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“Crossing any dog breed with a poodle is not a hybrid. It's a mixed breed. A hybrid is a cross of two species, as in horse with donkey (mule) or wolf with dog. The term hybrid is used to bamboozle hapless idiots into paying $1000s for a mutt.” This is an interesting post and I imagine that the discussion will become passionate and I'm going to ask up front that we keep it polite and respectful.
While I get where the message in the above meme is coming from, I cringe at the wording because I don’t think it’s necessary to attack others to make a point. That being said, let me be transparent and admit that I don’t know much about breeding dogs.
What is a Hybrid Dog?
I always thought that a hybrid was a dog crossed with another canine – so a wolf hybrid or a coyote hybrid. I do see people taking this word and applying it to designer dogs. I don’t know if this is done out of ignorance for what the word means or if “hybrid” also applies to cross-breed dogs. What I do know is that our language is often growing and expanding so I don’t get butt hurt over changes in use unless it’s done in an effort to deceive people.
It sounds as if the person who created this meme believes that deception is happening when someone calls a designer or cross-bred puppy a hybrid puppy. I mean, the term “hybrid” does sound special and cool, to me.
What is a Cross-Breed Dog?
As I understand it, a cross-breed dog is when two purebred dogs are mated. The most popular seems to be the Goldendoodles (Poodle + Golden Retriever) and the Labradoodles (Poodle + Labrador Retriever). The reason that I feel that it’s important to use the term “cross-breed” is because often people will say that they have a pure-breed Labradoodle and that’s not the case. As I understand it, it takes a long time of breeding to create a new breed, so, for the time being, a Goldendoodle and Labradoodle do not qualify as pure-breed dogs.
I have witnessed firsthand the reaction people have to the practice of crossing breeds and while I respect where they come from, I’m more interested in why someone would choose to mix two dogs together.
Please do not tell me about the origins of the Doodles and how the guy now regrets it. In my opinion, the reason for creating the Labradoodle (to help someone who needed a guide dog, but her husband was allergic to dogs) was heartwarming. However, I don’t think his actions spawned backyard breeders. Growing up, there were backyard breeders everywhere, but the story was always “Daisy got out and now we have puppies.”
Many breeds that we recognize as pure breeds today, came from crossing two breeds. Some breeding was done intentionally by humans while other breeding was done by selection (nature).
- Bernese Mountain Dogs were bred from Mastiffs; Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernese_Mountain_Dog
- Shih Tzus were developed from a cross between Lhaso Apso and the Pekingese; Source: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/shih-tzu/
What is a Mixed-Breed Dog?
A mixed-breed dog, or a mutt, is a dog that is a mix of three or more breeds because one or both of the parents are a mix of two or more breeds. Four of our five dogs are mixed-breed dogs. Two came from a hoarding situation in Oregon and two from a backyard breeder (or accidental litter) in Idaho. I don’t personally know anyone who is purposefully breeding mixed breed dogs, however, I do know that this happens and I have heard of people being deceived about the breed of the puppies in the litter. However, I mostly see mixed breed dogs in rescue/shelters and in local pet stores that sell puppies from backyard breeders.
Are Dog Lovers Hapless Idiots?
I drives me bonkers that in the pet lover community we’re so quick to call each other names. Ignorance, or lack of knowledge, is common. No one was born with all the information; instead, we learn as we grow. Someone I know purchased a cross-bred puppy because the “breeder” told him that it would be friendly, easy to train, can spend hours by itself and would have the personality of a Golden Retriever and the eyes of a Husky. I can tell you now that none of those things are true because I’m now raising that puppy. He has personality traits and the appearance of both breeds and he hates being left alone, as do most of our dogs.
The “breeder” made these claims because she wanted to sell a puppy. The person who purchased the puppy believed the claims because he didn’t know any better. He was ignorant about raising puppies and didn't know the difference between a reputable breeder and a backyard breeder. He's not a hapless idiot. He's an inexperienced (and ignorant) dog lover who was deceived.
When we attack each other, we shut down all avenues of communication. I’m passionate about dogs and raising them naturally (or as naturally as possible) and if I spent my days attacking you for not doing what I was doing, I wouldn’t have many followers after a while because no one likes to be shamed, attacked, or judged for not knowing. Instead, I share my experiences and I invite you to share yours so that we can learn from each other.
If we want to see people make better choices when looking for their next puppy or dog, we need to share with them our experiences (both positive and not so positive) with working with rescue groups and reputable breeders to give them all of the tools to make an informed decision. Just calling someone an idiot isn't the way to raise awareness or help dogs.
10 Traits of a Reputable Breeder
I tend to silently chant “Adopt, Don't Shop,” while harboring the dream of someday working with a natural rearing breeder. I have several friends who work with reputable breeders and a few friends who are reputable breeders and they have blown my mind with their knowledge of the breed and the work they put into raising healthy dogs and a healthy litter.
Reputable breeding is about protecting and honoring a breed; it is not about making money.
When I learn that someone is a breeder or planning to breed dogs, I expect them to meet the right criteria for me to categorize them as a reputable breeder.
1 – A reputable breeder conducts healths screenings on the dogs before breeding to avoid passing down a health issue.
2 – A reputable breeder has one litter at a time, not multiple litters or back-to-back litters. This is something they do for the love of the breed; not to get rich.
3 – A reputable breeder doesn't breed puppies (dogs less than 12 months of age); instead, they wait until a dog is mature before breeding.
4 – A reputable breeder will invite you to meet the parents of the puppies, invite you to see their property, and interact with the dogs. If the father isn't around, you'll be able to speak to the sire's owner, see pictures and video, and, if local, visit the sire as well.
5 – A reputable breeder raises their puppies inside which provides socialization opportunities from birth.
6 – A reputable breeder will help you choose the right puppy for you, your family, and your lifestyle. Many will give you a questionnaire that delves deeply into your wish list for a dog, your lifestyle, and more.
7 – A reputable breeder keeps their puppies until they are at least 8 weeks of age. Separating a puppy from its mother before then can result in behavioral issues (fear and aggression) down the line because the puppy is missing out on key lessons provided by the mother.
7 – A reputable breeder will take a puppy (or dog) back. They don't want to see their pups in shelters.
8 – A reputable breeder often has a waiting list. Because they're not breeding all the time and they choose the right puppy for you, you may have to wait for your dream dog to be born.
9 – A reputable breeder isn't afraid to answer your questions. I've spent hours on the phone with breeders simply to gain more information on the breed to better understand my rescue dogs. I wasn't charged for their time and they invited me to call back any time. They want well-educated pet parents and will, therefore, offer guidance to potential or new pet parents.
10 – A reputable breeder specializes in one or two breeds. This allows them to become experts and they'll be able to answer all of your questions and help you make the decision if a breed is right for you and your lifestyle.
My Final Thoughts
I love dogs and I want to see all dogs in safe, happy homes. I don't care if they come from a shelter or a breeder. I understand why people have strong opinions about dog breeders and dog breeding. Sadly, if you volunteer for a rescue group, you've seen the ugly side of irresponsible breeding. If you're a reputable breeder, you have GOT to be tired of being lumped into the same category of the aforementioned back yard breeders, which shouldn't be called breeders at all. But instead of attacking a person who wants to raise a dog, I think we should focus on sharing information to help that person make the right decision.