Tag Archives: dog breeds

Why “doodles” will never be an official dog breed

Last week we talked about the “Miniature Goldens” we met. Our entire obedience class met them – the two four-month-old puppies got away from their foster dad and were running loose in the facility. This week we were talking about those puppies in class and one person asked “Well, if there are enough of them, won’t they become an official dog breed?”

Which made us realize that the mechanics of the dog fancy are pretty obscure to most people – even dog people. So we thought we’d explain why “doodles” and “mini-whatevers” will never become official breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club.

A bit more about AKC. It’s the largest registry of purebred dogs in the world. It’s also an advocate for all dogs, watching dog-related legislation. Additionally, the AKC is the parent of the Canine Health Foundation, which funds research and grants to understand and improve dogs’ health.

When a dog breed is not a breed

The AKC is not an overseer of dog breeding, nor does it decide what breeds exist. The AKC is a conglomeration of breed “Parent” clubs. Every single breed recognized by the AKC has its own parent club. Those breed parent clubs decide everything for their own breeds. For a breed club to become an AKC member club, it has to decide on the breed standard, show single-breed lineage for years, have a minimum number of dogs in the U.S., have representation in more than 20 states, etc. And even then, the breed club has to be part of the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service, and then compete in the Miscellaneous Class in conformation. 

You can see that there are quite a few hoops to jump through to have a breed become part of the AKC. Even so, there are 200 AKC-recognized breeds. But we’re pretty sure there will never be any “doodle” official breed.

Why no doodles?

There won’t be any AKC recognition for any “doodle” because the people producing them aren’t doing it for the love of the breed. They’ll never get together to form a parent club or set a breed standard. They talk about the Alpha-Numeric “generations,” but there’s no standard. What kind of coat? Curly like a Poodle, or fluffy like a Golden? What do the ears look like? How long should the muzzle be? How about the tail? How tall? What is the weight range? All these are defined by a breed’s standard.

White Miniature Poodle in a puppy cut to illustrate official dog breed.
A purebred Poodle trimmed in a puppy cut.

A “standard” for a breed, written by the people who know and care about their breed, gives a guideline for the “ideal” specimen of that breed, both in looks (height, weight, build, etc.) and in personality/temperament. This standard is used by the judges in conformation dog shows. The judge’s job is to recognize the dogs that are closest to the breed standard. 

The clubs even hold seminars for judges at dog shows to show live examples of good and not-so-good dogs of their breed. 

For the love of the breed

Responsible breeders are never in it for the money. There isn’t any. In addition to the cost of keeping and showing dogs, there’s also extensive health testing, and veterinary care. Good breeders always chuckle ruefully at the dog-world joke: “Want to be a millionaire dog breeder? Start as a billionaire!”

There may be some cross-breed producers who care more about dogs than money. But so far, we’ve never found any. We’ve never heard of any who do health testing. Some may guarantee a puppy’s health for a year. Unfortunately, their solution when a problem is discovered is usually to offer another dog, not reimbursement or treatment. Which few would accept after falling in love with the puppy they have.

Official dog breeds

Most people have an idea of the kind of dog they like and what sort of dog would fit into their lives. A particular size, or type of coat, or even a color preference. With 200 recognized breeds to choose among, there’s one that will appeal to almost anyone. There’s no reason to enrich the puppy millers, scammers, and fall for their slick marketing.

There’s a step-by-step guide to finding the right dog for your family. We know – we wrote it. It covers both finding a responsible breeder or a trustworthy shelter/rescue. Share it with anyone looking for a dog. Just like every dog deserves a good and loving home, every family deserves the right dog for them.

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Making up new dog breeds

Have you ever heard of a “Mini Golden?” We met two this week at the doggy day care our obedience club rents Tuesday evenings for training. Never heard of a “Mini Golden?” Good, because there’s no such thing. “Greeders” are making up new dog breeds now.

We know it started a long time ago. When we were little girls, “Cock-a-Poos” were a thing. They’re not around much anymore. Good thing, because they tended to inherit all the worst genetics of both breeds; eye issues from Cocker Spaniels, epilepsy from Poodles

Call it like it is

Later, the “doodles” came along. Doodles were originally produced by an Australian dog breeder who was asked for a “hypo-allergenic” guide dog for a blind child, or so the story goes. You can look it up yourself – he now regrets it mightily.

