There is a sharp divide in the dog owning world. This divide is between Purebred owners and Shelter dog owners. Before I go any further let me say that I am very much in favor of Purebred dogs and believe that responsible breeding and responsible breeders are the best things for the dog owning world. This does not mean that I am against shelter dogs and this does not mean that I am against mixed or cross bred dogs. This does mean I am against irresponsible breeders and I am against “Animal Rights” groups who use fear and emotional tactics to give incorrect information to the general public.
First let me take a moment to see some of these fear tactics and tactics used by groups such as PETA to pull on the emotions of pet owners. Here are some of their “arguments” in the form of some of the signs they have produced.
“Breeders Kill Shelter Dog’s Chances”
“You buy, pound puppies die”
“Adopt – Don’t Shop”
“Boycott breeders, or the Mutt get’s it”
“One Dog Bred – A Shelter Dog Dead”
You can also find arguments on PETAs website which states that there is no such thing as a responsible breeder and that dog breeding is a greedy and callous business.
Here is some information against that.
First of all, PETA’s argument is that all dogs (and cats for that matter) should be spayed and neutered and that no animal should be bred. This would eventually lead to extinction for the Canis Familiaris species, which is their intention. Animal Rights organizations believe that no dog, no animal at all, should be owned by people or used by people. This includes “using” service dogs for the disabled.
Now as it stands for the statements listed above.
The idea that by going to a breeder you are thus killing a shelter dog is not correct. Breeders and Shelters have different markets and different individuals go to each firstly. Secondly, responsible breeders, who do exist, breed with a lot of factors in mind. Many responsible breeders will only have a handful of litters a year at the very most, some only having one or two. If you are getting a dog from a responsible breeder you are very likely to go through a sort of interview process which might, and in many cases should for yours and the breeders benefit, end in your signing a contract which lists out the things you are agreeing to do and not do. Many of these contract include the necessity that you do in fact spay or neuter your dog, and sometimes the breeder will not actually release the AKC or other registered ownership to a dog until there is proof of their having been spayed or neutered. Any dog who is registered as being “limited”, which most breeders give “pet” puppies, is not able to be bred and if they are then the dogs they create cannot be registered.
Responsible breeders also usually include some kind of clause which states that if for any reason the person cannot keep the dog, they are to contact the breeder. No responsible breeder would want their dog to end up in a shelter and they will take back the dog regardless of how long it’s been. They will then either re-home, keep the dog themselves, or work with a breed specific rescue to have the dog re-homed.
Getting a purebred dog from a responsible breeder also usually means a significant wait time. There are usually waiting lists that could be anywhere from a month to several years long depending on the desire of dogs from that breeder and how many litters are had by their dogs.
There are also breed specific rescue groups as mentioned above and shelters who re-home purebred dogs or dogs that appear to have a high percentage of the specific breed in them for people who would rather get an adult dog, though you will in most cases not know the history or upbringing of these dogs.
Mixed breed dogs sometimes come from irresponsible breeders as well who try to take advantage of the “Designer Dog” trend. These dogs are also sometimes intentionally created because of a purported “Hybrid Vigor” which means to say that by cross or mix breeding dogs you get the “best of both breeds”. This is not the case as studies are beginning to come out showing that purebreds are not less healthy than mixed breeds. In reality these dogs do not always get the “best of both” and the assigning of genes to puppies is a completely random occurrence. They get some of everything from both of their parents. If it was a “best of both” situation, all dogs bred would get the best of both of their parents, meaning all health problems would be removed in just a few generations. Mixed breed dogs are also usually not intentional breedings even with the popularity of them. They are usually accidental pups from irresponsible or well meaning owners. If they are intentionally bred we must also keep in mind that if the sire and dame (parents of the pups) are purebreds, that the AKC as well as their parent clubs will not recognize these litters and that these dogs are not encouraged or even approved of by these clubs. That’s not to say the dogs themselves are bad, but it is to say that the purebred world which encourages healthy animals does not approve of breeding in this way. I would be wary of shelter’s with puppies as it is likely that these puppies came from a situation like this, an irresponsible owner doing what they can to get rid of an unwanted litter.
Animal Rights groups may argue that breeders would “get rid” of unpurchased dogs by dumping them on a shelter. This argument is flawed as if a breeder was only in breeding for the money of it, they wouldn’t give the pups to a shelter, normally paying a surrender fee, so that the shelter can then adopt them out for a fee. Responsible Breeders would never do this and even the most irresponsible breeder would be unlikely to. An irresponsible owner might, or a person following the incorrect opinion that a female dog should have one litter before being spayed might.
This is not to say that Mutts or Cross breeds are all bad, or that shelter dogs shouldn’t be adopted. My family has owned both and they were wonderful dogs. But with the anti-purebred arguments getting so much strength it is important to show the other side of things.
If you are going to get a shelter dog, do your homework. Know what breeds you like because if you know you aren’t very active it is good to avoid dogs who appear to be shepherd or sighthound ish seeing as these are dogs that are normally very active. If you know that you need a dog with minimal grooming requirements, don’t get the fluffy Pomeranian looking dog even if it is very cute. If you can, sit and talk with the dog you are interested in. Talk to the people at the shelter to see what kind of temperament the dog appears to have and see if they react differently to men than women or if the dog might have any history with children or animals or the elderly. Going to a shelter also allows you go get a dog that same day in many situations but this decision should not be made on a whim.
When you are getting a dog – breeder or shelter -, the most important thing to do is be sure that you are both physically, financially, and mentally prepared for a 10-20 year commitment depending on the breed. Owning a dog is a lifelong commitment. This is not an Until I have kids, Until I get married, Unless I move, etc. kind of commitment.
Regardless of where you get your dog from. Be ready for it, and do your homework.