On Neutering and Spaying

On Neutering and Spaying

So here is a touchy subject so I feel the need to preface this by saying I am not saying those who do or do not neuter/spay their dogs are right or wrong. I am simply putting my own opinion out there and giving information I have learned over the years which has influenced this opinion. I encourage everyone to do what is responsible and inform themselves before making any medical choice for their pets and to get opinions from your vet (and even multiple vets). Go over information and get in touch with many people to see their thoughts on your options.

Here is my opinion. We neuter and spay our animals as an easy escape of responsibility. There are many people who have intact animals (those who retain their hormones and sexual organs) who have never bred them and who do not plan on breeding. There is nothing wrong with these people and they are not being “irresponsible” by not spaying or neutering. Some could say that in fact they are being more responsible because their dogs have the capability of breeding but do not, meaning their owners have to enact more control and conscious supervision over their animals.

Firstly, it is standard to spay and neuter dogs very early in their lives and by doing so we open them up to countless problems which they will have to face for the rest of their lives. In neutered males alone they are 3 times more likely to be plagued with obesity. In spayed females they are 2 times as likely to be obese. Likelihood of your neutered pet developing Hip Dysplasia, Hemangiosarcoma (a very deadly form of cancer),  Hypothyroidism, Geriatric Cognitive Impairment (a type of dementia for pets), Ligament Rupture, and Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) are all increased, particularly when the neutering is done before they have fully developed physically and mentally. Likelihood of your spayed pet developing all of these problems as well as Urinary Incontinence, Dermatitis, Vaginal Infections, or Urinary Tract Infections are also increased, again especially when the spaying is done before they have fully developed.

Secondly, if you wanted to remove the possibility of your dog impregnating another, or becoming pregnant themselves, there are alternatives which allow them to keep their sexual hormones which not only affect their behavior, but assist in their development. Imagine a human child who had their sexual hormones removed before puberty and before they’d developed physically and mentally. They would not be a “normal” adult human. Why are we content with animals being trapped in an eternal prepubescent state? These alternatives are many but two common ones are not abnormal to us. They are tubal ligation’s (having ones “tubes tied”) for females and vasectomy’s for males. These remove the possibility of breeding from the dogs, yet allows them to retain their hormones, thus allowing them to develop naturally and not have the high likelihood of diseases and problems which are known to be tied to having these hormones removed.

There are some who look at these facts who still state that the “risks” associated do not outweigh the benefits of neutering, but I would be quick to state that since one of the biggest benefits is to you and not your dog (the fact that they now cannot possibly be bred) that it should not be included in any sort of pro/con situation. Rather, simply looking at the health benefits versus the health risks, and also factoring in that this is an optional unnecessary procedure which includes anesthesia which is always a risk, one must very carefully determine what they are to do.

Personally, this is the main reason why I will not adopt a dog from a standard shelter. Many refuse to release a dog, regardless of age, to anyone before they are spayed or neutered. This means that even puppies as young as 8 wks are neutered or spayed. Instead I will work with a responsible breeder who understands my fears associated with this procedure and who is willing and happy to allow me to keep a dog under an alternative to spay/neuter if not completely intact.

Adopting a Puppy – Age Matters!

Adopting a Puppy – Age Matters!

Recently my very best friend added a beautiful coonhound named Merlin to her family, consisting of herself, her boyfriend, a loving young pit-mix, and a young cat. I was ecstatic, knowing that they had been looking for a puppy for a while.

There was one problem though, and she knew that was the case. This puppy was only 6 weeks old. Why was my friends 6 week old puppy a problem?

In an ideal situation would be to take the puppy sometime between 10 and 12 weeks, though if you’re picking them up later you would want for there to have been many interactions between you and the pup so you aren’t a completely new person. At the very least you should pick up your puppy when they are 8 weeks. This is because in this time your dog is learning about him or herself, about dogs, and about proper interactions. Your puppy will learn from his mother, his litter-mates, and from the other people and animals in his breeders household.

There is no benefit from separating a dog from its family unit early. There is nothing to gain from it. The breeder is the only one who might gain anything early because they get money from the dog early, and don’t have to spend money feeding those puppies an extra couple weeks. For a breeder to do this is not only unethical, but is in ignorance, irresponsibility, and at the very worst is out of greed. If a breeder gives puppies up before they are eight weeks old, or refuses to keep a puppy until it is eight weeks old then you should walk away. Along the same lines, if the mother is no longer able to interact with or is no longer on site with the puppies you should also walk away.

