Math, Doggie-style


doodleman pinscher - I love that most of the poodle-mix-breed names are so silly sounding.

Puggle, Aussidor, Chug, Auski, Labradoodle, Shih Poo Weimardoodle, Bassador, Affenhuahua, Afador, Doodleman Pinscher… It is crazy, how popular the idea of mixing two different breeds is right now.  The number of people I meet, on a daily basis, whose dogs aren’t pure bred, but still have a more official sounding name than “Errr… lab and husky, wolfhound and beaver.” Just blows my mind.

I’m not really sure what I think of this.  Bear in mind, my own AussieDoodle, AussiePoo, Poostralian Shepherd, orange-sheep-ish mud-puppy is one of these ‘breeds’.

waving his white flag proudly

Selective breeding is why we have dogs with such distinct characteristics in the first place.  Did you know that part of the reason that beagles usually have a white tip to their tail is that, with their original hunting purpose, the tip of their tail would stick up through the high grass, showing their owners where they are?  White tipped tail + great sense of smell was specifically chosen, when breeding the dogs, and over time, voila, a beagle.

The thing is that they aren’t mixing breeds for… purpose… for the most part, anymore.  It’s more about appearance, but not appearance like beagle-tails, but appearance like, “Awww, idn’t dat the tutest widdle puppy, EVAH!”.  And it’s true, a lot of them are really that cute, but is any dog suited to being bred with any other dog?

CUTEST PUPPY... but what does the combination of pug and beagle create, exactly? The goal of 'make cute dogs' isn't a bad thing, it's just interesting to see what else it creates

The poodle (or other low allergen dog) mixes make the most sense (to me, and yes, I’m biased), since the formula goes something like this:

Very-low-allergen/shedding dog + other breed = lower-allergen/shedding dog than other breed would be

Not that it always goes like that – My guy sheds orange dust bunnies like mad.  Plus side, he doesn’t make my dog-allergic sister’s face swell up, so my main goal in wanting a low-allergen dog was achieved.  Also, why not go for a poodle or other low-allergen dog, rather than doing a mix that may or may not suit your shedding/allergen related purposes?

When you think of it, though, what else did my Australian Shepherd + Standard Poodle mixture bring together?  Apart from creating a bright-orange poof-ball?

Australian Shepherds are herding dogs.  They are easy going, good watch dogs, excellent with children, devoted, naturally protective, eager to please, intelligent.  They need a good amount of exercise, both mental and physical, or they’ll become bored.  My cousins had one, and she was the sweetest, most personality-filled dog I’ve ever met.  She was a big part of the reason why, when I found out that there was such a thing as an Aussie Doodle, I was interested.

Standard Poodles are proud, graceful, noble and good natured, highly intelligent, dislike being alone, excellent with children.  They were (and sometimes still are) used as water retrieval dogs, and the origin of the poodle hair cut was from hunters, and allowed the dogs to swim more efficiently while also protecting joints from the cold.  To be honest, before I started seriously researching dog breeds, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what, exactly, poodles were for, apart from ‘getting silly haircuts and looking froo froo.’  That, in itself (even without requiring a froo froo hair cut) kind of turned me off full poodles… they require a LOT of grooming.

It’s kind of a strange combination, when you look at the breed characteristics.  Suddenly, you’ve got this herding-dog with prey drive?  This is, in fact, something I looked into while trying to make up my mind about dog breed, and specifically, when considering poodle mixes.  It isn’t a perfect equation, but it is something to consider, when you’re considering a dog whose parents are so completely different from each other.  What does each parent potentially bring to the table?  My research about dogs, apart from allergen-factors, was mainly about trying to find a breed whose overall temperament would suit my lifestyle and my hobbies, in hopes that I’d be able to make that dog happy without killing myself with exhaustion.  I might not hunt or herd, but I can find a dog whose instincts I can find an outlet for.  Breed isn’t the final say in how your dog might be – the individual dog might not have a lot in common with the ‘breed characteristics’, but it’s a stepping stone, at any rate.  I spent a lot of time on this site.

