Y’all know it’s my pet peeve.  It started with cockapoos and labradoodles–an innocent effort to create a hypoallergenic family dog (or in the case of the labradoodle, it started with an attempt to create a hypoallergenic service dog) and it has since exploded into cavachons (cavalier x bichon), maltzus (maltese x shih tzu), peakles (pekingese x beagle), puggles (pug x beagle), doodlemans (dobe x poodle not even joking google it), schnoodles (schnauzer poodle), and the reason for this blog–confetti schnauzers (mini aussie x shcnauzer creating what appears to be a merle miniature shcnauzer), among others.  It is these “designer dogs” or intentional crossbreeds that have taken the American consumeristic population by storm, and provided a healthy income for multitudes of individuals across the nation. 

I love dogs, everyone knows that. Seriously my level of adoration for this species as a whole is sick, and borders on obsessive.  I have chosen to make them my career, my hobby, and everything in between. I have little time for much else.  And I like it that way, I actually do.  So hopefully no one is appalled by what I am about to say (although that may be too much to ask for).  THERE ARE TOO MANY DOGS IN THE WORLD. This fact is made evident by the numbers of dogs being slaughtered daily in shelters, for no reason other than there simply are not enough homes for them.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not a blog to bash all breeding of dogs, I actually own two purebred dogs, neither of which is a rescue (although Kelso may as well be).  But I think there are only two acceptable ways to acquire a dog: through rescue, or through a REPUTABLE breeder. 

So now, let’s define reputable.  In my opinion the only people who should be breeding dogs are those rare folks who have extensive knowledge of the breed they are producing, have clear goals for breed improvement each time they set out to breed a litter, take great care in the health and socialization of each puppy they produce (not to mention the bitch), screen their puppy buyers carefully (selling on spay/neuter contracts or co-ownership as to insure their dogs do not populate the continent with unwanted dogs), absolutely always take their puppies back if the new owners ever decide they can no longer keep them (either to stay or to be rehomed personally by the breeder), and generally take total responsability for each puppy they put on this earth.  Good breeders do not breed dogs with serious health, conformational, or temperament faults.  They health screen all breeding stock, and they also take great  interest in the health concerns of the non-breeding dogs in their line.  They keep track through extensive pedigrees of what they are producing, and they recognize that there will be mistakes made, but that these mistakes are theirs to deal with.  Finding a breeder like this is no easy task, trust me.  It took me three years of searching to find Idgie’s breeder, and another year of waiting on top of that.  Acquiring a dog this way does not happen overnight, and can be rather expensive.  On the other hand anyone can scan their credit card (it will also be expensive, usually more so) at the pet store in the mall and take home an adorable puppy that very day–which do you think most Americans will choose?

Which leads me to another point.  Some of the people producing these dogs are backyard “hobbyist” breeders who think they love, let’s say, Puggles, as a “breed” and want to make more Puggles to bring joy into the lives of others.  But good luck finding these folks.  And on top of that, they can’t adhere to all the things “reputable” means because the resources are not available when you are crossbreeding dogs.  What do you screen for? All health problems on both sides? Preferably, but good luck finding stock clear of genetic diseases or anomalies.  Why good luck? Because the healthy purebred dogs of this earth are generally produced by those reputable breeders I was talking about before, and NONE of those breeders are selling dogs to people who intend to crossbreed them.  NONE.  Their puppies are sold on spay/neuter contracts, remember?  So their healthy stock is not contributing to the production of these high-dollar mongrels.  And don’t believe any of that CRAP about these intentional crossbreeds having “hybrid vigor” or else the genetic advantage of having two parents of separate gene pools, allowing for nature to select away from inherited ailments.  When you cross a poodle (cancer, heart disease) with a golden retriever (cancer, hip dysplasia) do you think cancer can be selected out? And are you willing to take that gamble on heart disease or hip dysplasia? I hope not.   

Don’t get me wrong, some of my favorite dogs have been mutts (and true Heinz-57-style mutt dogs do tend to experience hybrid vigor).  But that’s just it–shelters are overflowing with mixed-breed dogs, and these dogs are being put to death because no one wants them.  So why are people making more?  Sure you could argue that shelters are overflowing with purebred dogs also, labradors and American Pit Bull Terriers being at the top of the list.  Which is why breeders of super popular breeds should be taking extra special care in their breeding practices, and should be participating extensively in rescue, but that’s another blog entirely.

So let’s get to the real issue.  The majority of people producing these dogs are doing so on a large scale for profit.  The PC term for them is “commercial breeders,” and the term most of us use is “puppy mill.”  They produce hundreds of dogs of multiple breeds (designer and actual).  Most of them are totally legal, with an agricultural liscence.  So while you and I, being dog lovers/fanciers/enthusiasts/whatever would see their facilities (and I actually have seen them, first hand) as sick, cruel, disgusting means to make money, they are totally approved of by the American government.  The dogs are considered livestock, and they are used as such.  The bitches have a litter every heat cycle until they can no longer breed and then they are either sold into medical research or killed.  The males are bred to the bitches whenever needed, and when they are too old to do so they find the same fate.  It’s awful, it should be illegal, but it isn’t and won’t likely be anytime soon.  These puppies are then sold through pet stores or straight from the source via fancy-cute websites and brokers that bring the puppy to you (so you don’t witness the horror!). 

So please don’t misunderstand me, most of my puppy classes are full of these dogs since I teach at the designated Pet City vet, and I give them all the love and respect I give to my other doggie children.  I actually enjoy most of the owners since they typically come to me as first-time-dogowners blissfully ignorant of what they have done.  They are an opportunity for education, to say the least, and they usually soak up the clicker training since they have never trained a dog before and don’t know any of that alpha-pack-dominance mumbojumbo.  I just wish the consumers were better-informed, and I wish the commercial breeders gave a damn about welfare–but they fall in the same camp as factory farmers in my brain, and that, too, is another blog entirely.