Friday, January 1, 2010

What's in a name?

The year is turning over like the pages of our books, and for many this month will be a time of reflection and new beginnings. And what better time is there to make some changes in our lives? I’m not talking resolutions, because they never seem to last. What I’m referring to is incrementally changing our behaviors to increase the quality of our lives and of those around us – including our furry friends.

One thing I’m going to do this year is make sure I never say words like “Labradoodle” (a mixed breed dog born from Labrador and Poodle parents) and “Bugg” (a mixed breed dog born from Boston Terrier and Pug parents). Before you get angry with me, hear me out. It’s not that I don’t like them. In fact, it’s because I love them and don’t want to see them suffer in puppy mills like purebred Bostons and Pugs do now that I will call them what they really are: Mutts.

Names are a powerful thing, and each time we give mutts a “designer” name they become susceptible to human greed. Think about it: nobody is going to keep several different types of dogs in small cages to breed them together in an effort to make a huge profit because the profit just isn’t there. Most people willing to have a mixed breed dog know they can get a great one from a shelter, without having to spend lots of money. However, the second someone calls that mutt a “Pomapoo” or “Schnoodle,” suddenly the “breed” has value. By instead calling them what they are, wonderful mutts that make up the essence of the truly “American dog” and not giving them some cutsie name, it is possible to save the mixed-breed dogs we love from horrific suffering so sadly experienced by many purebred dogs.

Okay, I know the suggestion of not using "designer dog" names is an idealistic and uphill battle, but how dog breeds end up in puppy mills is something everyone needs to understand.

I, too, struggle not to say “Labradoodle” when everyone around me is saying it, and I know most people will nod their heads when they read this while really thinking that I've gone off the deep end. I don’t care. The fact is that no dog should ever be holed up in a 2x2 chicken wire cage and bred for eight year. If all I have to do to prevent exacerbating that suffering is look crazy by suggesting people should call mixed-breed dogs mutts, then I'm going to do it. I hope you'll step up for these dogs with me by also calling them what they are, mutts, and when given the opportunity, explaining to others the reasoning behind NOT turning them into a designer "breed."


  1. You are so right Kyla! And there is just no telling yet what genetic flaws are being bred into these dogs. The love of money is the root of all evil.

  2. By the same argument, you shouldn't call a Pug a Pug either. Why not just call a dog a dog, regardless of whether it's a purebred, crossbred or mutt. Why give them any labels at all?