I read an article recently about an Australian man who had, in his words, ‘invented the Labradoodle’.
It was an interesting piece – he had worked with dogs all his life, but since his ‘invention’ in the early 1980s, he was becoming increasingly terrified of the trend that he had created.
While the Labradoodle and the cockerpoo are becoming recognised breeds in their own right, there are many, such as the Chihuahuapoo, boogle (boxer and beagle) and a particular favourite, the spanielador (I imagine a short-haired black spaniel wearing a Spanish matadors outfit), that are the unfortunate results of some fairly dodgy cross-breeding.
Sadly, it appears to be a particular trendy thing to do, and owners are not particularly happy if we try to register their dog as a cross.
Over the years, since the beginning of farming, animals have been domesticated and selective breeding has been carried out to provide the largest, fittest and best temperament, and as such we have the domesticated animals we know today.
Cattle have been crossed to improve muscle coverage and milk yield, the Belgian Blue and the Jersey being two breeds that spring to mind.
Dogs have been the product of selective breeding – it is no surprise that a collie is a product of generations of breeding for athleticism, intelligence and herding instincts to produce dogs that are ‘hard-wired’ for rounding up sheep in the rain on a lonely fell side.
Sheep – well, as much as I would like to say that they have been bred for athleticism and intelligence, any of us that work with them know this isn’t always true. I think an improvement in wool quality and hardiness have certainly been selected.
Horses have been selected as athletes for work and pleasure, as in the case of Shires pulling ploughs and trees, and the Shetland pony, I think, has been bred to try to put every small child off ponies with a well-placed buck or trodden foot. I think it still has varying degrees of success.
Director and Senior Vet