All Dogs Are Designer Dogs-Finding The Perfect Fit


Just a Mutt

Dixie was a mix breed, thinking back, she likely had some border collie in her shaggy black and white body, for my sister and I, she was our constant companion and guardian.  I was no older then 6 when Dixie followed my sister across the road and pushed her out of the way of an oncoming truck, taking the blow and losing her life.

This memory is likely my earliest, and certainly one that forged my entire life to live with dogs.

Dogs, it seems, or their early relatives, decided to live with humans some time early in our evolution. Once humans accepted dogs as a companion, we quickly noticed the behaviors and talents of each individual and began to take advantage of traits that we could use to help us survive. The strongest and most powerful hunter among the pack, were taken on hunts, while the best guardians, were left at home with the family. And so began humans exploitation of breeding dogs that suits our needs.

That’s right.. Every k-9 breed known to mankind is a designer dog and was bred from mixed heritage to create the perfect  dog for the needed purpose. This list includes everything from lap dogs to police dogs, therapy dogs, herding dogs, retrievers, and trackers, every shape and every size. And to top this off, there are many breeds of dogs that are only around in this day and age due to the amazing advancements in veterinary medicine and the easy ability to preform c-sections on dogs whose conformation or build make it hard for natural whelping.  Besides the inability of natural birthing, the breeding of some excessive traits has left some breeds with issues of physical soundness and some with psychotic tendencies.

All registered breeds of dogs are judged by a breed “standard”, a written description of what the perfect specimen should look like. Inbreeding and selective breeding of pure-bred dogs is designed to accentuate certain physical features, like short legs in corgis or short square noses for Boxers.  As these dogs are bred, issues often arise, like over crocked legs that cause unsoundness and pain or short noses that cause difficulty breathing. Almost all breeds have some sort of issue, and if it is not physically evident, it can be a propensity to have heart problems or ear issues… you get the idea.  Combining dogs of different breeds can give you both the strengths and the weaknesses of each parent.

What is a reputable breeder?

Of the More then 300 standards for dog breeds world wide,, the Poodle remains one of the top dogs for pets although it was originally bred for hunting water fowl.

Sadly there are as many non-reputable breeders of dogs as there are reputable, and almost 100% of people that knowingly breed their dogs will plan to sell any excess puppies   Reputable breeders, sometimes referring to themselves as Heritage breeders, often claim that they breed their dogs to keep the lines pure, and are generally knowledgeable about their breed. Non-reputable breeders usually know little about genetics and the damage that can be caused when breeding  recessive genes (dogs often turn up deaf, blind, or worse), nor do they care about personality or other genetic issues that individuals can harbor.

For most of us, it would seem that the breed of our new best friend doesn’t really matter, but there are a handful of important things to consider before bringing that fluff ball home, and sometimes anything you can tell about what  breed(s) your pup may be can save you hard decisions later on.  Besides considering your pups  adult size and activity level, some thought should be directed toward potential problems and health issues that some pure-bred dogs are prone to.

With the modernization of the world, many of the jobs that pure-bred dogs helped us with in the past are no longer in existence, and their specialties are no longer needed.  But, as our lives evolve with gadgets and  machines, and our population increases, it is a natural progression that dog breeds will adapt and change for our needs. Lets take a look at one of these “Designer Breeds”, the Golden Doodle.

What is a Golden Doodle?

A Golden Doodle is a dog bred from a Golden Retriever and a Poodle. Both of these breeds are highly intelligent, trainable and athletic , and the resulting puppies usually have traits from both parents; happy, inquisitive and friendly personalities with a strong  desire to please their humans. Golden Doodles are quickly becoming a favorite  for therapy dogs, search and rescue and sport training like agility, with their calm steady demeanor, and non shedding coats, but, there can be a lot of inconsistencies in any new “designer” breed.

Interestingly enough, these new designer dogs often sell for much more then either of the pure-bred parents. A recent mixed breed called a “Miniature Golden Retriever” sells for $4,500.00 or more.

A Dog is a Dog is a Dog.

As long as people will pay these  prices for dogs, either from a “designer dog” breeder,  a “puppy mill” or even a “heritage breeder”, dogs will continue to be homeless and end up at pounds. Purchasing a dog for $4,500.00 does not guarantee that your little pup is going to turn into the dog of your dreams or even fit into your lifestyle.

