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Discussion Starter #1
I started thinking about this because of the jackaranian thread.

What would it take to breed mixed-breed dogs responsibly? The first obvious answer is probably health testing: doing the recommended health tests for the parent dog breeds. Other than that, I'm curious about how it would be different from breeding purebreds, because it seems so much more... open-ended.

How would you, as a breeder, ensure consistency in the puppies you produce? That is essential when you're selling puppies to people. Personally, I think people over-emphasize how much of a crapshoot it is with mixes. It's not necessarily that random, if the breeder knows the family history and temperaments really well, and if the dogs are fairly similar mentally. But there probably is more variation than with purebreds, even so. And what about breeders who are breeding together totally disparate breeds? Can that be done responsibly?

What about your purpose? What would you be breeding the puppies for? Some people might have specific goals, like breeding for agility people, or breeding sled dogs. But what about the majority, who would be breeding primarily for pets? Everyone has a different idea of what makes a good pet. How would you do this without a breed standard to guide you? How would you test your dogs?

What about goals? With purebreds, it always comes back to breeding to improve the breed. What might an ultimate goal be with breeding mixes?
 

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I agree, the first thing I'd look for is health testing. I think a buyer should research the breed they're thinking of buying in great detail. If they're buying a mix, they should research both breeds in the mix. They should decide which health tests they believe are necessary, and choose a breeder who does those. If I were to purchase a mix, I'd also look for some of the other things good breeders of purebreds offer -- a multi-year health guarantee, the requirement that any dog they sell is offered back to them first if the new owner can't keep it, a spay/neuter contract, etc. I'd also be impressed if some of their mixes participated in sports or as therapy dogs or other things like that... although I am not against the idea of breeding "just" for companionship, either (certainly not all purebreds are working dogs).

One concern I have with breeding f1 mixes:

With purebreds, most good breeders only own a few dogs, usually mostly bitches and maybe a couple males. They may breed "in house" sometimes, but often bring in outside studs to make sure they have some diversity in their lines, and also to ensure they have a good match (the dogs should complement each other; one should make up for the other's weaknesses, and it's unlikely a person will find many excellent matches in their own breeding stock). The goal is to produce pups that are better than either parent. Often a bitch is only bred a few times, until she produces a better bitch who will carry on the line. Most of the breeders I know end up retiring their bitches (and some of the studs) fairly young.

With f1 mixes, the offspring are all being sold as pets. The breeders can't keep offspring to replace the purebred parent dogs, because breeding f1 mixes together gets you unpredictable results (for example, if you breed two f1 goldendoodles together, you do not necessarily get pups that look like goldendoodles).* How do breeders of mixes get around this problem if they don't want to breed the same few females over and over for years? Is it hard for them to find stud dogs? (I know that many breeders of purebreds really frown on breeding mixes, even for sports and the like, and would not be quick to offer one of their studs for this purpose.) I can't say I know any responsible breeders of mixes personally, so I have no idea how they solve this issue... or what their goals are, in general. Interesting question, begemot.

(*I know that some goldendoodle breeders ARE using f1s in their breeding program, crossing back to pure poodles and goldens to get the desired looks, but I don't think this is common with other so-called "designer" dogs.)
 

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How would you, as a breeder, ensure consistency in the puppies you produce? That is essential when you're selling puppies to people. Personally, I think people over-emphasize how much of a crapshoot it is with mixes. It's not necessarily that random, if the breeder knows the family history and temperaments really well, and if the dogs are fairly similar mentally. But there probably is more variation than with purebreds, even so. And what about breeders who are breeding together totally disparate breeds? Can that be done responsibly?
You ensure consistency by establishing a standard - an idea of what you want the dogs that you produce to be like in temperament and structure. You then only breed dogs that meet that standard - and then only keep dogs that you've produced in the breeding program that fit the standard.

How would one gauge what the "family history" of a dog is? If you wanted a dog where you know of every dog back through it's pedigree you'd go to a responsible and ethical breeder who could tell you about each dog that your pup came from - one who won't sell you a dog willingly knowing that you're going to breed it to create mixes. If you go to someone else - you have to decide what then dictates knowing the "family history" - is it producing 3 litters? 10 litters? 50 litters? Having bred for 1 year or 10 years?

What about your purpose? What would you be breeding the puppies for? Some people might have specific goals, like breeding for agility people, or breeding sled dogs. But what about the majority, who would be breeding primarily for pets? Everyone has a different idea of what makes a good pet. How would you do this without a breed standard to guide you? How would you test your dogs?

What about goals? With purebreds, it always comes back to breeding to improve the breed. What might an ultimate goal be with breeding mixes?
There are lots of venues with which to test a dog - Conformation, agility, obedience, Schutzhund, herding, police work, nose work, SAR, pulling a sled, pack dog, therapy etc. Depends on the purpose with which you choose to breed your dog for.

What, then, is the point to breeding mixes for simply just pets? I mean, I have no problem with it if it's done ethically - but many "breeders" that breed mixes are charging my arm, leg and two plus months mortgage on my house for these dogs - can you then say they're breeding "just pets"? I could get a show dog for half the price that these people are charging - and I can go to a shelter and get an EXCELLENT mix breed dog as "just a pet" and do many things with him/her for a fraction of what these "breeders" would charge.

