Posts Tagged ‘Labradoodle’

talking points

This came from an evil crossbreeder.

The AKC’s now recognizes that its biggest threat are the intentionally bred crossbreeds, which are, unfortunately, called “designer dogs.”

Are these crosses being mass produced on puppy farms? Yes.

Are breeder making fantastic claims about them? Yes.

Are they inherently evil because they are crossbred? No.

Crossbreeding dogs is not inherently unethical, but it comes up against a fundamentalist religion in dogs. This is the religion of the fancy, which has as its number one command “Thou shalt not cross breeds. Breeds are like species.”

The AKC is very much threatened by these crosses, which are taking away a huge share of the market for them.

The American people have never really believed that these multi-breed registries really represent our values as country. And now that we are the only industrialized nation outside of South Africa, South Korea, and Japan with a non-Caucasian head of state (who was elected with majorities both times), I don’t think the average American accept the tenants of blood purity for people or for dogs.

People are questioning many things that were once believed to be true:

Should marijuana be illegal like cocaine and heroin?

Should marriage be allowed between people of the same sex?

Should women be paid equal to men?

These questions are running rampant in the body politic right now, and I can tell you it wasn’t so long ago–ten years to be precisely– that these issues were not discussed at all.

Now they are.

And if we’re questioning these values, it’s not really hard to see that Americans are question something as silly and oddly foreign as the institutionalized dog fancy.

These institutions were not created for a country with very strong democratic institutions. They were created largely by Tory elitists in England and then grafted onto the United States, which has never accepted truly accepted the dog fancy as most of Europe has. I don’t think such an institution could last long in a country that elected a Barack Obama.

The United States doesn’t have the strongest democratic institutions in the world, but it has always had a very strong egalitarian spirit that sometimes comes bubbling up when people least expect it. One of the great paradoxes of this country is that even though we have a lot of inequality, we are somewhat embarrassed by it, which is probably why we don’t talk about it very much.

The dog fancy that the AKC works for is not an egalitarian organization at all. It is openly elitist. At the major dog shows, the dogs that tend to win are those that are professionally handled, which means that their owners are rich enough to hire someone to show their dogs for them. How many breeder-owner-handlers do you see when Westminster is on television?

So the AKC is now reduced to talking points on “designer dogs”  in much the same way anti-gay activists are on the issue of marriage equality.

The American people are rejecting the product the AKC is selling– not only because it is elitist and caught up in a faith-based position on blood purity– but because the dogs it is producing aren’t what people actually want.

People love Labradors.

But they also like Benji.

And they would like it if their Labradors didn’t shed so much.

Wait, there is a Benji-type Labrador cross that doesn’t shed as much as a pure Labrador?

Where do I get this amazing creature?!

Not the AKC, I can tell you that!

And that is why the AKC is in panic mode.

Now, I’m not a big fan of the doodles myself. The big reason is that I really don’t like the poodle coat, and as someone who keeps clean-shaven, I am not a big fan of beards.

If we were going to cross a Labrador with something, why not a golden retriever or a Chesapeake?

But one thing that that these doodles and other intentionally-bred crosses have done is that they have caused people to question the blood purity religion.

And yes, there are charlatans breeding doodles left and right.

But you really don’t have room to criticize these people when you keep bulldogs and Neapolitan mastiffs in your registry, and many of those dogs are being bred by absolute moonbats of the worst order.

A registry that would celebrate the rolling cushion of a dog known as the pekingese as the epitome of canine soundness has very little moral authority indeed.

The problems with all the “designer dogs” certainly do need to be corrected.

But I don’t reject them outright.

To reject them outright is to deny innovation in dogs. It is to accept on faith alone that blood purity is a virtue that must never be compromised.

And I don’t accept it.

I don’t think anyone with even a high school understanding of population genetics ever could– but you’d be surprised.

This is the big religion in dogs, and now it’s under assault.

It may be for very superficial reasons, but it is under assault.

And the AKC is totally caught flat-footed.