Rescues often are no better and there are  “breed” rescues that charge 5 or 6 hundred dollars for one of their dogs, often times not even giving the adopter a trial period.  Sometimes, if these quick relationships don’t work out, the dog ends up back in the pound hoping another rescue comes along and the process can be repeated, as many rescues do not take back dogs once adopted.

So what is the best way to find yourself a new 4 legged best friend with out encouraging  over breeding, supporting exploitation or ending up with a dog that is not suited for you?

Before you go out and get that new puppy here are some…

Things to consider.

Heritage breeders
Breeding the best to the best produces puppies that are sound physically and mentally.

Now more then ever, it is possible to research, learn and inquire about any breed that we have an interest in, and quite frankly, there is no reason for one not to.  A good place to start looking at pure-bred dogs is the American Kennel Club *. You will find many reputable  breeders will have their dogs registered with the AKC, along with any litter of puppies. Reputable  breeders are usually  attentive to issues that are specific to their breed and use tests, including x-rays and blood work to check for stability issues or genetic problems.   Therefore it is important to ASK questions, specifically;

  • Does this breed (do your dogs) have any hereditary or genetic issues that I should be aware of?
  • Have your dogs been tested?
  • Can I see the results?

Of course the mother of any prospective puppy should be available to meet, and don’t forget to ask specific questions about the sire. Is he on site? Can I meet him?  or  Where does he live?  Can I talk to his owner?  Why did you choose this dog to breed yours to? Did you breed for temperament?  For color?

* There are other dog registries including the UKC (United Kennel Club)    and some breed registries like the American Border Collie Association    that are also useful to find reputable breeders


Parents of puppies from puppy mills usually live in small crowded cages their entire life.

Avoid at all cost, if you can any puppy mill operators or dealers. Many puppy mill dealers just deal with small breeds as they are easy to transport and raise in small areas. Every time a puppy is sold  from a mill, the parents of those puppies are committed to more of a future of producing puppies and are usually kept in a less then ideal situation. These parent dogs are usually not house pets, but spend their entire lives in small cages, sometimes never getting outside. Often, people who look at puppy  mill pups end up purchasing as a rescue mission. This usually ends  with lots of vet bills and is of no benefit for the poor parents of these unfortunate puppies that will continue to be bred to supply demand.



Rescues work hard. Some are breed specific, sometimes these are organized by  breed clubs that care about the pure bred dogs that they love. These rescues often help out when an owner must give up a dog that was sold to them by a  club member.  These rescues are a great resource if you want a purebred that is not necessarily a  puppy.

Puppies from a rescued mom can have many dads.

Depending on what part of the country you live in, you will find rescues in different states that are full of the same type of dogs. Here in  Virginia, we have plenty of hounds and pitt mixes.  In California, the pounds are loaded with chihuahuas,  while in Texas you get a glut of border collies and herding dogs. There are many rescues and great transporters that move dogs to areas where they are more likely to get adopted.  Unfortunately, the major problem with many rescues is the lack of a trial period, and often dogs are adopted from just a photo online.

The absolutely best way to work with a rescue is to offer to be a foster home. Once you have the paperwork done, you should have a say in  which dog you think you can foster. Hopefully this will turn into a foster failure, where you can complete the process by adopting your foster dog. If your foster dog is not a good fit for your family, you have given a dog a new beginning and hopefully you will be instrumental in helping him find that perfect home, while you continue to look for the right fit for your family.


Breeders of Designer dogs are no different then breeders of any other dogs. They see a need, and are able to exploit it. Like any breeders, you will find reputable ones, ones that will check for both genetic and soundness issues  before breeding, and often these breeders will require purchasers to complete a contract. And  then you have the  un-reputable ones, who are in it for the money, often  overpriced, and who do not care about their puppies future.

You will do yourself a great service if you walk away from ANY breeder that does not have the dogs best interest in mind. Those who have not bred the best to the best, even if they are different breeds, will continue to breed dogs that are inferior and  will likely pass on genetic and/or soundness issues. Always ask to visit before agreeing to purchase a puppy and ask the same questions you would ask of a pure bred breeder. 

Although you will find  breeders concerned  about the creation of designer dogs, designer dog breeders are doing what man has done since the beginning of our relationship with dogs, creating new breeds that suit our way of life.

