Your heart can’t tell if the dog in your arms has a pedigree a mile long or a lineage that wouldn’t make it to the end of your street. So why should you care if he’s purebred? Because they’re more predictable. Purebreds have certain specific traits, so you’ll know what you’re getting. If you decide on a quiet, large, non – shedding dog that’s good with children, then you know that a standard Poodle will fill the bill perfectly.
The Predictable Pooch:
The various dog breeds have been monitored for generations, and their ancestry has been recorded and studied. All that history means that when you decide on a purebred dog, you’ve got a good idea of what kind of dog you’ll be getting. “You buy a purebred for the predictability factor,” says Christine L. Wilford, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in Seattle, and regular columnist for the American Kennel Club Gazette. “You also have a good indication of his eventual size and behavior.” Once you know your needs and you know your breeds, you can set about doing the matchmaking.
If you want a dog to accompany you on your daily five – mil jog, you’ll want to rule out a Bulldog, whose physical characteristics lean toward strength, not stamina. Opt instead for a canine athlete, perhaps one of the sporting breeds. Of course, environment and training both play a vital role in molding the adult dog. Nevertheless, certain breeds are genetically predisposed to certain behaviors. The key is to find out what these behaviors are.
The Seven Purebred Groups:
Purebred dogs are divided into various groups, according to the breed’s original purpose. And although the purebreds of today no longer lead the same lives that their ancestors did, they still retain certain qualities and behaviors.
This group includes the larger spaniels, pointers, setters and retrievers. The Vizsla and Weimaraner also belong to this group. These dogs are alert and intelligent. They have been, and continue to be, used by hunters to find and retrieve game. Not surprisingly, they like lots of regular energetic outdoor exercise.
These are dogs that once used either their noses to track small game (scenthounds, such as the Basset Hound and Foxhound) or their keen sight and speed to run down prey (sighthounds, such the Borzoi and Scottish deerhound). This is a diverse group and includes some of the lesser known breeds, such as the Ottherhound and Harrier. They tend to have great stamina, although they differ in their exercise requirements. Most enjoy room to run and sniff.
This diverse group includes guard dogs of livestock and property (the Mastiff and Kuvasz, for example), sled or cart dogs (Samoyed and Bernese mountain dog), rescue dogs (Saint Bernard and Newfoundland), as well as dogs that serves the military (Doberman Pinscher). They are capable and quick to learn, and make dependable companions. Because of their size and strength, it is important that they do properly trained. People new to owning a dog might be wise to choose a female from this group, as she will not grow quite so large and will be less likely to exhibit dominance traits.
These are dogs that “go to ground” – the name “terrier” is derived from “terra,” Latin for earth. Some terriers, such as fox Terriers and Norfolk Terriers, were bred to dig burrowing animals from their dens. Others, such as the West Highland white terrier and Miniature Schnauzer, were bred to kill troublesome vermin. They are feisty and very active, and need owners who are a match for their strong personalities.
Toy dogs include traditional lap – sitters favored by nobility (Pekingese, Japanese Chin and Maltese). Irresistibly cute because of their diminutive size, they can have quite determined personalities. They are ideal for people with limited living space.
Non – Sporting Dogs:
This began as a catch – all groups for dogs that were recognized by the American Kennel Club but didn’t quite fit any of the other groups. Bulldogs, Dalmatians, Lhasa Apsos, Tibetan Terriers and Tibetan Spaniels are included.
These intelligent dogs were bred to herd sheep or cattle, and many still do. The Old English sheepdog, Collie and Briard belong to this group, as does, surprisingly, the German shepherd. They make excellent companions, but the instinct to herd is strong and sometimes they can’t resist rounding up your children.
Getting Some Friendly Advice:
As with any important decision, it’s a good idea to get some input from people in the know. Talk to vets about the breeds that interest you. Vets have probably seen just about everything, and can give you general impressions. They can also probably put you in touch with breeders of that particular dog. “Some people think vets aren’t fair judges because they see a dog when he’s under stress, and therefore more likely to misbehave or show troublesome behavior,” says Diller.
“I think that’s the best time to get an impression. If a dog is steady and reliable under the worst circumstances, it’s a good dog,”
Trainers can tell you how easy it is to train certain breeds, which they’ve had the most trouble with, and which breeds are better – suited to first time owners or to people with more experience.
To see various breeds in action, visit dog shows or events, such as obedience trials or herding tests. Talk to the owners, who will often also be breeders. They will be happy to tell you about their canines. But be aware that you’ll be talking to a real fan of the breed and may not get an objective opinion. “Someone who lives with, breeds and shows Doberman Pinschers is going to love them and may be a little one-sided on the topic.” Says Bauman. “Be sure to ask about what aspects of the breed they don’t like.”
Purebred Health Problems:
Creating breeds involves concentrating genetic material to obtain physical characteristics appearance, behavior or personality. The down side of this is that a smaller gene pool can increase a purebred dog’s inherited predisposition to certain illnesses. Unfortunately, disease or defects may show up only when the dog is several years old and has perhaps been bred himself.
Every breed is susceptible to some ailment or disorder. Most large breeds are prone to a joint disorder called hip dysplasia. Cocker Spaniels, Akitas and Siberian Huskies, among others, have a higher incidence of progressive retinal atrophy and hereditary cataracts. And a blood – clotting disorder known as von Willebrand’s disease has shown up in many breeds, including Doberman Pinschers and Scottish terriers. Newfoundland’s are prone to heart defects. Deafness can be common in Dalmatians. And dogs with pushed in faces, such as Pugs and Pekingese, are prone to respiratory problems and heatstroke.
There are ways to lessen the chance that your purebred pup will suffer from a disease to which his breed is genetically predisposed. Purchase him from a reputable breeder, who will have carefully matched the parents based n their genetic backgrounds to breed out inherited problems. Make sure that the parents have received clean bill of health. The pup should also have been checked carefully by a vet.
It’s also wise to find out how old the pup’s grandparents lived to be and ask if any of his relatives succumbed to diseases or conditions common to the breed. Long lived relatives are often a good indicator of a healthy line of dogs.
Worth the Price:
You can pay a lot for a beautiful purebred dog. But if you go to a reputable, knowledgeable breeder, you’ll get your money’s worth. You’re paying for that the person’s years of experience with dogs in general and with that breed in particular. You’re also paying for ongoing help and advice. Any breeder who cares about her dogs will gladly answer your questions, before you buy the dog and in the years to come, “A breeder is responsible for the puppy she has bred, whelped and weaned,” says Janet Lalonde, D.V.M,. A veterinarian in private practice in Alexandria, Ontario, and a Whippet breeder. “Responsibilities include day – to – day attention, socialization and health care, and also a commitment to selecting the proper home for the puppy,”
Litter size is a factor that determines how much your pup will cost. Toy breeds may have only one or two pups per litter, so it costs the breeder more per puppy to recoup stud fees and vet bills. The difficulty a dog experiences when whelping is another factor. Breeds with large heads, such as bulldogs, must often have cesareans, which add to the breeder’s costs.
There’s also the question of “show quality,” and can be exhibited in dog shows. Those that do not are often dubbed “pet quality.” Don’t assume there’s anything wrong with a puppy just because the breeder hasn’t chosen to show the dog. It’s often just a case of a small kink in the pup’s tail – a serious fault in the show ring but of no consequence to a loving family. “However, if you buy from show litters,” advises Bauman, “you’ll know that the health and quality of the pups was the breeder’s main consideration.