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.



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

How to Avoid Dog Behavior Problems

“We may have gotten a little carried away..”

Adding a new pet to your family is a big decision. Pets bring balance, love, and an escape of sorts from our everyday stresses. Pets also bring us together and manage to teach us an awful lot. All dogs were originally  bred for certain behaviors, (herding dogs herd, sight hounds run fast, etc) so do your research and make sure the breed of dog you are interested in has an activity level that will fit into your lifestyle. Dogs are not predisposed to behavior problems.  Most behavior problems  are due to inconsistent or lack of training from the beginning, and behavior problems are the most common reason dogs are left at pounds.

Puppies (and dogs) are not really that hard to manage if you remind yourself that you are dealing with the mind of a 2 year old and that training is a logical, progressive process that anyone can master with a little patience, humor, some high value treats and a lot of love. Spend the time when your dog is new and you will soon have a loving, well behaved member of your family.

Here are seven basic rules to help you manage the toughest puppy training challenges and ways to incorporate them into your daily activities:

Rule #1 Crate Train your dog.

Dogs are not spiteful. Dogs live in the moment. Chewing up your shoes or shredding the garbage was not done in spite because you left him home alone.  Remember that 2 year old? Well he has got one powerful nose and if the garbage is accessible and something good and smelly was left inside, he is going to want to investigate. If you leave your new dog loose in your house, there is no telling what sort of mischief he may get into. A large new place, like your home, can be a bit overwhelming and even scary for a new dog to be left unattended in.  Crate Training does not mean that your dog should / or will live the rest of his life in a crate. What it does mean, if done correctly, (lots of high value treats) is  your dog will have a place where he can be feel safe and secure until he is mature and confident enough to handle a larger space unattended. Giving your dog a place that he can call his own also can help suppress separation anxiety, and speed along house breaking.  Click  here to learn more on how to crate train your dog.

Rule #2 Practice Redirecting

So your new pup wants to play, but your schedule is keeping you busy and the pup at your feet is getting in your way.  This is  a good time to redirect your pups attention to something that will entertain him, but allow you to get your tasks done. The easiest thing to redirect to is a chew toy. I use nylabones for this purpose, as they are safe (they don’t cause guarding in my multi-dog household) clean and easy. You may need to spend a few minutes interacting with him with the bone.. maybe toss it a few times, let him know how excited you are about this bone and how good it is to chew. You could also get an interactive toy that involves putting dog cookies  or peanut butter inside and let him play with that for a while.  Nylabones do seem drab and unexciting to some dog owners compared to other chew toys that are now on the market, but, they are much safer and healthier  then processed rawhide or animal parts, and will last a lot longer. Read more about the best chews for your pup here.

Rule #3 Draw Boundaries

Lap Dog?

Puppies are cute, But when your 10 pound puppy grows into that 70 pound dog, are you still going to want him sitting on your lap? It is a whole lot easier to train a puppy  correct behaviors from the beginning then it is to try to re-train that half grown dog. Boundaries can and should be established with the beginning of training, besides, once training begins, and the “lightbulb” goes off in your little dogs head that you are communicating and he will get a cookie if he responds correctly, learning will begin in earnest.   So decide from the onset where your boundaries are. Are you going to let your dog on the furniture, or on the bed? Are you going to let him chase the cat or the children? Don’t know how to stop behavior that you don’t want.. Go back and review rule #1 and #2

Rule #4 Socialize your Pup

Everyone wants the perfect dog. One that will be friendly with visitors, yet bark at danger. A dog that will hang with the kids, and be ready to go for a jog. Your perfect dog is within your reach, but it is up to you to mold that “2 year old” into the solid citizen that he needs to become. Socializing your new pup allows him to meet other humans and dogs in new and exciting places. But the biggest benefit to taking your dog out to new places is the “bonding effect”. Your new dog is going through a lot of new experiences, hopefully by this time, he has learned that YOU are “nice”.  He knows you feed him, you let him out, give him cookies, love him and you talk nice to him.  When you are at a new place, You are his comfort, his trust and his safety. By taking him out into the world you have given him a big adventure with his new best friend. The more adventures you have together,  the more confidence he will gain in himself and the more trust he will gain in you.

Not sure where you can take him in your town? Look for farmers markets, dog friendly festivals, and outdoor supply stores. Make sure you are loaded with his favorite high value treats, and his favorite toy. And Please don’t forget to bring your common sense. Make sure your dog has a properly fitted collar (combo collars are good for new dogs) or harness, with proper ID on it, be prepared to clean up after your dog, and remember that not all dogs that you meet will be friendly, so ask the handler before you let your dog run up to any unknown dogs.

Rule #5 Be Consistent

As a perpetual 2 year old your dog is going to have a limited vocabulary, and even though dogs are champions at reading body language and tone, it is important to have  consistent verbals when training. You do not have to use the words that everyone else uses, and you can certainly make your own words for communicating  with your dog.  For example, I use “This Way” while free walking my dogs on their daily walk, it keeps them with me without feeling that they have to be beside me.

