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Doodle Dogs: The Ugly Side

While working on the previous doodle dog article, we checked to see how much these dogs are selling for locally. The AJC had about a dozen listings for various combinations ranging in price from less than $200 to $1200. At the high end was a litter of maltese-yorkie puppies with an asking price of $1000 for the males and $1200 for the female. In the bargain basement were some Jack Russell- poodle mix puppies for $175. An ad for malti-poo puppies mentioned that they were registered, but didn't say where. Expecting prices to be much higher, we checked the internet to see what it had to offer.

That was eye opening. It didnít take long to find an online doodle dog puppy mill, offering dogs in a variety of combinations. The prices were reasonableó in the $600 - $1000 rangeóbut they may have been wholesale. It makes you wonder how long it will be before someone starts taking special orders.

There are a lot of home-based breeders offering puppies, and here the prices were much higher, usually between $2000 and $3000. Here it becomes clear that everyone involved in breeding these dogs has his or her own opinion about what these dogs should be. Some believe that a Labradoodle should be a straight cross between a Lab and a poodle, while others want more poodle in the doodle and breed the puppies with a poodle to get a 3-1 ratio, and a dog that sheds less. A direct Lab-poodle cross will still shed, although much less than a Lab would. The more poodle you have in the mix the less shedding you have in the offspring, and that was the reason these dogs were bred in the first place. If you keep breeding back to the poodle to get less shedding, you lose the Lab qualities that you started with, and might as well just get a poodle.

Dog hair is actually a minor cause of allergic reactions in humans. The more common allergen is dander, tiny flakes of dried skin that float in the air. All dogs shed the outer layer of skin on a regular basis, although some shed more frequently than others. Poodles and schnausers shed about every 21 days, while other dogs, such as cocker spaniels, German shepherds and bassett hounds shed every 3-4 days. Proper diet, bathing and grooming can usually keep dander under control.

There seem to be a lot of amateurs in the doodle dog business, which isnít surprising since anyone with enough money to buy 2 dogs can get into the business without knowing the first thing about what he is doing. There are a lot of others who have learned enough to convince themselves that they are experts, but the truth is, this genetics stuff is probably a little trickier than it seems.

There are people who actually know what they are doing who are working to establish standards for a Labradoodle breed that will be recognized by the AKC. This involves years of work and many generations of breeding for the qualities that they want, then breeding the dogs that best represent them with each other until they consistently produce litters in which the puppies all look alike and meet the breed standard. Only then can they be considered a separate breed.

For people who are allergic to dogs, and are determined to have a hybrid, the schnoodle seems like the best choice. Both the poodle and the schnauzer are non-shedders and produce less dander, so that cross should be really allergy friendly.

Cross-breeding will bring some results that are predictable and others that are not. For one thing, you can be fairly sure that the puppies will not look like either parent. In a case such as the Lab-poodle mix, it is pretty certain that the puppies will shed less than a Lab and more than a poodle. Other than that it is wait and see. In a litter of 4 puppies, none of them may look alike. The hair may be long and wavy, short and curly or some other variation.

There seems to be no end to the combinations that these breeders will try in order to produce something new for a market that at the moment seems eager to absorb them. The miniature golden-doodle is one such combo, requiring a male miniature poodle, a female golden retriever and, presumably, a ladder.

While these dogs are hot items now, much of the market for them is fickle and will soon chase the next fad. It wasnít that long ago that Jack Russell terriers, chihuahuas and dalmations were the dogs of choice. Each of those breeds had its moment in the spotlight, and thousands were purchased. Then tastes changed, a new fad came along, and many of those dogs ended up in shelters, no longer needed. There was a new pup in town.

How long will it be until Hollywood makes a movie featuring a long-haired dachshund, or a television show has a bearded collie in it, or a company runs commercials starring a Norwich terrier, and a new fad begins?

We arenít trying to tell people how to spend their money or what kind of dog to get. They are all dogs and we like all of them. But for every one of these dogs that is purchased, another dog dies in a shelter because no one wanted it. Some of them will likely be Jack Russells, chihuahuas and dalmations.

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