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In Defense Of Mixed Breeds…

I recently came across a great opinion piece by Jane Porricelli, co-founder of Mom Generations. It’s about the most popular dog list that the AKC put out every year. Specifically, about how superficial the list is by only caring about breed and looks.

I agree with her completely, but would like to add a slightly darker take on the proceedings.

Of course, the list only has purebreds on it and the PR machine pumps it out through the world-wide media till it’s everywhere. Uninformed future dog owners see it and pick a dog from the list. And just like that, those ten dog breeds grow even more popular.

To meet the demand, puppy mills and backyard breeders churn them out as quick as they can with little regard for the health of the breed as a whole and the breed suffers as a result.

But what about all the mixed breeds in shelters across the country. The AKC list doesn’t mention them. Does that mean they are inferior? We of course, know it’s just the opposite. That mixed breeds are usually healthier and live longer, better lives.

But the uninformed future dog owner doesn’t know it’s false. And that doesn’t bid well for the millions of incredible mixed breeds in shelters across America.

So what can we do? For starters, we should be proud of our mixed dogs! And we should make sure our friends and family know it. Tell them how awesome your mix is and let them know how bad puppy mills are. That is one of the most important things you can do to change people’s misconceptions.

So I’ll start first. I have two mixed dogs, Max and Remy. They are my loyal friends and part of my loving family. Max is even on the masthead of The Dog Files and he’s one heck of a good looking mutt!

Wherein I take on the AKC and the Today Show January 22nd, 2009
By Jane Porricelli

I’m not really a big fan of the American Kennel Club. In my eyes, it promotes the idea that a dog has to be purebred to be considered worthy.

Worthy of what, I don’t know… maybe recognition in general?

Worthy of being on some list, like the AKC’s Most Popular Dog Breeds in America? Which serves to prove what, exactly? I’m not sure.

But such a list is sure to be picked up by a national news program for a segment that will inevitably put these “top breeds” in high demand… until the families who buy these dogs realize that having a dog can be quite a demanding responsibility, and give the dog up because it’s just “not the right fit” or some other excuse.

Phew. I know I seem like I’m on a rant right now, and I guess I kind of am. It’s stemming from this rather innocuous-seeming video I saw this morning on the Today Show:

I mean, really, just look at those puppies. PUPPIES! How could you not fall in love with those sweet, innocent, docile little guys?

#5: The Beagle

#4: The Golden Retriever

#3: The German Shepherd

#2: The Yorkshire Terrier

#1: The Labrador Retriever

And you watched the segment above, so you KNOW that all 5 of the breeds are GREAT for families! And TRAINABLE! And POPULAR! Who WOULDN’T want one!?

Now, full disclosure here: one of my dogs, Ryder, is a purebred black Labrador Retriever. And she is quite beautiful:

I didn’t purchase her. She was one of a litter of purebred Labs given away for free, to good homes, almost 7 years ago. She came with AKC papers. I just didn’t care. It didn’t matter to me that she was registered with some club to prove that she was “pure.” So I didn’t register her. She is, and always has been, my sweet, loving, funny, adorable black Lab. I love her for those qualities, not any club-appointed “status.”

My other dog is a big, 110-lb. mixed breed named Seth:

He has lots of hair. He’s mostly black, with brown paws. He is silly, sweet, gentle, kind and sneaky.

According to the AKC, there is nothing “pure” about him.

To me, he is pure love and perfection. And again, to me, that’s all that matters.

In fact, of the 5 dogs I have had in my lifetime, Ryder is the only purebred I’ve had.

Bismarck was a mix between a Rhodesian Ridgeback and who-knows-what-else. And he was my big, sweet, loyal, brilliant, brave boy. Pure? Again, pure love.

My childhood dogs – my “brothers” Cracker and Carmel – were littermates that we got when they were 8 weeks old. They had been abandoned. We have no idea what breeds they were a mix of. It didn’t matter. They were our family members for almost 13 and almost 14 years, respectively.

My point is that yes, all puppies are cute, cuddly and pure sweetness. But people are going to watch segments like these, promoting the “top breeds” and think that they have to get them. And many are going to soon realize that those cute, cuddly, sweet puppies nip at things, and pee on the carpets, and bark at the mailman and – gasp! – grow.

And that’s why there’s a necessity for so many groups dedicated to the rescuing of purebreds. Those “great for families,” “trainable,” “easy care,” “obedient” AKC-registered puppies that become, well… dogs. Dogs that some people, for whatever reason, give up on.

So I just wish programs like the Today Show would consider these things before they put such segments on their show. Dogs don’t need to be purebred to be special. They don’t need to be one of the Most Popular Breeds to be special. They don’t need to be mixed breed to be special.

They just need to be brought into families that understand the love, responsibility and commitment necessary when it comes to caring for them.

