Category Archives: Dog Breeds: Helping Or Harming?

Designer Dogs: The Pros and Cons 12/22/2012

labradoodle (not my dog)

labradoodle (not my dog)


 The labradoodle in the photos below is bathed and groomed about once each month. It takes (one) groomer 6-8 hours to bathe and groom two dogs. The owner of these labradoodles prefers her dogs with the shaggy look thus it takes the groomer much longer to comb through a LOT OF HAIR. It is said that the labradoodle was first mentioned in a book by Sir Donald Campbell in 1955.  Certainly his dog was not the first “mutt” that resulted from the combination of poodle and labrador. However, it seems that Sir Campbell was most likely the first person to coin the word labradoodle.  
 Further down the road and many miles away, The Royal Guide Dog Association in Australia, received a request from a woman in Hawaii who was asking for an allergy free guide dog because her husband was allergic to dogs. A Mr. Wally Conron was in charge of the breeding program for guide dogs and the job of producing or finding an allergy free dog became “his baby.” After receiving the assignment Mr. Conron thought it would be quite easy to produce an allergy free dog. Initially he decided to breed standard poodle to standard poodle. He reasoned that the poodle would be the right size as a guide dog, it had superior intelligence and trainability and its coat was tightly woven and shedding was virtually non existent. Many litters later and there were still no allergy free dogs. After that experiment failed he decided on another strategy. The second idea was to use the two smartest breeds- the labrador and a standard poodle ( these are the largest of the poodles). With this mix he hoped to get an allergy free dog. The first cross produced only three puppies. A hair sample of each puppy was sent to the woman in Hawaii and viola, one sample proved to be a winner.  Puppies that are bred to be service dogs are farmed out ( fostered)  with people who want to help raise, socialize, and teach basic commands to these dogs which are then returned to the association to complete their training as guide dogs. It seems that when it was time to “farm” the puppies out, no one wanted to foster the puppies because these were crosses and people considered them to be mutts. Mr Conron became desperate as time began running out for foster placement. Thus he reasoned that if he gave these cross bred puppies a name, then people would be more likely to want to foster. The ploy worked and numerous people wanted to foster puppies after they were given the name labradoodle. Media attention ensued and the labradoodle became the new rage as sort of a miracle dog. However, for Mr. Conron the challenge was just beginning. Reproducing more dogs was not that easy and there were quite a few dogs bred in order to get more numbers that were actually allergy free. He continued to breed these two breeds and he was able to produce a total of 31 dogs that were  “winners” meaning allergy free.  The breeding continued for a number of years but currently The Royal Guide Dog Association no longer conducts a cross breeding program. There are some other guide dog associations, however, that continue  to produce labradoodles.     
Word about this great dog spread like wild fire and became international within a very short time. Soon back yard breeders saw the potential for making quick money and there arose a plethora of just about any kind of “doodle” because, to put it simply, it had become the new craze- fad- must have, kind of dog. There were snoodles, shoodles, and groodles, to name a few. But the craze for a designer dog did not end there. Backyard breeders began crossing the miniature poodles with smaller breed dogs as well. Today, designer dogs remain popular but none of these cross breed dogs has gained admission into the American Kennel Club.  One of the biggest draw backs is the fact that the labradoodle and other poodle mixes do not breed “true.” This means that within any litter, size, coat, and body type varies. And out of any litter only one puppy to no puppy will have an allergen free coat.  Mr. Conron is now in his early eighties- retired of course and enjoying life breeding and training horses which happen to be his first love. He has never owned a labradoodle but his two dogs are purebred labrador retrievers. He has stated that he regrets that he was responsible for creating the labradoodle because people jumped at the chance to breed what they considered, a dog that is unique. Here in the states, this cross bred dog most likely, will never gain acceptance into the American Kennel Club. The mixing of these two breeds just can not produce puppies that all look alike. But there are many fans of this cross bred dog. People love the gentle disposition, cuteness, and intelligence of this mixed breed dog. The fact remains that individuals do not care if the dog has AKC papers or not. What matters is that the labradoodle is a good all around family dog and there is no denying that this gentle mutt is easy to love.   The pics in this post is one dog among four labradoodles that one family owns.  I can say with assurance after seeing these dogs up close and personal that they ARE CUTE and VERY SMART.  

