No, it’s not the start to a bad joke at the expense of dogdom. As some of you may know, it’s actually the start to a bad joke at the expense of U.S. consumers and dogdom. It’s also how the title of yesterday’s lifestyle article in The Wall Street Journal got going; ending (of course) in "’s a Puggle."

Not that I have a problem with puggles themselves. (Who could have a problem with the adorable puggle?) It’s just that I bristle at the notion of breeding two kinds of dogs, calling the result a "hybrid," and stocking a marketing machine with a cadre of new wares aimed at kindling more demand for a fire that doesn’t deserve to be stoked.

After all, mixed breeds are wonderful. Why ruin them with puppy mill and backyard-breeding combos aimed squarely at those who choose to accessorize their lives via the next new thing?

Not that all puggles, goldendoodles, cockapoos, etc. get snapped up by fashion victims. I have plenty of clients who prove otherwise. But most do. They buy online, mostly, from "breeders" whose websites show bloodlines dating back to the turn of the century (yes, that’s 11 years, but it looks respectably extensive when you breed a litter at every heat cycle).

Anyhoo, onto the WSJ story:

Please, don't call these dogs mutts.

They're goldendoodles, cockapoos and puggles and they are among the most popular cross-bred dogs in the U.S., according to the American Canine Hybrid Club. Nipping at their heels are cavachons, shih-poos and schnoodles, says the organization, which has registered and named 671 different hybrid combinations since it started registering litters in 1990.

More dog owners are looking to create custom varieties that combine in a single dog the best traits of two purebreds. This has spawned an industry of breeders who specialize in hybrids. (Hybrid pooches, of course, have been created naturally for centuries in back yards, alleyways and other places where mutts mingle.)

For some, the novelty is the appeal. Michael Crane of Rohnert Park, Calif., and his girlfriend, Amanda Rojee, recently bought a beaglier, a beagle, King Charles spaniel mix ... that they named Charlie Brown.

"We can't go anywhere without people saying what a beautiful dog she is," Mr. Crane says. "No one has ever heard of a beaglier, but everyone who sees her wants one."

Ah, and isn’t that a shame? Because while the idea of a hybrid is to get the best trait of both breeds, any given breeding is just as likely to buy you the negative traits of both, including all their genetic diseases, any unfortunate temperament traits, and less-than-desirable cosmetic attributes.

Just ask the owner of my “Ori-peis” (pug and shar-pei mix). Soft palate elongations, patellar luxations, jaw malformations, chronic skin disease …

Sweet, however, these two dogs definitely are. I figure they had to get something good out of all that bad.

But happy owners of hybrids are dead set on them. And the not so happy? They’re not exactly out front and center talking about their tragedies. After all, even those who’ve been snookered into disaster dogs find ways to love them for all their defects. And who wouldn’t? I mean, it’s never the dog’s fault.

Dr. Patty Khuly


Pic of the day: tora/dexter by xersti