Talking points aren’t going to save it, and I must confess I’ve heard them all before.

They all amount to a dog fancy equivalent of a Gish Gallop, including misrepresenting a study on whether purebred dogs are healthier than mixes. (See Christopher Landauer’s (Border Wars) attack on this misrepresentation in the comments!).

The dog fancy is on its knees.

A country that now wants marijuana legalized is fine with Labradoodles.

And the AKC cannot handle it.

Don't hate me because I'm crossbred.

Don’t hate me because I’m crossbred.

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Skye terrier

I am not fan of journalism by press release.

It’s not really “journalism” anyway. It is simply media relations, and media relations might as well be called spin. Spin is not really about the truth. It’s about advocacy, and it’s often about deception.

There is so much of this in the world of journalism about dogs that it is very hard to tell if something is true or not.

And if you want to see a very good example of it, take this puff piece that appeared on the BBC’s website last May. It is called “Why is the Skye terrier is an endangered breed?”

It discusses how popular Skye terriers were for a time. For a period in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, It was a breed that was quite fashionable to have, especially in the burgher classes in Scotland.  Indeed, I’ve written about how the Marjoribanks family, who started the strain of yellow wavy-coated retrievers that are the basis for the golden retriever, were actually better known for the Skye terriers than their retrievers.

But now their retriever has taken the world by storm, and their terrier is a breed on the verge of extinction.

The BBC piece could have done some really good homework on this breed. The question of why breeds become popular and then become extinct is a very fascinating question to me.

Instead, the reporter who wrote the piece decided to do the laziest thing possible:  Go to the Kennel Club and get their media relations expert to spin a tale for the presses. It goes like this:

Caroline Kisko, secretary of the Kennel Club, says Skye terriers are good house dogs with a very loyal and friendly character.

She says: “They are very glamorous. Their coats are very attractive. They are a very friendly, nice dog to have around and they are certainly very weather-proof.

“If you are out and about they will not get cold.”

So why has the breed fallen out of favour?

Ms Kisko says: “Much of this is about the profile of the dog, whether or not people are aware that the breeds exist.

“Some of the problems we have with the vulnerable breeds is that people have simply forgotten that they are there.”

Well, that actually didn’t answer the question at all. People just don’t know about them.

Except that they do.

I grew up on the story of Greyfriars Bobby. Disney made a movie about this dog, a Skye terrier that stayed at his master’s grave for fourteen years.

Too bad the entire story was a hoax. The truth is it was an elaborate hoax to promote tourism and business in that part of Edinburgh.

People know about this breed. They just don’t want them.

Now, I thought we could delve into why this breed’s popularity collapsed, but the Kennel Club representative decided to use this opportunity as a chance to smear Labradoodles, a dog that has nothing to do with Skye terriers at all. Although in fairness, it is a representative with the parent club of the Skye terrier in the UK who starts down this bizarre comparison.

Designers breeds such as the labradoodle – a crossbred created by crossing the Labrador Retriever and the Poodle – have become very fashionable.

Mrs [Gail] Marshall [of the Skye Terriers Club] says this is another reason why traditional breeds such as the Skye terrier are being marginalised.

Ms Kisko, whose organisation does not register cross-breeds, says: “The designer crosses such as the labradoodle and the cockapoo (a Cocker Spaniel and a miniature poodle) are proving to be very popular these days and that is all on the pretext that they will be automatically healthier than the breeds they come from, which is patently untrue.”

She says people should do more research before buying a dog, checking out some of the British native breeds which have been popular pets for centuries.

I was not expecting this to be the reason why Skye terriers are becoming rare!

First of all, the purebred Labrador retriever is by far the most popular native British dog breed. It was actually developed in its present form from the St. John’s water dog of Newfoundland on a few select estates in England and Scotland. It is an easily trained dog, noted for its versatility in helping guide the blind, assist the handicaped, and sniff out bombs and contraband. It is also docile as can be.

