Afghan Hounds in ‘The Egyptian,’ 1954

I like these hounds. They are modest, honest dogs, nothing extreme or hyper-stylized about them. It is entertaining to imagine an alternate timeline, where the all Western Afghan hounds have remained honest, modest dogs.

The actress is Gene Tierney. (Coincidentally, we share a birthday.)

TierneyEgyptianBMAfghancolor  TierneyEgyptianTwoAfghansstanding TierneyEgyptianTwoAfghansitting

My Dearest Readers…

I am told that people do not like the tone of my last article. (Maybe this means these people are assholes and just don’t want to admit it to themselves.)

I am honest with myself and freely admit that I am a bitch and I have a bad attitude. If that’s an issue for you, perhaps you should have taken notice of my blogs name. Look up. It’s the thing with the big, red A.

Have an nice sunset:


Is a Labradoodle a Mutt? Only if You’re an Asshole

I originally made this comment on Facebook (friend me, it’s all fun and games), but the ‘mutts’ comments are starting to really torque me off, so here’s a slightly expanded version.

I always find it amusing when a bunch of supposedly intelligent dog breeders start talking about crossbred dogs.


I’m sure whoever produced this thinks they’re really clever. It’s not like there are any bybs who breed purebreds, after all.
(BTW, I’m a backyard breeder. Guess I’ve gotta be stopped.)

Here’s a little genetics lesson for you: A crossbreed is not a mutt, or a mongrel. By definition, a mutt or mongrel is made up of multiple types, often to the point where the ‘breeds’ in the background are unidentifiable. My first dog, Honey, looked like a very small, leggy, fine-boned yellow Lab. I haven’t the faintest idea what kind of dogs were behind her. She was a mutt. My crosses and backcrosses are neither mutts nor mongrels and I’ll thank you to use the correct terms, since you are calling yourself a breeder and a real breeder should know better.


Saluki/Afghan crosses. Not mutts. Not mongrels. They’ve even got a clever name: Halfghans.

Here’s a little history lesson for you: prior to the Victorian fixation with class and conspicuous consumption, dog breeds were more properly types; ‘breed’ simply meant that the dogs in question bred true. ‘Strain’ was commonly used to designate a certain type of dog, especially associated with a specific breeder or locale. It did not mean that kennel club defined purity of blood was the order of the day. Most breeds did not exist in fully closed registries until after WWII. (Which, if you think about it, means that mongrelization was ongoing in many breeds until the fifties. Hmm.)

It is incorrect to say that “all dog breeds started as mixed breeds.” Most dog breeds started as more general, variable types or landraces, until some upper class twit got their hands on them and decided to standardize and ‘improve’ them, thus differentiating them from the original ‘common’, lower class type. Dog breeds developed after the advent of the kennel club breeding system were not developed in the same natural way that the previously existing landrace breeds developed. There was no process resulting in small founder populations.

This will really bake your noodle: it’s possible to have a breed, as defined by selecting for function and not phenotype, that has a widely variable appearance. Alaskan huskies are one such breed that properly earns the classification, because they breed true for function, even though their appearance is not standardized. They also have a genetic signature, due to selection for function. Due to their heavily mixed background and frequent additions of new blood, Alaskan huskies could be correctly called mongrels, but they are also, genetically, a breed or type, with no written standard, no closed registry, and no one pointing and calling names.

An Alaskan husky. Is it a breed, is it a mongrel? It’s both! Don’t let the brains spatter your keyboard when your head explodes.

Here are a few issues that purebred breeders that frequent Facebook seem to be a little confused about:

  • Non-purebred dogs most certainly can have a pedigree, which is just a record of ancestry. It’s not magic. I’ve got one myself. So do you. So do my crosses and backcrosses.
  • You do not need a ‘breed club code of ethics’ to breed ethically. This is the same as saying you cannot have morals without religion, and it’s just as damned stupid.
  • You do not need a ‘written standard’ to breed dogs. A written standard is a modern construct, which serves two purposes: it provides a description of a ‘breed’ so that animals can be registered under a ‘breed’ designation, insuring ‘purity,’ (interesting that there is no test to see if the dogs meet the standard before registering them, isn’t it, if the standard is so very, very important?) and it allows a judge who does not live intimately with the breed to determine whether a dog conforms to the standard. Dogs have been bred to written, breed club standards for only about a hundred years. Prior to that, the standard was in the breeders head. Something as simple as ‘small fuzzy dog with a friendly nature and easy care coat, not too independent’ could be a standard for a breeder to use as a goal. Any time you are selecting or eliminating dogs from breeding, for a purpose or to meet a goal, you are breeding to a ‘standard.’
  • The history of dog breeding did not start with the establishment of the British Kennel Club in 1873. Ethical breeding is not the sole provenance of purebred breeders of registered dogs. Purebreds are not the only dogs bred via selection for traits.
  • You don’t get to determine the value that people apply to things, including dogs. If there’s a market for it, people will produce it. It’s called supply and demand. Look it up.

