Give the People What They Want!
You’ve heard about the Unwich®, right?
This is a sandwich offered as a low-carb alternative for people. It has all the ingredients of a sandwich except for the bread.
People love the Unwich®. My keto-diet sister LOVES the Unwich®. She gets all of the deliciousness of her sandwich, but without that pesky, ketone-destroying bread.
But let me ask you the same question I posed to my sister.
Why is the price the same without the bread? Why would someone pay the same price for half of the sandwich?
Clearly people do and no one is complaining.
Jimmy Johns listened to their market and now serve the people what they want; to buy two leaves of lettuce for the same price as fresh baked French bread.
Business is a constant flux of supply and demand. Where there is a demand in the marketplace, you will have businesses out there to serve them.
There is nothing inherently wrong with this except when the transaction is built upon false pretenses or when the value of the product doesn’t justify the cost.
Doodles are the Unwich® of the Dog World
With some slick marketing and backyard breeding, doodles have taken over the dog world.
They are everywhere. And they come in every permutation possible.
Labradoodles. Goldendoodles. Bernedoodles. Newfiedoodles. And the BEST one is the MINI-Saint Berdoodle. [sarcasm intended]
And you know how bad it is when you spell Bernedoodle with an “i” and Google Docs corrects you. Even Google Docs knows how significant the doodle business is.
But before 10 million doodle owners get upset, I am not here to bash the doodle.
I have nothing against the doodle as an individual dog. I love all dogs.
One of my good friends has a Goldendoodle and that little dog has been an absolute blessing to her family.
ANY dog has the power to do that, and, for her, that special dog is a doodle.
So be it.
Branding of a Mixed Breed Dog – The Designer Doodle
The real crime is the financial sham that is the doodle marketplace.
How doodles have been sold to the people is nothing more than slick marketing. Slick marketing of a mixed breed dog by slapping a brand label of “designer” on it.
And slick marketing to a population of people who’s desire for a perfect, tailor-made designer dog usurps the fact that they are really just buying a mixed breed.
Just because one of those breeds is a Poodle doesn’t make that doodle a designer dog. It makes it a mutt.
According to a Lumen Learning course on product packaging and branding,
“The goal when developing a brand is to create value. You do that by emulating the characteristics and values that your customers desire.”
At the end of the day, doodle breeders are building a brand. The Doodle Brand. They are giving the people what they want. Designer dogs.
After all, mixed-breed dogs don’t sell (they end up in rescue). Designer dogs sell for top dollar.
And that price is set, not according to the value, but what the people will pay.
My friend paid $1500. And the going rate for a tri-colored Bernedoodle … $4,000!At the end of the day, doodle breeders are building a brand. The Doodle Brand. They are giving the people what they want. Designer dogs.
Dogs That Don’t Shed Fallacy
Like the promotion of the Unwich® to the health and carb-conscious, the appeal of the doodle seems to center of the advantages of their coat.
Savvy doodle breeders have branded these mixed breed dogs with a series of advantages over their purebred parents.
They claim that doodles are dogs that don’t shed and that they are hypoallergenic for people with allergies.
While this may be true for some, it is not true for all. And even in cases where it is, that does NOT mean doodles don’t require regular grooming to maintain their coat.
The cost of professional grooming varies, however, the going rate for a Goldendoodle can be anywhere from $75 – $175 per month.
My guess is the Bernedoodle (without an “i) and the Saint Berdoodle (of the mini or standard variety) would be more costly than that given the heavy coats of the Bernese Mountain Dog and Saint Bernard.
I reached out to a friend and dog groomer of 24 years and asked her what her experience has been with the doodle and doodle owners:
“[Doodle] coats and temperaments are varied and widely unpredictable! Owners typically have unrealistic expectations for their [dog’s] haircuts and no clue as to what it takes to maintain the coat. The dogs are more often than not matted messes that the owners want to leave “cute & shaggy”. 95% of the doodle owner clients do not groom or brush their own dog. And they don’t want to schedule often [every 4-6 weeks] due to the cost of the grooming. I find most “breeders” of doodles tell the owners they don’t need haircuts until after a year. That’s when the doodles go to the groomers in a complete pelt due to the coat change and no real grooming for 12 plus months. And since the dog has had no exposure to the salon environment, they are scared and freak out about everything.”
What About the Poodle?
The marketing efforts by some doodle breeders are truly off the charts.
Professionally shot videos, spectacular websites, networks of doodle breeders all geared toward producing enough doodle puppies to supply the growing demand.
A booming business clearly.
But who is the real victim in this mixed breed doodle marketplace?
Is it the doodle puppy?
I could make an argument that it is given the dramatic rise in the number of doodle rescues. However, let’s set the doodle puppies aside for now.
The real victim of the rising popularity of the mixed breed doodle is the Poodle.
Replacing the admiration and adoration of the stunning standard Poodle are exclamations like, “Is that a Poodle or a doodle?”
The waters have been muddied by the mixed breed paws of the doodle. And the real victim is the purebred Poodle.
Doodle breeder marketing highlights the qualities of the purebred Poodle, but only when it serves them.
When you need to sell a Saint Berdoodle, you claim they are smarter than purebred Saint Bernards because Poodles are smart.
Goldendoodles are hypoallergenic and don’t shed like Golden Retrievers because Poodles don’t shed.
Newfiedoodles are non-drooling because the Poodle doesn’t drool like those sloppy jowls of the Newfoundland.
And going back to my dog groomer friend,
“Many of the owners will mention not to “Poodle them” or “Don’t make them look like a Poodle” or the most cringy, “We try to hide the Poodle part”.”
Look, folks, you can’t have it both ways.