Skye terriers, by contrast, have very hard to care for coats. They known for being difficult to train, and they do not have a reputation for being good family dogs.

The Labrador requires more exercise than the Skye, but if you’re in a world in which dogs with Labrador-type temperaments are more practical and desired, why would you expect Skye terriers to be able to compete?

Futher, the big reason people get Labradoodles is because they want the Labrador temperament, but they don’t want the Labrador hairs all over their houses. So they get Labrador/Standard poodle crosses, which are lower shedding than pure Labradors.

Now, there are a lot of claims about Labradoodles that are not true:

They are not hypoallergenic because people are allergic to dog dander, not dog hair.  Also they do get the health problems associated with both Standard poodles and Labradors, but because the cross has been around for only a short time there have been no good studies to see if there is a heterosis effect (though there probably is).

And Labradoodles are mass-produced, often in deplorable conditions. After all, there is a big market for a Labrador that doesn’t shed as much and looks like a bigger version of Benji.

And that’s precisely what doesn’t exist for the Skye terrier.

Further, the terrier and retriever markets are entirely different demographics, so this claim that people wanting Labradoodles is the reason why no one wants a Skye terrier might be the stupidest thing I’ve ever read on the BBC’s website.

I’m stunned that the answer to the question about why the Skye terrier is going extinct gets reduced to something so completely impossible.

This is actually a question for which I don’t have an answer.

I know that Skye terriers have not been used as actual earth dogs in many, many years, but that alone wouldn’t ruin their value as pets. Yorkshire terriers, which are also silky-coated terriers of Scottish ancestry and are almost never used as anything but pets, are quite popular little dogs.

Why would people be so Yorkie-crazed but so dismissive of the Skye?

There must be a good reason, and the answer absolutely is not that people want Labradoodles.

All that was done in this piece was to deflect what is a very good question into a hatchet piece on intentionally-bred crossbreeds.

Not all is perfect in the world of the doodles, but just because they are intentionally-bred mixes does not make them illegitimate. If done right, doodling is an entirely harmless activity, and if really done right, it could be a source for increasing genetic diversity in established retriever and poodle strains.

It just makes them a convenient scapegoat.

The Kennel Club has no answer for why the Skye terrier is in such dire straights.

I think the real reason it has no answer is the real answer is that this dog is a fanciers’ dog. It became a plaything of the dog pageant set. The dog pageant and freak show people are at the heart of the Kennel Club’s mission. It is their base in the same way the religious right is the base of the Republican Party. In politics, one does not go out of the way to insult one’s base. (Only Bill Clinton could ever get away with it!)

When a dog breed becomes something that can only be admired by a very narrow set of fanciers, then it is on its way to becoming rare already.

I also think there is a distinct possibility that the fanciers of this breed intentionally bred “one mannishness” into this dog after buying wholeheartedly into the Greyfriars Bobby hoax. If you breed a dog that naturally tends to bond with only a few people and then is reactive toward strangers, you might be asking for its popularity to drop rather quickly.

So if you breed a dog with a coat that is hard to groom and temperament that requires lots of work and socialization to make the dog docile and tractable, why would you be surprised that very few people want them?

You cannot blame the public for wanting Labradoodles.

The real blame is on dog fanciers who allowed a romantic story– one with huge gaping holes in it– to cloud their judgment on how to breed a dog for the twentieth century.

And because they allowed that story cloud their judgment, the breed won’t likely see the end of the twenty-first.

That’s definitely not the Labradoodle’s fault.






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goldendoodle white

For the past five or ten years, a new fad dog has appeared on the scene.

I first heard of them in Bruce Fogle’s Encyclopedia of the Dog. That book had a section on what are now called “designer dogs.” Among them was a specially bred guide dog called a “Labradoodle.” It turns out that an Australian guide dog agency wanted to produced a guide dog that was hypoallergenic (which, of course, don’t exist).

