Pedigree or Crossbreed?

What is a pedigree dog?

When most people think of a pedigree dog, they envisage a breed which is Kennel Club recognised and registered, and therefore has a Kennel Club supplied pedigree. However, a dog doesn’t need to be a pure breed and certainly doesn’t need to be Kennel Club registered to have a pedigree! A pedigree is simply a document which details the dog’s parents, grandparents, great grandparents and so forth; just like a family tree. If a breeder has bred a pair of dogs which both have pedigrees, they can produce a pedigree for the resulting puppies. Pedigrees are important so that breeders can make well-informed breeding decisions and prevent close inbreeding; without pedigrees, nobody would know how closely related two dogs were and would therefore be taking a huge risk by breeding the pair.

What is a crossbreed dog?

A crossbreed is defined as a dog which doesn’t fall into a Kennel Club recognised breed, but still has known lineage, i.e. has a pedigree! So why are they not usually referred to as pedigree dogs? Because unfortunately the vast majority of people don’t understand all these terms and what they really mean! When most people say “pedigree dog”, they actually mean “Kennel Club registered dog”; there is a common misconception that if a dog is not Kennel Club registered, it cannot have a pedigree, which is of course untrue.

Is Kennel Club recognition important?

In our opinion, absolutely not.

Pedigrees: The Kennel Club provide pedigrees for registered puppies, but those pedigrees are produced using data provided by the individual breeders themselves with no requirement for DNA testing. In real terms, that means that a Kennel Club pedigree is of no greater value or significance than a handwritten pedigree that Joe Bloggs dreamed up scribbled down on a scrap of paper.

Breed Standards: The Kennel Club also produce a ‘breed standard’ for the breeds which they recognise. This is a document which details the physical traits that the breed should display – breeders who are interested in showing their dogs use it as a target or a set of goal posts and they aim to breed dogs as close to that standard as possible. If you have no interest in showing and are looking for a family pet, this is irrelevant. In fact, the Kennel Club has been heavily criticised recently for producing breed standards which have compromised the health of many dog breeds. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels suffer from Syringomyelia (a condition where the brain is too large for the skull), the Pug’s ‘screw tail’ is caused by Hemivertebrae which is a deformity and Bulldogs are prone to severe breathing problems due to their short noses. These health defects are all a result of breeders exaggerating the traits which the Kennel Club has deemed to be desirable within their breed standard, so it is easy to understand why they have been so heavily criticised!

Health Screening: Whilst the Kennel Club promotes health screening, they still happily register puppies from parents without any form of health screening, and indeed from parents who display serious health issues – it’s not as if they visit the breeder to check the dogs’ health and wellbeing! The Kennel Club’s involvement with any breeder is always from a distance, so there is no guarantee that a Kennel Club registered puppy will be in any way better or worse than a puppy that is not Kennel Club registered.

Where do Australian Labradoodles fall into the equation?

Australian Labradoodles are a crossbreed – they are not recognised as a breed by the Kennel Club. Is this a problem? In short – no. Breeders all over the world keep pedigree records and work together to ensure that a good gene pool is maintained and dogs are not inbred. It is up to individual breeders to carry out their own health screening and make the certificates available for their puppy buyers to view. It is also up to the public to demand to see health certificates prior to buying a puppy. In our opinion, the Australian Labradoodle is probably one of the most extensively health tested ‘breeds’ out there! The Australian Labradoodle founders developed a ‘breed standard’ which breeders around the world work toward, not for showing purposes, simply to ensure a common goal and generate consistency in the Australian Labradoodle. The result is that Australian Labradoodles have far fewer health issues than many of the Kennel Club recognised breeds!