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 “BSL” and why are so many people against it?

What is “BSL” and why are so many people against it?

Breed Specific Legislation, or BSL for short, is something that is hated by many people in the show and shelter circuits of the dog world. This is for many reasons, but the main reasons are:

  1. It does not stop what it is put in place to stop, namely Dog-Human aggression.
  2. It does little to nothing to protect animals from being mistreated, neglected, or any other number of forms of abuse.
  3. It actually in some ways make certain breeds more attractive to people who want dogs for the wrong reasons (ie. status, fighting, etc.)
  4. Many dogs who have done nothing and have no history of aggression are removed from loving families and put down for nothing other than their breed.

The current dog which is under scrutiny is the Pit Bull, which is actually more of a type name like herding or hound, than a breed itself, but in the past dogs such as German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, Akitas, and more were the “aggressive” dog found in newspapers and legislation. (Many Insurance Companies will not allow you to get renters or homeowners insurance from them if you own an “Aggressive Breed” of dog)

BSLs are put in place in many cities and even countries around the world in an effort to bring down dog bite numbers in the surrounding areas. But just like treating a symptom without knowing the illness BSLs have done little to do what they are meant to do. In many of the places which rely on BSLs, such as Great Britain, Ireland, and parts of Canada and the US, there has been little to no change in numbers of reported dog bites since legislation was put in place to restrict or ban ownership of certain breeds.

When looking at animal welfare side of this it is terribly shocking. Firstly, though it may make it more difficult to acquire a dog legitimately this does not stop people from buying and breeding dogs for dog fighting and status. In fact, by making a breed illegal to own or more difficult to register, it is actually causing a dog fighting ring to go more underground and cause them to be harder for the authorities to crack down on. More people who should not own dogs or who only want an animal to help make them look tough will look for this breed because of the image BSLs put on the dogs.

The final point however, number 4 above, is what really makes me dislike BSLs. Many people who move to cities who do not know there is a BSL in place, or even people who have lived in cities for years before a BSL is put in place but who are not “grandfathered in” learn that they can either move or get rid of their dog. This is heartbreaking and unfair to the families and the dogs.

Humans make such a point to say that we should not judge one another by our skin, nationality, culture, and more. So why is it acceptable to judge a dog by its breed when it’s proven that how an animal is raised, treated, and cared for matter more than the breed of dog itself?

As always, Responsible Breeding and Responsible Ownership should be what is taught.

Please read the articles included below for a more in-depth look at BSLs, the truth about Pits and Bully Breeds, and more.

Chako – Pit Bull Rescue

Positively – Mom, we’re getting a puppy…

Positively – American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior Position on BSLs

Your Pit Bull and You – Learning is not Breed Specific

Huffpost – Bully Breeds vs Insurance Companies

Tidbit: Pit Bulls are generalized to be any dog with a block head, muscular body, and a deep chest. As you can imagine, many breeds fit into these characteristics. Even the “Pick the Pit” website makes a point to say that Pit Bull isn’t a recognized breed in itself and includes many pictures of dogs regularly called Pit Bulls or even Pit Mixes though they are Purebred dogs of other breeds.

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

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