If you're breeding for the love of the "breed" (dogs?) and you have a purpose (including just being great pets) then you'll always aim to better the "breed". An ultimate goal would be whatever purpose that you're setting out to breed the dog for - why else would you do it? For lots of "designer" breeders - that's money. For other breeders - it's great pets. Yet still for others it's herding and protection etc.

(This is all just kind of in theory and very simply stated as I'm not a breeder and don't know all that goes into it )
 

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Discussion Starter #4
With f1 mixes, the offspring are all being sold as pets. The breeders can't keep offspring to replace the parent dogs, because breeding f1 mixes gets you unpredictable results (for example, if you breed two f1 goldendoodles together, you do not get pups that look like goldendoodles).* How do breeders of mixes get around this problem if they don't want to breed the same few females over and over for years? Is it hard for them to find stud dogs? (I know that many breeders of purebreds really frown on breeding mixes, even for sports and the like, and would not be quick to offer one of their studs for this purpose.) I can't say I know any responsible breeders of mixes personally, so I have no idea how they solve this issue... or what their goals are, in general. Interesting question, begemot.
That's a good point about F1 mixes. If a breeder was committed to only breeding F1's, they would have to buy or breed new purebred dogs to replace their breeding dogs. There would be no furthering of their goals, just starting over again with each generation. I'm not sure what the point of that would be...

The point that studs would be hard to find is a really good one. As long as the mixing taboo remains, it seems like this would be a big challenge for breeders.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
What, then, is the point to breeding mixes for simply just pets? I mean, I have no problem with it if it's done ethically - but many "breeders" that breed mixes are charging my arm, leg and two plus months mortgage on my house for these dogs - can you then say they're breeding "just pets"? I could get a show dog for half the price that these people are charging - and I can go to a shelter and get an EXCELLENT mix breed dog as "just a pet" and do many things with him/her for a fraction of what these "breeders" would charge.
I think we have to separate out what is the current norm from what is theoretically possible. Yes, most mixed-breed breeders are for-profit puppy mills and BYB's right now -- that doesn't mean that breeding mixes can only be done irresponsibly. Regarding prices -- that's because people will pay what they charge, and they equate spending more with getting better quality. People are stupid, and pet stores take advantage of that.

But about the last thing you said, I don't think someone responsibly breeding mixes just for pets would produce basically the same thing as shelter mixes. There are awesome dogs in shelters, but they run the gamut. Many need really specific homes to thrive. If someone were breeding mixed breed dogs just for pets, they would have specific temperament goals.
 

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I think we have to separate out what is the current norm from what is theoretically possible. Yes, most mixed-breed breeders are for-profit puppy mills and BYB's right now -- that doesn't mean that breeding mixes can only be done irresponsibly. Regarding prices -- that's because people will pay what they charge, and they equate spending more with getting better quality. People are stupid, and pet stores take advantage of that.

But about the last thing you said, I don't think someone responsibly breeding mixes just for pets would produce basically the same thing as shelter mixes. There are awesome dogs in shelters, but they run the gamut. Many need really specific homes to thrive. If someone were breeding mixed breed dogs just for pets, they would have specific temperament goals.
I want to clarify - I don't mean that it can only be done irresponsibly. There are ways that would be considered responsible and ethical - however to do that that falls on education. It is in fact very true that many people who find out they can make money from breeding dogs can be blinded by greed - even those with the best intentions at the start. It happens to purebred breeders as well.

From what I've heard/read/seen - there are more dogs that -don't- require specific homes to thrive than there are dogs that do. There are many dogs that a shelter would require has previous experience with at least one breed that they can tell is in the mix - but even an ethical breeder of mixed breeds would require previous experience with at least one of the breeds if they were breeding dogs that were more difficult to handle otherwise - just like any purebred dog that goes into the wrong home ends up in a shelter or rescue.

Yes, an ethical breeder would have a very specific temperament set but all of this comes down to education - and also to money. An ethical breeder wouldn't charge an arm and a leg for the pet puppies they produce while trying to make dogs to fit their ideal- so people would look at them as something being wrong with them and won't buy them. A breeding program can't continue if you're having to keep most/all of the dogs you're producing unless you have a lot of money and time and that could quickly kill any breeding program.
 

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I would say breeding dogs of a similar type, form & function not just because hey would make a cute mix would also be somehing I would look for, but being as overcrowded as the shelters Are, I would stick to adopting for all my mixes.
 

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I will be considering breeding my mixed breed pup when she is mature. She is 9 months now. She is dutch shepherd x malinois. Solid nerves, very stable, great conformation, doing excellent in tracking, scent work, awesome drives, full mouth bite, her grip can stand improvement, but still good.

Once she shows her full potential, hips check, temperament is excellent, and nerves stay solid, I will then decide.

These two breeds are very close. The purpose is to have great working dogs. All purpose, or specific.
 

