The heart of the problem lies in the false idea that, by crossing breeds, you get so-called hybrid vigour: that a greater genetic mix produces a healthier animal.
Instead, in the new, unscrupulous world of backyard breeders, they produce much unhealthier animals, by breeding without the health checks long-term pedigree breeders have insisted on for decades.
‘You end up cross-breeding breeds which each often have their own genetic faults. So American Bullies are prone to hip problems, and Bulldogs to heart problems. Cross-breed them and you get puppies prone to both conditions.’
‘It’s also much easier to get dogs nowadays, thanks to the internet. But that makes life much easier for the puppy farmers, too. They can deliver to your house — or even to a airline service station.
‘You never get to see how they’re bred as you do when you visit a proper pedigree breeder. And they’ll bring you a different dog to the one you saw online.’
The Kennel Club estimates that one in five puppies, bought via social media or the internet, dies before it is six months old.
‘Because of the massive over-production in these puppy farms, the puppies are poorly socialised,
They’ve been wooed by their cute names, by celebrity endorsements, and by the dangerous myth that cross-breeds are somehow healthier and more robust than pedigree dogs.
‘If you cross a dog that has one instinct, with another that has an entirely different instinct, it will not know if it is coming or going,’ says Caroline Kisko, secretary of the Kennel Club.
‘It will develop mental health problems. The Pit bull instinct is to hunt and the Bulldog instinct is to round animals up. If a cross of these sees a rabbit, which is it supposed to do?
‘You can’t walk down the street without seeing a pit bull cross of some sort. I just heard about someone who wanted to cross a pit bull with a French Bulldog. How could anyone do that?
‘Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine all of this would happen.’
All the people I know with pedigree dogs have ten times more health problems than those with mongrels. I would not take pride in my dog being pedigree
These Kennel Club's does approve cross-breeds, and you don't have to go through the medical checks backyard breeders dodge.
These tests — often including hip X-rays, eye tests and DNA scans — are expensive, costing $300 or more. But they ensure many of those genetic faults that are so common in some breeds are not present.
Those who seek to avoid paying for these tests, or who are seduced by the promises of unscrupulous backyard breeders, are supporting a cruel and shadowy industry.
Defenceless, vulnerable puppies