An obsession with class and status is no doubt behind the use of ‘mutt’ or ‘mongrel’ as a derogatory term, mutts and mongrels being owned by the common working class. There’s a reason that multigenerational mixes like lurchers and longdogs, curs and feists have never been co-opted, standardized, ‘improved,’ and turned into ‘breeds’ by the breeders of kennel club purebreds. Without the derogatory connotations, you wouldn’t see so many breeders calling crossbreeds mutts, or using mutt as insult regarding purebred dogs they don’t like. (Like those funny colored Salukis.) Breeders who get some kind of kick out of maliciously calling someone’s beloved puppy a mutt, to belittle them and devalue their pet, well, there’s a word for them: Asshole.

A cockapoo. These guys have been popular forever, far pre-dating the ‘designer dog’ craze.

The pet owner who thinks their Goldendoodle or Schnoodle or Puggle or whatever is a ‘breed’, because of the phenotypic consistency of most F1 crosses, or due to unscrupulous breeders (not that there are any of those in purebreds, eh?), can be excused due to ignorance. Since cross-breeding is a common practice in many species, including dogs, and has a clear definition, breeders have no excuse for not knowing, understanding, and using the correct term.

A crossbreed is not a mutt or mongrel, so all of these breeders must be either idiots or assholes. Which is it?


Mio, a crossbreed, thinks that people who use mutt as an insult are pieces of shit. Mutt and mongrel have definitions, and crossbreed doesn’t fit. She votes ‘asshole.’

Links I Have Found Interesting, Plus a Bit of Dog Talk

Gozer decided it would be grand idea to develop a tooth abscess last week, so he went in for a cleaning and extraction on Monday. Vet Junior thought he was thin. Gozer is an IG. You can’t see any ribs on him, which in my book means he’s FAT. Poor Junior. First Zuulie just stares expressionlessly at him, and now he’s seen so many fat dogs in his short career that he thinks pudgy Gozer is thin. It’s probably a good thing that Zora isn’t still alive, she’d probably make his head explode.

It’s been raining for two days and everything is covered in mud.

This scrotum is made for running. Or maybe not. The Scrotum Is Nuts: Why are testicles kept in a vulnerable dangling sac? It’s not why you think.

This seems kind of obvious to me. I guess a robot would better with a child than trying to distract them with food, like you would with a dog. Using a Robot to Ease a Child’s Pain.

I don’t have enough experience with snow; I had no idea it came in pink. Wonderful Things: Don’t Eat the Pink Snow.

This has been all over the place but it’s still interesting. Decapitated Worms Regrow Heads with Memories Still Inside.

When I was a kid, we had a couple of ‘strange mysterious things’ books that covered things like UFOs, spontaneous combustion, and lake monster. I loved those books. Now, Brett watches Finding Bigfoot and Ancient Aliens because it makes me shout at the television. Photos of the Loch Ness Monster, revisited.

Discussion of species recognition in dinosaurs, the idea that features like crests or horns developed so that members of the same species could recognize each other. Species recognition in dinosaurs? Not so much.

Lithopedions, or calcified fetuses. Creepy and weird (kind of disturbing pics.) Wednesday Wonders #3: The Lithopedion.

I am gluten intolerant, I develop SIBO if I eat gluten and that is really no fun. There are probably a goodly number of people out there that have food intolerances that are all in their heads, people in general are neurotic and attention seeking and want to be special in some way. However, ‘testing’ that intolerance is really a shit thing to do and I’d be extremely unhappy if someone did it to me. You wouldn’t like me when I’m extremely unhappyWhat if your gluten intolerance is all in your head?

Weaning and food issues are a hobby of mine. What and when babies first eat may affect diabetes risk. Children predisposed to type 1 diabetes are better off waiting until 4 months of age to consume solid foods.

If you are a dog breeder that thinks you are going to test your way out of diminishing gene pools, then you should probably read this because your understanding of genes is too simplistic. Pleiotropy, genomic background, and complexity.

The circle of life. Not yet gone, but effectively extinct: A small drop in one species’ population can drive others to actually die out.

Seven Misused Science Words.

A new murine model of Giardia infection: linking pathogenesis to malnutrition.

I don’t think this should even be a question. Do Dogs Think?

More discoveries about the microbiome. A Living Drug Cocktail.

Interesting thoughts on chance. This island life. The strange biology of island populations highlights the role of chance, not just selection, in evolutionary change.