And it’s taken off, big time, from there. Talking to the staff at the doggy day care, more than half of their client dogs are part Poodle, mixed with any other breed you can imagine. And, of course, all of them are called something cute, because “mixed breed,” “All-American dog,” and “mutt” aren’t good for marketing.

Marketing new dog breeds

We are firm believers that every single dog deserves a good home, family, love, and the best of care. We are offended that people whose only interest is making money are producing mixed-breed dogs, marketing them brilliantly, and duping the public.

The “Mini Goldens” we met are a prime example. They were taken in by a rescue that one of the day-care staffers volunteers with. This rescue has welcomed 500 of the 1600 dogs that were taken from a puppy mill in Ohio that got shut down. 

Six Golden Retrievers and a Scottie to illustrate new dog breeds
We recognize Golden Retrievers when we see them! This photo was taken one training night in Advanced Class. Six Goldens and a Scottie.

The puppies we met, four months old, are cute. Of course they are. All four month old puppies are cute. To someone who doesn’t know Golden Retrievers, they might look one. There are lots of actual, well-bred Goldens in our club. These puppies have curly hair, pointy muzzles, and long, skinny legs. 

Call it what it is

Their foster dad kept calling them “Mini Goldens.” We did our best to convince him that even using that phrase lends legitimacy to the greeder who produced them.

There’s a reason for dog breeds. Every American Kennel Club breed has a “Parent Club.” And those clubs not only decide what a “good” example of their breed looks like, they also work to research, cure, or eliminate health issues in their breed. All recommend health testing before breeding. The tests vary depending on the issues that are known in the breed. 

Some clubs are better at it than others. Some even have awards for healthy dogs living long lives with equally healthy progeny.

Don’t encourage them

If you don’t care about your dog’s pedigree, or showing your dog, or any of the trappings of purebred dogdom, that’s absolutely fine. But you do want a healthy dog who’s sound physically and mentally. 

Few, if any, doodle breeders do any health testing on their dogs, either before or after breeding. Their objective is to make money, as much as possible, with the least effort and expense. 

In this day and age, it’s easy to find information on anything. Before handing over your hard-earned money for any dog, do a little research. If it’s a doodle, don’t fall for the alpha-numeric word salad they spout. A seventh generation mutt is still a mutt. An adorable mutt that may win your heart and be the perfect pet. But you shouldn’t pay purebred, pedigree prices for one. 

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Is Your Dog A Smart Dog?

Do you have a smart dog? We feel your pain!

There are lots of ways to measure intelligence in dogs. There’s really no dog I.Q. test, so dogs are judged by other parameters. How quickly do they learn new tricks? Do they have a large vocabulary? How well do they obey? Are they able to solve problems?

That last one is probably where most small dog breeds excel. Most are derived from Terriers in their background. And all Terrier-type dogs were bred to work independently, ridding their community of various types of vermin.

Conventional wisdom

People generally think that Border Collies are the most intelligent breed of dog. We have a friend who’s owned Border Collies, Brussels Griffons, and now has a Russell Terrier. She’s an amazing obedience competitor, with the highest-achieving Brussels Griffon ever, and multiple Obedience championships with her Border Collies.

Picture of a black Brussels Griffon Dog named Roc who was a very smart dog.

The Border Collies came after the Griffs. We think she got the Border Collies so she wouldn’t have to work as hard to achieve the Obedience accolades. It’s not that Griffs can’t do obedience. They can. But their overwhelming motivation for doing it is because you want it. Griffs stick to their people’s side, known as “Velcro dogs.” Once upon a time, Hope went to a tracking workshop with Roc, her Brussels Griffon. He was fine at the sniffing part, finding the “hide.” Awful at “going out” ahead of Hope to follow the track. He barely needed a four-foot leash, let alone the 15-footer that was part of the workshop.

Border Collies, on the other hand, work with people. They don’t have to be near the person at all. They do what they’re told. And they like it. Over and over and over. If Border Collies could talk, they’d repeatedly ask: What can I do for you now? How about now? Now?

