Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Doodle Craze

You've heard of them.  They come with all kinds of crazy names:
Cocka-poo, Sheba-poo, Labradoodle, Goldendoodle... cockadoodledo!

But what's the story?  What are they really about?  Why are people so crazy for them?  And why should you reconsider buying one?

Fact is, the very man who developed the Labradoodle for use as a service dog has completely abandoned the breeding program and admitted it was a mistake, and given the doodle craze that has ensued - he regrets ever having started it.  This is pretty telling in itself.

Why did he try to create a "Labradoodle"?  The initial breeding program of Labradoodles was intended to marry the versitility and size of the Labrador Retriever with the "low allergy" qualities of the poodle to create a great working service dog that could be utilized even by those with dog allergies.  The program did not achieve this goal.  Not only were the dogs not "hypoallergenic", they did not prove to be a substantial improvement on the current working dogs.  For this reason, the service Labradoodle program was ended.

Please, let me state that again - the dogs were NOT consistently "hypoallergenic" as the program had hoped.  In fact, in cases like the longer haired Goldendoodle, not only are they not "hypoallergenic" - their coats are really a pretty big disaster.  Some groomers have grown so tired of the disasterous coats of Goldendoodles that they will no longer accept them as clients.  Those who do accept them will often refuse to comb out matts in defference to simply shaving them down (which, to be honest, is the most humane option for the dog).  You see, when you take a soft coated breed like the Golden Retriever or ShiTzu, etc. and combine it with the kinky coat of a Poodle, you end up with a coat that is often VERY prone to matting.  A purebred Samoyed for example, if bred with a proper harsh coat, can go many weeks without being brushed and never so much as starting to develop a mat.  It all comes down to coat texture, which is why coat texture is included in most every AKC recognized breed standard - it's important!  Many breeds mixed with poodles have the worst possible coat texture to be mixed with the kinky Poodle curls.

Ok, you get it, the coat is going to be a lot of work.  But, you're comitted to brushing/combing your dog daily.  Why should you reconsider buying a *doodle?
First, I invite you to read about the value of a well bred dog from a good breeder.
It is important to recognize that *doodles are not a standardized breed, they are truly just a mix of whatever breeds happen to go into them.  This means breeders do not have a clear goal for the puppies they produce and often the puppies produced by such a breeding are extremely inconsistent in coat texture, appearance, and even behavior.  This can be a pretty significant consideration when purchasing a puppy, and it's why many people opt for purebred dogs - they want to know what they're getting, what they can expect from the dog they purchased.

The biggest reason you should reconsider your choice, though, is health.
If you've spend any time on my website at all, you should have a very clear understanding that health is my absolute #1 top priority.  It's the very reason I ever got into purebred dogs in the first place.  
There is absolutely no reason that any puppy sold from ANYWHERE but a shelter or rescue should come without health tested (and passed) parents. This means that BOTH parents have a CERF certification EVERY year. BOTH parents have an OFA rating of either Good or Excellent. BOTH parents have been checked by a certified cardiologist, and tested or tracked for things such as Thyroid, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), von Willebrand disease, progressive rod cone degeneration, Addison's disease, Cerebellar Abiotrophy, and the list goes on.... All of these diseases are known to have a genetic component and all of them can be either prevented or made significantly less likely in offspring by good breeding practices through testing. Since many diseases are breed specific it is important that all the diseases that are applicable to the breed in a mix are tested for. The overwhelming majority of *doodle breeders are not doing this kind of testing. (IF you find a breeder who is doing ALL of this necessary testing, congratulations, you might have found a breeder who cares enough about the puppies they produce for me to stop trying to talk you out if buying one.)

Here's an example to really drive this point home:

As a breeder, I can have my dog's blood drawn and sent to a lab to determine whether or not he is a "genetic carrier" of PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy, which causes progressive vision loss culminating in blindness), a genetic disease of the Samoyed and some other breeds. When I choose to breed my dog, I can require that any bitch bred to him also have this testing done. By doing this, I can very easily be certain that the puppies produced in the litter will NOT be affected by PRA.

Think about that for a second - I can be certain that the puppies my dog produces will not have a debilitating disease, simply by spending a few hundred dollars on a test. What kind of person would I be if I decided not to do the test, just to save a few bucks?

How angry would you be if you bought a puppy from a breeder that developed PRA at the age of 4, and was blind by the age of 6?  How angry would you be if you knew that breeder could have EASILY prevented your heartache and the suffering of your dog with a simple test?   How angry would you be at yourself for not taking the time to make sure you picked a responsible breeder who tested for all of the know genetic diseases she could to ensure she produced healthy dogs? What kind of person would choose to breed dogs and cut corners because the tests are too expensive? Or choose to breed dogs without keeping themselves informed of the tests and other preventative measures they can take to produce the healthiest dogs possible?

What kind of person do you want YOUR dog's breeder to be?

Do your research. Ask questions. Demand satisfactory answers. 
Settle for nothing less.