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Why Get a Purebred Dog?

Ask people on the street and you're likely to get highly emotional responses and old wives tales. We'll try to sort through to some accurate information.

You know what you're getting with a purebred

Breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) take years to develop and the AKC is finicky. You can research the characteristics of a breed, such as the Yorkshire Terrier, and know what to expect in size and temperament or you can identify a breed developed for a specific purpose; i.e., herding.

Many AKC breeds have pedigrees that can be traced back more than 100 years. This creates a level of predictability in size and temperament that cannot be easily duplicated.

AKC designation means something

I don't pay any attention to club registrations other than the AKC or the United Kennel Club (which is reputable but more family oriented than the AKC).

The AKC has been in business since the 1880s and can trace the lineage of some dogs back 100 years.

Anyone can start a dog registry. These registries are profit centers and marketing tools. One I know will even 'register' dog/wolf crossbreeds.

Only the AKC is an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recognized non-profit organization.

Breed clubs maintain standards and health

Official breed clubs, such as the Havansese Club of America, (HCA) are members of the AKC and dictate the breed standard and practices for breeders who want to be members of the club.

To be included within the HCA breeder's referral service, a breeder must meet strict health testing requirements through Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) testing for hearing, The Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) for eyes and Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hips and knees.

Thanks to the AKC's large DNA database and sponsored studies, responsible breeders can test for many genetic diseases and avoid breeding dogs with those.

Mutts are not guaranteed to be healthier

Here's what a veterinarian and professor at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine wrote in 2013:

"The most commonly seen genetic diseases in dogs are seen with equal frequency across purebred and mixed breed dogs (hip dysplasia, epilepsy, allergies, certain cancers, patella luxation, and cataracts).

"Many defective genes are ancient and their existence preceded the differentiation of breeds."

That's why genetic diseases are common to all dogs - purebred and mutt.

Selective matings - which is what the AKC promotes - also has the ability to reduce or eliminate entrenched genetic problems.

As an example, spotting in Dalmatians is linked to a recessive gene for abnormal metabolism of certain amino acids which can predispose the breed to bladder stones.

Beginning in 1973, however, a sanctioned interbreeding of Dalmatian and Pointer reduced that recessive gene in the breed and today's Dalmatian breeders have demonstrated they can have dogs with spots but with normal metabolism.

You can have your romantic old-wives tales about mutts; I prefer genetic testing.

Nothing is perfect however. Purebred breeding stock may be so narrow genetic problems will never be eliminated

The AKC requires that offspring come from the mating of dogs registered with the club and closes stud (male) books for breeds.

Unfortunately, there are a limited number of champion male dogs bred repeatedly so any defective gene becomes more common throughout the breed.

Even if the current canine diseases were eliminated through DNA testing, different diseases might occur in a closed, weakening gene pool.

Breed clubs may, and do, lobby the AKC to re-open stud books to add more dogs and those from overseas. This does happen from time to time so it's not a completely static situation.

Crossbreeds do not automatically get the best of both breeds

Too many Internet breeders advertise that their Poodle-mix will be allergy free and non-shedding while getting the best quality of the other cross breed. (No dog is 100% non shedding; Poodles happen to be 99%.)

Try asking the advertiser for a guarantee that the dog will be non-shedding and have a Poodle's coat. There's just as much possibility that an individual dog will inherit the WORST characteristics of each parent rather than the best.

That doesn't mean I don't love crossbreeds. They can be great pets but there is no guarantee. It takes up to eight generations of breeding and genetic monitoring to create a consistent dog breed.

You're not immoral to get a purebred

For all the reasons stated above, it makes sense for someone, especially someone who isn't experienced with dogs, to go for a purebred.

If you want to get a purebred but through a rescue group, all the AKC breed clubs have rescue groups that offer purebreds. Visit http://www.akc.org/breeds/rescue.cfm.

If a crazed animal rights activist bothers you, ask them if they believe it's immoral to have a biological child with so many orphans and foster-care children available for adoption. Ask them why they aren't trying to place these needy children.

Bottom line, when you get a dog from a breeder or breed club rescue group -

  • You know the breed and what to expect.
  • Your get a breeder who will serve as a resource throughout the life of your dog.

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