Canine Inflation, or, How Much Is That Labracockabegaschauzabernadinedoodle in the Window?

Once upon a time, a German Shepherd was passing through town with his briefcase full of wares, when, on his way through a residential neighborhood, a familiar pheomonal call filled his rather elaborate sinuses. He did what any red-blooded American dog would do and jumped the fence, and found on the other side a very desirable and willing female Laborador. Two months later, her paramour nowhere to be found, she delivered a dozen healthy pups, most of which looked just like her.

Heeding an ad in the paper, a man came along, picked a female pup, and bought it for his son. He paid $5 for it in 1985 dollars, the equivalent of about $10 today. Just enough to keep the local medical research lab from coming in and claiming the whole litter.

My son dubbed the dog Sandy, and we had her for many years. She was a great dog – one of the best we’d had as a family. She had the look of a golden lab, the protective instincts of a Shepherd, and was gentle and patient with kids. Quite a bargain for those five 1985 dollars.

Were I to get a Sandy nowadays, I probably couldn’t afford her. Some nitwit would probably advertise her in the paper as a “Sheprador” and want five bills for her.

Back when I was a kid, there were three kinds of dogs. There were purebreds, usually pretty  expensive, but if you just wanted one as a pet you could find one that wasn’t quite up to breed standard for a reasonable price. Then there were mutts. This was applied to any non-purebred dog. Mutts were usually free, although when medical research facilities began harvesting them for nefarious purposes, token fees were placed on them to prevent the practice. Then there were crossbreeds, and back then there was only one – the cockapoo, a cross between a poodle and a cocker spaniel. Cute dogs, but not purebreds. They cost less than a purebred, but more than a mutt.

And that was it.

Now check out the classified page of your local paper. The business of breeding and selling has gone to the dogs. They’re no longer Mutts. They’re called “designer dogs,” and with them come designer price tags. To give you some idea of how far this has gone, check out this slide show describing the top ten mutts designer dogs, coming soon to a puppy mill near you.

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