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The Fad of the Designer Mutt

Updated on February 13, 2008

Jake Gyllenhaal has a puggle, and it is sooooo cute! Look at him holding it like a baby while he checks his cell phone! Puggles must be the hot new breed! I want to buy one!

Now don't get me wrong. I love Jake Gyllenhaal as much as the next girl, but this picture makes me want to smack him. A puggle, Jake? Really? I thought better of you.

If you are planning on investing in one of these breeds (the goldendoodle, the cockapoo, really any of the -doodles or the -poos), I guess that's your prerogative, but please just hear me out first.

What is This New Fad?

If, somehow, you have missed it, there's a new trend in celebrity dog ownership: strang, unnatural crosses of unhealthy dogs that people pay thousands of dollars to own. They call them "designer dogs."

Look at these Amazon links to the left! There are books now about these popular dog "breeds," describing their temperaments and how to raise them. Again with the wanting to smack people. These animals are not a new breed; they are mutts! Accidents!

Now, I'm all for the owning of mutts. I, myself, have never had anything else. But to breed (that is, intentionally) is to choose two champion animals with a high quality of various traits and to test the parents for congenital diseases. Puggle, labradoodle, pekepoo, or any other cutesie-named dog breeders are not doing this. They are picking cute animals and forcing them to breed beyond their capacity. They are not breeding to "improve the breed." They are breeding solely to make money, and that poses problems for the animals and for their owners.

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So Why Not Get One?

Well, sure, they're cute! They're dogs, and these specific ones are designed to be cute! But they're also a fad, and if you've ever given in to one, you know that they don't last. When you get a dog, you are committing to him for life, not for however long you happen to want him around.

And even if you want to carry your dog around like our friend Jake does, the dog is not a child either. In fact, I recommend the hub entitled Is a Dog Human? for more on that. The answer is, basically, no, and if you expect this designer breed to act as a human in your family, you will only disappointed. These dogs are not special or exempt from that rule because they are "designer."

Perez Hilton's "mini-goldendoodle" as a pup.
Perez Hilton's "mini-goldendoodle" as a pup.

What is to be Done?

Still think you need one of these "designer hybrids"? Think you can't even deal with adopting a brand new, accidental "hybrid" from the pound? First just take this quiz and prove to yourself that you can tell the difference.

Basically, all that can be done to overcome this destructive fad is to keep a level head. If you want a pug/beagle mix, I almost guarantee there is one at your local shelter. But if you buy a "puggle," you are encouraging backyard breeders to breed more trendy dogs who will not necessarily be healthy.

Pet overpopulation is enough of a problem in this country. Please don't add to the problem.

For a more detailed article about the ups and downs of "designer dogs," please check out Designer Dogs: super-mixes or mixed blessings.

Photo by Connie Daniele of an adorable "labradoodle" dog
Photo by Connie Daniele of an adorable "labradoodle" dog


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    • profile image

      stefano 6 years ago

      really enjoying all your pages on dog articles just came across them, great work, awesome writing!

    • profile image

      SW 6 years ago

      I think it's very interesting that one would write a post or create a webpage like this considering the fact that most of the dogs that you see are crossbred. Dogs that are recognized by the AKC, such as, shi tzus are actually crossbred, they were just crossbred many years ago. How intelligent could one be or better yet how reputable is your page if you don't acknowledge that. Think about it.

    • profile image

      Sonia 7 years ago

      I am curious how much Amber paid for her goldendoodle. Why not go to your local shelter and adopt an unwanted purebred or mutt for a fraction of the price of a designer mutt. The only reason the are designer dogs is because people are making money off them. It is the asme reason there are puppy mills and backyard breeders. When people stop purchasing their puppies, they will no longer exist.

    • helenathegreat profile image

      helenathegreat 7 years ago from Manhattan

      Hi Koko, thanks for writing. Of course prices in the midwest are significantly less expensive, but breeders who are "creating" this new breed are NOT TRUE BREEDERS. For more information, I encourage you to check out my hub on how to find a reputable dog breeder:

      You should do research no matter where you get your dog, and the same applies for adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue organization. I have never heard of adoption shelters "turning a profit," though. Sure, adopting a dog can cost more, but you are paying for the cost of that dog and the other dogs they're taking care of (surgeries, medications, vaccinations, daily care, etc). I encourage you to do a little more research before you write off adoption, or at least to buy your dog from a reputable breeder. Unfortunately, by definition, no puggle breeder is reputable.