 A Labradoodle that is bathed and groomed each month.

A Labradoodle that is bathed and groomed each month.


 Post and photograph – Yvonne 

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Crop, Dock or Not!!

Americans of the canine show circuit and other people who are dog “savvy” probably know that most European nations do not crop their dogs ears or dock the tail.  England and most European countries have banned ear cropping and tail docking and view these procedures as unnecessary and inhumane.  Some docking of the tail is permitted in countries that have partial bans. If tail docking is done, surgery must be performed by a veterinarian.  And tail docking is only done in working and hunting/retrieving breeds. On the other hand in the USA, the American Kennel Club specifies that certain breeds are not eligible for showing unless ears are cropped and the tail  docked. Some well versed authorities who work with, treat, or show certain dog breeds claim that it is in the best interest of the dog to either crop the ears or the dock the tail or both depending on the standards for a particular breed. The reason or excuse given is that the dog actually benefits from its ears standing up, but in my biased and humble opinion the dog looks as if it is on permanent alert.  An outdated belief  is that a dog is more aggressive and threatening if the ears stand up.

Does this improve the dog’s hearing and appearance? Some breeds (according to AKC standards) must have a docked tail. Cutting off the tail is usually done when the puppy is only a few days old. Breeders of the unfortunate puppy believe that the pain receptors are not as developed, thus docking is done when the pup is very young. Perhaps all of this is true but, is it possible to determine the degree of pain in an animal ? A few unlucky dog breeds must have ears cropped and the tail docked.  To  name a few: Great Dane, Boxer, Standard and Miniature Schnauzer, Pit Bull Terrier, Doberman Picher, and Miniature Pinscher.  The Jack Russell Terrier, Wire Haired Fox Terrier, Smooth Haired Fox Terrier, German Short Haired Pointer, Hungarian Visla, Weimaraner, and Brittany Spaniel are subjected to only tail docking, which is in my opinion barbaric, as well. The breeds listed here, are but a sampling of dog breeds that have cropped and/or docked so that the dog conforms to breed standards.

Many veterinarians in the USA no longer crop ears and some also refuse to dock tails. It appears these vets are listening to the other side of the pond where bans now protect the victims that can not speak for themselves.  The fact remains that owners want their dog to conform to the standards of the breed even though their dog is not and never will be a show dog. Researchers say that a dog needs its tail for balance and as a means of communicating to other dogs and humans. The tail tells it all sometimes.

Remember that old saying that if a dog wags its tail it will not bite?  It is sad to say but  a dog with a wagging tail does bite people who are unfamiliar. It isn’t about the wag but the carriage of the tail that tells it all. Some dogs wag their tail and if you make eye contact then you are really in a fix. The placement of the tail; high, low, straight out or tucked between the legs all denote a particular mood and  intended action of the dog. And just how do dogs communicate that have no tail or a docked tail? So my argument is if the ears are cropped and the tail docked, does this really improve the dog’s ability to perform his job and does it improve the dogs appearance? Could these surgeries be called inhumane? Will American dog breeders ever follow the actions of the English and the Europeans and ban ear cropping of all breeds and limit tail docking for certain breeds?

Please comment and add your opinion.

Post by:  Yvonne


Purebred, Pedigreed, Mutt, Mongrel, What is Your Dog? (click to enlarge photo )


Molly looking for squirrels   (foundling)

“Muddy” chocolate labrador retriever ( foundling)

Purebred and pedigree are two words that are often mistaken as meaning the same. I will attempt to simplify the words but the meanings can actually be confusing, if paying attention to detail is over looked.

Purebred is a dog that has been created to breed true of a certain type, with all offspring that have continued to look the same for many generations. For example the dogs with the same physical attributes are mated with repeated matings and sometimes within a small gene pool which means lots of inbreeding. So a dog as a breed may be recognized by the AKC but the progeny of the original breeding just might not have “papers” proving that he/she is of pedigreed stock. I want to make it clear that a dog does not need to have a pedigree with papers in order to be a good dog or a good specimen. For example quite a number of dogs are bred purely as working dogs and some of these breeders keep records but they are recorded in other registries rather than the AKC.  And, some breeders of working dogs simply do not enter their dogs in any kind of registry.

