Standing in line behind a woman in a wheelchair, I was fascinated by the service dog attached to her. Knowing how difficult it is to get through a busy day without having to answer questions from curious onlookers like me, I quietly studied the animal trying to decipher what breed he was. Pale, almost cream colored and the size of a golden retriever, his hair was wiry and at the very end of his tail was a great plume as though someone had stuck a bit of cotton candy on it. With pictures of dogs flipping through my memory bank like flash cards, I simply couldn’t pin down what breed dog this was or even what type he most resembled.
Fortunately, the salesclerk entering her purchases asked the question: “What kind of dog is he?”
The woman answered, or I think she answered: “He’s a gabor-alan-doodle.” Obviously, I didn’t catch the name correctly although it was enough to know this wasn’t a particular dog breed. He was clearly a mix – like the Labradoodles or Puggles, designer dogs that have become increasingly popular.
For dog purists, of course, this goes against the primary purpose of having a purebred dog, since the ability to predict size, temperament, skills and instincts is largely based on breed. This is valuable information. In defense of mixed breeds, however, is the fact that purebred dogs are often prone to genetic disorders like hip dysplasia, eye or breathing problems. The pejorative sounding “mongrel” actually has an advantage since mixed breeds tend to have lesser health problems. This is because their multiple heritage often breeds out many of the more common breed-specific health issues.
Yet, for people with allergies, asthma or other reactions to dog fur or dander (skin cells), certain breeds have proven providential. While no dog is 100 percent nonallergenic, if you’re allergic to dander, you may be able to tolerate a so-called “low-dander” dog. These breeds, such as the Poodle, have made it possible for many people with allergies to have a dog, since their “fur” is actually hair. Furthermore, dogs like the poodle are relatively non-shedding, and have minimal dander compared to other types of canines.
Warning Note: While allergies to pet dander are well known, less obvious but equally important is the fact that many people may be allergic to a dog’s saliva or urine. If you are allergic, then before adopting a dog, find out if your allergy is to saliva. If so, you need an adult dog that doesn’t lick people. Puppies are not advisable, since their behavior has yet to become permanent. Urine usually isn’t a problem assuming the dog eliminates outside. Finally, it is important to wash your hands after playing with or petting a dog, especially if your hands came in contact with toys that have been in the dog’s mouth.
Not so long ago, people with a mixed breed dog would simply refer to him as a “mutt.” But NOW they are designer dogs! In case you’ve missed the leap from purebred to mixed-breed dogs, here’s the most popular ones today (and their rather funny names). Certainly, with the increasing popularity of mixed-breed dogs, this list is not complete. There are now dozens, if not hundreds, more. So, I’m wondering if somewhere, out there, is a fabulous gabor-alan-doodle that should have been included here:
Poodle and Rottweiler: Poodlerot (or, Rottenpoodle?)
and remember to keep your dog out of the heat so you will have a “cool dog” whether it’s a designer dog or not.
Photo answer: This dog, with a coat that looks like flower petals, is a Bergamasco Shepherd. A purebred dog!