Is Sugar Really Toxic? Sifting through the Evidence.

People love a good story. The Loneliest Whale in the World?

I had to look up ‘spatchcocked.’ The Imperial Kitchen.

The title is a little misleading, I think. Still interesting. “Studies suggest that random mutations that individually have no effect on an organism can fuel the emergence of complexity in a process known as constructive neutral evolution.” The Surprising Origins of Evolutionary Complexity.


Current State of the Dogverse

I have mostly been posting any dog related things on the Tumblr blog. It’s easier to just post from my iPod (bluetooth keyboard is helpful.)

Mio was spayed in March. She had two heats in quick succession and ended up with a pretty good case of vaginitis. She saw the vet for the vaginitis, but we decided to spay her just because of the funky heats and the possibility of a pyometra (bacteria can travel from the vagina up through the cervix while it is open during a heat cycle.) Turns out she had a good sized cyst on one ovary.

Quote from our vet, “She gave me an extremely dirty look when she came out of anesthesia, and immediately attempted to escape from her kennel.”

Mio is now getting a very thick fuzzy winter-type coat. Her face is getting hairy, too. Not terribly happy about that. I don’t mind mandarins but I don’t like hair on the upper jaw. She has always been an easy keeper and I’ve had to cut her food down twice since she was spayed because SPAYFAT.


Mio070913Mio will be ten in December.

Squee, Gozer and Zuulie, all Italian Greyhounds, went in for surgery (not at the same time). Squee had a dime sized dermal hemangiosarcoma removed from his right hind leg. Gozer had small tumors removed from his scrotum (vet just took the whole thing off), and a somewhat larger one that turned out to be pretty invasive from his penis sheath. These were all hemangiosarcomas, the one on his penis sheath was subcutaneous and they will likely come back and have to be removed again. There is a small chance that the cancer had already metastasized and either of them could develop more tumors inside.  Zuulie was spayed, and had two breast lumps removed (no hemangio for her, lumps were benign.) All three of them had chest x-rays which came out clear. We have lost two of our IGs to lung cancer, so Brett is hypervigilant about it. Squee is nine, Gozer is ten, and Zuulie is eleven years old.

Here is an informative hemangiosarcoma PDF with some really gnarly pictures. When our current IGs are gone we will not have any more. I have had enough of cancer in young dogs (seven to ten years is not old in a breed that should live to be fifteen) and autoimmune disease.


Zuulie, sans cone. She had to wear a cone after this pic was taken.

Our vet’s son has recently graduated from vet school and started practice with his father. So now we have Vet Senior and Vet Junior. Junior is still getting used to our somewhat odd (read: not like a waggy friendly Lab) dogs. Regarding Zuulie, he said, “She just stares at you.” Yes, yes she does. Put a cone on her and that stare is filled with contempt. Welcome to the world of sighthounds.

It feels like all of our dogs are getting old. Most of them are past middle age now.


Links I Have Found Interesting

No gene is an island.

Girl cheese. Cheese for girls. The weird world of marketing.

How many bouncy balls would you have to drop on someone to kill them?

Randomness. We hateses it. Chemicals and cancer, signal and noise.

Things are always more complex than they seem. Transforming Proteins May Explain Many Faces of Parkinson’s.

Taxidermy: The Artistry of Preserving Bodies.

The Bloody History Behind the Barber’s Pole.

No need to build actual underwater cars for movies now, we have computer graphics…The Bond 1977 Lotus Submarine Found in a Storage Unit, Now for Sale.

Very interesting. When a Disease is Genetic But Not Inherited: Bea Rienhoff’s Story.

Gut bacteria: it’s not just for Christmas, it’s for life. Gut Microbes for Life.

Genetic diversity and intellectual disability.

Being ‘out’ out in the field. Things I learned as a field biologist.

Dopamine. It does a lot of shit. Dopamine Is _________ Is it love? Gambling? Reward? Addiction?

How pared down can a genome be and still be functional? How Simple Can Life Get? It’s Complicated.

Neat. Google Cultural Institute.

It’s conclusive. There is no bigfoot.

Giant chrome T. rex. Brett wantses it. Giant Chrome T-Rex Installed on the Seine River in Paris by Philippe Pasqua.

Interesting. How should doctors share impossible decisions with their patients.

Yep. Certainly Not! Philosophy: Good science requires cultivating doubt and finding pleasure in mystery.

What is it like to live in the middle of nowhere? It’s quiet and you can run around naked if you like. Not recommended to go pantsless if you have large dogs, though. Noses.

Unexpected bug spray ads.

Friend of the blog and native hound enthusiast Steve Bodio will blogging about Parkinson’s disease on the UNM Health Sciences Center blog.