Wednesday July 21 is National No Pet Store Puppies day. The purchase of pet store dogs should always be discouraged. Pet stores get their dogs from puppy mills, which practice a cruel and inhumane way of breeding and reproducing dogs. Dogs from pet stores usually come equipped with a host of health and temperament problems as a result of these breeding practices, as well as the mistreatment before and during their stay at pet stores. Fortunately, this profit driven practice of breeding and selling dogs has greatly declined over the last few years. Many pet stores in particular have chosen to no longer sell dogs in their stores and the few that do use it as an opportunity to advertise select shelter dogs.
You may be wondering, what does this have to do with the title of the article, which promises an overview on purebred dogs? Fear not dear reader, we are getting there! Since there has been a decline in the sales of pet store puppies, many people have been turning to purebred breeders. Just like with rescue dogs, there are pros and cons to owning a purebred dog. While we love rescue dogs too, the focus of this article will be on purebred dogs. However, if you would like to read more about the pros and cons of owning a shelter dog, check out our blogs “A Guide To Adopting a Shelter Dog” and “Marvelous Mutts and Proud Pedigrees”.
Picture this: you’ve decided to bring a new dog into your family but where do you start looking? You hear a lot of people pressuring you to “adopt not shop” but you’ve visited the local shelters and the dogs there were not the right fit for your home and lifestyle. That’s okay! Rescue dogs are great and it’s awesome to provide a homeless dog with a family but it is not the right choice for every owner. Many shelter dogs have temperament or health problems that first time dog owners are not prepared for. Unfortunately the pressure to only adopt has resulted in an overwhelming turn over in shelters. Individuals adopt dogs with temperament or health issues, only to become overwhelmed, resulting in the dogs being returned to the shelter. There are a few simple reasons for this, such as not having enough time for a dog that needs extra care/training/exercise, too small of living space, small children and other animals. Purchasing a dog is all about finding the right fit for the right owner and that’s not necessarily always adoption.
If you are not comfortable with adopting a shelter dog, this does not mean that there are no other options. Purebred dogs make fantastic companions and working dogs. Some people consider purebreds to be the “gold standard of dogs” and for a long time were a symbol of status. Nowadays, purebred dogs represent a group of animals that have been selectively bred for many years to portray consistent traits and behaviours. Usually grouped into the category of herding, sporting, non-sporting, working, hounds, terriers, or toy, each purebred dog was specifically bred for an intended purpose.
But which breed should I get, you may ask. We cannot stress enough, to choose a breed that suits your lifestyle. Sure huskies may be beautiful but if you prefer to live a low key lifestyle with only intermittent outings, a breed that was bred to work and pull sleds across an icy tundra may not be the breed for you. Here are some things to consider before choosing your breed:
Some breeds are just more expensive to adopt than others. Maintenance costs also vary between breeds, depending on factors like health and food costs.
Certain breeds will require more time for exercise and training. Not every owner has the time that certain high maintenance breeds require.
Are you looking for a working or companion dog? Some breeds like cattle and sled dogs are more challenging to keep simply as pets as they are usually happiest when they have a job to do.
Is this your first dog? Some breeds are much easier to start with than others. This has a lot to do with ease of training and energy levels.
Not all breeds are equally as affectionate. Some dogs are social butterflies and love to have constant love and pets from the family and fur-siblings, while others prefer to bond with a single person and not be overwhelmed with affection.
This factor is largely dependent on your living space. The size of a dog does not necessarily correlate with energy level (for example, great danes are giant couch potatoes and little jack russell terriers run circles around your house).
There is no such thing as a true “hypoallergenic” dog, not even poodles. All dogs shed but some shed much more than others. The increase in vacuum and grooming time may be something to consider before choosing a breed.
For a list of different dog breeds and their traits, check out this link for over 200 dog breed profiles. Find out which breed is best for you!
Once you find the best breed for your home, it is time to search for a breeder. This part is absolutely critical as not all breeders are good. Some “backyard breeders” only care about the money and do not care about producing good, healthy puppies. This is where the misconception about purebreds being unhealthy often comes into play. A reputable breeder values upholding health and breed standards. They do this by performing health and genetic tests on both the parents and the puppies. A good breeder will provide you with a traceable genetic tree and health tests that are specific to the breed. Not every puppy needs to be CKC or AKC registered but it is an extra layer of insurance when searching for a breeder.
Do not look for a breeder on kijiji, facebook marketplace, craigslist or flyers. A reputable breeder will have an official website with information on their previous batches of puppies as well as their experience and practices.
Now that you’re familiar with the process of bringing home a purebred, here are some pros and cons to owning a pedigree:
Pro: You know what you’re getting yourself into. Temperament is much more predictable with a purebred dog. For example, I like to go for short walks, eat snacks and take naps. These just so happen to also be a cocker spaniel's favourite hobbies, so I got a cocker spaniel. With a purebred, you have the luxury of choosing a dog that likes to do the same things as you, whether that's going for long runs or binging Netflix on the couch.
Con: More expensive. It is much more costly to purchase a dog from a reputable breeder than to adopt from a shelter. The average cost of adoption ranges from $250-$500 depending on the age of the dog (this price also usually includes the cost of the spay/neuter and vaccinations). On the other hand, pure breds usually start at $1000 and can go upwards of $10,000.
Pro: Health guarantees. As stated above, reputable breeds test for genetic health problems. All dogs can get sick but at least with proper testing you can be sure that your dog is free of certain genetic-dependent diseases.
Con: Health with purebreds can be a double edged sword. Some breeds are extremely healthy but others are not. Some breeds like brachycephalic dogs have breathing issues, while others like golden retrievers and bernese mountain dogs are more prone to developing cancer. This is why it is so important to find a reputable breeder that cares about only breeding the healthiest dogs.
Pro: Choices. With a purebred, you have the luxury of choosing between elements like size, activity level, coat, temperament and looks. It is easier to personalize your dog selection to you.
Con: Be prepared that for a reputable breeder, you will often be put on a waiting list as they usually will only have 1 or 2 batches of puppies per year. This is actually a good thing as you know that they are not over breeding their dogs. While you’re waiting for your puppy, it gives you an opportunity to get things ready like buying a bed/toys and brushing up on training.
Take home message
Purebred dogs are great for owners who have an affinity for a certain breed or want to be confident in the type of dog they are getting. The Canadian, American and United Kennel clubs are a great reference for information on these types of dogs. While it is true that purebreds are more likely to be predisposed to certain health problems, doing your research and selecting an experienced breeder can greatly minimize the odds of getting an unhealthy animal.
If you’re looking into a purebred dog, you should also be prepared to open your wallet. A dog from a responsible breeder is probably going to be expensive and a bargain purebred is often a red flag of a bad breeder. Monetary value is where the distinction between purebred and mixed breed is important. Responsible breeders spend time and money preserving the health and integrity of their respective breeds and should be compensated accordingly.
Ultimately, dogs are a spectacular species regardless of if they are mixed breeds or purebred. Prospective pet parents should consider what type of dog will fit best into their home, taking into account factors like size, activity level and medical needs, rather than weighing the options of pedigree versus a shelter dog. All dogs are wonderful in their own way and one type is not better than another. As long as your dog fits in and is considered part of the family, that is all that matters!