Cash crazy dog breeders face a probe after turning out exotically-coloured pedigrees for up to £10,000-a-puppy – including labradors striped like tigers.
The Kennel Club has launched an investigation into the soaring demand for designer dogs in unconventional colours.
Breeders are churning them out as they can fetch up to five times the price of ordinary pooches.
But tampering with genetics can leave animals with behavioural, health and skin problems.
Kennel Club health and welfare expert Bill Lambert urged owners to snub strangely coloured dogs.
He said: "We urge buyers to be cautious about the advertisement of rare colours used as a marketing tool to inflate puppy prices.
"Breeders who appear to be prioritising colour over other factors and charging inflated prices should be treated with suspicion.’’
Labradors were traditionally only black, yellow or chocolate with puppies costing around £1,800.
But demand for tiger-stripes, charcoal, white and silver has rocketed along with their prices.
David Goode, chairman of the Labrador Retriever Club, said new colours appeared in the 80s when US breeders crossed Weimaraners and labradors.
They were registered there as pedigrees and then – thanks to a reciprocal agreement – kept that status when they were imported.
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But he said: These puppies have different temperaments and health issues such as skin disorders and hair loss. Of 35,000 labrador puppies registered last year about 10% were the wrong colour.
We do not think the Kennel Club should continue to register them as pedigrees. At least they should be put on a separate register.’’
Vicky Collins-Nattrass, the health coordinator of the Bulldog Breed Council, said: It's got out of hand. Our concern is that some breeders are setting up fertility clinics so more puppies are bred like this.’’
Other breed societies worried by the introduction of new colours include those for French bulldogs, dachshunds, pugs and chow chows.
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