DESIGNER dog disasters are flooding animal shelters, dumped because of deformities, disease, and overshot jaws.
The fad varieties, which include cross-breeds such as Labradoodles, Cavoodles and Pugaliers, are too often being bred with genetic faults, experts say. And a surge in demand for designer dogs has resulted in production-line breeding, causing health problems for dogs and their puppies.
The Animal Welfare League and South Australian Canine Association have called for regulations on cross-breeding to stamp out the health problems.
Animal Welfare League spokeswoman Donna Sullivan said its shelter received designer-dog disasters daily, including puppies with genetic defects and others that had been used excessively for breeding.
"Their reproductive systems are so overworked to feed the want for `designer dogs', their mammary glands are loose or enlarged and occasionally the uterus of an overworked dog sits outside the body," she said.
"They are abandoned when they are unable to produce more pups."
Ms Sullivan said the designer crossbreeds came from unregistered breeders who were under no obligation to limit the number of litters they forced their dogs to have. "The parent dogs in many cases have no paperwork to guarantee they have no genetic health disorders," she said.
Sue Whelan, who runs the Hahndorf Interim Animal Shelter, said designer cross-breeding was a massive industry with no rules to stop faults being bred.
"Our records over the last seven years show a dramatic increase in these designer dogs ending up at our shelter with all kinds of defects," she said.
"There is a whole pet farming industry and you don't really know what has been crossed with what and a lot of these dogs aren't bred responsibly," she said.
"Most of the time they come in totally matted because people are buying these cute and fluffy poodle crosses and not realising they need to be almost sheared like a sheep at least twice a year. We clip them back and find all these problems with their shoulders and hips and jaws."
SA Canine Association president John Carter said he was "fed up" with overpriced crossbreeds and their associated problems.
"We have spent years literally breeding out the faults in dogs and here these people are just putting dogs together and breeding the problems back in," he said.
"We're talking hip dysplasia, eye problems, temperament problems – all kinds of things.
"And they are not under the control of anybody. Pedigree breeders are disciplined if they breed a dog under 12 months of age or use a mother and son or father and daughter."
Mr Carter said puppy farms had become money-making ventures where thousands could be paid for "what is essentially a mongrel".
"These people have no conscience – they aren't dogs to them, they are animals," he said.
State Government Dog and Cat Management Board chief executive Deb Kelly said all breeders – whether pedigree or crossbred – had a responsibility to ensure they were producing healthy animals.
"In relation to genetic deformities, it is something we are monitoring and if there is a need to regulate, we would be making such recommendations to the minister," she said.
I completely agree with everything in the article. It's quite unfortunate that all these puppies are winding up in shelters.
Having what would be considered a "designer-dog", I'm distraught to know that people are not only breeding these dogs solely for profit, but are also abandoning defective puppies and brood bitches that have been bred so much, their uterus is no longer inside their body!! Something needs to be done!
I've said these things once before and I will continue to stand by them...I love my pup very much, but I regret ever buying her - I wasn't particularily looking for a designer dog when I found the add on-line for Pug-Jack Russell puppies...the add didn't even give them a fancy name (Jack-a-Pug or Jug or Puggle-look-a-likes, like I've seen so much over that last 6 months), I fell in love with the face in the picture I saw on-line, and drove 3 hours to pick her up. If I knew 4 months ago, what I know now, I wouldn't even be looking on the internet for a puppy! I never intended to support a backyard breeder or a "designer-dog" breeder, but since I have, I now have the responsibility to do my part to stop other people from making the same mistake.
I see the article comes from Australia - we need to do something about the same problem here on the North American continent.
Nice article, and from the original home of the Labradoodle no less! But couldn't this article have been written about absolutely any dog-breeding craze that results in overbreeding by for-profit operations? Very, very little of it pertains to "designer dogs" per se, except that these are the dogs that are wildly popular right now, and that fleecy coats can cover up some malformations. But everything about overworking the breeding females, bad conditions, failure to screen for disorders, could just as easily have been written about the small-purebreed puppy mills in Virginia that are getting airplay here this week. People should not get the idea that poodle mixes are unusually prone to have defects. Any breed or cross will have defects if the breeder doesn't screen for them. IMO, two healthy dogs from different breeds whose problems don't overlap much = pretty good genetic diversity and fewer health problems than most purebreds. It's not about avoiding crosses if you're considering one, but making sure your breeder knows what two crosses to put together. Like when you're shopping for a purebred.