To pillage the Poodle for its coat then repudiate the breed for their looks is utter hypocrisy and disgusting.To pillage the Poodle for its coat then repudiate the breed for their looks is utter hypocrisy and disgusting.
Hybrid Vigor or Hogwash?
One of the most interesting marketing claims by doodle breeders is that the doodle is “healthier” than their purebred parents due to, what they call, hybrid vigor.
Sadly for the doodle breeders, while the term “hybrid vigor” sounds as fancy as “designer,” it is nothing more than a marketing claim unfounded in reality.
UC Davis researchers recently analyzed the records of over 90,000 purebred and mixed breed dogs that had been patients at the university’s veterinary medical teaching hospital between 1995 and 2010. (2)
“Designer” dogs were included in the study, given the claims of “hybrid vigor” presumed to reduce or eliminate genetic disorders like hypothyroidism, epilepsy, hip dysplasia, and cancer.
“The research team found over 27,000 records that involved dogs with at least one of 24 genetic disorders, various types of cancers, heart disease, endocrine system dysfunction, orthopedic conditions, allergies, bloat, cataracts, eye lens problems, epilepsy and liver disease. According to their study results, the prevalence of 13 of the 24 genetic disorders was about the same for purebreds as mixed breeds.” (2)
Facts are stubborn things, aren’t they?
For more on this topic, read The Allure of Designer Dogs – A Mixed Breed Illusion.
F1 Doodles are Mutts in Poodle Clothing
Doodle breeders advertising their puppies as F1 or F1b is as meaningless as the assurances of coat, size, intelligence, or temperament simply based on Poodle genetics.
“Not so fast”, say the doodle breeders, “F1 and F1b DO mean something!”
They define the percentage of Poodle mixed in so that people who are looking for a dog that doesn’t shed or a hypoallergenic dog can have some level of certainty of getting what they are looking for.
These are tailor-made designer dogs after all!
And I can almost hear the doodle breeders now. “Stop calling them mixed breed! They are hybrids!”
Fine, you can call your puppies hybrids. It definitely sounds fancier and more official. More designer.
However, the only difference between a hybrid dog and a mixed breed dog is the human intent behind it (and even that I would argue is only in the eyes of the doodle breeder).
And on that note… let’s do a thought experiment to explore this idea further.
Junior, one of my Mastiffs, is still intact and my friend has a female Great Dane. Consider these two scenarios:
- During one of their puppy playdates, I have an “accidental” breeding, or
- I bring the two together and breed them intentionally. I see the going rate on Daniffs and decide I NEED a piece of that money pie too?!
According to doodle logic, one is considered a backyard bred puppy and the other is a “designer hybrid.”
One would be “Free to Good Home” and the other $3,000.
Knowing this, I’m going to take option #2.
My F1 Daniff puppies will look like Mastiffs with a harlequin coat and blue eyes. I will market them as a “designer” Mastiff with less drool and longer life (because now we have that good ol’ hybrid vigor mixed in). Who wouldn’t want that?
But since these are F1’s and not F1b’s, only some of my puppies will match this ideal. The others will be discount puppies I will sell for $2,500.
Booyah… money in the bank!
The Rising Profit of Backyard Breeding
Backyard breeders have been the subject of many posts here on Big Dog Mom.
- Buying a Puppy: The Gap Between Desire and Reason
- How to Put an End to Dog Rescue: 10 Simple Solutions that CAN Work!
- The Fallacy of Dog Rescue – Why Reputable Dog Breeders Are NOT the Problem
- What You Should Know About #AdoptDontShop Before You Use It
- Top 7 Questions To Ask A Dog Breeder Before Buying A Puppy
The common thread weaved throughout all of these articles is the fact that the puppy buying business is a two-way street.
Without demand, there would be no supply. And with growing demand, there are more than enough backyard breeders ready and willing to take your money.
Let’s take my friend with the Goldendoodle. She paid $1,500 for her doodle puppy. Leading up to the day of pick-up there were numerous red flags about this “breeder.” Excuses for everything and limited answers on basic questions about the health and temperament of the puppies. On the day she went to pick up her puppy, she said when she got there she felt like she was actually rescuing the puppy.
This wasn’t a premium purchase of a designer dog. This was an emergency rescue of a mixed breed puppy that did not deserve the filth in which she lived.
That story resonates with all of us. No puppy deserves to start its life in the grubby hands of someone totally unfit to breed dogs.
But what about those breeders who seemingly know what they are doing? Breeders who are “reputable doodle breeders?”
In my research, I noticed quite a few doodle breeders as well as the Goldendoodle Association (yes, there’s an actual association now) who talk about health testing their breeding stock.
Health testing a sire and dam before breeding purebred dogs makes absolute sense. But what sense does it make when you are combining the genes of two different breeds into one melting pot crapshoot?
The outcome of doodle breedings is all over the map. With every size, color, conformation, and temperament imaginable.
There are no standards. No ideal conformation. No standard for temperament. No real qualifications except the AKC title in the parents’ names.
If he’s a Poodle, he’s a perfect stud. A profit-generating machine.
Here’s my point.
If you are breeding mixed breed dogs, either accidentally or deliberately, you are, by definition, a backyard breeder.
Even if your mixed breeds are the hybrid designer type.
The Marketing Sham of the Century
Let’s get back to my initial question and the title of this post.
Buying a doodle is like buying two leaves of lettuce for the same price as fresh baked French bread.
There is absolutely no justification for a doodle to cost more than its purebred parents. None.
Because no matter how glossy the images or appealing the sales pitch, designer dogs don’t exist. There are purebred dogs and mixed breed dogs. That’s it.
The designer label is self-branded by doodle breeders selling mixed breed puppies for ultra-premium prices.
So, here’s my question for you.
What do you get when you cross a doodle and an Unwich®?
The marketing sham of the century!