Breed or Mongrel?

I adore the variety of dog known as the Cockapoo in the USA or the Spoodle in the UK and Australia. The American Cockapoo, specifically, is the breed of dog that I participate in the development of. I breed both the smooth-coated variety (affectionately known as “smoothies”) and the bearded variety (often depicted as the norm, as it is the more common variety of Cockapoo).

Many reasonable and rational-minded people see nothing wrong with this. Some like the look of the breed, and it is not to the taste of others. But many people do not feel somehow offended by my preference for this variety of canine. In fact, it is not a blip on most people’s radars. Very few normal everyday people do not negatively judge my character because I am involved in the development of this dog breed.

Pumpkin

It might come as a bit of a surprise, then, when I tell you that there are those out there who would not only judge me harshly, but they would spit on me if they were given the opportunity! Despite the ridiculousness of it, there are people that are literally outraged by the Cockapoo breed of dog and other hybrids (such as the Labradoodle and Goldendoodle). It is ok, you can laugh at this. I know I do. There are so many serious problems with the world today (like counterfeit medication to treat Malaria being sold in pharmacies in Africa & causing the deaths of many innocent children… or the fact that there are people in the world who are starving and/or do not have clean water to drink). With so many things to choose from to feel enraged about, to take action against, to detest, (lying politicians, greedy businesses whose own employees must accept public assistance just to survive while the family who owns the business are billionaires) why decide to get all ruffled over a dog breed?

If you know the answer, do comment, because I’d love to hear the explanation.

The Cockapoo breed has been around for a little over 60 years. Yep. Sixty. Years. Yet this is a “new-fangled bastard breed” in the eyes of many show-ring fanciers. Because the precious “American Kennel Club” (AKC) has not deigned to allow this breed in their show circuits it is one of the “untouchables” or undesirables; a bastard dog in the world of the elite. I wonder if these same outraged individuals who cannot seem to tolerate change of any sort would be the same sort of individuals that felt outrage about changes such as women voters, interracial marriage being made legal, desegregation and the legalization of homosexual marriage.

Change seems to upset these individuals on a cellular level. I am not sure why.

With the age of the internet the companion animal industry has exploded. Where before a dog breeder, for example, could only advertise and sell his/her dogs to locals, now anyone can advertise and effectively sell their puppies to a global market. The kennel clubs like the AKC had a lovely monopoly over the world of dog breeding. They, like any business, enjoyed their power immensely. If anyone was serious about breeding and wished to sell their pups far and wide and be even remotely successful they basically required the blessing of the Don of the Dog world, the AKC. A breeder was required to network in the days pre-internet, just as a breeder today does. However pre-internet the only way to network was to participate in physical events where other fanciers came to exhibit their own dogs or just watch others exhibit. If the AKC allowed you to pay them and give them all your records, if you agreed to follow all of their laws and ask permission for everything then they would give you the honor of being registered with them, which is supposed to mean that you are a quality breeder. You receive the dubious honor of their stamp of approval, if you will. And in return the AKC gets a boat load of money as the breeder is required to pay exorbitant fees to register every dog they ever produce (because it costs so much money to file paperwork, right?) and the breeder must pay membership fees and must promote the club to others.

Unfortunately the AKC’s stamp of approval means exactly nothing. The club fails to actually oversee their registered breeders and they unwittingly promote as many horrible, irresponsible and uneducated breeders as they do effective ones. The AKC registers puppy-mill after puppy-mill… but so long as the money keeps rolling in, the club will continue to allow this.

As a result the general public (the logical, reasonable people of society who do not stand to gain status, wealth or power from the promotion of a kennel club) are becoming more and more aware that a registered dog does NOT equal a quality dog and that a registered breeder does NOT equal a quality breeder. The AKC does not guarantee their breeders or stand behind them in any way. The AKC bears no responsibility for the behavior of its registered and recommended breeders. The AKC has precious little rules for even becoming a recommended breeder. Mostly the requirements only require money paid to them (or veterinarians-who incidentally also recommend the kennel clubs).

Certainly there are absolutely horrible hybrid breeders. The Cockapoo breed has gained enormous amounts of popularity since they first became widely popular in the 1950’s. As with anything else, greedy individuals saw an opportunity to make fast money and there was a boom in so-called poo or doodle hybrids or hybrids of other low-shedding dogs. With the recent explosion of allergies (especially in children) this market has seen ever more increasing demand.

Waffles

This is not a problem specific to AKC unrecognized hybrid dogs. This same thing has happened numerous times throughout history whenever any breed realizes a boom in popularity. Such is the nature of mankind. Where there is an opportunity to make money people will cut corners and find a way to basically sell a rip-off product to unsuspecting consumers. Whether this is cheaply made handbags, phones, or shoes or it is a poorly bred or un-purely bred and sickly puppy being passed off as a healthy, quality purebred animal that meets the standards for that breed or variety of breed, this phenomenon is sure to occur.

So people suck. But any adult with even the tiniest bit of experience will be fully aware of this fact. There are plenty of people in the world who will take advantage of you the second they are able. Why just the other day I read a woman’s thoughts on selling puppies and she was an outright unethical and irresponsible dog breeder… and she was not even ashamed to admit the awful things she did to sell puppies! And this woman is an AKC registered breeder of purebred dogs. Yet she encourages impulse buying of her pups (anything to get the animals out the door and money in her wallet) and she will not allow returns of her animals, and she does not guarantee their health for longer than two weeks! I wanted to scream “Lady, these are not hamsters! They are a long-lived companion animal species! Have some compassion! Don’t you love your dogs? Don’t you want people to be happy with their new companion? What is wrong with you?” but I refrained. Because I do know what is wrong with her. She is greedy and she lacks morals and human decency. And nothing I say to her will change that. The AKC isn’t making any efforts to change that either. And they list this woman as a recommended registered breeder, despite the fact that she is not helping out her breed by creating poor quality under-standard animals… but my animals are worthless mongrels?

So, as with just about anything else in life, my message to the uptight fanciers who cannot tolerate change of any sort is: stop attempting to control the lives of other people. Solve the real problems within your own club and maybe we “outsiders” will respect the club again and actually see value in being a member. Until then work on the whole “first remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck of sawdust from your brother’s eye” thing.

For those who are considering a hybrid dog but confused by the extreme hostility and the outright lies regarding the ability of any hybrid to “breed true” or have consistent qualities or an expected range of genetic outcomes, I say if you choose your breeder extremely carefully you are just as likely to get a wonderful, sound, healthy animal just as if you had chosen an AKC breeder of pure-bred dogs just as carefully. The bottom line is that you are not buying a dog, you are buying a breeder. Pay close attention and if your gut tells you to abandon ship, listen well. And enjoy your dog, regardless of whether it is a carefully bred hybrid, a purebred with fancy papers or an unknown mix of breeds from the local shelter. Doggie love is doggie love, regardless of the outward appearance or inbred traits.

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