Are Fancy Hybrid Dogs “Mutt” or “Designer?”

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Jeans, shoes, perfumes, purses and now something else to go along with the list of items that are supposed to be better with “designer” in front of the word: dogs.

You’ve heard their names, many sound like a strange name from a foreign land, and in some cases, you’re right. "Designer dogs" can be made from just about any well-known breed, but for some of these hybrids, some say the right word is “mutt” not “designer.”

Kate Danciger loves her four-month-old puppy, Milo, and it appears the feeling is mutual.

“He’s always happy. He’s never really grumpy,” Kate smiles. Nearly every day, Milo plays with his brother, Otis, at his neighbor, Margie Cummins' house.

“He’s so happy, and they stay happy as adults and friendly yet calm,” Cummins explains.

The dogs aren’t just happy. They’re medium sized, calm once the puppy personality’s worn off a bit, they’re hypoallergenic, affectionate, and quite intelligent.

“He’s like a dream dog,” gushes Cummins.

So what is this dream dog? It’s an Australian Labradoodle - a mix of six dog breeds: a Labrador Retriever, a standard Poodle, an Irish Water Spaniel, a Curly Coat Retriever, an American Cocker Spaniel, and an English Cocker Spaniel. That does make the Australian Labradoodle different from many designer breeds, which are usually a mix of two breeds.

While all of these breeds are fifty/fifty mixes of their parents, some say buyer beware.

"When looking at designer dogs, you know buyer beware because there's no way to guarantee the size of the dog, the attributes the dog will have as an adult," Lisa Peterson from the American Kennel Club says.

It can’t be known which part of which dog you’ll get, and some owners learn that the hard way too late. Many, for example, buy a poodle mix for the promise of a hypoallergenic, shedding - free pet, but instead a Labradoodle may come with a lab’s coat which sheds.

"You're dealing with genetics and there's no way to manage those to make sure you only get he best of one dog and the best of the other," Peterson explains.

The chance to get a dog breed that isn’t predictable is why Margie Cummins says she went with an Australian Labradoodle.

“It’s real predictable that you get a hypoallergenic dog that doesn’t shed, which is so nice,” she says.

These dogs come with a price, though. Some "designer dog" breeding websites post prices ranging from four hundred dollars to seven hundred dollars to even three thousand dollars for the Australian Labradoodle.

Owners of dogs at the Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America dog show in Wentzville, Mo. aren't fans of these "hybrid" dogs.

“We didn’t like that at all when they came out with all of these “designer dogs,” says Audrey Edwards. “It’s breeding for profit, and they’re still a mixed breed!”

Audrey Edwards runs the dog show, and she says it’s meant for all dogs, but the stars of the show are purebred dogs or dogs like Timmy, a “Spitz Mix.” That’s nothing fancy, just a Heinz 57 dog.

Timmy is Lauren Bennet’s dream dog.

“You know I compared other dogs, and I just kept, I kept comparing them to him, and so he had to be the dog for me,” Bennet says. Bennett says she rescued Timmy, and she’d like to see more of that, rather than more “designer dogs."

“The issue is creating animals that don’t have homes," she says. However, there are some exceptions to her objection of designer breeds.

“The thing that started it all was a cross for a seeing eye dog. It was the Golden Retrievers and the Poodles,” Bennet explains.

For everyone the purpose is to have just the perfect dog for his or her own lifestyle whether it’s a Timmy or an Otis. Just like a good pair of jeans, with or without the fancy label, nothing can replace the one that’s just right for you.

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