DESIGNER PUPPYS: Everything you wanted to know about raising designer or mixed breed dogs,
featuring The BOYZ: Prince Alvin His Cuteness (on left) and Sir Simon The Sad, Cockapoo pups.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The "Designer Dog" Controversy

Until a few days ago, I did NOT realize the phrase "designer dogs" was so controversial. In a few dog forums, I mentioned that Alvin was a Bichon Cockapoo born in Missouri and immediately the fur began to fly (pardon my attempt at humor). For some people, "designer dog" is associated with puppy mills and haphazard breeding practices.

Here's a sampling of the indignation generated by the words "designer dog:"

"Make a mongrel and stick a "designer" tag on it, and people will spend a big heap of money on one. " Ouch!

"I just hate people breeding "designer" dogs while others die due to lack of homes." It's not okay to breed dogs for certain desirable characteristics? Hasn't that been the practice for centuries?

"Designer puppies are what a great number of puppymills produce. Because of our temperate climate Missouri is a hot bed of them." Is this a fact - most puppymills produce hybrid dogs? Show me!

"I myself and me have a problem with this type of breeding because of the trail of horror it involves and I find it very hard not to speak out. Alvin is beautiful. There is no doubt about that. I will always have a problem with encouraging the practices that produced him." Then you must condemn all dog breeders!

I was being good in my forum posts and focused on the fact that at least Alvin the Designer Dog was lucky to have a good home.

Let's get practical - I was looking for certain traits and found them in this dog. How come people don't give natural parents such a hard time? They've decided to have their own kid in their own images and do not adopt a child despite the fact so many kids need to be adopted.

This "designer dog" controversy is pure and simple discrimination. But then aren't these forum posters entitled to their opinions?

Long Live Designer Dogs!


Anonymous said...

Alvin is a cutie!

Hybrid "Designer Dog" sales are now outstripping those of purebreds. I think this is largely because all the scientific research shows mutts live longer and healthier lives than purebreds.

Most people just want a happy, healthy family pet. Say “Boxer” and vets think heart disease; say “Bernese Mountain Dog” and they think cancer. The incidence and severity of inherited diseases in purebred dogs increases every year, and yet traditional breeders continue with outdated practices (like inbreeding and line breeding) that continuously limit genetic diversity. The recent BBC program "Pedigree Dogs Exposed" has also brought the health problems in purebred dogd to the attention of the general public (see

In addition, changing fashions and fads in the show ring have caused some purebred breeders to exaggerate physical characteristics that make dogs more susceptible to health problems problems (bulging eyes in Pekingese, elongated backs in Dachshunds etc). Recently the RSPCA in the UK cut it's ties with the Kennel Club dog shows for "encouraging the breeding of deformed and disabled dogs" (see

However, hybrid "Designer Dogs", can provide the best of both worlds, purebreds and mutts: the ability to carefully select the parent dogs for health and temperament, and test for inherited diseases (like purebreds); and the increased health and longevity provided by genetic diversity (like mutts).

Certainly you need to be careful. There are puppy mills that have jumped on to the “Designer Dog” band wagon purely to make a profit.

However, there are also many dedicated hybrid breeders whose main aim is to produce healthy dogs, without the genetic problems that plague many purebreds. They carefully select the breeds they use, and test the parent dogs for any possible inherited problems. They aren't trying to produce a particular "look", or compete with purebreds - these breeders simply want to provide healthy, happy family pets.


Anonymous said...

I live in Wisconsin, surrounded by puppy mills. Surrounded. Horrible, filthy places. What keeps them going? "Designer Dogs" They don't breed purebred dogs anymore - they breed mutts. They make more money that way.

We have a pet store in town charging almost $700 for a "chiweenie". I am driving to Kansas to pick up a purebred dog for less than half of that. A dog that I can research it's temperament, its purpose and be able to give an accurate description of how my dog will behave. Mixes are unpredictable. There isn't 1,000 of years of documentation on how the dog will behave.

People see a cute name, don't even look at the price tag. It's a mixed breed, a mutt. Most of them are hideous, imo. And most of them come from puppy mills and backyard breeders, 2 things people who care about animals should try their best to avoid.

I can give you the horrid proof that puppy mills are producing more designer dogs than purebreds. This is the kennel that produces the dogs sold at this particular pet store. Whenever I go in there, it's puggles, cockapoos, chiweenies and others for sale. They come from such a happy place.

The bottom line for me is that you love your dog, and that's fine. Everyone should love their dog. But designer dogs have an ugly, ugly background and most people are ignorant to it until they really start doing their research.

Emily said...

Why call them "Designer" though? They're mutts, and they've been around for centuries. People wont rescue one, but are willing to pay a ridiculous amount getting one from a breeder??

Shelters are always packed full of crossbreeds/hybrids, call them what you want, why produce even more on purpose?? It's condemning millions of shelter dogs. For every "designer" dog a breeder produces, a shelter dog dies.

And we do give natural parents a bad time. They are too many people in the world already. And half of them can't raise their kids properly.

Anonymous said...

And you do know it's spelt "puppies", not "puppys"

Anonymous said...

“Anonymous”, puppy mills will breed whatever is popular. At the moment it’s “Designer Dogs”, but who know what it will be next? Remember all the Dalmatians pumped out by puppy mills when the movie “101 Dalmatians” came out? Or all the Huskys after “Snow Dogs”? Purebred or crossbred, they don’t care. Puppy mills will breed whatever sells.

Do you think they would simply shut their doors and go away if “Designer Dogs” became unpopular? Of course not! They’d just move on to whatever next breed or type of dog was in fashion.

However, I don’t believe this is any reason to discourage the responsible breeders of “Designer Dogs”, and more than discouraging responsible Dalmatian or Husky breeders. To do so would be simply to push more prospective purchasers into the greedy hands of the puppy millers.


Anonymous said...

Emily, I'm fine with caling them crossbreds. However a "mutt" is a dog of unknown ancestry. A Crossbred or "Designer Dog" is a cross between 2 known breeds of dog, with a known history of both health and temperament.


Anonymous said...

Emily said that "For every "designer" dog a breeder produces, a shelter dog dies."

However, ou could equally say that for every purebred dog a breeder produces, a shelter dogs dies. There are plenty of purebred dogs in shelters too.

The dogs in shelters may be purebred, crossbred, or mutt. I've adopted dogs from shelters in the past, and I will probably do so again. However, I think it's up to the individual to make a choice as to whether to adopt from a shelter, or to buy from a breeder.

They (and only they) can make the decision as to what is right for them and their family, and that's regardless of whether the dog is a purebred or a cross.