Friday, November 28, 2008

Poodle genes: NOT magical

I try to write this blog with an open mind; honest I do. I know mix-breeding isn't the problem, the people doing the breeding are. I know there are muttpuppies out there whom I'd be sad to see go if they were suddenly wiped off the earth a la the dinosaurs*, like Goldendoodles and Labradoodles and cockapoos. I don't blame you if you want a schnoodle; I think they're cute, too. (But then, I'm a weirdo who loves a dog in a beard.) What I CANNOT figure out, though, is why some people breed poodles to certain other breeds of dog. Is it because people want the other breed of dog, but are allergic? Is it because they can't handle Breed B's temperament and would prefer a watered-down version?

The Weimardoodle, for example. You heard me. The Weimardoodle. People are breeding Weimaraners to poodles. For real. Why??

Some mixes stump me because they seem so utterly superfluous, like Maltipoos (small, "hypoallergenic" lap dogs) or Newfie/Labs (they both like water and kids and are big enough to wrestle with, which is important if you're a little kid - or maybe a big dog - at heart, like me). On the other end of the scale are these mixes so unnaturally suited it fairly boggles the mind. I just can't put an independent, aloof, territorial "dog-savvy owner only" dog together with a poodle, in my head. It doesn't make sense to me. Even when I think, okay, maybe a watered-down version of a Weim wouldn't be so bad, why can I still picture half these dogs ending up in shelters?

Like most of the working breeds that wouldn't automatically make you think "family dog", Weimaraners have their devotees and fanbase, and that's where the majority of them go. The devotees and fanbase know how to handle a Weimaraner. Unfortunately, most would have no interest in a Weimardoodle. And Weimaraner genes can make for a difficult dog, trust me. Looking on Petfinder in my province, there are an awful lot of Weims out there, the majority of them young, and I can see eight on the first page alone are mixes. (Mostly Weim/Labs, to be fair.) So I'm a little baffled.

Then there's Shepapoodles; German shepherd/poodles. When we know (don't stone me for this) in the wrong hands German shepherds can develop an aggressive streak. And BOTH breeds are among the world's top three most intelligent dogs (both second to my dog who walks into doors. Go team!). Remember my rule of thumb: The smarter a dog is, the more of a moron it thinks you are. "Smart" does not always mean "trainable". I sense the Shepapoodle would sit firmly in the "smart" camp, and not come out right away if you called it.

Same thing with the Min Pin/poodle mix - and the Pekingese mix we looked at last week. God, I hope none of these mixes ever take off. Let's face it, dogs should only ever be crossed for two reasons:
1) To have a function (go low-shedding service dogs!)
2) To be, as Linny said, happy, healthy family pets.

The Weimardoodle is not the average dog, and the odds are good that it won't make such a happy family pet. The Shepapoodle, "Pinschoodle" and Pekeapoo are looking pretty iffy too. If you want an independent-minded dog and can handle one, you're looking at a GSD or Weimaraner. If you want a family pet who will romp with the kids, you're looking for something tried and true (and predictable).

Decidedly NOT a GSD or Weimaraner (or poodle mix thereof).

Poodle genes are not a magic cure for a strong temperament, people. WHEN WILL THESE BREEDERS LEARN? (Worse still: what will they think of next??)

*I'm willing to bet the dinosaurs' problem was that they decided to form nation-states and establish boundaries and trade their natural resources, and considering dogs' thought processes mostly revolve around how to steal that tempting little snack off the kitchen table**, these muttpuppies are reasonably safe for now.

**If you're an aging (but sprightly, when it suits you), crafty beagle who's getting tired of raiding the garbage, you've figured out how to leap onto a pushed-out chair and then onto the table in order to snarf an entire loaf of bread which was going to be lunch the next day, and it wasn't even your owner's bread because she's on vacation; no, it was your dogsitter's, and now you're lying in the corner groaning because you have a bellyache and may require a visit to the vet, I hate you, Duchess.


water_bearer said...

I loved the fine print at the end. Hahaha.
As you probably know by now, I'm a HUGE fan of well bred GSD's. I emphasize "well-bred."
I will not stone you, but I would say that there's probably a better choice of word than "agressive."
If you're refering to bite strength, then out of what little has been tested, the GSD is supposedly right behind the Pit, which is right behind the Rott who's on top, then OK.
If you're refering to the number of fatal dog bites which kind of goes hand in hand with the strength of the teeth doing the damage (not too many people suffer fatal wounds from Jack Russel bites I'm thinking), then maybe.
If you're referring to all the breeds reported to attact people then who knows. The problem with the first scenario is: where is the study done of every breed of dog and it's jaw strength? Weird for one, and two, I don't think it exists.
The problem with the second and third scenarios is that almost every non dog expert person out there calls just about every other mutt they see a German Shepherd or "Shepherd Mix." What is the likelihood that the person who was bit could correctly identify the exact lineage of the dog that chewed off their leg?
There are too many gray areas and bad data when it comes to dog bites.
GSD's are highly protective and can be fearless. Two things they most certainly were trained to be.
But specifically "agressive," and more to the point the "3rd most" agressive? Prove it.
I can think of two dozen breeds with which I've personally had a much higher percentage of agression in the ones I know of and have met, than with all the GSD's I've known. What does "aggressive" mean to you? I'm just saying. Poor choice of words.
As for the magic Poodle genes...
Why o Why? I personally think that it's just people who want one of three things (or all of them):
- "Hypoallergenic" dogs.
- A certain breed of dog that would be sooooooo much cuter if only it had curly hair.
- A cute "breed" name that contains "doodle."
The end.
If they knew what they were doing in making one in the first place, you'd see one that makes sense. Hasn't happened yet to my knowledge.

muttpuppiesontrial said...

