You Spent How Much? – The High Price of “Designer” Mutts

I had a client a while ago come in for a new puppy exam. It was a cute little dog, small and fluffy and friendly. The owner handed me the puppy contract he had. This guy paid $4,000 to a pet store for a Teddy Bear Malshi.

Let me say that again.  This guy paid FOUR GRAND.  To a PET STORE. For a “Teddy Bear Malshi”….

Now I have no idea what that is. Maybe it was written down wrong? “What breed is this, sir?”

“A Teddy Bear Malshi”

“Excuse me?”

Angrily, “Teddy Bear Malshi.” Like I’m some idiot for not knowing what this is.

OK. Let me just put that in our computer…mixed breed it is.

I feel like I see a lot of new pets like this these days, and I can’t be the only one. People are paying outrageous prices for these “designer dogs”. New breeders are popping up by the dozen, selling through websites or Craigslist (I’ll talk more about Craigslist in a later post.) And what started with just Labradoodles has morphed into Aussiedoodles, Bernadoodles, Malshis, Morkies, Schnoodles and whatever other combination people think they can monetize.  Don’t get me wrong. Some of these puppies are seriously cute. But mixing two breeds together and giving it a cutsie name doesn’t make it exotic and worth the prices these “breeders” are charging. There’s a sucker born every minute, and don’t these guys know it.

Let me put this into some perspective. I don’t have a problem with breeders in general. I have two dogs, both of which came from breeders. I paid $800 for my Miniature Schnauzer in 2008 and $1500 for my Soft Coated Wheaten in 2010. To me those prices were justified. Both came from breeders who also show dogs, and my dogs came from champion bloodlines. My miniature schnauzer had full veterinary exams and had his eyes checked by a boarded veterinary ophthalmologist before I got him. Wheatens are more expensive, because there are fewer breeders around. Mine came from lines that were unaffected by the protein-losing disorders we see more commonly in this breed. I am willing to pay more for a breeder that does all the appropriate health checks and is truly dedicated to producing healthy and quality dogs.

I’ve definitely seen a few labradoodles and goldendoodles that came from parents who may have had hip scoring done.  They are definitely the minority. A large number of the puppies I see have obvious problems. They might be bow-legged or have lax hips already. Lately I’ve been shocked with how many have really poor dental conformation – these dogs are needing extractions at 12 weeks old because their teeth came in the wrong place and are causing damage.

Final thoughts…these dogs are here to stay. And hopefully with time we will start seeing more and more truly quality breeders. But if you’ve absolutely got your heart set on one of these, please do your homework. Don’t get one from Craigslist or the pet store. Look really closely at the puppy and see if you notice anything wrong before you take it home. And be sure you get some sort of health guarantee. Otherwise you’re better off just heading to the shelter to adopt a dog – and you’ll save a ton of money.

I’d love to hear your stories on the designer dogs you’ve seen. Leave a comment below!