What did I get, with all my obsessive researching and daydreaming?  Well, not a Vizsla, no matter how pretty I think they are.  At the end of the day(or the beginning or middle of it), I do NOT have the energy level necessary to keep one of them happy, even if their ears do feel like velvet.

Gwynn is friendly, devoted, good with people, nervous of kids (but I suspect he would be good with them, if I knew any young kids to socialize him around), and needs a good long walk, and preferably some running around off-leash every day to be really happy.  He loves water.  He’s quite calm when he’s inside and happiest when he’s with me.  He passed his herding instincts test with flying colours, and sometimes enjoys a bit of fetch.  He is low allergen, medium shed, and high-grooming (though lower when his hair is short).  Overall, he’s a pretty relaxed, quite intelligent dog, possibly the most ideal dog I could have gotten as my ‘first dog’.

He's one Shaggy beast, that's for sure.

What were you looking for in the hunt for your dog, whether it be pure bred, purposeful mix or mystery-mutt?  If you have a mixed breed, does it have more characteristics of one parent?

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20 Comments

  1. I was just looking for something I could love that would love me back. I win!! (And they are cute to boot.)

    • Very true, they’re adorable. So you weren’t thinking “definitely a lab”, or “medium sized dog” or anything like that when you decided on either of your dogs? I think, regardless of what your plan is, with a dog, you end up with the only one(s) you could imagine owning.

  2. Bring the Shaggy beast to Ottawa while it’s winter 😀 Then you can get some pictures for this year with him in snow 😛
    I think any future dogs for me my main goal will be friendly (with dogs, children, people, life in general), hypoallergenic for the most part, fairly large (if I have any say in it), healthy, and not lazy.
    People who happen to look for certain traits in their pets will usually find them, or else work on what they can to be happy with heir pooch while keeping their pooch happy…
    I miss Gwynn…
    oh, and the family of course 😉

    • well… friendly, if you’re starting with a puppy/young dog is entirely up to you to teach, so I’m sure it will be!
      You’ll be seeing us all soon enough, for reading week 🙂

  3. Gwynn is so cute. Before him, I’d never seen nor heard of an Aussie-Poodle mix before, at least not a deliberate mix. It sounds to me like you have found the best of both worlds in Gwynn, which is the way it should be.

    Since we don’t know what or how many breeds are in our dog – her DNA test said Pomeranian/Lab/Sheltie/Bulldog/other-breed-that-made-my-head-spin – it’s hard for me to say if she matches or not. I was looking for a medium-sized dog who liked to play and would force me to be more active. I got that and then some!

    I am not sure my opinion on “designer breeds” either. (What the heck is an Afador? An Afghan/Komondor mix??) On the one hand I think selective breeding has gotten out of control, creating a lot of unhealthy dogs so perhaps intra-breeding like this is a good thing. But on the other I worry some of these genetics just weren’t meant to be combined and even more unhealthy dogs may be born. Frankly, as long as breeders are doing it for the love of the animals and are taking the right steps to ensure their dogs are as medically sound as possible, I guess I have no specific beef.

    • the poodle mixes are definitely very popular right now. I’ve met a border-doodle (border collie + poodle = holy cow, how do you feel about your dog being smarter than you? hah), a few other aussie doodles, SO MANY golden- and labra-doodles, and a bernese mountain dog-poodle mix (bernadoodle…?). It’s definitely the big trend in dogs, at least around here.

      I’ve heard that a lot of the DNA tests are kind of different from each other – all breeds of dogs are so closely tied anyways, that they can get an idea, but still not necessarily see the whole story. Shiva, regardless of the part-X, part-Y mixture she is (though I have this disturbing image of Shiva with a long sheltie coat, now, trying to picture that at all), is definitely all awesome 🙂 I can’t even imagine having a much-higher-energy-dog than myself… I was exhausted, adapting to the with-Gwynn schedule after I brought him home, for at least a month (hell, i’m still tired!), and he’s very laid-back. I do love the idea of being forced to be more active, just because I need to keep up with my dog, though.