There are far to many homeless dog that are put to death every day in this country.  There is no reason for any breeders to breed any dog if it is in anyway inferior. It is the breeders responsibility to breed only  the best to the best, and it is our responsibility as the owners and purchasers of dogs to support those who are accountable and responsible breeders.


whether pure-bred,    a designer breed,     or a street mutt,
should never be punished for the inaptness of the humans who were responsible for bringing them into this world.



The Best Food For Your Dogs

It Would Be Nice if it Were That Easy.

To find a site where they can tell you what you should feed your dog, based on his breed, his age or even his activity level.

Not This Food!

But the reality of it is that it is never that easy. Just like their people, dogs nutritional needs change though out their lifetimes and occasionally outside factors influence what kind of food we feed our dogs.

Lets face it, here in  America, we are seeing a shift to a more aware and healthy society.  With the creation of the “Let’s move program” and “The Partnership for a Healthier America”, food manufacturers are looking more closely at ingredients.  Everyone seems to be watching labels, and learning about nutrition is important for us to stay healthy and strong. It is just as important for us to know what is in our dogs food, and reading labels and being connected with what your dogs are eating is your responsibility as a dog owner.

We all grow as dog owners and  sometimes we learn the hard way, or by trial and error, and just like us and our 2 legged children, our dogs can occasionally react to some of the foods we feed them with allergies or sensitivities. Remember, because our 4 legged babies cannot tell us when they feel bad it is important for us to always keep a sharp eye out for changes in behavior, mood, condition and especially our dogs feces. Being in-tune with what comes out of your dog, tells you a lot about how your dogs body reacts to what is going in.

Variety is the Key to Life

I am fortunate to have a small pack of dogs.  Feeding could be complicated, but instead it is an opportunity to condition, train, regulate and observe all my dogs. As far as different protein sources go, I stick with a couple, and because of the volume of dry kibble  that I use, I am able to mix and switch easily and with out any ill effects.  I know I would not want to eat the same thing every day for my whole life, no matter how good it is for me.

Still confused? Well, recently I was contacted by They have created a completely awesome review article about the Best Dog Foods on the market and they focus specifically on quality Ingredients. With more than 2,000 different formulas of dry food to look at, their methodology is through and logical.

Besides quality of product and history of the manufacturer, some of the take away points covered include “things to watch out for”,  and those “other ingredients”. They also touch on other types of food (besides Kibble), including some great thoughts on feeding raw.

I highly recommend anyone who feeds dogs take a look at it.    here is the link:

Best Dog Food:

Thanks for visiting,  Love has 4 legs!


Walter- An Angels Story

This is Walter.

Walter 8 x 10 Acrylic

I met Walter at his home in Maryland. A magical place really, owned by an angel.

The house is huge and old, built from stone and slate, a hundred years ago it was a school house.

Outside, it is cold and windy, inside sunny, and bright, The house flows with energy and joy. A grey whirlwind of fur greets us.

Walter in himself, is a small miracle.

Transferred to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah from another shelter, where he was picked up as a stray, Walter was already missing one leg and dragging another.

Being the charmer he is, Walter made it known that he wanted no part of pity, and when his second leg was removed, He was up and about in no time. Walter made a lot of friends at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, and it wasn’t long before he was ready to be adopted.

When Melody* saw Walter online, she knew that he would come to live with her. Melody has other animals that are disadvantaged, and had recently lost her canine companion. Melody does not feel sorry or pity her pets, but she is able to offer them the opportunity to live life at its fullest, knowing that some day she will have to make the hard decisions when quality of life has all but vanished and arthritis takes control of Walters two good legs.

But for now Walter and Melody are Angels among us.

It is not for Walter or Melody that I write this,  but because of them.

I write this for my sister, who crossed the rainbow bridge just months after meeting Walter herself.

My sister suffered from alcohol abuse for a good part of her adult life. Liver failure finally took its toll and landed her in the hospital, where she realized the  grave situation that she was in. She rallied, and made a good attempt to get her life back.

Laurie found employment with a pet sitting group and soon was found by Melody, who needed someone to be with Walter on the days when she worked long hours.  Melody and Laurie hit it off and soon Laurie was living in the basement of the old school house with a handful of cats and Walter.