One of the absolutely easiest things you can train your dog to do in your house, yard or out on an adventure, on lead or off, and quite possibly the most important thing he will ever learn is a recall.  I carry dog treats with me 95% of the time. This allows me to call my dog and reward him whenever and wherever I can. For a new dog this may be 2 feet away and on a leash.. that is okay, if the dog looks at me and comes for a treat when I say “HERE” he gets a reward.  Always practice this in a enclosed area at the beginning, eventually get someone to hold him while you increase your distance. Practice this often, ALWAYS, ALWAYS reward (eventually this reward will be just a “good dog”)

Rule #6 Create Motivation


Your dog should be exposed to different sorts of toys. Things to Chew, Things to fetch and Things to tug, shake and share. As he grows you will learn what toys are best for him and what toys he responds to. Eventually, you will notice that he may favor a certain toy, Maybe he really loves to fetch a ball, maybe its a frisbee, perhaps he Loves a game of tug with you. This favorite toy can also work for you as a motivational aid. This favorite toy may eventually be substituted instead of treats, and can be used as a reward for training tricks, dog sports, or any thing that you may need to teach your dog for his own safety. Be observant, and notice what toys really excite your dog. Take that toy with you on outings and use it when you need to get your dogs focus back on you or just to help him relax.

Rule #7 Enjoy

New dogs and puppies do not happen very often in our lives, and this new relationship should be looked upon as the special new beginning that it is. Have fun with your dog daily. Smile and laugh at the silly things that your dog does. He will love you with all his heart and You should love him back. Get help if you need it and if you really want to explore all that a new dog has to offer, take him to classes. There you will find others exploring relationships with their dogs, new friends and new dog friends.

I hope I have offered you some clues to make your new dog comfortable and your new position as caretaker enjoyable and full of positive fun. I Love talking dog and would love to hear about a special time in your relationship with your dog.  Please leave me a comment.


I Kissed a Golden Doodle and I Liked it!

I Had a Revelation .!


I don’t know why it took me so long, but I do know it was meant to be .

I met the cutest, sweetest puppy you ever want to meet. He is a very special puppy and his owner has big plans for him.  You see his new owner is handicapped, and this little guy is going to be a service dog for her. He will help her move around the house and he will help her pick up things. I am sure this little guy will be a true asset to his new owner and he will be loved by quite an extended family of both two legged friends and four legged ones.  So what is my  new perception ? Well this little guy is a Golden Doodle, and if you have read my “adopting a puppy” post you would have seen how I blasted  the Golden Doodle along with a couple other “designer” dogs for not being breeds.  Now, this little puppy could possibly not be a better breed to accomplish his owners hopes and dreams for him, for with the Poodles intense intellect and the Golden Retrievers gentle, loving, friendly demeanor, I can not find a reason why this puppy should not fulfill his owners every wish.

What is a Breed?

For generations humans have messed around with selective breeding of all sorts of animals.  Mostly we have bred animals together that served a purpose for us, or in some way carried a genetic advantage that we could exploit.   We bred all sorts of chickens.. some for meat and some for eggs. We changed the genetics of many types of cattle and live stock, for their meat, their hair and their rate of growth, and we altered many types of horses that we used for labor, transportation and sport. We have done no less to dogs. We bred the best to the best, and we got a really fast, biddable collie to help us keep our sheep in order, and we bred a large guardian dog to live with the sheep and protect them.. The list is endless.. Every breed of dog that we have and know of, was developed through selective breeding to acquire the traits that would benefit our needs.. Who am I to say that the Golden Doodle is not the perfect service animal? Certainly, in this day and age, with what we know about how dogs can benefit our health, service dogs are a big  necessity.

So, I Apologize.

goldendoodle adult
how could you not love this face!?

The American Kennel Club recognizes breeds that conform to a “Breed standard”, which means that all the dogs in that breed should look alike, except possibly  color, and although the AKC promotes conscience breeding , they do accept new breeds every year into their ranks of Pure Bred dogs. How do these new breeds just appear? Well people with a need create dogs that fill their void, often these are special dogs, bred for a unique purpose in some remote part of the world . The point here is that even the AKC should not be dictating what breeds this 21st century world will need, some old breeds may well disappear and be replaced by breeds that better suit our needs. Point should also be noted that often times dog breeds that are bred to conform to a certain standard often lose their effectiveness for the purpose for which they were originally bred for and,  become just pretty  show pets.  So, I Apologize.  I do not mean to pass judgement against any dog used for any purpose that benefits humankind, or anyone’s decision to have what ever kind of dog they would like. Please, just remember to check out the homeless now and again. Almost every breed can be found in homeless shelters, pounds  and rescues across the US.

Lets not forget the homeless..

2015 11532
Mixed Breeds make great family pets!

I know that there are reputable breeders and,  there are those breeders that keep their dogs in horrid conditions (the puppy mills), and all sorts of breeders in between. There are just as many reasons for  them to choose to breed their dogs, and it certainly is a shame that reputable breeders suffer for the overpopulation of homeless dogs bred by those breeders who exploit their dogs to the point of abuse, just to make a buck.  So until this quandary can be sorted out, it is a problem that all of us must deal with, and it is important for us to save these lost and homeless dogs to the best of our ability. It is also important that we educate dog owners and encourage breeders to breed responsibly, encouraging  spaying and neutering, and remembering, not to punish any dog, for humans mistakes and ignorance.

Thank you Grace..!