The first question many people ask when they consider whether to get a dog to become part of the family is should I get a rescue or a purebred?
Many feel that rescuing from the shelter is the option everyone should consider first. While it is a great idea to rescue a dog from possible euthanasia, there are several things to consider. When getting a mixed breed dog, if it’s still a pup, you may have no idea how big it’s going to get, how much it will shed or what it’s temperament will be like. It is a myth that you can tell how big a puppy will get by the size of his feet.
Older dogs should always be considered, as while puppies are invariably cute, it is really just a very, very short part of their life and by adopting an older dog you can usually skip the house breaking, teething and spaying or neutering. You will also know what size and coat type it has. That said, some older dogs at shelters come with their own “baggage”. They may have been abused or simply allowed to grow with no training, may have aggressive tendencies you aren’t aware of at first or no knowledge of rules, boundaries and limitations, as we are reminded by Cesar Milan, renowned Dog Whisperer. As he has shown many times, you really can teach an old dog new tricks.
If you have the time to properly overcome this sort of baggage…. and really, ANY dog of any breed, any age requires a genuine investment in training, you will be more than rewarded for your time by taking in an older dog from the shelter. We also find that many of the volunteers at the shelters, while having the best of intentions, have little knowledge of purebred dogs and it is quite common for people to adopt a dog and be told it is a type of breed that it is not.
The advantage of buying a purebred dog is that you will know exactly what you are getting with regard to size, temperament, coat type, shedding, grooming needs, etc. The most important thing to keep in mind when buying a purebred dog is NOT to buy from stores or the internet. Most people have heard of the horrors of so-called “puppy mills” and while most people would never intentionally buy a puppy from such a situation, they don’t realize that NO ethical breeder would ever sell puppies to a store. In fact, it is cause for dismissal from most purebred parent clubs, to which, most responsible breeders belong.
The internet has become a boon for these disreputable breeders, as they give the puppies a bath and a cute ribbon and people are fooled into thinking it is coming from a responsible breeder. A quality bred purebred dog is not cheap but ironically, you can almost always get a good one from a good breeder for less than those in a store. The ones on the internet are way cheaper for a reason. No health clearances are done on the parents, no championship titles to prove their merit in their breed, no long-term health guarantees and they can, quite simply, charge a lot less when they are breeding by the hundreds with little or no investment in their care and upkeep.
If a purebred is the right choice for your family, find a breeder that you can visit. If they show dogs, even better. Then you can be assured they are investing in producing the best representatives of the breed that are also healthy and of good temperament. Be prepared to be put on a waiting list for a quality puppy, as well as being asked to sign a spay/neuter contract, since most breeders try to protect their breeds from unethical or ill-informed breeding resulting in poor specimens of the breed as well as possibly introducing hereditary health concerns. Also, you will be asked a number of questions by the breeder so they can determine if you can provide the proper environment for the dog. If the seller doesn’t care about your lifestyle and the conditions under which the dog will live, this should tell you right there it is not a quality breeder or seller of dogs.
If you search the internet for your breed of choice, you should be able to find the local members of the national parent club for that breed. They can also point you in the right direction if you would like to rescue a purebred adult of that breed.
Whatever your decision about your new addition to your family, be sure to take your time, do your homework on what would work best for your situation and be prepared to put in the time to train your new dog and help them become a life long, loving part of your family.
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