Canine Confab

By Geraldine Cove-Print

Paper Tiger

Paper Tiger

Is today’s obsession with a pet dog that is anything as long as it is crossed with a poodle about fashion or is it a trend that will continue?
Fashion has never had anything to do with practicality or ease of use and in this way certainly the pairing of breeds in some instances would point to an aesthetic whim and little regard for health, longevity or even suitable temperament for man’s best friend.

It is curious to look back at those well-meaning efforts by Australian Wally Conron to produce a working and useful guide dog that had the potential to be useful to the allergy sufferer and realise that the Doodle train is out of control and careering into the canyon.

Any “breed” of dog is created, mostly to fulfil a particular job, overwhelmingly the job that is most popular is being a family pet. So we ask what makes a perfect pet. Temperament first surely? It appears that temperament is quite low down on the list of must haves because top of the list at the moment is …It has to look like all the other doodle types in the park.
To own a doodle now, declares that you A. Have enough money to buy one and B.That you are aware of the current fashion and subscribe to the trend. While most responsible breeders of pedigree dogs would recognise statement A. I have a feeling that statement B. would be changed to “A fool and his money are soon parted”.

Once we put aside the idea that a Doodle or actually any cross breed is on trend looking at other reasons for choosing a mixed breed becomes complicated. Health, that has to be there as an important element of owning a dog. Money spent at the Vet and emotional damage to family members would carry massive weight…surely? What would be the way to ensure health as far as possible? That would be health checks on the parents of the potential new family member. Fantastic! There is a way to check for hereditary conditions, except that these cross breed dogs rarely have health tests done before mating. There was a movement some years ago that did strive to ensure their breeding stock was tested when it came to producing Doodles but lately the cross breeds appearing in the free ad sites are anything but the result of considered, responsible breeding, it is response to demand and to hell with any finer feelings of health or longevity.

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Is there any way the responsible pedigree dog breeder can claw themselves back from the edge in the coming months? The demand for a puppy has reached almost hysteria and certainly the prices attached are shocking. “If you can’t beat them, join them” is being whispered in dogdom, publically breeders are saying their higher prices reflect the need to safe guard their puppies from being sold on at a profit and while there is a law in place to prevent young puppies being sold on it seems demand has outstripped reason and this deplorable dealing is still going on.

Who will champion the responsible breeder?
The Kennel Club is the first to carry the banner, isn’t it?
The chaos that is the new online system is unlikely to please or make those breeders feel secure because the one thing that health conscious producers of pedigree puppies had on their side was proof of health tests, expensive hoops jumped through and on the registration paper for the puppy, so carefully bred, would be those health results in all their smug glory. Sadly, the Kennel Club have now dispensed with this proof of health testing, you will no longer be able to see at a glance from a respected source that care , thought and money has been invested into bringing that puppy into the world. No more! You the breeder, can of course prove to your potential puppy buyers that you have tested your stock with a few sheets of paper but if you can do that, how long will it be before those of less repute will also be able to bring forth a ream of paperwork apparently declaring health checks galore.
It is, I feel, no coincidence that the term “cock up” comes from the paper and printing industry indicating a sheet of paper in an inappropriate position.

We love to talk of “knock on effect”, but this particular market catastrophe was already on the cards. By all means blame Covid if you will but the Kennel Club need not only to do thorough housekeeping but also remember that respect is easily lost when the monopoly they hold is challenged and found wanting. Pass the parcel of the hot potato of fault is the only game in Clarges Street but to your grass root dog people all they need to see is the humility and hear the apology and for their voices to be listened to whether it be through breed liaison of simply acknowledging concerned emails.

Pedigree dogs have lost their shop window and the isolation that so many people feel with the cancellation of shows goes deeper than missing out on a coloured card. The dog community feels the rug is slowly being pulled out from under its feet and as we look to the Kennel Club for guidance we are greeted by a stony silence. It is time for the Kennel Club to earn the money we have poured into it over the years.


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Geraldine Cove-Print
Geraldine Cove-Print has always been an "animal person". Her early career path was with horses and as an instructor and competitive three day event rider, a purchaser of bloodstock for the racing fraternity and an interest in the breeding and exhibiting of farm livestock she enjoyed learning from the voices of experience.She has been exhibiting, working and breeding dogs since 1975 and awards Challenge Certificates in two breeds.She spent 10 years as Consultant to the BBC on dog based programmes and has written for specialist journals including those focussed on the Veterinary profession for many years.

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