Rare Breeds, Designer Dogs, and Mixed Breeds
Most certainly there are other breeds. This chapter has only skimmed the surface of the most popular breeds in the seven AKC-recognized groups. There are many dogs in the world that are not recognized by the AKC — including the now-trendy “designer dogs,” and mixed breeds, the perennial favorite of many.
Why are there so many purebred dogs that are not registered with the American Kennel Club? It's not because they're unworthy; it's simply because they don't have a large enough representation in the United States, or a well-organized breed club, or a proven breeding record.
Until they are recognized (at which time individual dogs and litters may be registered with the AKC and the breed may compete in all AKC-sanctioned events) the breeds are accepted for recording in the FSS, and if they reach a particular benchmark, are considered part of the miscellaneous class (MC). MC breeds may compete in select AKC events until they achieve full recognition. Visit www.akc.org to learn the status of a breed you might be interested in, as it can happen slowly or quickly. The FSS breeds (which include some MC breeds) are:
American English Coonhound
Catahoula Leopard Dog
Caucasian Mountain Dog
Central Asian Shepherd Dog
Coton de Tulear
Entlebucher Mountain Dog
Estrela Mountain Dog
Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen
Irish Red and White Setter
Karelian Bear Dog
Perro de Presa Canario
Peruvian Inca Orchid
Rafeiro do Alentejo
Small Munsterlander Pointer
Spanish Water Dog
Treeing Tennessee Brindle
Treeing Walker Coonhound
What about the American Pit Bull Terrier?
The popular American Pit Bull Terrier is registered by the United Kennel Club and is a very close relation of the AKC-recognized American Staf-fordshire Terrier. Unfortunately, like the Rottweiler or the Doberman in the past, the Pit Bull has gotten a bad rep as a vicious breed by people who use him as a guard dog.
This is a relatively new designation of purebred dog crosses that have caught the public's attention. They've been named after the breeds that produced them and put into the category of “designer dogs.” Here you'll find popular Poodle crosses — the Labradoodle, Goldendoodle, and Schnoodles (to name a few) — as well as Puggles (Pug/Beagle), Morkies (Maltese/Yorkshire Terrier), and Imo-Inu (American Eskimo/Shiba Inu). In fact, the American Canine Hybrid Club, based in Harvey, Arkansas, registered over 400 breed crosses at the time of this book's writing. (Go to www.achclub.com to see the full listing.)
This curious puppy is a Schnoodle — a cross between a Miniature Schnauzer and a Poodle — one of many “designer dog” breeds that have become increasingly popular.
There is a lot of information written about purebreds because they've been selectively bred to look and act in particular ways. This should simplify choosing your family dog. But it can also make it seem quite complicated! There are so many choices, so many things to think about. After investigating all the breeds, you may find that none especially fits you.
If you're worn out on the purebred route, or it simply doesn't matter that much to you how much you know about your dog's genetic makeup, you may want to adopt a mixed breed dog. (These dogs used to be called “mutts” but it is agreed that they deserve a title that's less pejorative.) While these dogs are sometimes not the most beautiful dogs you have ever seen, and you may never be sure whether their instincts are coming from retriever blood or terrier blood or perhaps a bit of everything, mixed breeds can make superlative pets.
Mixed breed puppies come in all shapes, sizes, colors, coat types, and personalities. Sometimes you'll know their parentage, sometimes you won't. This can be a risk, but for those who take them in, it is usually well worth it.
Mixed breed dogs often marry the best traits of the dogs they're descended from. It is fun to try to guess what breeds went into making your dog. In some cases you'll know, like if your Lab bred the Australian Cattle Dog next door by mistake, but in many cases you won't know at all. The British magazine Dogs Today runs a monthly contest for its readership to try to guess the parentage of a mixed breed dog. It's fun!
In the end, neither a purebred nor a mixed breed is going to be a better dog than the other. Both are dogs. The important considerations are, again, how well your lifestyle accommodates your dog's basic needs. If he's a big, hairy purebred or a big, hairy mix and you're a neat freak who lives in a fifth-floor walkup, things might not work out.
Whether you choose purebred or mixed, you have to realistically assess the amount of time and energy you have to take care of your dog the way he deserves (and needs) to be taken care of. Remember, while quality breeding is important to keep the various breeds alive, dogs, unlike humans, don't differentiate between breed and non-breed. Dogs only care that you are their primary caregiver and leader. What kind of dog will you choose?