'Designer dogs' and the people who buy and sell them
July 17th, 2009
Got a freaky mutt (AKA, "designer dog")? I do.
His strangely twisted, googly-eyed charm is irresistible. Too bad he’s unable to walk normally because of the angles of his joints. Too bad his corneas are subject to swelling because of the shape of his skull. Too bad his skin suffers chronic infections as a result of his allergic heritage. Too bad somebody actually bred him this way.
I assume this ruined––but loveable––beast was intended as a “designer dog.” That’s partly because the pug
is among the most commonly included breed in designer dog mixes. And because someone took the time to surgically remove his dewclaws early in life (a sure sign of a dog intended to be sold).
Ever heard of a “puggle” (pug and beagle
mix)? An Ori-Pei (pug and shar-pei
mix)? Or a Carlin pinscher (pug and miniature pinscher)? They’re all “designer” pug mixes.
Designed by whom? I’d like to know.
So you know, you don’t need to be Gucci or Pucci or Prada to “design” a mutt. You don’t need a degree, a license or even a purebred anything as the genetic base. All you need is a dog that sort-of resembles a breed and another that sort-of resembles another. Mix the two. Build a website. Claim your dogs are “temperament-tested” and of “imported” genetic stock.
Go ahead. Anyone will believe you. Why? Because they want to.
After all, it’s human nature to want something no one else has. And believing that’s what you’re buying is all that’s needed to fulfill the urge.
When a “goldendoodle” (golden retriever
mix) breeder in my area was finally raided, the puppies were everywhere. The place stank of urine. The dogs were hot. They had no water. And the owners were home (and, in fact, had been warned that an “inspection” was on its way in 24 hours). They were forced to close down their “shop.”
And the website? It claimed that all dogs were “lovingly cared for as family members,” “of highest quality” and other such nice things. When, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
This morning I finally met a goldendoodle who hailed from this purveyor. The new owner? Still gushing about how “imported” his designer mutt’s parentage was. Somehow convinced that the red mange
and the severe allergies I’d been unable to successfully treat were more likely MY fault than the impeccable genetics behind his perfect dog. After all, as he explained, “this combination of breeds was designed for health!”
Yeah, but that only works if the two dogs that got it together were both healthy to begin with.
It’s not my intention to bash this owner. In fact, the dog is lovable. I can understand why an owner would want to defend his adored animal.
Yes, it's important to note that it's only human nature to be swayed by labels and papers and seals of approval, falsified or not. And it’s true: love transcends all flaws and labels. But this post is more about those who would abuse animals by breeding unwisely for monetary gain and then abuse people's trust via “designer” and “imported” marketing tactics.
And it's also about those who fall for it...because they don't know enough to research where most of these animals really come from. These pet owners perpetuate the problem. They deserve to know where they went wrong and how they can do better next time...for the sake of everyone involved.
Dr. Patty Khuly