Are Designer Dog Trends Bad For Dogs?

"We would say 'buyers beware' to customers who believe designer dogs are the best of both worlds," she says. "With a purebred, you know what kind of coat quality you're getting, what kind of temperament, what kind of gait … all of this is documented and guaranteed. With designer dogs, there is no guarantee how the puppies will turn out."

Peterson also warns that the popularity of a particular mix might encourage "backyard breeders" to take a stab at producing the novelty puppies. Left to amateurs, such puppy mills can lead to poorly bred pups and animal cruelty.

New vs. 'Used' Dogs

But Barber, who says he worked with a breeder seven years ago to first develop the puggle blend, stands by his animals and says he has never gotten a complaint about his designer dog mixes from their new owners.

"The dog is wonderful -- everybody loves the look, he is adorable, attractive, cute, personable, he's got a wonderful disposition. He makes you laugh every time you're with him," he says.

That said, Barber encourages people to look in a shelter first, as he says, "By all means, save a life." But he likens many shelter dogs to cars bought from a used car lot.

"When you take it off the lot -- you don't know if you'll get problems," Barber said. "Ninety percent of the time, dogs are in shelters because people have had problems with them."

Smith, of the Franklin County shelter, says all the adoptable dogs are screened for health and temperament problems. Still, she says she can't deny the power of a trend.

Puggles and Labradoodles aside, Smith says her shelter is always getting specific requests. Recently, dogs orphaned by Hurricane Katrina have been in high demand. She says people want the dogs in order to feel they're playing a part in the post-Katrina recovery.

"We had some New Orleans dogs but we quickly adopted them out. So when people call asking if we have any Katrina dogs, we say no, but we have a lot of Ohio dogs," she said. "What can you do? People are always interested in what's new and current."

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