What Ever Happened to Mutts?

Puppy Picture

I went looking for a calendar for 2012 the other day.  I would really like to get a dog calendar this year, but when I look at the dog calendars they all feature twelve pictures of purebred dogs and puppies.  My dog is a mutt!  Where are the calendars with the mutts?  If you look at a cat calendar you will find a few pedigree cats, but mostly the pictures are just regular cats.  Why is this not the case for the dogs?

Coda, pictured above at about five months, was presented for sale as a “designer dog” which is an interesting new term referring to purposefully cross-bred dogs.  You may have heard of the yorkiepoo, the cockapoo, the goldendoodle etc.  The idea of these dogs is to get the best characteristics of both breeds.  Of course, like any other breeding, it actually ends up being a dice roll.  You may indeed get the best of each, but you may just as easily end up with the worst of each.

I was not really looking for any particular type of dog.  My husband set a height limit and I went from there.  A colleague happened to buy a really cute little dog and said he had a brother that looked just like him.  They were, theoretically, shi-tzu/ toy fox terrier crosses.  If you have seen mixed litters of puppies you know that some may look just like the father, some just like the mother, and some an interesting combination.  In this case the breeder has a big old barn with one non-registered shi-tzu male and a bunch of un-registered females of various toy breeds.  When one of the females gives birth the pups are determined to be 1/2 shi-tzu and 1/2 whatever the mother is.  Coda and his brother are not just a cross of those two breeds.  They are mutts.  There are definitely bits of at least one other breed involved in their genetic background!  I don’t mind, because I love the way he looks and his size and wouldn’t want him any other way (maybe quieter…)  The thing is, though, that nobody uses the term mutt anymore.

My sister is looking for a mutt and nobody lists their dogs on Kijiji as mutts, even if they are.  What is wrong with the term mutt?  What is wrong with a mutt?  Are we too sophisticated now to use the term or to have a dog that isn’t purebred?  Has it taken on a pejorative meaning?  People used to call them Heinz 57 dogs, which I don’t imagine the Heinz company appreciated too much.

Selective breeding, which is responsible for the purebred dogs we have today, has its down-sides.  Many purebred dogs are prone to physical problems and or temperament issues which make them difficult to live with.  This is rarely the case with the mutt.  Vets will tell you that if you take a mutt in for their check-up they will refer to them as good hardy dogs.  I am not anti-purebred, though it may sound that way.  My horse was a registered Canadian, I have had a samoyed and pomeranian dog in the past.  But, why do we get dogs in the first place?  Most people get a dog for company, a way to get themselves off the couch and out the door, that sort of thing.  Can not a mutt serve these purposes just as well as any other dog?  If you are into dog showing I would agree that the mutt is not a good choice, but for a family pet I think they are ideal.

So, here is to the lovable mutts of the world.  It is time they had their own calendars and more respect!

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