Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sometimes neutering the dogs alone just wouldn't be enough...

Reader water_bearer pointed out this site to me, and I think I may have flatlined for a minute or two upon viewing their Available Puppies page.

Naturally, upon coming to in a pool of my own drool, I picked myself up and poked around to learn more.

This little shop of horrors is home to more muttpuppies than you could shake a stick at. In a muttpuppy cage match, I don't know who would win - Chinzilla, or Cujo (pictured), the "mastiff" they created using a pug, a Shar Pei, a cocker spaniel, and an English shepherd. A gun dog, a sheepdog, a lap dog, and one mastiff (barely).

Let's start from the top (ie where my trauma-seeking dousing rods led me first). These guys have got big plans for the dog world, namely by screwing around with as many breeds as they can get their hands on all in the name of progress. Cujo was bred to father ... brace yourselves ... miniature Saint Bernards. But our friends here at Dakota Winds aren't patient enough to breed smaller and smaller, so instead they're churning out litter after litter of experiments to try and achieve the right look, using (hold on to something, it gets worse) English shepherds, cocker spaniels, Cujo the "mastiff", and a Pekingese. They're also considering the use of hounds - whoops, that's "hounds", as these little monsters are Basset hound/pug/Shar Pei mixes, or as they call them, "mini Bloodhounds". Uh-huh. Whether these genes get tossed into the cocktail that is their mini Saints is still up in the air, as "Right now, we do not think it is nessessary?" I don't think so either?

The theory is that those four breeds combined with a real Saint Bernard will produce something that vaguely resembles a Saint in mini form. I bet they think Shelties were the product of rough collies, cocker spaniels and a Chihuahua! I can't wait till their litters turn out to have Peke markings and faces and cocker ears and eyes - because since when is breeding mutts ever predictable? Now, I concede that Saint Bernards are members of the mastiff family (Molossers is the technical term), and if you HAD to create one using a real Molosser would make sense - but I do mean a REAL Molosser, like a Spanish mastiff for build, or a Leonberger for the sable colour. But, of course, none of these are small enough to experiment with!

Sigh. Okay. Now that I've given myself a headache trying to wrap my head around the idea of mini Saint Bernards, we have to question why any rational person would attempt this in the first place. Simple: "Many people love the look and temperment of the Saint Bernard, but they simply do not have the room for such a large dog." Well, say goodbye to that Saint Bernard temperament, because by the time they're through it'll be so diluted you won't even recognize the breed. All those old Saint Bernard instincts will be long gone. And I HOPE nobody wants a Saint for a reason as superficial as looks!

"Of coarse, along the way, there are puppies that are nessessary to breed, that may not be exactly perfect? But really, there is no such thing as a "perfect" dog. They are nessessary to breed, in order to get the future breeding stock that we need, to reach our goal." So they might end up with a puppy with genetic problems, but no worries - that can be bred out. Of coarse!

"Are we breeding mutts? No, we are not. We are creating a new breed, that is a Miniature version of another, existing breed." If a Heinz 57 with some shepherd and spaniel genes in him is a mini Saint Bernard, I could go to the local shelter now and get one myself for $800 cheaper than you're asking! Don't we have enough designer dogs running around without people like this throwing their messes into the mix? You're NOT CREATING A NEW BREED. You're just making an ass out of yourself and a complete Frankenstein's creation out of your puppies, instead of developing purebred Saints. Since you must have been drunk to come up with a scheme like this, let me put it in terms even you can understand: you can't get a buzz from an ounce of booze in a gallon of water!

"A mutt is defined by a dog with unknown parents." A mutt is that beast you call a mastiff!

