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Monday, August 14, 2006

As With So Many "Products," It's All About Marketing

And I'd call so-called designer dogs "products." They're mutts being marketed as exotics: Labradoodles, Puggles, and the like. You want a mutt? Shelters are full of them; go save a life.

Recently, CBS re-broadcast a show first run in May about designer dogs. This sent many viewers into a rage. One of them, a South Florida rescuer, wrote a rebuttal, which appears at the end of the transcript from the show, reported by Bill Geist:

A Sunday in the park with dogs can be a lovely outing for a couple, as long as the couple can agree on what type of dog to own.

What if one person likes pugs, and the other, beagles.

What's a couple to do? Call it quits? Go on Dr. Phil?, CBS Sunday Morning contributor Bill Geist asks.

One couple found their miraculous answer in a pug and a beagle rolled into one -- a puggle. Another relationship saved, thanks to modern canine breeding science.

The puggle is, currently, the most popular of the new designer dog breeds that now number in the hundreds and can cost in the thousands.

They're trendy and pricey.

Like handbags and shoes, puggle sales boomed when word got out that celebrities were buying them -- a lot of them from David Deitz at Brooklyn's Puppy Paradise. Actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Sylvester Stallone have purchased designer dogs.

Sly's puggle was bred at a remote Wisconsin kennel where proprietor Wallace Havens invented the breed.

Havens has bred about 50 different hybrid dogs, and frankly, this one didn't sound too promising.

"They were hard to sell 'cause people would ask what kind of dogs do you have and I would tell 'em I had a beagle crossed with a pug and they'd laugh and say they didn't think they wanted one of those," Havens, who also coined the name, says.

The puggle has been so successful, he's added the pocket puggle to his designer line.

And Havens thinks he's come up with the next "it" dog. Is the mini-St. Bernard the new puggle?

Mixed breed dogs used to be called mutts but give a mutt some papers, slap a hefty price on it, call it a designer dog and stand back. The designer dog rush is on: a fuzzy flurry of trendy new designer dogs with some very unsual names.

Somewhere in this swirl Puppy Paradise there's a lhasa poo, a westie poo and two puggles: all the offpring of purebred parents of different breeds.

The question these days is not how much ss that doggie in the window -- the puggle's $950 if you want to know -- but rather what is that doggie in the window?

Deitz, the store's owner, says it is almost similar to breeding together a Versace bag and a Coach handbag and has an idea for what dog owners want.

"Puppies that are smaller in size than 15 pounds, that are fuzzier and are teddy bear-like qualities with cute round teddy bear-like faces and nice, fat pudgy bodies that stay small. They eat less, poop less," Deitz says.

In other words, small hybrids that require less fuel and produce fewer toxic emissions.

"People constantly want something new. They want something the neighbor doesn't have, that you can't go to the pet store and get every day," says Gary Garner, president of the American Canine Hybrid Club.

Garner says his group lists 325 hybrids to date.

The venerable American Kennel Club turns up its nose at hybrids and the Poodle Club of America has launched a campaign against them.

Well, Wallace Havens doesn't look the part of Dr. Frankenstein, but at his kennel in rural Wisconsin he's produced about 50 different hybrid breeds.

"They gotta be cute or people don't want 'em," Havens says bluntly.

Now here's the rebuttal (the rescuer asked to remain anonymous, but I know who this person is):

Keep pushing the puppy mills, so that thousands of designer shelter dogs get put down because people think that it's cool to own a Labradoodle, Doxydoodle, Puggle and the Tea Cups. All mistakes: "My beagle broke into my pug's cage and what do we have here? Because I'm a breeder I now have a new breed. I'll call it a Puggle. I'm a 'geeneous!'"

What about the Rottieherd puppy that's going to be put down at your local shelter because some stupid as---- didn't have his Rottie neutered and it ran away to find his mate, a shepherd, and now we have 12 Rottieherds being put to sleep at your local shelter. He's not a breeder so it's not a popular item for sale. You can't even give them away.

How about the Pitdobie? Nobody wants them. The Pit Bull is one of the smartest dogs around and the Dobie is one of the finest; why are those dogs not popular enough? I think I'll call all the Pit Bulls living at our no-kill shelter Pitdoodles or Pittiepugs or Labrapitties, so maybe they will get adopted and I can start a new breed and become popular!

By the way, the famous new Puggle was going to be put to sleep at our local shelter so those so-called hot, trendy designer dogs are already ending up in high-kill shelters. It took us three months to get the Puggle adopted.

Popular? The Tea Cup Breeds - they have medical problems, not always, but they require special care due to their size. Do you like little people? Would you go out with a little person? How many little people are you friendly with? Why are you buying them for thousands of dollars and then spending thousands of dollars to get them healthy when we have many Labrapitties and Rottieherds that are healthy, dying in high-kill shelters.

We are getting a Labradoodle in on Saturday.


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