Hmm, good point, WB. 'Fraid I don't have enough personal experience with GSDs, though I do love 'em from afar. I'll edit that line if I can think of a more fitting one. Most "vicious" dog breed lists include GSDs since a lot of recorded bite victims have pointed the finger at them, but I don't trust those lists much either.

GoLightly said...

I Think GSD's are just smart enough to want to bite bad people:)
My husband's dearly departed, badly trained GSD would bite, if he didn't like the person. He was right, every time he did it.

Oh, Flip is still sick:(

Barb said...

Hope Duchess is OK! But that was pretty funny.
I think the biggest reason for a lot of crosses is like water_bearer said: a cute name. Either that, or they want a dog who doesn't shed much (which is fine) but they tend to forget that if the dog doesn't shed much, then most likely you will either have to do a lot of brushing, or regular clipping, or both. Unless it's just hairless. Which most people do NOT think is cute.

muttpuppiesontrial said...

Hehe, Duchess was just fine. Just felt very sorry for herself for awhile. :) She had a stomach like a goat, I couldn't believe some of the things I unearthed while pooper-scooping over the course of those two weeks. Two weeks I hope never to repeat.

I'm pretty sure if I adopted a mix, I'd give it a really cool name, like, "This is my Gold-Coated Dutch Piratese Shepherd dog," because saying "Goldendoodle" would kind of embarrass me. But I guess I'm the only one. The curly hair argument makes more sense to me, but ... some of them come out so funny-looking. I have mixed feelings over that Weimardoodle picture; part of me thinks the dog is almost a little handsome, but the other part just keeps repeating "oh dear".

GL: :( Give Flip some scratches behind the ear from me, I hope she's feeling better soon.

thus-sung said...

Is it bad that I love that dog for looking like a grumpy old man?

water_bearer said...

I must admit, I'm usually in the "Oh but it's sooo ugly, it's cute," camp, so unless we're talking about one of those poor deformed darlings who enter the World's Ugliest Dog Contest, I think anything that looks like "a grumpy old man" is cute.

And Golightly, that's actually a point I've made about Shepherds before. My mom's was that way, and my GSD / ASD mix is the same - they are excellent judges of character. They only bite the people I'd bite if I were a dog.

My boyfriend's uncle's GSD whom I dog sat for, for years, because I was one of the few people in the world he hadn't taken a bite of was the same way. He'd given everyone, including my boyfriend what we used to call "drive-by's." Mess with his "dad" or get too loud or jumpy around him or appear threatening to anyone, esp. women or children, and out of nowhere, you'd feel something funny on your ass and realize you just got hit with a Zack drive-by: an ever so subtle grazing of his bared teeth just enough so that you'd feel them and maybe get a little pinch, but he'd never actually clamp down amounting to a bite. It was just a little, "Hey. Simmer down there or the next time I won't be so nice," first warning. It was usually accompanied by a sideways glance as he walked by.

The few people who were "bit" bit, totally had it coming. However... try explaining that to a judge.

GoLightly said...

I had a couple of really drunken women show up at our house one night. I knew one, the other I didn't. Unknown drunk was a total idiot. She laughingly "slapped around" my husbands' GSD, Sam.
My Rusty dog would have bitten her, when she tried to do it to her, if I hadn't repeatedly insisted she leave my house (the drunk, that is)immediately.
Sam knew she was drunk/stupid, my fiery Rusty (kelpie/cattledog mix?) was quite ready to straighten her OUT!
I will post my eulogy someday for you, WB, of our Sam. He was one unique, special dog. He tried my patience to its' very outer limits. None of his behavioural problems were his fault. Poor guy. He's got quite a story, which I'll re-type for you someday.

Oh, and Weimardoodles? Creeeeepy...
Sounds slightly schizo:)
Serious/Happy/Hunter/Circus Dog.
I agree.

water_bearer said...

I would love to hear that story golightly. For sure.
And I just noticed in my first comment: "attact?"
WTF is that? My netspeak version of "attacked," or was I thinking of "attract" when I was typing?
God lord.

GoLightly said...

WaterBearer, check my Blog.
It's there, just for you.
Thanks for getting me to re-type it, the old file was lost in a computer melt-down.
I loved my Sam.
I often wanted to Kill my Sam.
When his ThunderStorm fears were at their worst, he destroyed our new screened in porch, and new bathroom. He tried to climb into cupboards. Dig a hole in the rug.
I learned how to be a sloppy house keeper with Sam. No choice, really, in the matter. There is still Sam Dirt all over this house.
Toughest dirt there is:)

He was always a challenge.
I'll never forget him:)
He taught me a lot.