Designer Dogs
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  • First Basenji's

    My wife would like to get involved with animal-assisted therapy (AAT). Our basenji isn't suited for it—she's fear aggressive. We're working on it, but she's unlikely to ever have the kind of personality that a therapy dog needs for interacting with so many different strangers.

    Thus, we're planning to get a second dog in perhaps six months to a year. My wife has suggested something like a Labrador/poodle cross ("labradoodle") or golden retriever/poodle cross ("goldendoodle") because they have happy, easygoing temperaments and are supposedly hypoallergenic (which should be good for interacting with lots of different people). My concern is that there's no such thing as a responsibly bred designer dog like these. Am I right in thinking this? I'm arguing for a French barbet or a Portuguese water dog instead; we'd be able to get one from a responsible breeder who could help us find the perfectly suited puppy to be trained for therapy work, and to get along with our dog-wary basenji.

    But am I right in assuming that designer dogs all come from pet stores, backyard breeders, and puppy mills? Or are there responsibly bred ones out there? (I'd still rather get a barbet or PWD, but I want to make sure we explore all our options!)

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  • There are definitely breeders out there specializing in this type of cross, and a little investigation should identify the ones that are responsible. Hybrid crosses may have some advantages over established breeds, as they are dipping into a wider gene pool which may tend to bury some nasty recessives. In horses, half Arabians have been recognized and registered for a long time, and many breeds have gone outside their own lines to add traits and vigour, notably Quarter Horses which were registerable as purebred when outcrossed with Thoroughbred for some years.

    The problems that arise with this sort of cross are more of having animals that breed true, i.e. you breed two individuals of the same hybrid cross with each other, but the pups often don't resemble their parents. It takes time and selective breeding to "fix" characteristics in a breed, but that is beyond the scope of what you need to consider. In time breeders may manage to fix standard traits and have the animals recognized as actual purebreds, but for now there is nothing wrong with having a crossbred as a pet or service dog. If you like the temperaments that you see in these animals (and I know people who have them and are very happy with them) then why not get one for yourselves after doing a thorough investigation of the breeder's operation, as you would with any puppy purchase?

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  • I do not believe that are responsible breeders of designer dogs. I know people that have had labradoodles... and because it is a mix, it can't be considered hypoallergenic....and you never know about health because you are getting the genes from two breeds and you could get the worst of both.

    I would stick with purebreds......

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  • I know several people with Golden Doodles, including one that has both a purebred Golden and a Doodle. All of the people I have talked to who are familiar with this cross breed are favourably impressed with them, and the one who owns both would get a Doodle in preference to another Golden. From a little bit of checking the websites of breeders who are into this cross, it would appear that many are as diligent with health testing as are breeders of purebreds. Yes, you don't know for sure the genetic makeup of the resulting pups, but being a hybrid may lower the chances of developing certain inherited diseases. Personally I wouldn't worry on that score.

    There are a lot more recognized breeds of dog out there now than there were fifty years ago. Breeds are developed by judicious crossing of various types of dog, and closing a registry will invariably mean the inbreeding coefficient is going to increase. This article goes into the problem in more detail: http://www.k9magazine.com/kennel-club-closed-registry-harmful-dogs/

    If I were considering getting a "designer dog" I would want one whose parents were health checked and who was an "F1" hybrid. (parents of the two different breeds, i.e. not offspring of two Golden Doodles). And I would want to get the pup from a breeder who offers the same guarantees as breeders of purebreds.

    last edited by eeeefarm
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  • @eeeefarm said in Designer Dogs:

    I know several people with Golden Doodles, including one that has both a purebred Golden and a Doodle. <<

    There may be millions... doesn't make the breeders responsible and it makes they buyers enablers. Opening a registry for new genes, like Maine Coon cats, is one thing.

    Designer mixing of breeds is not responsible. There are millions of mutts needing homes, we don't need to create more. I loved my chow mixes dearly, but breed more? No.

    To the OP, I am glad your wife is interested in therapy dogs. She needs to start with basics... such as learning temperaments and how temperament testing is done. She can contact various therapy groups for help in finding the right dog, having it professionally evaluated. You cannot do that with a puppy. If the goal is AAT, then choosing a dog that is at least 6 to 8 mos old will give you a better chance at having a dog that will work out.

    http://www.caninesforservice.org/#!therapy-dogs/c1ag1

    AKC has an overwhelming list of groups which can provide her with a wealth of information on different groups and types of therapy dogs.
    http://www.akc.org/events/title-recognition-program/therapy/organizations/

    This one is close to you and may be of great help:
    http://www.helpingpawsintl.org/helpnav1f.html

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  • @DebraDownSouth said in Designer Dogs:

    Designer mixing of breeds is not responsible. There are millions of mutts needing homes, we don't need to create more. I loved my chow mixes dearly, but breed more? No.

