Poodle. The result of this F1 breeding is typically a curly-haired retriever.
Following the F type classification can get a little complicated. For example, an F1-B Labradoodle is a blend of 25 percent Labrador Retriever and 75 percent Standard Poodle. In other words, an F1 Labradoodle has been bred back to a Standard Poodle. As the breeding goes through additional stages the F classification changes yet again. An F2 classification is the breeding of two F1 dogs, in this case two Labradoodles. An F3 classification is the breeding of two F2 dogs. Finally, an F3 is a combination of two F2 dogs.
Canine Club Conflicts
It is important to note that the reigning kennel clubs do not recognize the current crop of designer or hybrid dog breeds. This is an interesting position since many of the currently recognized breeds are themselves creations of crossbreeding.
Some critics of the designer dog craze argue that dogs of mixed breeding are available at many local dog shelters. Claming that adoption fees at shelters are a fraction of the cost an owner may pay for a hybrid breed. Hybrid breeders counter that the lineage of adopted pound dogs cannot be traced and no better than adopting any other mutt. The money spent on a certified hybrid is worth it, citing the paper trail available on the lineage of hybrid dogs.
Adoption versus Breeding
Some advocates of canine adoption report that many dog shelters and pound rescue operations are near capacity, with more dogs being euthnized every year. This despite increased public education campaigns promoting adoption over breeding and increased efforts to get owners to spay and neuter their dogs. Breeders of purebred and designer dogs argue that they are merely responding to market demands, providing dog fanciers with a wider variety of options.
Owner Responsibilities
Whatever side of this intense debate people are on, there is no doubt that it will continue for the foreseeable future. Dog lovers have a responsibility to consider not only their own needs, but what is right for the dog. Every dog is an individual, even dogs of the same breed, though some have shared characteristics. Before choosing a dog, whether a purebred, hybrid or just an average mutt, be fully aware of the responsibilities of pet ownership and choose a dog that is right for you and your lifestyle. Just as important is to make sure you are right for the dog.

Don Burke & Courtney discuss “Designer Dogs” with Kerri-Anne Kennerly, and meet Wags and Olivia (Pugaliers), Buffy (a Labradoodle), Bagel (a Schnoodle) and Kyla (a Spoodle). Aired on Channel 9 (Australia) 13 February 2007.

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