by Michael Daee
"Mutt" or "mongrels" - both words have can very negative or derogatory connotations, and as you become more involved in the Vlcak community they are words you will start to see more frequently. Without getting into a political discussion about the two terms, in this article I am specifically pointing to their use in the dog breed world. The American Kennel Club (AKC) defines purebred as a "dog whose sire and dam belong to the same breed and who are themselves of unmixed descent since recognition of the breed." A mutt or mongrel would be any canine deviating from that definition.
The myth of hybrid vigor or that mixed breed dogs – "mutts” - are healthier is exactly that: a myth, and very much not true. If you cross a Labrador Retriever that has hip dysplasia with a Poodle that has hip dysplasia, what do you get? Chances are, a “Labradoodle” with hip dysplasia. In addition to hip problems, Labradoodles are now being diagnosed with Addison’s disease (a deficiency in adrenal hormones) and elbow dysplasia - two genetic disorders that are common to purebred Labradors and Poodles, according to Dr. Bell. (Dr. Mary Fuller referencing the a study presented at Western Veterinary Conference by Dr. Jerold Bell, May 3, 2013). Speaking of the labradoodle, designer breeds are still a fad. This is bad news for everyone. Think of it like this: adding more breeds to a mix only increases the chances for that canine to inherit more diseases, since each breed has it's own set of problems, and as stated above, several breeds have overlapping diseases. Also, each breed has its own temperament. Mixing in different breeds together creates an unstable one, because you can never know what behaviors and characteristics will manifest in a mixed breed. The problem is augmented by the fact that designer breeds also go through a genetic bottleneck in their creation, since designer breeds eventually have a smaller breeding population, meaning more of the diseases and recessive disorders will show. Only through responsible and careful breeding can a canine have a healthier genetic profile. A responsible breeder will health test their canines with transparency being paramount, and only after getting the proper results back will the breeder consider going ahead and planning a litter.
A reputable breeder Vlcak breeder will have had their dogs hips tested using the Penn HIP method, as well as having their hips and elbows tested with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) techniques. There are also tests for the heart, eyes, teeth, and a test for degenerative myelopathy to evaluate. The sire and dam’s hip health can reduce the likelihood that the offspring of normal parents will develop hip dysplasia, and other problems. The results can all be posted online through OFA. Properly selecting mates for purebred dogs is a science. Breeders select not only for conformation (body type) but also for personality and character traits. It is a goal that is achieved over many generations, not a game of chance.
Canine rescues and dog shelters across the nation are overwhelmed with dogs that need a home. Many of the so called "designer dog breeders" are nothing more than puppy millers in disguise. They care nothing about their canines, and only want to produce puppies to sell. I've spoken with cross-breeders who are not puppy millers, but think what they do is creating the ideal pet. Several of the individuals I spoke to are breeders of the "Tamaskan cross-breed". The Tamaskan was initially marketed as the "wolfdog without the wolf". The truth of this lie was made public two years ago. The Tamaskan cross-breed includes Czechoslovakian Vlcaks, Saarloos, various American Wolfdog mixes, Siberian Huskies, and Alaskan Malamutes to name a few. More dogs and wolf-mixes are planned to be added to that genetic soup. The individuals creating this dog claim that they are being responsible, but various reports indicate otherwise as more and more stories of Tamaskan's with genetic health problems such as cryptorchdism pop up. Also, all those different breeds together, as stated above, will create a dog with an unstable and unpredictable temperament. When I add all of that, along with what I have been told - the price tag of $2,000 - I can not condone it at all. The results are sloppy, the purpose based on monetary profit and it only adds to the growing populations in shelters. Selling mixed breed dogs is endorsing unplanned, uneducated mating. It is a toss up and a crapshoot as to what will result. It is one of the reasons that unwanted pups end up in shelters awaiting euthanasia. Some Czechoslovakian Vlcak breeders in Europe created recent wolf-mixes in Italy, mating their Vlcaks to wolves which, when exposed, brought Italian law enforcement into play. Their dogs were seized by the Italian police, and they were issued heavy fines. In the US, depending on your state and community, if this were to happen, the wolf-mixes would be seized and destroyed. Certain European breeders have sold their Vlcaks to puppy mills, and Tamaskan breeders, which has created all kinds of controversy in Europe. Just to be clear, allowing ones dogs to be used for these projects or in this manner is grounds to be dismissed from the club.
I have owned shelter rescues which were wonderful companions, and I currently own two purebred canines. I have a Czechoslovakian Vlcak, and an Australian Shepherd. I researched both breeds, and looked at their dams and sires, their pedigree, and health results before acquiring them. I have not ruled out getting another shelter dog in the future, and many purebred dog owners and breeders also have adopted shelter/rescue animals. Providing the best pet parenting possible, love and attention, can vastly improve a rescue pup's life. Spaying and neutering a mixed breed animal can help undo some of the breeding wrongs. The well-being, health and love for your pet, be it a Vlcak, rescue mutt or other purebred canine is paramount in my thoughts. If you need help with your Vlcak before passing the animal to someone unknown please inquire with other club members or myself, and we will do our utmost to help. If you are looking to get another Czechoslovakian Vlcak please feel free to contact me or the club, and we will help to guide you with a list of trusted reputable breeders, or at least insights into certain lines. Rather than add to the problem, lets all work to improve it.