Mini Saint Bernards are just the tip of the iceburg. They're also working on "Comfort Retrievers" (Golden retriever/cocker spaniel mixes - because neither of these was comforting enough to begin with, apparently), Labbes (Labrador/beagle), Colonial cocker spaniels (English/American cockers), also in mini; Aussiedoodles and mini English shepapoodles (take a guess), and Dakota sheepdogs (English shepherds, Australian shepherds, cocker spaniels and poodles). I can't figure out the point of ANY of these, since there are many purebreds that already obviously suit the same purposes just fine. Why the Colonial cockers? The two breeds are very separate and doing great on their own in their respective fields. But I have to say, it's the Dakota sheepdogs that horrify me nearly as much as the mini Saint Bernard atrocities. When it comes to dogs I am especially partial to herding dogs, and I must say, while I sit pretty firmly in the Border collie camp, it hurts my head to think that they've got some perfectly good English shepherds around and, if they simply MUST breed their dogs, aren't breeding more purebreds. I don't feel English shepherds get the attention they deserve as a breed. These are smart dogs with a good sense of humour and a looser eye than Border collies, gentler and less intense than some sheepdogs, and they're being used to create monstrosities these people thought might be fun to experiment with. The people at Dakota Winds ought to be ashamed of themselves.

I feel I should also point out that small dogs do not necessarily apartment dogs make. You can breed a sheepdog as small as you like, but it's still going to be busy little dog. If you live in an apartment and are looking into getting a dog, I hope you're looking at more than just size! Heck, many people consider Great Danes to be good apartment dogs! Those giants can fold themselves up in a corner like a Chinese contortionist when they want to. And of course there are factors to consider like your schedule and how much time you can devote to exercising your pup. So the "apartment dogs" excuse for breeding small just doesn't work for me!

In the end I don't think the dogs are the only ones at Dakota Winds that should have been neutured long ago, but I can't bear to check out their son's website right now. I think I need a stiff drink.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Goldendoodles on Trial

These lovable-looking hairballs are rapidly picking up popularity as family dogs, which, I'll admit, is a much better fate than spending your life in a designer handbag with only a tube of lipstick and an iPhone for company. And I suppose there are worse breeds to mix than two of the most intelligent in the world... To give a brief history of the Goldendoodle-- Well, there's not a lot to tell, seeing as how the breed is a little over ten years old. What I can tell you is that they've been designer dogs from the get-go, and they were designed to be a bigger version of the cockapoo. This makes the original breeders' intentions less than pure, but, well - let's put the dogs on the stand, shall we?

THE PROS: For a mixed breed, these guys actually have a fairly predictable temperament, which is a major plus. It seems all owners are in agreement: their dogs are affectionate, friendly with all folks, and generally goofy, fun-loving clowns. It's not hard to see why they're a good choice for families.

Here at MoT, we love a dog with a use (even Yorkies once had jobs). And Goldendoodles have got 'em! Poodles were originally gun dogs that retrieved waterfowl. Just like Golden retrievers! This means that little Doodle has retained retrieving instincts from both Mom and Dad, so even this family dog can earn its keep moonlighting in the field. Another big plus is that they can be used as guide dogs, and if bred right to minimize shedding, they'd be perfect for those with an allergy in need of an assistant dog.

Happily, these hybrids are much longer-lived than their Golden retriever parents, and the average lifespan of a Goldendoodle seems to be 15 years. (How they've calculated this when Goldendoodles only hit the scene mid-1990s, I don't know.)

THE CONS: Yet again, we see people breeding two dogs with numerous health concerns in common. Goldies and poodles share hip dysplasia and a number of eye disorders. A good breeder will screen for these things. Unfortunately, most Goldendoodle breeders refuse to breed a 'purebred' (7th generation or more) Doodle, due to the fact that, of course, a first-generation hybrid puppy will have hybrid vigor, and therefore be much healthier than its parents.

Oh, you silly people! Why must you do this? Hybrid vigor can never ever be depended on to eradicate health problems! You'd be much better off finding two healthy Goldendoodles and breeding THEM together than two different dogs with the same health issues. Hybrid vigor is not a magic cure!

It must also be pointed out that Goldendoodles aren't all that 'hypoallergenic', thanks to their Golden retriever parentage. Whoops! Ladies and gentlemen, once again, the trouble of unpredictability in hybrids. Luckily, it looks like backcrossing a Goldendoodle with a poodle can produce a light- to non-shedding dog, but those with anything more than moderate allergies may have to sit this breed out.