Now, they could have used standard poodles, but I’m sure they already had a specially bred Labrador line for this work. Add a little standard poodle, the argument went, and you’d create a super guide dog that would not bother the visually impaired who also had allergies to dogs. (Today, there is actually a particular strain called an “Australian Labradoodle” that has other breeds crossed into it.)

Of course, it didn’t take long for people to start cross-breeding Labs and standard poodles in this country. And then it was just a slight jump to start crossing goldens and poodles. Because a lot of working strain goldens were deemed “pet quality,” I’m sure that lots of them wound up in the doodle breeding programs.  That was not a very good thing for working strain goldens, which already have some issues with genetic diversity.  If you want to know where many of the working-type goldens went, I’d look no further than the goldendoodles.

These dogs have been popular for a time, and because too many of them have been bred by people who have very little concern for health, the genetic conditions of both goldens and poodles have popped up in these dogs. Aggression issues that pop up in goldens also exist in goldendoodles.

In the next few years, the market for doodles is likely to get saturated. I would say that in the next ten years, there won’t be as many doodles as there are now. They are likely to follow the cock-a-poo or cockerpoo, which was the first “designer dog.” The fad will slowly fade, and the new “in” dog will be something else.

But what will happen to the lines of retriever that disappeared into the doodles?

Well, they will be gone.

I am not opposed to cross-breeding these dogs to make pets.

However, these dogs were never going to replace the purebred dogs.

I don’t think this fad has that much staying power.

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The ‘Devil’ had been obviously named for his looks. He was a curly sandy-brown, with whiskers like an otter hound. His victory reached the ears of the Welsh Church, and caused remonstrance against taking in vain names of potent powers. This had so much effect on the Welsh squire, that the following year he entered a son of the Devil and called it ‘Country Rector,’ possibly thereby avoiding the danger he had been cautioned against.

George T. Teasdale-Buckell The Complete English Shot p. 184.

I have no idea what sort of dog “The Devil” was, but he was probably a cross between one of the last old-strain water dogs of the poodle-type and a normal wavy or flat-coated retriever. In those days, one could do some experimental outcrossing. It is also possible that actual otterhound was crossed in.

Because of his unusual appearance, I think I am going to count him as the first and perhaps only trial quality doodle.

Judging from his appearance, he was probably not an F1 cross between a water dog of the poodle type and a retriever. My guess is he was a multi-generational cross. His owners probably thought he was a normal retriever when they had him as a puppy. It often takes months for the “whiskers” to grow in. (I know a smooth-coated Jack Russell that grew up to be anything but).

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A puppy has been spotted at the White House.

Rumors of an introduction tomorrow morning are rampant!

This may not be a false alarm.

I’m hoping it’s not one of the puppies featured in the Politico story that features the rumor.

Here’s the update.

I hope it’s not a goldendoodle or porty, because goldens and porties don’t have the gene pools to withstand massive popularity.

*Update: Specific dog has been chosen and is undergoing training; however, dog will not arrive at the White House this week.

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Rescuing a Labradoodle would be a smart move.

Rescuing a Labradoodle would be a smart move.

I think he should rescue a dog, simply because he already said that he wanted a rescue dog and “a mutt.” I don’t like it when presidents don’t keep their promises, and this would be a promise kept.

Why this breed over the Portuguese water dog?

Well, I don’t think the water dog could survive a massive jolt of popularity and mass production by unscrupulous and uninformed breeders.

Gerald Ford was a moderately popular president when he purchased a golden retriever named “Liberty.” She was of the old type, and it didn’t take very long for this breed to capture the public’s imagination. But then Ford had Liberty bred, and she had a litter of little golden fur balls at the White House. As soon as that happened, everyone wanted a golden retriever. One of the puppies, Jerry, actually became a seeing-eye dog. And this further cemented in the public mind that goldens were beautiful as adult, cute as puppies, and incredibly intelligent dogs that were useful for humanity.

I can only imagine what would happen if Obama bought a Portuguese water dog. This breed has a truncated genetic base, and it does have some really bad genetic disorders. This is a regional water dog, one of the many poodle-type dogs that once existed throughout Europe from Portugal to Russia.