    We will have to agree to disagree on this one, Debra. Yes, lots of mutts needing homes. Lots of registered purebreds, too. Many (most?) dog breeds are relatively "new". Certainly as regards their recognition as breeds. Most had a purpose when they were created or refined. Unfortunately few dogs actually serve their original purpose these days. If the main purpose of the majority of dogs is that of family pet, then why not strive to produce the best candidates to fulfill that role? If a cross between breeds consistently performs better than either of the purebreds, it will be more likely to remain as a cherished member of the family and not end up in a shelter because of undesirable traits. It is getting more common to find Golden Retrievers of poor temperament than it used to be. They are not the only breed that appears to have declined either temperamentally or physically or both. Is cross breeding offering a possible solution to a narrowing gene pool? Perhaps. One thing is certain. These "designer dogs" do not come cheap!!

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  • First Basenji's

    Thanks, everyone, for the opinions. I didn't realize that it was difficult to ascertain a dog's temperament from puppyhood, so maybe we'll adopt a slightly older dog, as Debra suggested. My father-in-law has trained several dogs for canine search and rescue over the years, and he's mentioned that dogs that have "flunked out" of seeing-eye training are sometimes available and can be great for AAT.

    I've gotten her a book on therapy-dog training for her birthday (among other things), so we'll do some more homework before deciding anything. If I had my druthers, we'd get another basenji, but that may not be in the cards. :)

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  • @eeeefarm said in Designer Dogs:

    We will have to agree to disagree on this one, Debra. ...Most had a purpose when they were created or refined. Unfortunately few dogs actually serve their original purpose these days. If the main purpose of the majority of dogs is that of family pet, then why not strive to produce the best candidates to fulfill that role? If a cross between breeds consistently performs better than either of the purebreds, it will be more likely to remain as a cherished member of the family and not end up in a shelter because of undesirable traits. It is getting more common to find Golden Retrievers of poor temperament than it used to be.<<<

    Hard to know where to even begin.

    The creation of a breed takes generations. Designer pets aren't people working to make a breed, they breed to sell dogs that uninformed people pay big bucks for. The creation of a breed takes generations because you need a lot of progeny to find out what genetic hells you may be creating, or helping. Designer dog breeders haven't a working brain cell about genetics, they sure as hell don't start with quality well bred dogs. Go take a look at about 100 ads, ask for sire and dam akc and you'll find that MOST were sold on neuter/spay, or from generations of pet breeders.

    Take the man who created Labradoodles in the late 1980s. He did it for a reason (low shedding and possibly less allergy inducing... plus temperament for guide dogs). Instead, it became a huge fad. Very few have worked generations to actually develop a consistent line. Looking at the breeder sites is sickening... claims of being RESPONSIBLE because they will note any issues a puppy owner informs them of and do not breed a bitch until 12 mos. (Far too young, and certainly too young for hip certification etc.) But beyond that, there are already dogs with known decreased problems with allergies. A RESPONSIBLE breeder would have taken such a breed (for example a standard poodle) and bred for temperament.

    Btw, that creator's view: >>Conron has since repeatedly stated he regrets initiating the fashion for this type of crossbreed and maintains it caused "a lot of damage" together with "a lot of problems". He also felt he was to blame for "creating a Frankenstein", adding that problems were being bred into the dogs rather than breeding away from problems. He is further quoted as claiming: "For every perfect one, you're going to find a lot of crazy ones."<<<

    There certainly are people working to develop a breed, but they aren't selling the offspring as designer pets. It takes a lot of money, many years, massive genetic testing, consistent health clearances, etc to develop a breed that has consistency. Reading histories of some breeds, you will find that hundreds of puppies were euthanized that didn't fit the desired qualities.

    As for Goldens... any time a dog is popular, more byb/puppymills breed them to make a buck... temperament and health be damned. But I promise you that if you go to responsible breeders' dogs, you'll find very little temperament issues. Ditto on, for example, Pit bulls. While I find the "responsible" breeders' defending breeding their dogs to be highly dog/animal aggressive to be appalling, I have to applaud that they are seriously committed to removing any human-aggressive dogs from their breeding programs. A well-bred Pit is never human aggressive. But every Tom, Dick and Harry breeding them without a clue, in fact encouraging human-aggressive breeding, are behind the huge issue of bites. So then you cross a Pit Bull, that is bred to fight animals, and start crossing them with other dogs. So no, introducing another breed with goldens isn't what is needed to fix the issue--- it is breeding only sound temperament. Dear spirits look at Rottweilers. The worse thing on earth was their popularity... and the public only hears and sees the poorly bred, stupidly trained dogs. It was rare for me to go evaluate a Rottie in the shelter and not advise the dog to be put down.

