MANY, many years ago, I realised that some people aren’t that bright.

I was working west of Aberdeen, in a rural area, and was asked to vet check a litter of puppies.

They were an even-sized, lovely group of golden Labradors, each as delightful as the next and their mother was a docile, serene animal with the memorable and endearing habit of lifting her lips and smiling when she was happy. Which was often.

I was mightily surprised, therefore, to discover some six weeks later that the frustrated owner had been unable to sell a single one and had resorted to trying to give the pups away free.

The problem (and the information had spread around the area like wildfire) was that the poor bitch had a dark secret in her past.

Shockingly, it was revealed by a local gossip that she had ‘been’ with a farm Collie as a youngster and had produced a litter of half Collie, half Labrador pups. Not only was she tainted but so it seems were all her future pups.

No-one would touch them with a barge pole.

Her owner took to driving to a neighbouring town to do her shopping, as she couldn’t stand the sudden silence when she entered the local butchers or grocers.

Funny how things have changed. In this, eh, 'enlightened' age, half and half pups are all the rage. It is true that a little hybrid vigour is good for dogs. Many crosses are better than the sum of their parents, both in health and in temperament.

Often, the cross pup is free of the problems that can befall pure bred pups. Simple genetics would indicate that damaging recessive genes can be bred out and the close matings that were once so popular in the pedigree world can be avoided.

Indeed, if you are looking for a family pet, buying one of these puppies may be a safer bet than purchasing a puppy with a lineage as long as your arm. But not always.

And so, whilst I don’t quite understand the cost of some of these dogs, I guess I approve of the plethora of ‘pedigree mongrels’ that now exist. It started with Labradoodles, continued with Cockapoos and will probably end with a Bulldog-Shih Tzu cross.

But buyer beware, all is not always as rosy as it seems.

Less care is now being taken in the selection of individuals that are to be used for breeding. For pedigree dogs, hip, elbow and eye testing were prevalent. Now it would appear that dogs once thought unsuitable are being used as sires and dams for cross breeding.

Last week we euthanased our first Labradoodle due to its severe temperament abnormality. Frankly, the dog was dangerous. Despite breeders claiming otherwise, Cockapoos can still have trouble with their ears and all dogs shed hair.

As the cost of cross puppies escalates, so the quality is inclined to fall.

One cannot just presume that they are healthy, even if the prejudice of yesterday is long gone.