It’s not news that today’s puppy buyers are paying hugely inflated prices due to Covid19 and in the run up to Christmas. But how many people are getting what they think they paid for?
Well, lately C.A.R.I.A.D. has been receiving more and more emails from members of the public who are unhappy because they thought they were buying a specific cross-breed, but after DNA testing it turns out they’ve ended up with something completely different. Trading Standards must be having a field day with complaints from people paying deposits for puppies that either don’t materialise or for puppies advertised online that aren’t as described.
Take the cockerpoo for example – which it would be reasonable to assume is a cross between a poodle and a cocker spaniel. We were recently contacted by someone who thought a cockerpoo was exactly what they had paid £1,350 for.
But after a few weeks it became apparent that this ‘cockerpoo’ pup was growing into a much larger dog than expected. After a DNA test, it turned out that the pup was in fact a cross between a cocker spaniel and a Staffordshire bull terrier. There was no poo in that cockerpoo.
Then there’s the cavapoo that was a mix of a cavalier king Charles spaniel, shih tzu and bichon. There was no poo in that cavapoo either.
WHERE ARE ALL THE POODLES?
What is also striking is the lack of poodles being handed in to rescues from puppy farmers and others. It turns out that poodles don’t tend to do well in puppy farms. Not that any dog, regardless of breed, ever does well from exploitation or poor animal husbandry. But where are all the poodles that are allegedly contributing their genes to these cross breeds?
When we’ve asked about the mums of these pups that are supposedly crossed with poodles, nobody ever says they’ve seen one; only mums that look like cross breeds themselves. And as there isn’t a breed standard to compare what any dog crossed with a poodle should actually look like, the public take it on trust that there is at least some poodle in their highly priced pup.
Even for those who do manage to end up with a percentage of poodle in their pup, if the pup’s mum isn’t a poodle, what about the dad? Is there an army of poodle stud dogs being rented out that the public never see? Or could artificial insemination from poodle semen banks be the source? To date, we can’t find any evidence to support this. Yet the market is saturated with litters of supposed poodle crosses for sale, fetching pretty crazy money.
CROSS BREEDS OR VERY EXPENSIVE MIXED BREEDS?
It opens up a much wider debate on cross breeds in general. Are they actually cross breeds or just very expensive mixed breeds which historically we would have called ‘mutts’? Mutts are fabulous dogs too and should never be discounted in favour of a pedigree or cross-breed. But, let’s be honest, if someone advertised “puppy for sale of no specific breed” for £3000 would the public rush headlong into sending that eyewatering deposit? Let alone fork out thousands of pounds? I think not.
Some puppy buyers are consciously buying into a label or a trend. Some may think that they’ll get a healthier dog than a purebred pedigree. While others may believe they’re getting a dog that is less likely to shed or cause allergies. Those beliefs are a whole other conversation in itself. But the point is, just as it’s so easy to become a victim of a counterfeit Gucci or Prada, it is now more likely than ever that you will end up buying a puppy that isn’t as advertised, from someone who has deliberately set out to fool you. And that is fraud. And fraud is a criminal offence.
Let’s face it, for many people, saying your dog is a cockerpoo, cavapoo, westiepoo, bichonpoo, maltipoo, shihpoo, schnauzerpoo, or any other poo-cross is a whole lot less embarrassing than saying you don’t have a clue what your dog actually is.
Of course, the problem isn’t limited to poo-crossed pups. Today just about every breed is being crossed by any old Joe or Jane in order to sound more exotic and therefore more desirable which perhaps in the public’s mind justifies higher prices.
It doesn’t really matter what breeds are in your dog as long as your dog is happy, healthy, well socialised and above all, loved and cherished as part of your family for life. And that includes poodles in their own right – a fantastic breed that, in my opinion, is today just being thought of as a ‘mixer’ for an overpriced canine cocktail. And that is very sad.
In terms of an authentic poodle-cross breeder, for want of a better description, they should be willing and able to show you both parents. Even if they don’t own the stud dog they should be able to arrange for you to see that dog without issue.
I hope more people will demand to see evidence of the parentage of their cross bred puppy and ensure the parents of their pup were both DNA tested prior to mating to avoid any future health problems from gene mutation issues. But I fear that the majority of people will continue to blindly take online ads at face value because they’re in too much of a hurry to buy a puppy, whatever the consequences.
If this impatience and overall lack of breeder interrogation continues, some puppy buyers will just have to accept that the only poo in their overpriced poo-cross puppy could end up being what they pick up in a poop bag.