Designer dogs: Would you purchase a $1,500 mutt?

Designer dogs: Would you purchase a $1,500 mutt?
A Morki is a Maltese/Yorkie mix. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

If you head out to your local pet store or search for a pet online, you’ll find a wide range of puppies at a premium price. There are Puggles, Chiweinies, Doodles, Yorkapoos, Maltipoos (or any other poos for that matter) and a wide range of teacup dogs. For $800 to $1,500 and much more, you too can pick up designer dogs or designer breeds – breeds so special they don’t really exist.

Yes Virginia, folks are paying a premium price for designer dogs that are not pure breeds at all – they are high-priced mutts. It is the cutest, most adorable package of buyer beware that you’ll ever see.

This is a Dobernauzer - a Doberman/Schnauzer mix. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

This is a Dobernauzer – a Doberman/Schnauzer mix. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

You see. A pure breed dog is just that – a pure breed. One breed. Not two (Chihuahua/ Dachshund = Chiweinie). Not three (Maltese/Yorkie/Poodle = Morkie Poo). More than one breed is a mixed-breed which is better known to the rest of the world as a mutt or mongrel.

But, if you hit the pet store, you see a wide range of fancy sounding designer dogs. The purveyors of pet store puppies call them designer breeds to justify the $800 to $2,000 price tag. Yes, a $2,000 mutt. With the cool name and the promise of the best of both breeds, pet stores and online pet sellers put an adorable puppy face on a mutt…a mixed breed…not a designer breed.

For those that are passionate about a breed, they do genetic testing, limit litters and show their dogs (or may be active in agility sports). It’s carefully crafted for them as they look for hip dysplasia, cardio myopathy and a wide range of other genetic issues that may be common in a breed.

So, if you’re looking for the best of both worlds – say a pug without breathing issues and a more relaxed beagle…a puggle is what you get. Or at least, that is what you want to get. If you waltz into a pet store, you get a promise that the stores know their breeders and that the dogs are coming from the best parents, yada, yada, yada.

Puggle photo is courtesy or Wikipedia.

Puggle photo is courtesy or Wikipedia.

Here’s what you really need to know.

At the pet stores, they are working with brokers that are pulling dogs from commercial breeders…or puppy mills…where it’s all about the quantity of the breed not the quality. There’s no checking to make sure that you’re not getting all the bad genetic soup from the two to three breeds that make up your designer dog.

Pet stores aren’t the only place to avoid. Many who sell to you online – without vetting who you are first – are also puppy mills.

When you mix breeds, you also don’t know if you’re getting the good or bad of each particular breed (it’s like inheriting a trait you hate from your parents). And, even better, there is no guarantee that the mix you’re purchasing is even a mix of those dogs you were hoping to get. It’s like buying a Louis Vuitton or Coach bag from the street merchant outside Union Station – buyer beware.

The heartbreaking thing though is that it’s not a teaching moment like getting a knock-off purse instead of the real deal. This designer dog with all its issues is a living, breathing soul. You’ve fallen in love and you’re hooked. Some of the issues can be fixed at a very high veterinary price tag but others cannot. It’s not what you expect to get from anything “designer” in the least.

A Chiweenie - courtesy of Wikipedia.

A Chiweenie – courtesy of Wikipedia.

And, go back a few steps before the broker to the puppy mill where your cute designer breed was born. You have a momma dog in a cage slightly bigger then she is. Thanks to the lax standards of the Animal Welfare Act, she lives, breathes, sleeps, poops, breeds and raises her babies in that cage with a wire floor…not exactly the picture you want to see when you think of designer anything.

Which brings us back to the true mutts. You know the ones I’m talking about – the dogs at shelters and rescues and your local humane society or animal control. There are so many awesome dogs there that could be mutts or pure breeds but wouldn’t be called designer that are truly great pets looking for a second chance.

Are there some with health or behavioral issues?

Yes, but most just need to settle in with the right home and get back on track with a regular routine filled with love and lots of play and a happy ending. And, if you truly want a designer dog, you can call your mutt whatever you want. Get creative, have fun because rescued is the most amazing breed you can find.

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    Raining Cats and Dogs

    I am a crazy cat lady and puppy mill warrior that blogs to advocate and educate about pet issues. In American animal controls, millions of pets are abandoned each year and an estimated 4 million die just because there are not enough homes. It truly seems like it’s Raining Cats and Dogs.

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