      Afador = afghan and labrador 🙂 I had to look it up, and it isn’t even one of the most vague and random combinations there is.
      The issue about mixing breeds that might not be compatible is the part that kind of worries me. It’s almost as bad as breeding a breed until they’re guaranteed to have breathing issues (british bulldog, pug, etc), or skin issues (sharpeis can get mould in their wrinkles if they aren’t properly dried after getting damp, and have issues cooling down. Some also have to have operations to take wrinkles out that are blocking their eyes), or whatever else. So, if any dog can be mixed with any dog, you could be amplifying issues that two particular breeds already are prone to(or could you?).
      As long as a dog is happy and healthy and able to do the things it (and its owner) enjoys, though, I guess that’s all you can really hope for.

  4. What I most dislike about the hybrid breeds is that they’re being marketed as purebreds when, really, they’re mixes. Sure, they’re mixes of purebred dogs, but purebreds are, by definition, one breed bred to the same breed, lol. Drives me bonkers.

    I was looking for a puppy who I could get into agility with. I was in the mindset that most anything can be trained, genetics can certainly play a part, but most anything can be learned, so while I love, love, love the play-drive BC’s have, I know I can somehow get Elli to exhibit the same amount of drive… once I get to working on it again.

    I kinda stumbled upon Elli… and have had a multi-year long infatuation with Dalmatians, so I absolutely had to have her, lol. My best guess is she’s APBT/Dalmatian, both known for their ridiculous amount of allergies — it’s been quite the ride, indeed. Sometimes I call her a Pitmatian just for laughs, haha.

    • I get that question a lot, actually, when I say I’ve got an Aussie Doodle – “Is that a breed?”. Nope, but they did it on purpose. At the same time, however, if you look up the history of many breeds, it explains what breeds were likely mixed to produce that breed, so, in the long run, who knows – there could be a time when Aussie Doodles come from aussie-doodle parents 🙂

      Getting a particular breed definitely doesn’t guarantee success at something – I’ve seen plenty of people with ‘retreiver’ breeds whose dogs wouldn’t go after a ball even if it was covered in peanutbutter and full of bacon. My guess would be that as long as she has enough energy, you can get her pumped up about the agility, regardless of what genetics says. And, considering all the amazing things you guys do, she’s definitely got the energy and the smarts.

      Pitmatian – love it!

      • Unfortunately there are plenty of people breeding out the “drive” from retriever breeds. One of the biggest culprits imo is Leader Dog. They are selecting for intelligence, calmness and trainability. Unfortunately a high powered driven retriever is not what they want.

        Paying attention to pedigree–parents/grandparents will get you the proper retriever that will retrieve.

        • It makes sense for them to be aiming for a dog that can focus on the task at hand, especially since it is unlikely that a blind person would really have an easy time of playing fetch-type games. I wonder if, at the same time, they’re basically creating a different version of a golden retriever/labrador. Their goal would almost be to create a sub-breed of the types of dogs that they like to use, one that has quite different drives and energy levels than the ‘subcategory of retriever breed’ that excels at being a hunting companion and actual retriever.

  5. So adorable! I have a beagle boxer mix and she is extremely stubborn!

    • I’ve heard a lot of people mention beagles are pretty stubborn, lol. My friends actually just got a puppy of that mix, cutest thing! She’s small like a beagle, but lean and leggy like a boxer.

