National Purebred Dog Day is an opportunity to celebrate the beauty, diversity, and heritage of the more than 400 recognized dog breeds around the world. Understanding the importance of continuing to promote the ethical breeding of purebred dogs is critical. Potential dog owners seeking to acquire a purebred dog from a reputable breeder should not be shamed for doing so; there are good reasons for them to do just that. What potential dog owners need to be steered away from are puppy brokers, puppy mills, pet stores, and breeders whose primary purpose is to produce litter after litter for monetary gain. And if you prefer to rescue your next canine companion, don’t be deterred from looking at one of the breed rescue groups in your area. The dogs available in breed rescue groups often have more details available about why they were surrendered, where they came from, etc. than the dogs you might find at a traditional shelter. I know there are a lot of people who strictly adhere to the “adopt don’t shop” mindset, but frankly this can do as much harm as good. For many potential dog owners, a purebred dog, acquired from a reputable source that will provide them with much needed support and guidance for the lifetime of their dog, is invaluable. As a certified animal behaviorist treating behavior problems for almost 30 years now, I know that I will continue to recommend purebred dogs to my clients, particularly those with young children. Purebred dogs have behavior that is predictable. You know how big the dog will grow to be, what their coat will look like, and approximately how long they will live as well. I like to send my clients specifically to heritage or preservation breeders, that is breeders who are dedicated to perpetuating the mental and physical health and characteristics of their breed. These breeders will not only be breeders of merit with organizations like the AKC (American Kennel Club), but they will also be breeders who themselves participate in activities which promote the unique abilities of their breed.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have Collies. I have shared my home with this breed for almost 20 years. All of my dogs came from breeders who were passionate about the breed’s heritage. Extensive health testing, genetic testing, and temperament testing went into the breeding of the dogs I have shared my home with. These breeders have been involved throughout the lifetimes of my dogs and have been just as proud of their accomplishments as I have been. Building a relationship with a reputable breeder is worth its weight in gold; you will have a friend and partner in your dog’s continued success for years to come.
There is no one perfect breed of dog for every situation. That truly is the beauty of dog breeds. Sure, I have favorites as do many of the other pet professionals I know. However, I also know that my chosen breed, isn’t for everyone. They have A LOT OF FUR and they will shed that fur EVERYWHERE. I should own stock in lint rollers. Everything sticks to their coats as well; they are like giant fluffy magnets for debris. They have long noses that they stick in everyone’s business. They are 80 lb lap dogs that also bark. A LOT. So, while I love Collies and know that they are perfect for my home, they aren’t perfect for everyone. Which brings me to my point. Within any given breed, there will be individual dogs who are perfect for whatever situation you are living in and seeking a dog for. Thus, while it may be generally said that Terriers, as a whole, are less likely to do well in homes with cats due to their innate high prey drive, I have certainly been in home with cats and terrier dogs and everyone got along just great. It also goes without saying that I’ve been in homes where the terrier dogs tormented the cats causing enormous amounts of anxiety and stress for the people and the animals. Know your breed and listen to your breeder. If they tell you that they’ve raised their dogs and puppies around cats and other small animals, then it is much more likely that your cats will be safe with a pup chosen from this breeder over a breeder who doesn’t know how their dogs will be around other animal species.
But how do you know what breed of dog might be best for your family given that there are so many breeds to choose from? It is important to seek out the advice and guidance of people familiar with many different dog breeds. Talking to veterinarians, dog groomers, dog trainers, and even animal behaviorists like myself will help you narrow down what breeds might make the best fit. Don’t just do your research online, ask real people who have a lot of dog experience with many different breeds. When selecting your next dog, you need to take into consideration all of the facets of your family; where you live, your yard size, the amount of time you have for grooming, exercise, training, etc., whether you have kids or elderly people in your home; and certainly your budget is important as well. You don’t want to choose one of the more inherently expensive breeds (what some of my veterinarian friends refer to as “money pit dogs”) if potentially high veterinary expenses aren’t in your budget. We should all choose a dog with our brains, not just our hearts.
So, does this mean I think everyone should opt to get their next furred family member from a reputable breeder? Not necessarily, but I wouldn’t summarily rule it out as so many people do. Breeders are not bad people. They are not the reason why there is an animal over-population problem. That is pure propaganda. Reputable breeders are interested in the welfare of their particular breed. They don’t over-breed; they don’t cross-breed; and they don’t ignore health or temperament issues when breeding their animals. They interview prospective new owners, ask for references on YOU, and offer you health guarantees and lifetime support. You may have to wait longer to get an animal from a breeder, but that is a good thing. It means you aren’t making a snap decision or one based solely on emotion. You are choosing and being chosen based on research, due diligence, and forethought. Your chances are very good that you will get exactly what you were looking for. A devoted family member for life.