***Edited By: JoanEK on 11/2/2007 12:15:25 PM*** Reason: *
JoanEK I think your comment about it's where you get them. Do you not understand that every dog out there that is a MIX is the result of either, someone intentionally mixing breeds with no thought or regard to health or genetics. Or they are the result of careless pet owners who do not have the knowledge to know about the genetic health of dogs. Or else they are the result of people who dump there dogs or allow them to roam freely and breed indicreminately. So now which one of these places produce the best mixes?
He's your friend,your partner,your defender your dog.You are his life,his love,his leader. He will be yours faithful and true to the last beat of his heart.You owe it to him to worthy of such devotion
IMO, as long as buyers keep seeking these breeds out, breeders will keep producing. I was at a local flea market (another place not to buy dogs), where there was 2 vendors with puppies for sale. One person had AKC purebred dogs for around $350 to $400. Two aisles over was a person with various mix breeds, puggles, labadoodles, etc., for about the same price. People were flocking to the mixed breeds and the man with purebreds had no one looking at his dogs? Doesn't make sense to me when I can go the local dog pound and get a mixed breed puppy for $18. Needless to say, my husband pulled me away from the mixed breeds because I started to run my mouth. He saved me from getting into trouble (lol). If you want a mixed breed go to your local Humane Society or Dog Pound and save a life. I raise Chihuahua's but have two rescued mixed breed (both spay/neutered), which I dearly love. But I didn't buy them from a breeder. They are my "big dogs". When something happens to them, my next big dog will be a rescue.
Windy, what you're saying I used to think too. I know of exceptions to your rule, and if you know what to look for, they can be found, just not on Internet dog sale sites or in pet stores. I've written before that my sister bought a lab/poodle mix. She got what she wanted: Willie is sweet, healthy, and doesn't shed (though his fur does mat). The breeder's operation would probably pass muster with you in every way except for the fact that the dogs are intentional crosses. My sister's male is intended to be part of the breeding program for at least one litter, but won't be until and unless he passes the health clearances, which the breeder will pay for and which include but are not limited to OFA. I respect your being against the practice of intentionally breeding mixes, but it's not always true that all these breeders ignore health considerations and care only about profit. To know a single exception is to question the whole paradigm of designer = greedy + evil. It's important to do the research and to know the signs of a bad operation. I do not believe breeding "designer" crosses per se makes you a bad operation, though of course many bad breeders are cranking out the 'doodles.
***Edited By: JoanEK on 11/2/2007 8:52:47 PM*** Reason: ^
I just have to add to JoanEK's post. There are also breeders in the purebred world, that are basically BYB's. They also, don't get health clearances and etc. Lumping Mix or "designer" breeders into one bad lump is not fair. It should be ALL breeders who don't get these tests done and etc (I don't know ALL that you all do) should be lumped in the BAD category. You can't just say that all Purebred breeders are good and designer breeders are bad. And for the sake of argument, aren't there "purebred" breeds that have been bred out of two differents breeds? What makes that any different than what the designer breeders are doing?? Just asking (as I don't have that much experience in the "show world" other than experiencing the raising of my own dogs.) and IMO any bad breeder is bad, irregardless of what "breed."
Thank you for the good read Windy... I have been on the lookout for this type of infromation.
Would like my local shelter to do a count/study on how many designer breeds actually come in a yr (I'm going t do it all volunteer) & are euthanized or adopted out... Going to present/ask Saturday wish me luck!
azynda -- You might want to make sure you include a couple other factors in your survey. Hunch tells me that "designer breed" is less correlated to euthanasia rates than the dog's size. The little ones always seem to get adopted the quickest. Good luck!
Thank you... I know they have already done color obviously the older big and black dogs have a harder time... not really sure how I'm going to narrow down but thought that it may be a good study especially for our area (our paper is full of these poor "designer" dogs) the most recent I have heard of was a teacup chi-poo.
Thinking of monitoring for one yr based on color, breed, and size... I would really have to get in good with the shelter but I think it would be a good wake up call for at least the local community.
You could end up with surprising results. I know I've read some statistics that 50% of dogs in shelters are purebreds. That simply doesn't match my experience. I think maybe purebreds (and small designer breeds) might come into the shelter in high numbers, but they go out equally fast.
Oh! Just thought of something else that might be a factor -- Since lots of breeds have active rescue operations, it would be nice to know if the dogs are being adopted or just "pulled."
I'll let you know if I come up with any more work assignments for you -- lol!