These dogs are ancestral to water spaniels and retrievers, which have more efficient swimming styles and easier to care for coats. You don’t have to clip as Lab to make him a good water dog (but you might want to breed him with less bone so he can swim better).

Labradoodles are being mass-produced by unscrupulous people. This is very true.

However, by rescuing the dog, President-Elect Obama would be setting a good example about the best place to find a regular, old pet dog.

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President-elect Obama said in his acceptance speech Tuesday night that they were getting a puppy.

Speculation is rampant.

Malia Obama has researched the breeds and has decided she wants a goldendoodle. Malia has allergies to dogs, and there is some suggestion that goldendoodles are less likely to cause allergies because it has been proported that they do not shed. However, if she is allergic to dog saliva, it won’t matter which breed they choose.

And goldendoodles often do shed. Poodles don’t shed, but golden retrievers “blow coat” twice a year. The genetics of coat that comes across in the hybridization is actually quite interesting. Most have the poodle-type coat, but it is not unusual to find them with actual golden retriever coats, including the smooth fur on the muzzle and the forelegs. I’ve even see one that had a coat like an Irish water spaniel. 

Most goldendoodles and Labradoodles look like larger versions of the Barbet and Spanish water dog. I’ve read descriptions of the English rough water dog, which is ancestral to the water spaniels and the retrievers, and it really resembles the doodles. It is a large dog, with a shaggy coat that is low shed or nonshedding. This breed was absorbed into the water spaniels by the eighteenth century, and then the water spaniels were absorbed into the retrievers, except in Ireland, where the native Water spaniel survived.

PETA wants them to select a shelter dog.  Michelle Obama is also leaning toward rescuing a dog. That would be socially responsible, and it would be a new thing for US presidents. Since Gerald Ford, all the presidential dogs have been purchased from breeders. (Ford had a very well-bred golden retriever named “Liberty.”).

I would say that they should not get a puppy. They are going to be far too busy. If they want a golden or Labradoodle, I’m sure they can rescue one that already loves children. They just need to know that sometimes they get the field-type golden retriever’s high energy level, which some people misinterpet as “hyper.”


My suggestion is that they rescue a dog, even if it’s a designer a hybrid, such as this. I do know that this is a functional hybrid, and that some service dogs organizations use them. This cross reduces some of the allergies to canines that mobility challenged people might also have. So I’m not going to go into you shouldn’t cross breeds. If there is a reason to do so, then it should be accepted.

Poodles and golden retrievers are actually distant relatives in the water dog family. Standard poodles can be used as water retrievers, and the unusual clips used in poodles were first developed to aid them in the water. The long, wooly coat got bogged down in the water, so German hunters clipped the hair to make them more streamlined in the water. They left the coat long in certain areas so the dogs were still protected from cold water. Poodles are probably closely related to the English rough water dog, which is ancestral to the water spaniels and the retrievers. Poodles are related in some way to the Barbet and the Portuguese and Spanish Water dog. They are also related to the Schapendoes of the Netherlands, the Sheep poodle of Germany, the Puli (which can be used as a water dog), and perhaps the bearded collie and the Polish lowland sheepdog.

I just hope that the Obama’s dog doesn’t wind up like Harry Truman’s Irish setter puppy, which was given very poor care. The poor dog was fed only raw meat and hee developed rickets as a result.

 Bill Clinton’s Labrador was purchased solely as a photo-op. They chose the Lab because it was the most popular breed in America, but they chose a chocolate one because a black one wouldn’t photograph well enough and yellow would photo graph too well.

Ronald Reagan had a Bouvier des Flandres, but this dog had very strong herding instincts, and nipped nearly everyone in the White House.  This dog was sent to Reagan’s ranch and replaced with a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, which is a far more appropriate breed for an elderly couple with a very busy schedule.

I somehow think the Obamas are going to be more deliberate in their choice of a dog than those two presidents. They seem to be very deliberate about everything.

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