    • profile image

      Koko 7 years ago

      I wouldn't judge Jake Gyllenhaal so fast. He went about it the right way and adopted his puggle. I personally am looking to get one solely because I live in an apartment and hated small dogs until I came across a hybrid of the two I can tolerate the most. Also, I've yet to find a puggle here in the Midwest that's more than $400...definitely not the thousands. But hey, that might be a west coast price. But the puggles that are for sale from breeders are normally spayed/neutered, up to date on shots, and socialized before hand. Not to mention the fact that adopting dogs nowadays can be just as expensive without the health guarantee. I used to be completely bent on only adopting a puppy but after some research, a lot of these adoption shelters are turning this into a profit as well and overcharging.

    • profile image

      Jason 8 years ago

      Although I think that adopting an existing pet is always preferable due to overcrowded animal shelters, suggesting that these people are doing any more wrong than pure-bred breeders is preposterous. Not all, or perhaps even most, dog breeders are scrupulous about their breeding habits to begin with. In addition, there is no sound reason to believe these cross breeds are more likely to be unhealthy - if anything, the opposite is true, due to, as pointed out, the abundance of recessive genes in many breeds. In fact, I would go so far as to say that pure-breeding dogs is borderline cruelty to animals - how many dogs do you think are euthanised annually because they turned out to be less than ideal breeding artifacts? And of those that survive, certain genetic disorders are nearly inevitable like cataracts and hip problems in Black Labs and temperament problems in spaniels.

    • helenathegreat profile image

      helenathegreat 9 years ago from Manhattan

      Dar Nelson, did you even read my article? You are the one "spouting off" without a clue. It absolutely DOES matter that people are SELLING mutts as "breeds" because of the global pet overpopulation problem. Goldendoodles don't have ANY health problems? Give me a break. They have all of the health benefits of any other mutt but they are not magically immune.

      I urge you to read what I've written again. Read a couple more of my hubs. I am hardly ignorant, and usually I love to have intelligent arguments posted at the bottom of my hubs, but you make absolutely no sense. Of course German Shepherds can have terrible hips. Trying to dispute that would make me insane, not uninformed. This article is against the selling of mutts as "purebreds," with breeders taking advantage of uninformed people who want "hypoallergenic" dogs. You're a joke.

    • profile image

      Dar Nelson 9 years ago

      Call them what you want. Breed, Mut.... does it really matter? I have owned dogs all my life. All main breeds and/or rescued dogs. Then two Goldendoodles entered my family's lives. Our experience with these dogs has taken us to a new level of dog ownership pleasure.

      So dis it all you want. But own one and you'll change your opinion that there is nothing behind this "fad". Try hybrid vigor. Ever seen a goldendoodle with bad hips? Didn't think so.

      Another example of people with no clue spouting off.

      Oh, and as for breeders? I've seen more abuse of "Breeds" being inbread, mean, unhealthy, than you can shake a stick at. Go buy a Chow and tell me how great they are, or a German Shephard and tell me their hips will be fine, I could go on all day. End result? I absolutely dare you, find a Goldendoodle owner that says their dog is mean, or going blind, or has hip displasia, or deaf, or or or .

      Moral of story? Ignorance is not bliss. It's misleading

    • helenathegreat profile image

      helenathegreat 10 years ago from Manhattan

      Unfortunately, most people don't realize what you and I know to be a fact: that "dog C" in your example will have traits from both parents' breeds and is therefore still an unpredictable mutt. And many "breeders" of these dogs will tell how great they are with families, etc, but since they are not a breed with hundreds of years of pedigree, it's not possible to say whether or not each individual dog is good with families.

      I agree completely with your thing about licensing of breeders; that would be such an incredible first step in the right direction!!

      I really enjoy hearing your thoughts; please comment on my hubs any time!

    • Amber Arendsen profile image

      Amber Arendsen 10 years ago from Solana Beach, Ca

      They are definately not a recognized breed by the AKC etc., I realize that. I do think that when you mix breed A and breed B, you will get some characteristics from both breeds in dog C. And it is the combination of these breeds I support. I definately don't support people breeding only for money. maybe this would be solved by requiring breeders to be licensed, un- licensed breeders should be fined, and all non breeding dogs in america should then be required to be altered or again with the fines.

      there is defninately a need for better regulation of pets and overpopulation in america.

      Great hub and I really enjoy your style of writing! 

