I called a prospective puppy buyer the other day to see if she had made up her mind about getting a dog.
“Yes,” my caller said, “thanks so much for your time, but we went ahead and got a Morkie, which was a little bit more within our budget.”
A Morkie. What is a Morkie?
“What’s a Morkie?” I asked.
“Oh,” my caller said brightly. “It’s that fancy new breed they’ve made. It’s a Yorkie and a Maltese bred together.”
“Now do you realize that you’ve paid a rather fancy price for a mixed breed dog, a mutt?”
There was a small pained silence. “Oh no,” my caller said. “This is not a mutt! She’s pure bred – a Morkie, like I said.”
“But there is no such breed. A breed is developed through generations, setting traits, working through any health and temperament issues until the animals breed true. This takes years and years in dogs.
"Randomly crossing one breed to another doesn’t create a new breed, it creates a “cross”, a mix. The resulting dogs of such a cross, bred back to each other, won’t be uniform in type, but a mish-mash of the two breeds. That’s why there is no such breed as a Morkie.”
The silence was definitely chilly now.
“You’re just mad at me because I didn’t get one of your dogs.”
“No! Not at all! And I’m sure your new dog is delightful. It’s just…”
Another time, I was at my vet's office. There were only three of us in the waiting room; a lady holding a 4 pound, skinny little black mutt, cute but a bit weedy, and a lady in a flowered smock with a crate. She pulled out a small puppy that looked like a mis-marked toy poodle.
"Oh this is a shipoo! It's a new breed. I'm a groomer and I do some breeding too. Everyone wants to go designer these days. No one wants regular breeds any more."
"Oh", cried the other, "This is my Morkie! Isn't he a doll?"
First of all, I thought, how do you get an all black dog bred from a white Maltese and a blue and tan Yorkie?
The two continued to natter on about designer "breeds".
Eventually the sense of politeness I was brought up with got overruled.
"Excuse me," I said. "I hope you realize that all you really have there are mutts. A Shipoo is not a breed of dog."
I took a deep breath. I was on a roll.
"A breed is defined as 2 animals in a race that when bred together will breed true. That is, their offspring will look like their parents. That's definitely not true with these cross-bred mutts popping up.
"A breed is developed over tens of years and sometimes hundreds of years to serve a certain function -- to protect better, to hunt better or even to be a better companion. All you are getting with these designer mutts is the cross-bred offspring of 2 rather poorly bred pure-breds.
"Poorly bred because no responsible breeder in their right mind would sell you one of their carefully bred dogs to create mongrels for you. And any vet can tell you that this "Hybrid Vigor" business is a myth.
"If you breed two carelessly bred, potentially ill purebreds together you are going to get sick, unhealthy cross-breds. Ask your vet how many hip operations she has done on "Labradoodles" recently, for example."
My mother wouldn't be very proud of me, but I wasn't done.
"Besides, how do you get an all black dog "Morkie" from a white Maltese and a blue and tan Yorkie?"
Both ladies looked shocked.
Maybe that's why the vet tech came over within the next 30 seconds and put me in a room by myself.
Sorry Mom, but sometimes the truth just needs to be told.
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