The steps a litter goes through are roughly these:

  1. Birth – 2 Weeks: No expectations. Nurse, Sleep, eliminate by mothers encouragement.
  2. 2 – 3 Weeks: Eyes and ears open. First chance to be aware of surroundings via more than touch and smell.
  3. 3-16 Weeks: Socialization Period. Begin interacting with surroundings.
    1. 6-12 Weeks: Critical Period. When dogs develop social skills. 50% of the dogs eventual temperament will be developed during this time. Incorrect social behavior is tolerated mildly but corrected.
  4. 13 Weeks – 6 Months: Beginning of adulthood. Incorrect social behavior no longer tolerated by other dogs.

In the first two weeks of a dogs critical socialization period some very important things happen. At this time the dogs are fully weaned and will not be nursing from the mother, but it is vital that they still be interacting with her. This is because she is the key figure in their lives and she will now be teaching them proper social behavior. Before now she allowed them the climb on her, nibble her, chew her, and even possibly hang from her ears or tail by teeth. Now, she will physically show them that the behavior they used to get away with is not appropriate and will not be tolerated. She will yelp when they nip her to show them that nibbling and biting is only tolerated so far. She will enforce rules and show them what is and what isn’t good behavior. The mother is the first one to show them they are no longer babies and that they are expected to behave, and what behaving means.

As mentioned above, it’s during this time that about half of the dogs eventual temperament is developed. This is because the puppies will learn that there is a hierarchy to things, that there are things expected of them. Not only will their mother teach them what they can and cannot get away with, but their siblings will do the same. We have all seen puppies rough-house and then hear one yelp and the playing stop. This is so important as this teaches dogs not only when they’ve gone too far, but also helps teach them the signs and signals that other dogs will give off when they’re reaching the line or need a break.

Dogs who are separated from their litter and from their mother before this happens are effectively socially and emotionally crippled. They aren’t given the opportunities to learn what is and isn’t acceptable social behavior and because of that are more likely to over stimulate others, or go too far when “playing”.

They are also more likely to become fearful in new situations as they have no experience truly interacting with their surroundings. Because of this they can go into these new situations and become fear-biters or fear-aggressive. These dogs are not angry or mean, but they will view new experiences as attacks and react by defending themselves. Dogs separated too early from their mothers and siblings are usually ones who will over or under react to dogs because they never learned how to read calming or stress signals in others. This usually causes many fights to happen and can cause your dog to develop more phobias and fears.

Other problems which people might experience from dogs who they get from a breeder too early can be health related. In the extra time with their litter and their mother the puppy will be protected and learn self-soothing techniques which can help them in situations of anxiety or overstimulation. If they don’t get this they are more prone to separation anxiety which because of the stress hormones released can very negatively affect your dogs long-term health. They can also have more difficulty with weight gain and growth in their lifetimes. They will be more prone to illnesses and health problems throughout their lives and they usually have a higher mortality rate than is the norm for their breeds.

Overall, there is no benefit in separating a dog from its mother or siblings early and there are many negatives that would otherwise be avoided.

When getting a puppy always know that your breeder is doing everything that is best for their dogs. This includes things like health checks and not over-breeding, but it also includes simple things like keeping a litter together for a responsible amount of time, at least 8 weeks. If a breeder has beautiful dogs but does not do this, walk away.

In the case of little Merlin, my friend’s new pup, we’re moving forward. The breeder did do wrong by the pup by separating him from his litter and his mother at that age and more knowledge about the outcomes could have helped all involved, but what’s done is done. All I can hope is that by letting more people know why early separations are horrible for the dogs and why you should always completely look into a situation before getting a new dog from a breeder, or from anywhere, I can help dogs in the future avoid this situation.

Why Breed Matters When Choosing a Dog.

Why Breed Matters When Choosing a Dog.

As many can tell from my previous posts and articles, I am a big proponent of responsible dog breeding and of purebred dogs. This is not because I for any reason dislike or don’t trust shelter dogs or the shelters themselves, though some shelters have been shown to be doing very negative things in the recent past. This is simply because I believe that responsible breeders will last.

If responsible ownership is encouraged and enforced I would love to see a world where responsible breeders, whether they produce purebred or mixed breed, are the way to get pets. I would love to see a future where shelters are a thing of the past because there are few to no unwanted or homeless pets. Shouldn’t this be what we aim for?

Regardless of this ideal future, people do get their dogs from many sources and no matter where they choose the breed of a dog is always a factor.