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great conformation
Wait a minute, conformation is based on breed specifications. So what are you basing her conformation on?

In thus lies a problem with breeding mixed breeds, there is no standard to say "this is good conformation and that is bad" its all just up to the individual.
 

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In thus lies a problem with breeding mixed breeds, there is no standard to say "this is good conformation and that is bad" its all just up to the individual.
Well in order to make a standard you would already have an idea as to what you would ideally want the dogs to look like. Then you have to consistently produce dogs that, in your mind/eye, meets the standard that you're setting the breed up to meet. Then you would only keep the dogs that meet this standard, and breed to dogs that have strong attributes to compliment your dogs faults - to better the breed.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Wait a minute, conformation is based on breed specifications. So what are you basing her conformation on?

In thus lies a problem with breeding mixed breeds, there is no standard to say "this is good conformation and that is bad" its all just up to the individual.
There are physical standards that are universally desirable, which shouldn't be deviated from for basic health reasons.

And I think there are also conformation characteristics that are necessary for certain jobs, which is why breeds that traditionally performed those same jobs tend to look alike. (Or looked alike originally, when they were still bred to perform those jobs.)
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Well in order to make a standard you would already have an idea as to what you would ideally want the dogs to look like. Then you have to consistently produce dogs that, in your mind/eye, meets the standard that you're setting the breed up to meet. Then you would only keep the dogs that meet this standard, and breed to dogs that have strong attributes to compliment your dogs faults - to better the breed.
That assumes that appearance would be one of the driving motivators for a breeder, rather than temperament or performance alone. It sounds like you are describing the process of someone trying to make a new breed, rather than avoiding the concept altogether.

Alaskan huskies might be a case study (maybe a reason for SOB's thread?). They are bred for function, so consistency of appearance just isn't important. (Right?) Why shouldn't a breeder of agility dogs, therapy dogs, service dogs, SAR dogs, or pet dogs (etc.) take the same attitude? Why care about making a physical standard that you have to adhere to, if temperament or performance are what actually matter to you?
 

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Wait a minute, conformation is based on breed specifications. So what are you basing her conformation on?

In thus lies a problem with breeding mixed breeds, there is no standard to say "this is good conformation and that is bad" its all just up to the individual.
Conformation based on her ability to do the job. Look up malinois and dutchie conformation.
Structure, not concerned much with ear size, color, length of tail etc. The chest depth, straightness of legs, non sloping hind ends, set of front legs, built to be super agile, athletic, sound, with ability.
 

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The standard isn't for appearance at all and temperament and performance are huge roles in a standard. The standard is there as a guide to what the structure of a "performance" dog should look like and the temperament to match. Then obviously the only way to test if you're breeding true to the standard and whether your dogs can perform the function for which they're bred is to work them in their respective field (then if your dog can't do what it was bred to do something is amiss in your program and you'd have to start over). You get variations in breeds because everyone interprets a standard differently.

Alaskan Huskies are quite varied in appearance but all maintain basically the same structure which provides the power needed to pull to pull the sleds with a great amount of speed. Temperament and performance are also included in a standard of any kind. It all depends on how tight or loosely you decide to hold your dogs to that standard.
 

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when i bred my border collies I never bred for conformation I bred for brains and working ability and had great dogs . Mine were AKC, UKC and ABCA registered
 

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I'm not a breeder but when it comes to a breeder breeding mixed breeds and it being ok in my book there are a few things I"d need to see.

1) Complete health testing on the sire and dam that is appropriate for whatever their breed is.
2) They need to be stellar representatives of their breed. I want them titled. They can be conformation titled, working titled, temperament tested, or all of them.
I think that any dog being breed should be titled (if there is one available) for whatever the breeder is representing their dogs as).
3) If your breeding mix dogs I think you should be doing so with a purpose and a goal in mind that isn't "money money money!"

I don't like the idea of breeding mixed breed dogs just for looks because how do you judge the structure of a mix.
Yes, many breeds today started as a mix - the doberman is a great example - they created the look they wanted and then perfected it but that takes a lot of time and effort that most mixed breeders don't seem to care about.

If you're breeding for some sort of work be it sport, herding, whatever then at least you can judge the offspring based off of their performance and ability in those specific situations and venues and to perfect the new "breed" you continue the lines with the dogs who have shown to perform best in whatever it is that they're created to do.
...I hope that makes sense.
 

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Conformation based on her ability to do the job. Look up malinois and dutchie conformation.
Structure, not concerned much with ear size, color, length of tail etc. The chest depth, straightness of legs, non sloping hind ends, set of front legs, built to be super agile, athletic, sound, with ability.
I don't know a structurally sound working dog alive who DOESN'T have a sloping rear, in fact angulation of the croup is VERY important.
 

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when i bred my border collies I never bred for conformation I bred for brains and working ability and had great dogs . Mine were AKC, UKC and ABCA registered
In order to have great working ability you HAVE to have good conformation so you may not think you are breeding for a structurally correct dog but by selecting for dogs who have been able to work hard on the job without breaking down into their older years you are inadvertently selecting for that conformation.
 
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