There will always be individuals  attempting to create a new breed. With each successive generation the breeders are hoping and applying for AKC regconition with years and years going by before the breed is finally deemed acceptable by AKC standards. Getting a little deeper here: it is up to the breeders of what ever dog they have created, to set a standard for the breed. This includes color or colors, and every physical feature of the dog which includes height, weight, ears, tails, etc. etc. A breed standard is complicated and one must study the breed closely in order to really know a breed.  

A pedigree dog means one that has a record- an ancestry record that is.  In other words if you buy a purebred dog from a breeder of good reputation then most likely you can get a dog that has “papers” as in American Kennel Club registration papers. This organization keeps records of all puppies with papers that are sent in by the breeder and the owner also sends in the final papers with a ridiculous sounding name such as “Othello the Great of Isle Dogdoright.” Well that is just a tiny stretch of the imagination. But I’m sure there are some of y0u that have a dog/dogs with a funny sounding name with AKC registration papers.  A (pedigree) therefore really means a (purebred) dog that has a long history of all of its descendants- mother, father, grandfather, great grandfather, etc. etc. and on down the line.

Some of my dogs are mutts and over half just happen to be purebred. I did not go looking for any of my dogs-they either arrived on our property or I found them in a hospital parking lot, apartment complex near my home, or starving on the street, Two of them were saved from the needle of death – one from the Ft Worth city animal shelter and one from the shelter in the town where I live. None of my dogs have a pedigree paper and yet they are all very smart and mostly free of any inherited disease with the exception of Kippy who is a mutt and developed a hernia that required surgery. My other little dog has chronic eye problems. I love all my dogs for their loyalty and companionsip. I can not imagine not having a bevy of dogs around me- and one major attribute is that my pets keep me safe. Each one of them can hold their own as a guard dog.

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Did You Call My Dog a Mutt? (click on photo to enlarge)

Puppy: My Border collie x Australian Shepherd. A really smart dog.

Puppy: My Border collie x Australian Shepherd. A really smart dog.

Puppy waiting for a ride on the cart. Example of a mutt. Border Collie x Australian Shepherd cross.

Puppy waiting for a ride on the cart. Example of a mutt. Border Collie x Australian Shepherd cross.

Puppy is a Border Collie/ Australian Shepherd cross.

Puppy is a Border Collie/ Australian Shepherd cross.

Numerous individuals take great offense if their dog is referred to as a mutt. Here in the states a dog of unknown ancestry which could mean the mix of numerous breeds, is generally called a mutt- AKA mixed breed, mongrel, feist, Heinz 57 variety and, cur. 

Folks who own a purebred dog with a known pedigree can laugh all they want but the truth of the matter, to me, is the heart of any dog. I am a strong proponent mutts. Throughout my life almost all of the dogs that I have been fortunate to call mine, have been mutts. This assortment of mutts were smart, loyal, watchful and, loving. Each of my dogs brought a different personality and all of them lived to  13-15 years of age with no health problems to deal with. Maybe I was lucky. 🙂 

A mutt simply means that it has no known history of its pedigree or that it is clearly not a purebred dog. It is generally the result of random breeding but often this type of breeding actually produces a healthier animal (as a rule). 

Then there is the dog of mixed breeding which some people still call a mutt (if you are a snob). Numerous individuals intentionally cross breed two breeds in order to create desired traits.  This is often seen in rural areas where farmers and ranchers are looking for a dog that has a little extra special something.  It may be to create a better hunting dog or herding dog. In central Texas the Border collie is often crossed with an Australian Shepherd and these dogs are indeed pretty, very smart and, are often much healthier than their ancestors. 

The smartest dog that I have ever owned happens to be a Border Collie and Australian Shepherd cross. I have taught him a number of tricks. If he were not intelligent, he would still be my favorite dog of all my dogs.  

An example of a mixed breed dog is the Labradoodle which has become quite popular. Obviously the name implies that this dog is poodle and labrador cross. I wrote an earlier post about the fascinating history of this breed.  

 Look for a re-posted “Designer Dogs, The Pros And The Cons   July 27,2011    (All about the labradoodle that is considered a mutt by AKC standards) 

Post and photography Yvonne Daniel

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