Depends. Do you believe in hypoallergenic dogs? Remember, it's not all about the fur - allergens lurk in things like saliva and dander as well, and Goldendoodles can't help you there. If it is the fur, though, may I recommend an Aghan Hound, an Irish Water Spaniel or a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier? All these dogs are also promoted as being hypoallergenic, and they too are fluffy companions big enough to romp around with.

The fact that Goldendoodles can be used as guide dogs is an interesting point to consider, though. If I could get evidence that people who couldn't have guide dogs due to allergies/asthma before are now getting along fine with a Goldendoodle - great! Heck, let's breed more! But can we please quit it with the first-generation breeding? As I'm sure I'll rant about in a later post, hybrid vigor is next to communism on the plausibility scale. In an ideal world it would work out, sure, but this is the real world and neither will fly. Two breeds with genetic health problems in common may well be more likely to produce unhealthy offspring, whereas the pups of two healthy dogs of the same breed should turn out A-OK. Start breeding Goldendoodles for real, breed for specific qualities, and for goodness' sake give them a sensible name. Goldendoodle sounds like it came straight outta the reject pile when they were naming the Twinkie. 'Goldendoodle the Kid' just didn't have quite the same ring to it.

All in all, when it comes to Goldendoodles ... this jury is out, confused, and a little hungry for Twinkies.

EDIT: As Emele pointed out, it turns out poodles themselves are taking off as hypoallergenic assistance dogs! Apparently they're uncommon, and some people prefer poodle hybrids due to their temperaments, but Standard poodles are taking to it quite well. Bad news for Doodles, I'm afraid...!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Puppy Mill Rant #1

Okay, so this one won't so much be about designer dogs (mutts bred 'by design'). But then again, there isn't much on this planet that causes me to feel the rare urge to headdesk myself into concussion and then burn my own eyes out with a lighter. Among all that does, this place most certainly takes the cake.

http://www.puppiesforsalebynet.com/ (Warning: Sound. Sometimes.)

As the cheery female voice will tell you, these devoted breeders "collect" puppies and proudly present them to you in "boutique" form, where, I can only assume, you stroll around with a shopping cart and pile it up with squeaking teacup toys at your leisure and pay for your purchases with a platinum AmEx card at the check-out where a smiling boutique employee waves you and your new babies out. Seriously, it's that glam. Don't believe me? This is Where Celebrities Buy Their Puppies!

Okay, um, actually, this is where some maniacs with feather boas and glitter hoard babies from a bunch of other breeders and 'facilities' before dressing them up and snapping shots for the public. My question is, exactly which celebs are buying from here? A-list celebrities, or Dancing With the Stars celebrities? They've got a list and the verdict is in: It's models and athletes, people! I'll make a concession for the Osbournes, but seriously ... the Osbournes. They've got so many toys I can't imagine anything but a puppy boutique-style adoption. Also among the football players and Oil of Olé models are Jerry Springer...'s assistant director. I'd laugh, but I'm too busy giggling at the pictures of buff linebackers headed with 'CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR BABY MALTESE'. (Hilariously, I also noticed on the front page that it delicately corrects, 'Where the "Celebrities" buy their puppies.')

So it looks like Jennifer Aniston shops elsewhere for her lovable corgi/terrier mutts. (How can I tell? His name is Norman amd not Tinky, he weighs more than 16oz, and she seems pretty clear on the fact that he's a dog. Jennifer Aniston, I solemnly applaud you.)

Now we get to the dogs. They offer a wide varray of dogs that are already too fucking small to begin with - and make them smaller! Can't find the pup you're looking for? No problem! They have new puppies that will be ready for you next week. Be patient and just imagine, somewhere in Florida a poor bitch in too-cramped living conditions is pushing out yet another litter of badly-bred babies for you to choose from!

On a sidenote, I think what makes this site of hoarders so sinister is how pink and fluffy everything is. The dogs' soulless eyes peer out at you from under swathes of pink feather boas and glittery tiaras that weigh down their whole tiny tiny heads. [shudder]

Now to pick apart what is so very, very wrong with their 'collection'.


This is a dog with hydrocephalus (water in the head):

This is one of their 'Special Extraordinary Puppies' (you heard me):
You want to know the scariest thing about this dog?

That is not a Chihuahua.

