Designer DogsPassing Fad
But for all the excitement surrounding these new developing breeds, many skeptics dismiss designer dogs as a passing fad.
"Crossing breeds, adding a fanciful name, and charging outrageous sums for these dogs [labradoodles can cost up to U.S. $2,500] is a recent trend that's only taken off in the last decade," said Allan Reznik, editor-in-chief of Dog Fancy and Dog World, based in Irvine, California. "It's indicative of a society that loves labels. Having a dog that is part spaniel and part poodle isn't enoughit has to be a cockapoo."
Many of the hybrid dogs are part poodlethe rationale is to create dogs that don't shed. A Yorkipoo, cockapoo, and schnoodle are all part poodle and part Yorkshire terrier, cocker spaniel, and Schnauzer, respectively. But many pure breeds are also low or non-shedding, argued Reznik. The Labradoodle is not filling a niche that isn't occupied by several pure breeds, he said.
Hybrids are also not always healthier than purebreds, Reznik said. Many reputable breeders are now using genetic tests to ensure they produce animals free from diseases that muddy their breed.
Can anyone create a new breed? Could a Dandie Dinmont terrier be bred with a pharaoh hound to produce a Dandie pharaoh?
Creating a New Breed
Yes and no, said Manners. Not all hybrids are a good idea, and unfortunately the designer dog phenomenon has unleashed a surge of amateur breeders who lack credentials and genetics expertise.
For a breed to be successful there needs to an educated match, said Manners. Crossing a pug with a Pekingese, for example, could produce disastrous consequences.
Both breeds have eyes that easily pop out of the socket to rest on the cheek. Surgery is required to fix the injury, often at the cost of the dogs' sight. Breeding the two could yield a dog that literally has its eyes falling out, said Manners.
A Newfoundland and a Saint Bernard could generate a crippled giantboth of these breeds are plagued with hip dysplasia, a genetic disorder that often requires hip replacement before the dog is one year old.
Despite the stigma faced by hybrids, they are not barred from eventually becoming pure breeds.
From Mutt to Pure Breed
In order to make the leap from a lowly mutt to a pure breed officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), the breed must satisfy a number of criteria. There must be at least 300 Labradoodles within the U.S. and distributed among at least 20 states. The dogs must have a National Breed Club demonstrating interest, and there must be at least a three generation pedigreethree generations of Labradoodle-to-Labradoodle matings.
The new breed must also have predictable characteristics and fulfill a specific purpose, said Daisy Okas, a spokesman for the AKC, based in New York City. Breeds classified in the "Toy Group" category, for example, were developed to be small, charming companions. So a low-allergy buddy doesn't seem so far fetched.
The AKC currently recognizes 150 breeds; the Labradoodle is a work in progress, and is not yet a recognized breed in the U.S. or Australia.
"My goal is to create the best, healthiest breed I can that will be allergy friendly, with a non-shedding low maintenance coat, and that will have a mellow temperament, and be intuitive and easy to train," said Manners. "The Labradoodle is the ultimateI wouldn't go beyond it."
Nationalgeographic.com Resources on Dogs
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On the Trail of Africa's Endangered Wild Dogs
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Study: Noise Machine Keeps Predators Off Property
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Red Wolves Back From Extinction in the U.S. Wild
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Thriving Gray Wolf May Come Off U.S. Endangered List
Scandinavian Wolves on Road to Recovery, Study Says
Rare-Dog Search Meets With Success, Then Tragedy
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