Links: Sep 25, 2005
I just had an odd experience involving a restroom, my boxer-briefs, and the fortune I received after lunch at the Chinese restaurant

“Designer dogs” outrage reaches the hinterlands, 18 months later

I first posted about this in January 2004 when ran a story about it. Seems we’re just now getting the word here in Seattle, via a wire story from an upper-midwest newspaper . . . ?

Seattle Times: “Designer dogs” all the rage

By Raquel Rutledge
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MILWAUKEE—Karen Zale arrived at Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport to meet Delta flight 1667 from Atlanta excited and a little anxious.

“Is she as cute as the pictures? Shy or outgoing? Healthy, I hope.”

Minutes later, the airline agent emerged with the crate, and for the first time, Zale met the specially ordered puppy she sought and bought over the Internet. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, she is so cute,’” Zale said.

She was relieved. After all, she had never even heard of her puppy’s breed until two weeks before deciding she had to have one.

That’s because her puppy, Jasmine, is a shepadoodle—a German shepherd-standard poodle mix—one of dozens of new, so-called “designer dogs,” bred deliberately in hopes of duplicating the best traits of each within a single dog.

Once considered mutts, these high-priced crosses are the latest craze, leaving some dog lovers scrambling to find them and stirring controversy among others.

“There’s a lot of interest in these hybrids,” said Garry Garner, founder of the American Canine Hybrid Club. “It’s really expanded in the last couple years.”

Mixing it up
Some popular mixed breeds, and their origins:

Shepadoodle: German shepherd-standard poodle

Schnoodle: Miniature schnauzer-poodle

Labradoodle: Labrador-poodle

Goldendoodle: Golden retriever-poodle

Puggle: Pug-beagle

St. Berdoodle: St. Bernard-poodle

Yorki-poo: Yorkshire terrier-poodle

Shocker: Shiba Inu-cocker spaniel

Source: American Canine Hybrid Club
Breeders register about 500 litters of hybrids a month, Garner said. Many of the newer combinations are poodle mixes, paired in an attempt to produce a low- or non-shedding dog.

The most-popular mix at the moment: the puggle, a cross between a pug and a beagle.

Not everyone favors the latest fad.

Linda Lewis, spokeswoman for the Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America, calls the practice of deliberately coupling different breeds disgusting.

“We are dead set against it,” Lewis said. “It’s ridiculous. There are enough cats and dogs being put down every day because they don’t have homes.”

Lewis’ organization supports adopting a mixed breed from a shelter.

The American Kennel Club warns that the new mixes are not recognized by the club as official breeds, and that when two different purebreds are crossed it produces inconsistent results.

The temperament, coat, size and other characteristics vary widely within each litter and aren’t always evident in a puppy, said AKC spokeswoman Daisy Okas. As a result, people may not know what they’re getting. Instead of getting the best of both breeds, you could get the worst, she said.

“There’s a reason people pay a lot of money for purebreds,” she said. “They have a 100-year pedigree behind them. You know what you’re going to get. They’re very predictable.

“Some breeders are just throwing anything together and putting a cute name on it and charging $1,000. It’s absurd,” she said.

Still, demand for designer dogs shows no signs of slowing.

Karen Brausen breeds puggles in South Dakota and said her litters are typically sold—at $500 to $600 per puppy—before the puppies are even born. People put down deposits of $200 or more and wait months for a puppy.

Jackie Arine, owner of Idaho-based Doodle Downs, said demand for her $1,500 labradoodle puppies is so strong she spends several hours every day on her computer corresponding with prospective buyers.

“I sold three this morning sitting here on my computer.”