It's a Papillon.

So it looks like poor Hydrocephalus Dog can look forward to a future of seizures and a giant head, and with their lifetime guarantee only offered to dogs $2000 and over and her priced at a crafty $1500, looks like she's up the excessive head-fluid creek without a paddle.


This is a mix between a Chihuahua and a Japanese chin. The owners of the site call her "a rare mix". Do you wanna know why it's so rare?HINT: Because it's fugly.

This isn't the only bizarre cross-breed on the site, but it sure is the most hilariously sad. Note how the puppy finds a fine blend between Chihuahua blockiness and Japanese upturned muzzle, not to the mention the dome skull. If not for the tiara we might be able to lump her in with Hydrocephalus Dog up there. I don't know what this beast was going for but you can bet it was more than she's worth. (Maybe someday she will get a post all her own.)


This is a merle Great Dane:

Okay, now, she's not so bad. This dog isn't quite as much a heinous crime against nature as Chin-Chi is up there. But does anything about her just strike you as ... well, wrong?

You're right! She looks diseased. And why does she look diseased? Because she's a blue merle. Like I said, not so much a crime against nature ... except that you're really not supposed to breed merle Danes. They're not exactly 'setting the standard of excellence' here when this dog would be disqualified from any show right off the bat. She'd make a nice housepet, sure, but Danes aren't meant to be merle. That's all. Anyway, the reason I put up The Dane With the Dreaded Lurgy is to warn all you folks at home: DON'T be fooled by 'exotic' colours. Bad breeders (like these guys) will try to pass off wrecks (like Lurgy) as special. Always always remember that if something in a dog is 'rare', it's rare for a reason (see Chinzilla). These things are worth less than a more average dog of the same breed, not more. Moving on.

Now these merle puppies...

...are a crime against nature. 'Beautifully marked', $1550, my ass!

This is so wonderfully stupid! These people are so wrapped up in churning out the prettiest puppies possible that they've completely lost sight of what the breed is supposed to be. And why are dachshunds and Chihuahuas not supposed to be merle? Because the merle gene carries deafness and blindness! Considering neither of these puppies is priced high enough for a lifetime health guarantee, I'm starting to think these hoarders aren't all that stupid after all. How irresponsible and just cruel, handing out these dogs without a word to discourage the source or the prospective buyers.

Here are some tidbits that also make me want to neuter and cage these stupids.

- Miniature Pinscher "CANDY female $950.00 Great little male! Good bite. Very well socialized."

Moving past the mystery of which gender it actually is, why on earth would you ever ADVERTISE a good bite? You whackjob, nobody uses a miniature pinscher as a protective guard dog and if they do they deserve to be shot. They hunted rats, and if they're retaining any of those traits it should be discouraged. Not considered 'good'! [Whoops! Mel is right; they're advertising that the dog has no under- or over-bite. I'm no miniature pinscher expert, but as far as I know this isn't one of the breed's most common concerns - it was the breed's tendency to nip that made my thoughts go straight to biting!]

- "Throughout the years we have gathered and been working with several breeders and facilities that specialize the teacups and toy breeds. Every year breeders from all over the states that see our web site contact us to see if we can help them place their beautiful babies in good homes."

Do they not understand why this is so WRONG? You have NO chance of meeting the dogs' parents and we all know that if Mom ain't on site - walk away! There goes your one chance of predetermining hereditary problems; now all you've got to go on are merle genes and dome skulls (which, I should add, are all over this site).

- One thing I generally believe about breeding is this: "If you're making a profit, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG." It seemed at first that these guys were getting a raw deal, with breeders continually pushing puppies on them - after all, where else are the poor babies gonna go? and so on. Sadly, this taking advantage of people's compassion happens. But the fact that their dogs are rarely less than $1000? This is silly. You're paying way too much money for what is more than likely a genetic mess. (Yours for just five-thousand bucks!)

- And, to cap things off nicely:


I couldn't resist; this one made me smile at how tragically unphotogenic it is.

