By Nancy Carlson • Columnist • 

Designer breeds are all the rage

My vet has embraced the digital age. I know this because my dogs now get e-mailed birthday greetings, which is kind of cute, and I get notified via e-mail when their annual shots and well pet check-ups are due. I also get monthly Pet Health Newsletters, which I have to admit I seldom take the time to read.

But, I did read the June newsletter and, in addition to having tips on avoiding summer hazards for cats and keeping Fluffy the dog safe if you and she go boating, there was some fun (to me) information about the changing list of the most popular kinds of dogs that I thought I’d share with you. I clicked on the Learn More icon from the vet’s newsletter and landed on a site called Vet Street, which had an article called “The Hottest Dog Breeds and Mixes” by Kristen Seymour.

The American Kennel Club annually publishes a popularity list of breeds of dogs based on numbers of purebred dogs registered that year with this esteemed organization. But since the AKC only registers purebred dogs, this list does not reflect the growing popularity of the so-called designer breeds (aka fancy mutts) such as Labradoodles and cockapoos, The Vet Street article, however, does.

To my great surprise, the dog gaining popularity most rapidly in the good ol’ U.S. of A. is the Goldendoodle. Again, this is not the most popular dog. That honor still goes to the ubiquitous Labrador retriever. But the Goldendoodle is definitely gaining on the Lab. You probably know that the goldendoodle is a cross between a golden retriever and a poodle. Theoretically this cross, as with almost any designer breed, is supposed to produce puppies that are better in some aspects than their purebred parents are, often in the areas of health or being hypoallergenic, but there is no actual scientific evidence that supports this. This is important to keep in mind as these mixed breed dogs cost as much or more than purebreds and you might not be getting what you think you are paying for.

But I digress. There is risk in buying or adopting any dog in that he/she may have unknown health or behavioral issues. Goldendoodles —at least the ones I’ve met — really are personable and extremely cute. So if they are gaining popularity faster than Labradors, more paws to them. The breed description says that Goldendoodles come in three sizes: miniature, medium and standard. But again, since it’s a bit hard to predict which traits of which parents or grandparents are going to show up, there is a chance that the miniature Goldendoodle you purchased could end up weighing a hundred pounds.

Next pooch gaining in popularity is the Puggle — a cross between a pug and a beagle. Now my first thought when I learned of the Puggle was, “Why would anyone want one?” Beagles are infamous for their barking. Pugs are likewise infamous for their tendency towards flatulence. So you would get a dog that barks and farts.

But there’s no accounting for taste, and a lot of people are paying a lot of money for Puggles.

Number three dog in gains in popularity is the Labradoodle (lab and poodle). After that is the Cane Corso, which rose from No. 143 on the list in 2002 to No. 73 in 2012. This is a bit troubling to me. Cane Corsos are huge dogs not known for their fondness of strangers, and even the article says “...this breed is not an appropriate choice for the inexperienced dog owner.” Let us hope both breeders and buyers of this breed know what they are doing.

Fifth in rising popularity are Maltipoos (Maltese and poodle), followed by French bulldogs (I would get one of these cuties in a heartbeat were it not for the fact that I already have five dogs and Frenchies, too, are known for their flatulence).

Yorkipoos (Yorkshire terrier and poodle) are seventh, followed by Shihpoo (Shih Tzu and poodle), Ninth is the Dogue de Bordeaux , one of which starred in the movie Hooch along with Tom Hanks. Tenth is a breed with which I am intimately familiar. Higgly Piggly is a Havanese, a breed that has gone from No. 84 to No. 43 in popularity in the past 10 years. Number 11 is the Coton de Tulear. No idea how to pronounce that, but they are small cute little guys that look a bit like Havanese.

I will mention that at this point my spell check is about to throw in the towel, as it has hardly any of these names in its vocabulary.

The next few breeds are new ones to me — Blackmouth, Mountain, Stephens and Treeing Curs. I had never heard of these, but apparently they are the dogs to put your money on for the United Kennel Club’s Squirrel Dog Championship which happens in Edinburgh, Indiana, but I guess hasn’t caught on in Oregon despite our large population of squirrels. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any kind of Cur, although they look a lot like a lot of mutts do, so maybe I just didn’t know what I was looking at.

The next breed is the much more familiar mastiff. I love these big guys. If they weren’t so short lived I’d be very tempted to own one. I’ve kind of lost track of what number we’re on, but after the mastiff comes the American bulldog, which looks a bit like an English bulldog, except that it has actual legs. The next is the English bulldog, which I guess now is just called a bulldog.

After that is a truly spectacular dog, the Bernese Mountain dog, which jumped from 79 to 56 in popularity.

We have a few of these that visit the dog park and it’s easy to see why people love them, never mind their copious quantities of fur and drool.

Tied with the Bernese Mountain dog is the Great Dane, followed by the Anatolian shepherd, and I think that’s the 21 kinds of dogs most rapidly gaining popularity.

Oddly enough, basset hounds are not among them. How could that be?!!

The Vet Street website also had an article about 20 breeds that are declining in popularity, plus another article about five breeds that veterinarians wish would decline in popularity. I’ll read them when I have time and share them with you if they seem interesting, but right now I have to go feed my dogs.

Nancy Carlson can be reached at

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