Human/Animal Bond

Your Dog’s a What?

No longer is your dog a mongrel or a mismate, but rather it’s a “breed”

January 15, 2021 (published)
Max is a rare "Norwegian mega-dachshund." Photo by Dr. Regina J. Glanzberg

I spent many years working at an inner city animal shelter. Like many municipal shelters, we had an abundance of dogs, most of whom could be described as one of two breed types: pit bulls and their mixes, or Chihuahuas and their mixes. Also like many shelters, we were constantly brainstorming ways to raise money for the shelter. One technician and I joked that instead of doing spays and neuters, we should breed a pit bull and a Chihuahua together. The puppies would be the perfect companions: fierce enough to provide good protection but small enough to fit in a purse, a la Paris Hilton. The pièce de resistance was going to be the marketing. We would call it a Purse Pit.

It used to be that if you didn’t own a purebred dog, you owned a mixed breed. They might have euphemistic names such as mutt or Heinz 57, but it wasn’t a purebred.

These days however, anything goes. No longer is it a mongrel or a mismate, but rather it’s a “breed.” For instance, even though neither are recognized by the American Kennel Club, the Labradoodle (a cross between a Labrador retriever and a poodle) and the Goldendoodle (Golden retriever + poodle) are very popular with puppies going for thousands of dollars each. In fact, poodle mixes are quite common. For instance, there are schnoodles (schnauzer + poodle) and Bernedoodles (Bernese mountain dog + poodle), not be confused with St. Berdoodles (Saint Bernard + poodle). But there are other mixes as well. Maybe you’d like a Morkie (Maltese + Yorkshire terrier) or a puggle (pug + beagle, although puggles should not be confused with Muggles, the non-magical among us from the Harry Potter series).

Furthermore, it’s not only an invention of the U.S. marketing madness. From the U.K. there is an article about a sprockador that ate a face mask and had to have surgery. Apparently a sprockador is what happens when your springador (springer spaniel + Labrador retriever) has a tryst with a cocker spaniel. Who knew?

The fun with all of this is the license it gives us all to be creative. In fact, some folks use invented-but-fun-breed-names to help get dogs adopted, to play pranks on unsuspecting strangers, or to shut down pretentious brothers-in-law. Just use the personality of the dog and its general looks to make up any “breed” you want. Are you looking for a “New Mexican Spotted Raquetball Hound”? Yeah, we’ve got that. Maybe you’d prefer a “Canardly”? As in, “Canardly” tell what it is. We have at least three of those! And if you’re really lucky, your one-and-only “breed” will be a star! Just meet Max, a rare Norwegian mega-dachshund. Mega-dachshunds were used by Vikings to hunt seals due to their powerful legs and jaws. He was seen at a fundraiser for a wildlife rehabilitation center, dressed in the costume of his ancestors. Who would dare tell Max’s owner that Norwegian mega-dachshunds aren’t really a breed?

Don't be surprised, however, when your dog's medical file calls him a spaniel mix instead of a sprockador – your veterinarian needs to know what your dog’s alleged primary mix is without having to work it out. It may have a bearing on certain treatments, like keeping ivermectin away from collies and their mixes. It’s faster and simpler for the veterinary staff, and safer for your pet, not a commentary on your preferences or creativity.

Whatever breed … or “breed” … of dog it is, the best part is that it is yours.

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