Some might say that this isn’t the case, especially with mixed breed dogs. I however beg to differ. It has been my experience that many dog – person relationships could experience a significant change if the person takes into account the breed when not only bringing home a dog, but when training or interacting with them as well.

Here’s what I mean by this.

Certain dog breeds were and are bred or created for specific purposes. Dogs who are known as being destructive, loud, or difficult are usually bored, underestimated, intelligent animals! Do you think a mathematician would be happy to watch infants all day every day? Then why do we believe that an Australian Shepherd or Siberian Husky, dogs bred to work, would be satisfied by a half hour walk when you get home from work, after leaving them alone for 8 or more hours while you were there?

In the same regard, I have heard and experienced many people do the following. Say that they want a dog to get them to be more active. I have said this before in my post on responsible ownership, rather than encourage you to get out more this dog will most likely do nothing more than frustrate you. Instead, if you are inactive, get a dog that might only need a short walk daily, not a marathon sprinter.

Does this mean that all energetic people need Greyhounds and Salukis and all couch potatoes need Bulldogs or Pugs? No! Many Greyhounds are happy as a clam to lounge on the couch daily so long as they get the opportunity to dash every once in a while and get to go on walks regularly. Many Bulldogs would be happy to take a long slow hike so long as you give them adequate sitting breaks.

I’m also not saying that apartment dwellers shouldn’t have energetic dogs. I am saying that if you are to get one, know the responsibilities that go into giving them the appropriate stimulation and exercise.

Mental training is great and treat puzzles can keep some dogs entertained and happy for hours! You can also have just as much fun as your dog through activities like competitive obedience or agility or flyball. There are countless games, puzzles, activities, and more that you can do with your dog.

Always, always, always take all of the necessary steps when looking to add someone to your family, which is what you are doing when you get a pet. One of those steps is determining what personality, energy level, size, and requirements your furry friend is going to need. Looking at breed is a great way to do this! There are some exceptions to this and dogs cannot be 100% judged by their breed. Every dog is individual and every dog has its own personality traits that cannot be fully predetermined by breed alone, but it is a great place to start!

What is a Puppy Mill

What is a Puppy Mill

In my “Responsible Dog Owner” post I mentioned how to acquire a dog. One way which many people may get their dogs, either intentionally or unintentionally, is through a puppy mill. This is not a responsible way to get a dog though. You will hear this reiterated by just about everyone in the pet owning world as well. Here is why.

A puppy mill breeder is not a breeder who tests their animals for health, raises puppies with love and encouragement, never over breeds a dame, or any other numbers of things which responsible breeders do to make sure their animals are happy and healthy at all times.
A puppy mill breeder is in breeding not for the betterment of a breed and not because they want to continue good temperament they have in their dog.
A puppy mill breeder is in breeding for nothing but the money. They will breed a dog until she cannot have puppies anymore. They will not do the required health tests and will breed dogs with faults, health problems, and bad temperaments. They will sell dogs on the internet without requiring the Perspective buyer to meet the dog, and they will ship the dog out. They will not ask buyers questions before selling a dog. They will not require any kind of contract. If for any reason a person cannot keep a dog, they don’t want to hear about it.
These people do not take responsibility for what they do and do not believe they should. They keep animals in horrendous conditions and many do not believe they are doing anything wrong.
The people who purchase from them are either uninformed or unknowing. Many people will look online and see a picture of a dog who they fall in love with, when they hear that they can have the dog in a week and they don’t have to do anything but pay a couple hundred, they’re sold. Puppy mills are also a frequent supplier for any pet you will get from a Pet Store. Many people who go this route may not know what they are doing because in a world of convenience and instant gratification, it would appear to these people as though this is how it should work.
That is not the case.
When looking for a dog the only options you should entertain are responsible no-kill shelters or responsible breeders. Please, do your homework before deciding to bring a dog into your home, and when you do, do so responsibly.

What is “Responsible Dog Ownership”?

What is “Responsible Dog Ownership”?

You will hear me say time and time again that we need more Responsible Dog Owners. That they are who will in the long run help dogs, breeds, and encourage positive action.

Owning a god is not a privilege but a responsibility.

What is a responsible owner though? Here’s how I like to explain and how I understand responsible ownership.

Responsible Dog Owners should go through three stages.

1.) Determining if a dog is right for them and all involved.