    Sometimes, there are genuine needs to open up a registry to add new genes. The Maine Coon cat had to do that a while back. Basenjis tried with the African dogs, but not very successful. A breeder here gave the stats and it was very discouraging how limited the use of the new dogs were. Some breeds, like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, have so much heart issues it is really frightening. ( Not going to go on about it, but we looked for one for my daughter and I found only ONE breeder in our state and surrounding states who had followed the protocol to not breed until age 5 and clear of early onset. http://cavalierhealth.org/overview.htm#Mitral_Valve_Disease_(MVD) ) Some breeders have talked about bringing in another breed to help, but I have no idea if the club has applied for AKC permission. So I guess we do agree that sometimes you mix... but for me only to help an issue with a breed, not to create a new one.

    PS: Can you tell by my excessive wordiness that I am sleep deprived? We just got a Samoyed puppy. Sleep for a while is going to be spotty :)

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  • @DebraDownSouth said in Designer Dogs:

    PS: Can you tell by my excessive wordiness that I am sleep deprived? We just got a Samoyed puppy. Sleep for a while is going to be spotty :)

    Pun intended?

    I agree with some of your points and disagree with others. Yes, becoming popular is the kiss of death and has affected many breeds. Irresponsible breeders churn them out for sale to people who saw "that movie" and thought the dog was so cute.

    That said, one of the reasons there are a lot of irresponsible breeders into Doodles these days is because they are becoming very popular. By looking at a few breeders' sites I can see that some are definitely in it for the money, but others seem to be drawn by the personalities some crosses seem to produce. A number of breeders appear to have a history (often 30 years or more) of breeding one of the two breeds now being crossed, so I wouldn't write them off as someone who doesn't know what they are doing. Also, the responsible ones are doing all of the usual health tests and offering health guarantees. And requiring that dogs come back to them if no longer wanted. Of course not all breeders are responsible, but neither are those of registered purebreds.

    Yes, creating a new breed takes generations, but in dogs that is not a whole lot of years! Not like horses, where you wait such a long time to discover whether you are going in the right direction. There have been lots of breeds created relatively recently. In any case, regarding the Doodles, I think that ship has sailed and given the current popularity it doesn't much matter what our opinions of the trend are.I am guessing that in ten years or less Golden Doodles and Labradoodles will make their way into the AKC registry. Want to put money on it?

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  • I actually am willing to bet neither golden doodles nor labradoodles will be in akc in even 20 yrs. They first need a breed club, a developed stud book, etc. The Australian Labradoodle club of America has a mild chance, but I doubt in 10 yrs. And with massive breeders not part of the Australian lineage, I don't see that occurring because they still allow dogs added and other issues that will keep them out of the AKC. However, they maintain a stud book and are getting closer. The Goldendoodle Association of North America is even further off as they still permit Golden to Poodle to join. Until they lock down only goldendoodle to goldendoodle for at least 3 generations, they won't get into AKC.

    As for pun, samoyeds are not spotted so I am not sure where you saw a pun.

    Oh, and for Baba Bamidele, fyi, I love Shirley. We disagree often, but nothing personal in it. It is good when you have friends you can discuss opposite views with. Change opinions or not, it's always good to learn how others think.

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  • @DebraDownSouth said in Designer Dogs:

    As for pun, samoyeds are not spotted so I am not sure where you saw a pun.

    "We just got a Samoyed puppy. Sleep for a while is going to be spotty :)"

    As in spots on the rug? I said a pun, I didn't say a good pun! :-)

    It will be interesting to watch how things develop. A lot can change in a breed in ten years, unfortunately not always for the better. As for disagreeing, life would be boring if we all saw things the same, wouldn't it? Love you too, Debra! Can't think of a better shoulder to cry on when the chips are down.

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  • First Basenji's

    Yes, I'm glad to hear differing opinions! We're keeping our options open but leaning toward a purebred waterdog of some sort. I'm sure I'll be back later with questions about how to integrate a new puppy in to a home life ruled by a cat (and with an African basenji in the mix)... :)

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