I'll end this with another warning:

Yes, the puppies are cute (without sparkly shit heaped all over them, shockingly) and sad and they need homes too. But when it comes to people like this, breeding is nothing but a market. They are the SUPPLY, and you are the DEMAND. Buying a puppy from places like this is only placing more demand on them and in turn causing them to get more supply. Let our battlecry ring forth o'er the land: Boycott the puppy mills! There are much more reliable pets you can find for much more reasonable prices. Pets without distended heads and squinting outward eyes! Just some things to keep in mind.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

First on the docket: Maltipoos!

Okay, okay. I'll admit it!

I have a secret soft spot for fluffy white dogs.

Maltipoos are no exception. I mean, come on. Look at that face. As a designer-dog basher I should be way more cold-hearted, but that puppy there is cuter than a pile of kittens sleeping in a slipper together.

Well, maybe. Show me a picture of a bunch of kittens passed out in a slipper and I may have to change my mind. But he's cute, right?

In the designer dog world, Maltipoos are my weakness. I survey images of various muttpuppies for exorbitant sums and think "How dare these people!!", but the second I see a Maltipoo face I unravel quicker than a ball of string after those kittens wake up and venture out of their slipper to play. "Awww, who's a wuvable widdle muttpuppy? Yes he is!"

So I decided to screw up my nerve, put on some blinders, and attack these furry little balls of adorable first.

THE PROS: Too cute to be legal. You'll be the most popular person in the office if you show up toting one of these puppies around. People will be clamouring just to get one of your dog's tiny-tongued kisses on the cheek like it's a blessing from the Pope himself.

Also, they can be used as therapy dogs. This is a plus! How wouldn't that face cheer you up if you were old and senile and/or dying? Therapy dogs are great, especially cute ones.

THE CONS: Poodles tend to be okay with children, but Malteses often require supervision (and due to the Maltipoo's size you'd want to supervise any interaction anyway). Contrary to popular belief, breeding hybrids does NOT magically bring out the best in both breeds! Your Maltipoo may love kids, or it may snap at them. Who knows? The price of a lack of predictability.

Both poodles and Malteses suffer from skin problems, and as I'll no doubt rant all about later, you can never count on "hybrid vigor" to somehow get rid of these problems. Maltipoos can also inherit hip and eye problems from their parents (even that sweet puppy up there shows tear staining).

They require lots of grooming attention, as do both parents.

Malteses come with neurotic habits such as separation anxiety and wariness of new people, and the poodle parent can't be counted on to put a band-aid of mentally stable friendliness on this.

And now, for my favourite part:

Yes. DUH. There's a ton of suitable therapy dogs out there already (I'd list examples, but breed is actually pretty unimportant. It all comes down to temperament, so depending on Maltipoos to be therapy dogs is pretty useless). And guess what, sunshine? Malteses and poodles are already small, fluffy, and "hypoallergenic" by themselves! What was the point of breeding them? And I promise you, there are plenty of other cute white dogs out there. Check out this Bichon! He looks like a Muppet! I don't know about you, but I'm sold!

The verdict is in. Maltipoos are nothing special. These designer dogs were obsolete before they even left the starting gate. Next!

Monday, September 22, 2008

What we're all about

Welcome to Muttpuppies on Trial! My little corner of the Internet, which I use to bash trend breeds and the silly people who breed them. And here is my disclaimer:

I believe you when you tell me your mixed-breed dog is smart, friendly, healthy, or all of the above. I am sure your mutt is a very nice pet who loves you and is good with kids and fetches the newspaper and sleeps on your feet and stuff. I think you're great for adopting your lil' mutt in favour of something classier.

Now, it's MY personal opinion that mixed breeds are no better and no worse than purebreeds. Given the choice, I would pick the predictability of a purebreed over the anomaly of a mutt any day. But I'm not out to get your beloved Heinz 57 or nothin'.

What I really cannot stand is the rising wave of designer dogs. You know the type. They're all small, white and fluffy, and they're taking over, from between the handles of plush Gucci handbags.

Okay, they're not ALL small white and fluffy. And they can't all fit in handbags. Only most of them can.

I don't like designer dogs, and, in the form of cross-examinations interspersed with the occasional commentary about other mutts and irresponsible breeding, I'm here to tell you why.

This court is now in session!