Walter played, and he smiled, He made Laurie smile. Walter made friends with the neighbors dog and they played for hours. Walter and his new friend would run up and down the flights of stairs, back outside and around the house, never letting his disability slow him down.

Walter showed Laurie that you can be happy even if you have suffered. He showed her how to laugh again and  he showed her that you should never give up. Walter showed her Love.

Melody never knew about Laurie’s past, They became fast friends and enjoyed movie nights and girl’s nights out with Melody’s  friends, no one  asked Laurie why she didn’t drink.

No one knows what exactly happened, but Laurie had been hospitalized enough to know that her time was limited and that she did not want to leave this place hooked up in a hospital bed. On the Saturday that I saw her, just before her death, she didn’t feel good, and we encouraged her to get checked out. Sunday she went to a urgent care center where they were unable to prescribe anything due to her health and sent her home.  Monday morning Melody left her in bed. When she returned from work. Laurie was gone.  Walter was with her.

Laurie loved being with Walter and was looking forward to adventures  with Walter and Melody. I hope others get to share the magic of Walter.  Laurie was one month short of 57.

As unintentional as it may seem, I am convinced that the chance meeting of Laurie and Melody,  because of Walter, was no accident, but an intervention by a power greater then all of us to help a damaged soul heal,  and to be at peace, knowing there is Love.

Thank You Melody for giving Walter such a great home where he can show others what it means to live. You are both Blessed, and will forever be in our families heart.


*names have been changed

Puppy Socialization: It’s About More Than Getting Along With the Other Dogs

 guest post by Kevin Brenden of Golden Meadows Retrievers


Puppy Socialization

You may think that socialization training for your new puppy is about getting along with other canines.

In fact, it’s about much more than that.

The world can be a scary place for a puppy and that can lead to some awkward situations. One of the best ways to make life easier for you and your pet is to ensure the puppy training involves exposure to all sorts of things.

In the long run, you make it possible for your pet to feel less defensive and more comfortable around other animals, people, and objects.

When’s the Right Time to Begin the Process?

There’s a definite window of opportunity when it comes to pet socialization. Your new puppy will usually be ready to begin the process around three weeks of age. This golden chance to help mold the behavior patterns of your pet will generally last until around three months of age.

Before you start taking your pup out to socialize with people and other dogs, be sure that they have all of their shots and vaccinations taken care of. Talk to your local vet to find out when your pup should start receiving its vaccinations and when the appropriate age is for your puppy to begin socializing.

Don’t think that if your puppy is already past the three-month mark that all is lost. While you may have missed the age in which the pet is the
most responsive to the
puppy training, there’s still time to help the pet get comfortable with more people, places, and things.

What Sort of Socialization Needs to Occur?

One of the more important aspects of the socialization must focus on getting along with other living things. This means people as well as other animals. Even if you don’t have more pets in the home, think about the pets that live in the neighborhood. Do you want your puppy preparing for battle every time the dog next door approaches the fence between the two properties? Wouldn’t it be better if the two got along and maybe even played by running up and down the fence line together?

Getting used to other people is also important. Untrained puppies are likely to fear people wearing hats, dressed in uniforms, or may even be somewhat leery of anyone of a certain gender. During the training period, exposure to people in different clothing and of different genders is a must. Make sure the meetings take place in an environment the pet considers safe. Instead of seeing the other person as a threat, they are more likely to find relatives, friends, and mail carriers as acceptable humans.

The third aspect of socialization has to do with getting used to things. Puppies can develop aversions to things like water hoses, vacuum cleaners, and even drinking bowls. They may also exhibit a tendency to fear the sound of a shower running, not care to go out when it’s raining, or consider stepping on frost-covered grass to be unacceptable.

The right type of training makes it possible to overcome those fears by helping those objects become familiar. Instead of attacking the vacuum cleaner when it’s in use, the puppy will tend to move out of the way and settle down for a nap in another part of the house.

When your puppy is ready, the dog park makes for a great place to meet other dog owners.  You can also look into pet meet-up groups to help build your pup’s social circle.

Remember that socialization is not just about your pet. You will likely learn a few things about canines that you never knew before. In a sense, both you and your puppy will be subjected to a measure of training. Embrace the chance to learn more about how to incorporate the new puppy into the family and life around the house will be more harmonious for everyone.