    • helenathegreat profile image

      helenathegreat 10 years ago from Manhattan

      Thank you so much for weighing in on this, Amber! You make a good point: crossing poodles with other breeds is not the problem I have. The problem is that "doodles" are still not actual BREEDS. They don't have breed characteristics making them "great family pets" or anything that the "breeders" would have you believe. I just don't like it when backyard breeders make money off of contributing so terribly to pet overpopulation.

      But since you worked in a shelter, obviously you understand all of that and made an educated decision (and an even better one to decide to spay your pup), and that's all I'm asking for. No impulse-buying of animals! If anything, that's what I'm trying to say. Thanks again!

    • Amber Arendsen profile image

      Amber Arendsen 10 years ago from Solana Beach, Ca

      thought provoking post. I am at such a moral crux regarding this issue. Before I had children I worked at an animal shelter and adopted shelter animals. Since having kids, I really wanted to "know" what kind of breed characteristics I would be getting in a family pet. The reason people are breeding poodles with other breeds is less because they are cute and more for the great family characteristics the breed profile offers, with none of the "hybrid" faults that develop with purebred dogs.

      We currently own a one year old goldendoodle, and she is an amazing family dog.

      But we have at least spayed her so she/we will not be contributing to pet overpopulation. :) best regards.

    • profile image

      Chris Miller 10 years ago

      The Puggle is a fantastic combination of intelligence, looks, and loyalty.That is a great article about a great new breed of dogs. I became interested for Puggles for all the same reasons mentioned above.Keep up the Good Work!

    • helenathegreat profile image

      helenathegreat 10 years ago from Manhattan

      Chris, I'm not saying that pug/beagle mixes aren't great dogs. I'm saying that they are not a BREED. "They," as a whole, are not "brilliant family dogs" because there is no breed standard. I'm glad that your dog and your son get along, and I'm sure that he'll love having his best bud around for years to come! Thanks for weighing in.

    • profile image

      chris 10 years ago

      hey, ive got a puggle, maddox, he's just over a year old and he's the best bud a guy could ask for, such a cool little dude, chilled and happy, and loves my 4year old son to bits, and my son adores him too... i didn't buy him because of the designer fad but due to the fact they are brilliant family dogs and as my place isn't huge i favoured a smaller dog but one that is also solid looking ... maddox fits the bill! recommend to everyone who is looking for a buddy for life

    • helenathegreat profile image

      helenathegreat 10 years ago from Manhattan

      It's true, Marisa. The problem comes, though, when bad breeders then breed something they call a "labradoodle" that people then expect to be hypoallergenic. Not all dogs crossed with a poodle are shed-free, though many disreputable breeders would have you believe that they are. And while the intention in crossing a lab with a poodle may have been pure, many backyard breeders now take advantage of it and breed only to make money.

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 10 years ago from Sydney

      Here, here, Helena! As you say, crossbreeding to solve some of the awful problems breeders have created in pedigree dogs is a good thing. But I suspect these designer breeders give no thought to those issues - which means they could just as easily create dogs with the worst of both breeds, instead of the best.

      However, there are a few dogs with designer-breed-sounding names that are genuine. The one that springs to mind is the labradoodle, bred to provide a low-allergen dog for use as a guide dog for the visually impaired. I believe a lot of thought went into the creation of that hybrid.

    • helenathegreat profile image

      helenathegreat 10 years ago from Manhattan


      I, too, support crossbreeding for the purpose of health. By breeding and rebreeding dogs for so long, we have instilled in their species a terrible set of health problems that we then only perpetuate. As long as care is taken in breeding, I am more than happy. Thanks for raising a complex set of issues!

    • profile image

      Angelique 10 years ago

      I definitely agree with your post, but before we get too snotty about poos and doodles I would like to raise the issue of cross-breeding for health.

      Scientists have completed mapping the dog genome and are well on their way to identifying genes linked to several disorders in several breeds. While this will certainly help improve breed-specific breeding programs, there is also an opportunity to create a new kind of "designer dog" aimed at improved health. Many recessive genes exist in the vast majority of a particular breed. The best the breeder can hope for is to not match two recessive parents or a parent with the defect. However, the recessive gene remains in the gene pool with this approach. By crossing thes purebreds with dogs outside of the breed, it is possible to fully eliminate the undesirable recessive gene from the gene pool. I would fully support cross-breeding for the purpose of creating healthy dogs with few genetic defects or defective recessive genes, something no breeder can promise today.


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