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.