Lately I have been thinking a lot about mixing breeds for our new dog sports like flyball, agility, etc. The practice of mixing breeds is frowned upon by many in the dog world. A couple of weeks ago I was talking with a gal who raises Staffy Bull Terriers. She shows them in breed and dabbles in some sports. I asked her if she ever did flyball. She looked down her nose at me and gave me a look of pure horror and exclaimed that she HATED flyball. I asked her why.
“Because it is so noisy I can’t stand it and those people don’t think anything about mixing breeds! It is DISGUSTING”
There was a time in my life when I bought into the thinking that the only dogs that should be bred have registration papers. I no longer feel that way.
There are responsible breeders who mix breeds and irresponsible breeders who mix. There are responsible breeders who only breed same breed to same breed and irresponsible breeders who only breed same breed to same breed.
Why was it OK to develop breeds for hunting, herding, swimming, protection, etc. but NOT OK to breed dogs specifically for the sports we have today? I honestly don’t get that mentality! If a breeder does appropriate testing and background health checks on sires and dams and makes sure the puppies get the best homes possible, why is that any worse than breeding papered dogs?
I know that most Poodle breeders HATE Labradoodles. I have to admit they are not my favorite, and I have to wonder how much background and health testing are done with these dogs. I am also not a Lab type person. I am not into dogs that drool and pant. I used to raise Great Danes and they are the kings of drooling and panting. I like the dry mouth Poodles and Border collies we now have.
What was the cutoff date for creating new breeds or mixing to create a great dog for any purpose? Was it 1860 or 1900 or 1920 or 1935…? Why is mixing dogs for agility or flyball or any other activity we want to share with our best friends, a horrible thing? How are the breeding dogs kept? Do they have high quality food, a great place to live, are not stuck in crates most of the day and have a person or persons to love? Does the breeder “vet” the buyers to give those pups the best chance at a wonderful life or do they take them to the local grocery store and hand them to folks?
I know a lot of “purebred” breeders who house their dogs in kennels all day and the only time the dog sees anyone is at feeding or kennel cleaning time. They thump their chests about people NOT mixing breeds but their dogs have HORRIBLE lives! Sure, there are people who mix breeds and keep their dogs in crate and/or kennels all day too. However, there are responsible breeders on both sides as well.
I know that most “purebred” breeders are now thinking I am going to straight to mixed breed hell when I die! I know many of the die hard show breeders already call me “a nut” for my views on structure and performance. Most have had little or no exposure to high level performance dogs.
I love our Poodles and I love our Border collies. I would really love to breed one of our Poodles to a Border collie. I think it would make an awesome combination! Why?
I love training both breeds, but much prefer trialing the Poodles over the BCs. I LOVE the structure on many working BCs. It is much better than Poodles of today. The original Poodle had lovely working structure but, alas, the fads and fashion of the show ring have ruined that! I won’t even get into the health issues created from all the line and inbreeding to “fix type” on show dogs! I love the sense of humor of the Poodle and the abilities (mentally and physically) of the BC. Certainly, the Poodle structure could only be helped by breeding to a well built, great working BC. But the BC needs a little lightening up in the personality department for me. They are fine the way they are for working sheep, cattle, or whatever they are asked to do! I am NOT looking to improve on the BC, just add a sense of humor to match my personality.
If I could find a Poodle with great working structure like they had originally, I would be all over that! Sadly, they no longer exist. The early Poodles had great LONG pelvises and good properly constructed fronts. They had long bodies and short backs. Their heads did not come out of the same hole on top of the back as their tail. They were much more than the high headed, high tailed, high prancing coat racks seen winning in the show ring today. Many of today’s Poodle temperaments stink along with their structure and most wouldn’t get caught dead in the water! Yes, there are exceptions so don’t write to me telling me I am all wrong because your uncle Joe had one once.
Early Poodles below. Note the long pelvis and proper tail set, not the 12 o’clock tail set so prized today! Look where those front legs fall! They are BEHIND the neck.
Top winning modern Poodle. Check out the pelvis and croup <sigh>
If a Poodle had the correct structure of the original working Poodle of a hundred and fifty years ago, they wouldn’t get a look in the show ring by today’s standard! That is just plain sad. The show ring has not improved the Poodle or any other breed for that matter. They have turned most into caricatures of their former selves. How is that an improvement? Go look at the original German Shepherd Dog or the original Bulldog or any other breed bred for a specific task. They look NOTHING like the overdone, grotesque show dogs that are so prized and precious today.
A modern top winning GSD (the photos speak for themselves):
Will I do the mix of a Poodle to a Border Collie? Probably not. I am too conditioned to think that would be a very bad thing. But is it? REALLY?
Helen Grinnell King