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Cirina
Cirina
12 years ago

Thanks, Ken. Our Layla is the sweetest dog in the world, part Shepherd, part Husky (we think) – beautiful, gentle, anxious to please, patient, great stamina on a run and always smiling….couldn't have a better member of the family – Hmmmm – come to think of it, the family is mixed breed as well – I'm half Sicilian and half Belgian, my daughters are 1/4 Sicilian, 1/4 Belgian, 1/8 English, 1/8 Welsh, 1/4 American – My granddaughter brings Korean into the mix – I”ve stopped counting – nothing wrong with pure-bred (I have a Persian cat), but there's something kind of spicy about a nice minestrone!

Paula
12 years ago

It's so nice to see someone loves dogs as much as I do. I have 2 and watch my friend's most days while she works. They are all Shep mix girls. Shep/Chow, Shep/Husky and Shep/we aren't sure but she sure is cute.
My girls are 11 and 12. My friend's dog is almost 2 and i've been watching her since she was 4 months old.

I love this blog !!!

Kenn Bell
12 years ago

Thanks so much for commenting, Cirina and Paula.

Cirina: I'm a Mutt too, 3/8 Irish, 1/8 German, 2/8 Austrian, 1/8 English, 1/8 Scottish. Whew, listing it makes me exhausted!

Paula: Thanks for your kind words and welcome to The Dog Files!

Destiny Guerra
Destiny Guerra
12 years ago

Hip hip hoorah for all those statements! I am looking to get a purebred or anything close to it, French Bulldog, and am finding because of all the purebred hype it's IMPOSSIBLE to find a good, truthful breeder (especially in the NJ/NY area).

Kenn Bell
12 years ago

Hi Destiny, I have in's with a lot of shelters in the area if you wanna mix! Remember, Molly's a mix! Also, you should go to http://www.disqus.com and sign up so you can have a pic with your comments with every blog that using disqus, which is a lot. You can also keep track of your comments at disqus. It's very cool!

cheri54
cheri54
12 years ago

I am sooo happy someone took up the defense of the mixed breed dogs! I have a Jack Russell/Beagle dog named Maya. She came to me 12 years ago at the age of 1 and after having been in the hospital for ingesting rat poison. She is adorable and has slept in the bed with me every night since. With her previous owner, she was not even allowed on the furniture let alone “in” the bed. A couple of years ago, she stopped eating, became lithargic and started bleeding from her rectum. I rushed her to a Vet Hospital with 24hrs. care and doctors who specialized in every part of the body where she stayed the entire weekend and had every test imaginable. She would not eat at all. I picked her up on a Monday after gladly paying out $1300. to find out she has acid reflux…just like myself. It was one of the worse floor pacing weekends of my life. I picked her up on a Monday and racked my brain to think of a way to get her to eat.

I finally decided to give her baby food and since she wouldn't eat on her own, I took a 3″ piece of straw, sucked the food into the straw and gently blew it in to her mouth and she would swallow it. The next day I coaxed her into eating some chicken and rice by hand feeding it to her. She was back to normal within a few days and I was too. She is the sweetest, 20lb. yapper and truly my best friend!

editblog
12 years ago

Great post Ken. I wasn't wanting a dog and then 2 years ago in the cold Christmas eve-eve rain we found this little brown thing on the side of the road. Sure we (and all who meet her) try to guess what she is but I really couldn't care less. She is a mutt and there is no way possible that she could be any better of a dog being any other way.

I think that if Biden or Obama were to get a mutt from a shelter and make an issue of it then that would do wonders for a mutt being an “acceptable” dog. Mutts need support since they are so often looked upon as a lesser dog than a pure breed. I beg to differ!

Katybeth
12 years ago

I have purebred dogs. My interests are in dogs I can show in both breed and obedience. While there may be nothing cuter or even more beautiful than mix breed dogs, I want a beautiful dog that is standard to the breed and yes the breeders set the standard through AKC (primarily) .
AKC is far from perfect and breeders sometime do breed the wrong traits in and out of a breed to make them more attractive to the human eye. However, I have known many more good breeders than bad and while AKC is far from perfect they do put money and time into the rights of all responsible dog owners and spend even more money on breed specific rescue.
The most popular dog list AKC publishes each year naturally reflects the popularity of the purebred dog. This list may used for unscrupulous means however designer dogs and puppy mills are not the fault of AKC for producing the list. Perhaps it does make education more difficult, however in my experience people buying from pet stores do so more impulse than on research of any kind.
Interesting that Westminster Dog Show is heavily promoted by AKC, sponsored by Pedigree and the advertising is focused on adoption and shelters.
There is no honor in owning a purebred dog or a mix breed dog, there is only finding the “right” dog for you and your family. Spending our resources and energy promoting “right” dog ownership could go along ways towards responsible ownership which ends in that the Happy Ever After Ending we want for all our beloved pets!

Just my two barks worth!

Kenn Bell
12 years ago

Hey Editblog, my dog is my dog and that's all the really matters. They all have their little quirks and yes, maybe I'd prefer Max to not go insane when he sees a rabbit but he is a hound after all!

Kenn Bell
12 years ago

Hey Editblog, my dog is my dog and that's all the really matters. They all have their little quirks and yes, maybe I'd prefer Max to not go insane when he sees a rabbit but he is a hound after all!