  6. I bought a miniature schnauzer from a top breeder because I was looking for a non-shedding dog. My husband is allergic and also has asthma. Our other dog a rat terrier came with me to the marriage and when my first dog a rescue beagle mix passed away, we searched for a dog that would lessen his headaches. I am opposed to all of these new “mixes” as I worry we now currently have too many unwanted dogs as it is. The U.S. currently spends 45 million a year to euthanize its unwanted dogs. With over 150 registered breeds to choose from and millions languishing in the shelters, I think we are good with what we have.

    • That’s a good point – with the mixes offering an alternative to pure bred and rescue dogs, does that increase the likelihood of people not going the rescue route? I’d be more concerned about it being more backyard breeders, who realise they don’t actually have to have two of breed X to be able to sell them as ‘designer breeds’. However, I think that with having a mixed breed of this type becoming more popular, people are probably going to be less hesitant about getting the mystery-mutt at the shelter, because getting not-purebred dogs is popular. I spend far too much time hopping the fence in this type of thing. I couldn’t go to a rescue, because the dog would have been around other dogs that weren’t low-allergen, so we wouldn’t have been able to test my sister with it to see if it wasn’t causing her allergies. I’d have had to take the puppy home, clean it up, and potentially, and heartbreakingly, have to bring it back to the shelter if it turned out that my sister couldn’t breathe with the dog living in the house.

  7. A purebred dog is really just dogs that are bred from a closed stud book, meaning that all dogs in the pedigree are registered with the breed registry. You might be interested to know that AKC had added a lot of breeds recently and more are lining up. Before a breed is approved there are specific steps that must be followed and the dogs produced must be able to be reproduced as to type (whatever type they are selecting for). So your cross could someday become a breed (all dog breeds started as a blend of others with selection for a particular purpose/preference).

    You may also be interested to know that not all poodle mixes produce hypoallergenic dogs. In fact they have done studies which shows that it is not the case or even the rule. You are very lucky that you mix produced a dog that is not a problem for allergies. 🙂

    • I believe that the australian labradoodle is an actual breed now, because they are created by breeding australian labradoodle to australian labradoodle. They don’t have australian shepherd in them – i think the name comes from their country of origin, in this case – but they’re quite a neat smaller-than-a-lab type dog. It would be interesting to see aussie doodles become a breed of their own 🙂

      A big part of why I shied away from going the shelter route was that I needed to be able to test the dog of choice on my allergic-sister. A dog that is surrounded by other breeds of dog all the time is going to have some of their dander on him, so I would have had to take him home, bathe him, and then test him after a few days, at which point I’d have been in love, and completely crushed if he was making my sister unable to breathe properly. I know that one of my highly-allergic friends still reacts a bit to him, though less than to most other dogs, so he isn’t completely hypoallergenic (then again, no dog is), or even as low-allergen as, say, a poodle might be. I think people who are considering poodle-mixes need to be more informed about the fact that not all these dogs are low allergen, and that the puppy you want, in particular, might not be low-allergen enough for a particular individual’s needs.

  8. When I was looking for a dog, I found Sherman by accident. He is an “oops” created by a brindled boxer male and the very, very determined blue merle border collie who scaled a fence to have her way with him.

    I just wanted a border mix, preferably spotted, who didn’t look like every other dog. I guarantee Sherm is one of a kind. I have never been drawn by purebred dogs, so a fabulous mutt was exactly what I wanted.

    • You definitely got a fabulous mutt, he is gorgeous, and a sweetie, the best of both worlds. I didn’t even know there were merle border collies! I’d heard of tri-colours, but not merle. I had assumed australian shepherd type mix in him.

      • Merle borders, both reds and blues like Sherman, are common in Europe but not so much here. His mother was originally shipped from Scotland as a stock dog. Definitely no Aussie in him, although we get that question all the time.

        Border collie mixes have evolved for me into my favourite mutt, although I love any dog with personality.

        • It’s true, the personality is everything 🙂 I love the expressiveness in a dog that takes him from ‘timmy fell down the well’ to ‘make me a ham-sandwich… also, let’s go for a walk!’

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