This means that the person has acknowledged the responsibility of dog ownership and has decided that they can not only enjoy having a dog in their life, but that they can better a dogs life. This person will assess their abilities, meaning their physical, mental, and financial abilities to own a dog and that they come to the conclusion that they can. This person will then think about their expectations of a dog and what they want from their dog. Whether it is a TV watching companion or a marathon running training partner. They will then take this expectations and see what dog breeds would work for them. They will take into account size, coat length, trainability, energy level, and more. They might have color interests for a dog, such as liking Merle Australian Shepherds more than Red Tris, but this will rank low on their list of “wants” for a dog and would not keep them from getting one who fits all of their other criteria.

The final step this person will hit before moving on is to determine where they get their dog from. For a responsible owner there are three choices.

A Responsible Breeder, a Breed Specific Rescue which is most likely associated with a kennel club or breed club, or a local No-Kill shelter.

2.) Picking out and preparing for their new dog.

The next step is to actually pick out the puppy who will be with you for the rest of their lives. Depending on where you’re getting your dog, some things may vary. For example-

If getting your dog from a responsible breeder you may first have to fill out a questionnaire with the breeder. This will tell the breeder a lot about you and also allow you to tell the breeder what’s important to you. This will help the breeder steer you to a puppy who has a temperament and energy level that will fit your lifestyle. Note, a responsible breeder will always put temperament over coat or eye color and reserves the right to deny a dog to a person if they believe that person to be unfit for their line, the breed, or for dogs in general. Expect to not only ask questions, but have questions asked of you. These pups are the breeders making, and they will take great care to place them with responsible and confident people.

You will most likely, if accepted by the breeder, then be put on a “wait list” and you will be notified if a litter is born and especially if the breeder believes a puppies traits fit what you are looking for.

You will also be expected to sign a contract which at the very least will say that the breeder guarantees a clean bill of health, that the dog will be “covered” for a specified time from the day it leaves their possession so that if anything major does come up that they should notify the breeder immediately, and then there will be conditions to the sale/adoption. For pets these usually include that the dog cannot be bred and should be spayed or neutered, that if for any reason the buyer cannot keep the dog that they are not to sell, give, or re-home the dog to anyone except the breeder without express written permission from the breeder, and that if for any reason the breeder finds or learns that the dog is being mistreated, abused, neglected, or that the owner did not follow other conditions of the contract, that the seller retains the right to remove the dog and will not be required to reimburse the buyer for anything.

If getting from a shelter you may be able to get a dog same day and select from any number of animals and ages. Many shelters now how personnel whose job it is to be sure that pet adopters select dogs that will fit their lifestyle, but it is not the norm for a shelter to refuse adoption for this reason.

Between the time you decide that you truly do want a dog and the day you bring a dog into your home you should prepare as well.

This means not only buying toys, a bed, a crate, food, and bowls. But buying a collar, harness, and lead and also getting in contact with a local vet. It is recommended to get in with your vet as soon as you can once you have a new dog, especially a puppy.

3.) Practicing responsible ownership – A Day to Day task for the life of the animal.

Now you’ve got your dog in the home with you. This is where the true “responsible ownership” comes to play. Everything else was preparing you for this. Your job now is to prepare your dog for the world and be her ambassador. This means training in a proper way, socializing them, and taking them to regular vet visits. This means being aware of changes in your dogs personality or actions so you can contact your vet to see if something is wrong. This means going above and beyond giving your dog the necessities for life, but that you are a true friend to your dog. This means exercising and playing regularly. This means challenging your dog with different games and puzzles so they aren’t just physically tired but mentally tired as well. This means doing all you can do to protect your dog, including microchipping them just in case the worst were to happen and they got out.

If you got a purebred this means registering with the proper clubs and organizations, such as the AKC.

You could participate in companion events where your dog doesn’t need to be intact, such as agility and herding, not only to challenge them, but to challenge yourself and also meet new people.

You should also continue reading and learning what you can!

Informed and responsible ownership can make a difference and I believe it will.

Great Resources to learn more:

AKC: http://www.akc.org/dog-owners/responsible-dog-ownership/

American Veterinary Medical Association: https://www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Pages/Guidelines-for-Responsible-Pet-Ownership.aspx

Dog time: http://dogtime.com/consider-before-getting-dog-hsus.html

Inspired by Twitter Conversation with @Peta

Inspired by Twitter Conversation with @Peta

As some of you know I have a twitter, @yourpositivedog which is tied to this blog. Tonight Peta made a comment against the Westminster Dog Show and purebred dogs using the #WKCDogShow tag and this started a bit of a back and forth between myself and them.