Different questions

After our friend had her Russell Terrier for a while, we asked about the differences in training between her Border Collies and the Russell Terrier. (She’s given up trying to do Obedience with her Griffs.) Both breeds are active, intelligent dogs. And she’s discovered that her Terrier is just as bright, quick, and eager to learn as any dog. She also found a fundamental difference. 

Her answer? The Border Collies do what they’re told, when they’re told to do it. The Terrier asks “Why should I?” And that’s it, in a nutshell. It’s not that the Russell Terrier is less intelligent than the Border Collie. It’s that most Terrier-type dogs need a reason to do what we want. Once you’ve found your dog’s motivation, they’re capable of doing anything.

Challenges of smart dogs

Having a smart dog can be exhausting. They always explore, notice changes in their environment, and ask “Why?” It’s also a lot of fun, once you convince them that there’s nothing interesting under the rug, the garbage doesn’t need to be investigated, and the hole in the lawn doesn’t need to be bigger. 

If you have a smart dog, keeping that little body out of big trouble can be a chore. They’re creative problem-solvers and probably need closer supervision than other dogs. It’s one of the reasons we love training our dogs every day. Just a few minutes of concentrated, fun training games will require a nap after. And they’re so darn cute when they’re sleeping!

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Most Nasty Little Dogs are Just Scared

Small dogs have a big reputation for being aggressive. “Nasty” little dogs is a pretty common phrase. But are small dogs actually more reactive than big dogs? Or are other factors at work that just make it seem that way?

Nature vs. nurture

A dog’s breed has a significant impact on their temperament. Most small dog breeds were developed for pest control. Designed by people to work independently, as hunters. The Yorkshire Terrier, now considered rather fancy, was developed to rid the Yorkshire fabric mills of rats. Not as elegant as they seem!

Many of the terrier breeds are expected to show their feistiness. Even these days at dog shows, judges will ask terrier people to “spar” their dogs – seeing how they react to each other. 

Many of the medium and larger breeds of dogs work closely with people. Calmly doing their jobs, whether that’s retrieving, tracking, pointing, herding, or guarding. Killing vermin didn’t really enter the picture.

So many small dogs are, by nature, readier to react to distractions in their environment. They’re always ready for the chase.

The nurture part

Of course nature is only part of the answer. How dogs are raised makes a huge difference, too. Most people with large, or powerful dogs know their dogs need to be trained to live successfully in society. Small dog people aren’t as likely to seek out manners or obedience classes. We know that, if push comes to shove, we can always pick up our dogs and leave. And, unfortunately, many puppy classes include play periods that may be unsafe for small dogs. It only takes one incident of getting bashed into or rolled over to make a small dog wary of their bigger cousins.

In addition to training, most larger dogs also have a need for more exercise than most people can typically provide in their homes. Even a tiny house is big enough for a little dog to play fetch. So we tend not to take long walks with little dogs.

Confession time

This is where we tend to fail. Even though we live in a very walkable, suburban environment, we’re not walkers. In our minds, there’s always something else that needs doing and taking the time to go nowhere seems like a waste. Of course that’s not really true. Walking has lots of benefits, for both people and dogs. 

Nasty little dogs may not be comfortable out and about.

As a result, our dogs lack the socialization they probably should have. They’re fine in training classes, dog shows, obedience and agility trials. They just can lose their cool when they see other dogs, or bicyclists in the neighborhood greenway.

It’s our fault and we know it. Real socialization of dogs means getting them comfortable in a variety of real life places, so they don’t react negatively. Dogs of any size who regularly get out and about in their neighborhoods are generally calm. Even the smallest dog will be comfortable in familiar surroundings.

Fear based

Most nasty little dogs don’t have a Napoleon complex. They don’t think they’re the kings of the world. They’re afraid, and showing how tough they are in hopes that the threat goes away. No surprise they act this way – fear causes most dog aggression. Even resource guarding behavior has its roots in fear – fear that something the dog values will be taken away.

The cure for nasty little dogs isn’t to punish them or yell at them. It’s to get them comfortable in new places, new experiences, and new encounters. Even if it’s just getting out to the local greenway to practice calmly watching the world pass by. Which we promise to do – as soon as the weather gets warmer.