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'Designer Dogs' Out-Cute Mutts in Pound

Perky dogs from puppy mills such as 'Chiweenies,' 'Puggles,' 'Laberdoodles' mean run-of-the-mill mutts get overlooked—and possibly put down more often.

By Caroline Silver

Imagine holding an adorable puppy with a tan short coat, stumpy legs, a white belly and paws. This puppy is like most puppies, loving and energetic.

However, one thing sets him apart from the other dogs; this puppy is a "Chiweenie," part Chihuahua and part Dachshund. Like many designer dogs, this puppy is a precise combination of two breeds. Even though this puppy is not even a year old, Chiweenies, and other modern dog breeds, such as the "Laberdoodle" (Labrador and Poodle)  and the "Puggle" (Pug and Beagle), have been popular since 2005.

"Designer dogs" are an outcome of the latest understanding in animal husbandry, created by many litters where breeders mate two different pure breeds together and then a pure breed with the mix till the dog possess the phenotypes desired.   However, not all science is infallible, the once desirable designer dogs are ending up where the undesirable ones go—the shelter.

Sadly, the popularity of designer dogs has increased the amount of dogs in the already cramped shelter system, but are also out-adopting mutts in the shelters.

Is the designer dog really the problem? In reality, the tragic fate of today’s mutt in the local shelter system cannot be blamed on man’s new best friend, but should be blamed on man himself.

Many people are attracted to designer dogs because they believe that they will possess guaranteed qualities they desire, such as a calm demeanor or intelligence. Sadly, the designer dog is an example of why you should never act on belief. Many people do not realize that designer dogs do not always breed true, and that temperament, behavior, and intelligence, are probabilities in the breeding world, unlike a phenotype.

Similar to the influx of Dalmatians in the shelter system after the Disney movie "101 Dalmatians," people have bought designer dogs out of uniformed and popularity-based reasons. In fact, the term “designer dog” was coined due to the increased demand for them by celebrities willing to pay four-figure price tags for them. Could you imagine how many dogs could be saved if four figures went to the local shelters instead?

The website for The Humane Society of The United States estimates that  approximately 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized each year. It also states that factors like temperament, health, space and resources of the shelter are the criteria used to determine a dog’s fate. The tragedy that the designer dog has created for mutts in the shelter system is that they will more likely be saved from euthanasia before the mutt because they will pass the criteria to be put up for adoption before the mutt will.

Not only are designer dogs bred for temperament, but breeders rarely give buyers unhealthy dogs and breeders tend to try their best not to send them to abusive homes; which is definitely not the common past of the shelter mutt. According to the peer-reviewed journal “Prediction of Adoption Versus Euthanasia Among Dogs and Cats in a California Animal Shelter” there is strong evidence that coat, color and breed also affect a dog’s chances to be adopted over other dogs.

Laberdoodles and many other designer dog poodle mixes with hypoallergenic  and low shedding coats, not only have the coat that breeders have bred for, but their exclusive coat and carefully bred status, are more reasons why they will out-adopt a mutt.

However, there is hope for dogs in the shelter system. Let this story be the example of why this issue can change now.  If more people become educated about their new best friend before they adopt them, then stories like this one, and stories about dogs in the local shelters in general, will dramatically decrease.

 

Caroline Silver is a Los Altos resident and a sophomore at Santa Clara University. She wrote this opinion piece for her journalism class and was inspired to cover this particular topic.

Nancy Dewar June 02, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Very good article, Caroline. Dogs...like people...should be appreciated for their souls and personalities...not looks! I've met so many rescued shelter dogs that are truly amazing creatures...and have been lucky enough to have a few of my own over the years.
Sandra Lewis June 03, 2012 at 04:50 PM
It's highly unfortunate that any dogs have to be put down simply because there are not enough homes and especially sad that some go right from breeders to shelters. I was reading another article about "designer hybrid breeds" (http://www.ranker.com/list/the-cutest-hybrid-dogs/nicolebreanne if you're interested) and was intrigued about the possibilities but hearing the ugly side of it takes all the fun out of it.
Caroline Silver June 04, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Apologies to my readers, the correct spelling is Labradoodle. It was interesting however, because when I did some of my interviews about designer dogs I did hear it pronounced as Laberdoodle , so I got a bit confused. Thank you for the correction my bad!
ASPCA June 04, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Most pet store puppies come from puppy mills. Help the ASPCA fight this horrible industry and sign our pledge – if a pet store sells puppies, don’t buy anything there! http://bit.ly/NoPetStorePuppiesPledge -Olivia, ASPCA Social Media Manager
sabrina rodriguez marteniz September 01, 2012 at 03:46 AM
it is so cute wish i could have it i would take real good care of it so who ever gets the dog take real good care of it

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