They used this pro-shelter article in a post against me.

http://www.pet360.com/dog/adoption/8-reasons-to-adopt-a-dog/l1AvcWKyOUyQMnJVUVaF1Q

Now I am not against pet360, they share a lot of wonderful information and share both sides of many topics. In looking at this article though, I saw a lot of very biased or downright incorrect information. Here’s a breakdown of some things I noticed in this article.

1)You’ll save a life.

This is true for the majority of shelters. Shelters usually run on a system where after a certain period of time if a dog is not adopted they will be humanely killed. I say killed and not euthanized here because they are killed. I reserve euthanization as a term to be used only in situations where everything possible has been done for the dog and it is a quality of life and health decision, not a convenience.

This however is becoming less and less the norm as “No-Kill” shelters exist. These shelters will keep an animal as long as it takes to get them adopted. These are no Kill, not no euthanize as they do euthanize dogs whose quality of life has deteriorated to the point where it would be inhumane to keep them alive.

The downside of this is that in areas of high populations, an animal may be turned away from a shelter because they are at capacity.

Let it be known, though Peta may use the term “euthanize” very freely, they do not use it in the way that No-Kill shelters or I do. Peta’s VA shelter is NOT a No-Kill shelter.

2.) Wide variety of choices.

This will vary depending on time of year, your location, and various other factors. An example of this is that in my hometown, Cleveland, most dogs you find in any shelter in the area is a Pit-Mix. Also, most of the dogs in our shelters are either between 2 and 4 yrs or upwards of 9.

3.) Basic Health Care Provided.

If you decide to get a shelter dog please be sure that they follow this rule! This is what most No-Kill shelters do. This simply means that if a dog is ill or injured when they receive it, the shelter will do all within their ability to save the animal. Their first reaction will not be to kill the animal. The shelter might even raise funds to help pay for a costly procedure rather than write a dog off. This also means that the day-to-day upkeep of a dog is done to keep the dog in healthy form.

Peta, as we have learned, does not offer this to their animals.

4.) Adoption saves money.

This is true, adoption usually doesn’t even 100% cover the cost of upkeep for a dog. This lower cost makes dog ownership more available to people.

Before adopting a person should still be sure they are financially, physically, and mentally prepared for a dog as the cost of ownership is the same regardless of what the cost to get the dog was. Adoption is also usually faster than getting a dog from a responsible purebred breeder and so it should be known that dog ownership should not be a spur of the moment decision. Talk with your family and assess your situation before even visiting a shelter.

5.) It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

This would seem to be true but as I mentioned above, the adoption fee usually doesn’t cover the full cost of the day-to-day upkeep for a dog in a shelter, especially if they had been there for a while. Rather, what “keeps on giving” and keeps shelters running are donations.

It is not unreasonable to look into where different donations, adoption fees, and other money going into a shelter are put towards and it is not rude to ask!

6.) You won’t be supporting puppy mills.

One would wish this were the case but in some situations it is not. The problem with shelter dogs is you do not ever know all of the answers. The beautiful 2 yr old you’re looking at through a gate could have been a puppy mill dog. In adopting a shelter dog you aren’t directly supporting a puppy mill, but you might be second hand as the first owner of that dog could have gotten him from one. The only way to know that you aren’t supporting a puppy mill is by getting a dog from a responsible breeder.

7.) You can pick a house trained dog.

This is usually the case, but did you know dogs sometimes urinate because of stress or in submission. Your new dog also could never have been inside before, or they could have been improperly trained, or not trained at all. Again, you might not know.

8.) Rescue Dog Bond

One would hope that a dog will see this, that you are the person coming in to save them from their past. This isn’t always the case though. If that dog was abused by men, or even if they didn’t interact with men during the critical socialization period, that dog might always be wary of the men in your life. This is for anything the dog either was taught not to trust or not properly socialized with. Also, if the dog was improperly trained they could appear aggressive and uncontrollable because you as the new owner don’t know the dogs triggers.

I am not against shelter or rescue dogs. The first two dogs in my life were rescues. I am against spreading incorrect information and in using fear or emotional tactics. Please, please, please, do your homework before even thinking of getting a dog. Learn the facts and do not make rush decisions.

Dogs are forever.

Not until the dog gets old.

Not until you have a kid.

Not until you get married.

Not until you move and find it hard to get an apartment with a 40 lb dog.

If you adopt, through a shelter, rescue, or breeder, please do so knowing that you are bringing that animal into your life for all of its life.

Purebred or Shelter Dog?

Purebred or Shelter Dog?

-Updated

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.

-Alexandra