Kenn Bell
12 years ago

Seesmic video reply from Kenn Bell

Kenn Bell
12 years ago

Thanks Rich and while I do enjoy watching dog shows I get that same feeling many times through out!

Katybeth
12 years ago

Everyone entering at dog show thinks their dog is the absolute best..even when the judge does not agree with them. Don't you think that about your dog? Does that make you a snob? Or did we just find common ground?

Kenn Bell
12 years ago

But my dogs ARE the absolute best!!! ; )

Katybeth
12 years ago

A good breeder–will only breed a strong line–for health and temperament. There first interest is in maintaining the standard of the breed. Have breeders failed at this over the years. Of-course, .and there is no end to the people willing to talk about the “bad breeder.” The German Sheppard’s hips, the bull dog or pug nose.
I see nothing wrong in not allowing certain characteristics for health or beauty to continue in a breeding line. A white Doberman with a several missing teeth, a white spot on a back leg could lead to a black and white dog over time or a Doberman with a bite that is not correct. A good breeder will sell these pups to caring homes where showing dogs is not important to the owners and they can live an exceptional life .AKC will certainly register them and their owners can show them in obedience or any number of AKC events if that’s their desire. Some dogs are breed more for obedience work, or agility than beauty. Or maybe the dog with the white spot, will be the top rated agilely dogs. My mother’s Dobermans are shown for every AKC title, and UK title possible and they also are shown in some cases for Breed or “Beauty.”
I love a beautiful dog–in movement, coat, temperament. The sporty I have a winning attitude Beagle that sweep Westminster last year is an example as our some of the more glorious dogs that have won in years past. Shelter dogs in need of adoption are not their because of breeders or AKC they are there because of irresponsible breeding and ownership.
So many of my campers are rescued by families picking them out from the local shelter—and I love to tell their stories. I also like to make sure that my Bouvier, Standard Poodles, Doberman, owners to sought out the perfect purebred dogs stories get told. Because as we all agree–ARE DOGS ARE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL!
I think the objection lies more with the AKC most popular dog list, I have never agreed with the list. One example would be a small dog that was in the top ten for years but also happened to be in the top ten for biting. Go figure. Labs always rank high—however they also rank high in energy and shedding—I think we need to make our own list and I will certainly include the “mutts”if you will add a few purebred dogs—starting with the most wonderful of all my Parson’s Terrier! Moving right along to the Doberman that I co-own that is just few months shy of the show ring.
And I would agree that Max and Remy are mighty fine looking mutts!!

Kenn Bell
12 years ago

But my dogs ARE the absolute best!!! ; )

Katybeth
12 years ago

A good breeder–will only breed a strong line–for health and temperament. There first interest is in maintaining the standard of the breed. Have breeders failed at this over the years. Of-course, .and there is no end to the people willing to talk about the “bad breeder.” The German Sheppard’s hips, the bull dog or pug nose.
I see nothing wrong in not allowing certain characteristics for health or beauty to continue in a breeding line. A white Doberman with a several missing teeth, a white spot on a back leg could lead to a black and white dog over time or a Doberman with a bite that is not correct. A good breeder will sell these pups to caring homes where showing dogs is not important to the owners and they can live an exceptional life .AKC will certainly register them and their owners can show them in obedience or any number of AKC events if that’s their desire. Some dogs are breed more for obedience work, or agility than beauty. Or maybe the dog with the white spot, will be the top rated agilely dogs. My mother’s Dobermans are shown for every AKC title, and UK title possible and they also are shown in some cases for Breed or “Beauty.”
I love a beautiful dog–in movement, coat, temperament. The sporty I have a winning attitude Beagle that sweep Westminster last year is an example as our some of the more glorious dogs that have won in years past. Shelter dogs in need of adoption are not their because of breeders or AKC they are there because of irresponsible breeding and ownership.
So many of my campers are rescued by families picking them out from the local shelter—and I love to tell their stories. I also like to make sure that my Bouvier, Standard Poodles, Doberman, owners to sought out the perfect purebred dogs stories get told. Because as we all agree–ARE DOGS ARE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL!
I think the objection lies more with the AKC most popular dog list, I have never agreed with the list. One example would be a small dog that was in the top ten for years but also happened to be in the top ten for biting. Go figure. Labs always rank high—however they also rank high in energy and shedding—I think we need to make our own list and I will certainly include the “mutts”if you will add a few purebred dogs—starting with the most wonderful of all my Parson’s Terrier! Moving right along to the Doberman that I co-own that is just few months shy of the show ring.
And I would agree that Max and Remy are mighty fine looking mutts!!

Bob Mantz
12 years ago

Awesome Article – well done.

Rich - Best Female Dog Names

Cool article!

I agree that there is a definite “snobbishness” that comes from the AKC.

I was watching on the TV a short while back, the Westminister Dog Show (I believe it was called) and saw that there were certain breeds being shown where for the life of me I could not tell ANY difference between one dog or the other.

Give me a “mixed” any day over those dogs…

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