Breeding a Name Brand: The Dog Hybrids
These dogs have fancy names. Malt-A-Poos, Puggles, Corkies, Peke-A-Poos, Fo-Chons, Cavapoos, Bullmatians, Lhasaliers, Shiranians, and Labradoodles, to name a few. And they come at fancy prices. While Chiweenies typically sell for under $400, Malt-A-Poos go easily for $1,500. A Morkie advertised on the Internet site Divapup.com recently went for $5,000.
Said to be bred for the best characteristics of both, these dogs come from parents of two established breeds. Breeders say “designer dogs” are free of the health problems commonly plaguing dogs from known breeds, yet with more decorative titles than their fellow mixes found living in shelters.
Breeders of Labrador-Poodle crosses consider themselves the pioneers of the idea. Advertised as friendly Labradors with the hypoallergenic coats of Poodles, Labradoodles were bred in Australia three decades ago as non-shedding guide dogs. Since then, spin-offs have landed in the laps of celebrities and filled the purses of breeders who profit from this glitzy trend of the affluent.
Then there are the satellite industries. Pet owners in the United States spent $8.5 billion on products other than food last year. These items include dog beds, jackets, sweaters, leashes and collars, toys and gourmet treats. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, and Coach all make dog attire. 
Like all these designers, breeders want a brand name for their puppies. The International Labradoodle Association has lobbied—unsuccessfully so far—for American Kennel Club for classification. No matter; the hybrids are selling. The American Canine Hybrid Club, recently formed as a take-off of the American Kennel Club, is recording 500 new sibling groups each a month—twice as many as in 2004.
As always, new owners who are unwilling or unable to take on financial responsibility for risks may discard animals not meeting their expectations. The abandoned will join millions of other dogs and cats—whether Chonzers, Pug-A-Peis, or Labradingers, or animals with unknown family trees, whether originating from breeders or from generations of dogs to follow—who meet their deaths in decidedly non-glitzy pounds.
Neutering and spaying pets prevents more unwanted animals from entering these shelters or being killed on the streets from starvation, freezing to death, disease contraction or other torturous means. Friends of Animals leads an effort to curb population growth through its low-cost Spay/Neuter program. Pet owners can purchase a discounted certificate online which is used for a routine spay or neuter at any of the organization’s participating veterinary hospitals.
Please visit our Spay/Neuter program to purchase a certificate online or call 1-800-321-PETS (1-800-321-7387) to fill out an application by mail.
1.The Arkansas-based American Canine Hybrid Club lists more than 200 such cross-breeds on its electronic site www.achclub.com.
2. Ellen Gamerman, “High-End Mutts Sit Up and Beg For a Little Respect,” The Wall Street Journal (24 Dec 2005).
3. See Jesse Milligan, “Designer Dogs, Pet Lovers Going Wild for Chorkies and Chiweenies,” The Victoria [Texas] Advocate (26 Feb 2006).
4. “Billions Spent on America’s Pampered Pets,” ABC News KGO/San Francisco (14 Feb. 2006), citing Marketresearch.com
5. Barbara Thornburg, “Shop ’Til They Flop,” The Los Angeles Time Magazine (19 Mar. 2006).
6. The American Kennel Club recognizes puppies from two parents of the same breed. Registration costs about $25.00; in 2005, the Club reported registering 920,804 puppies.
7. “High-End Mutts Sit Up and Beg For a Little Respect,” note 2 above
8. See Gerry Doyle, “Beagle-Pug Cross the Latest Pet,” Knight Ridder Tribune Wire Service (28 Dec. 2005), describing a buyer’s experience of owning an ill “puggle,” or beagle-pug mix.