Updated: October 16, 2012 at 12:00 am
One of the numerous decisions prospective puppy/dog owners are faced with is whether to choose a mixed breed or to go with a pure-bred dog from a breeder. As with any decision, there are pros and cons to either choice.
Purchasing a dog from an established, reputable breeder can definitely increase the odds that your new companion will be healthy and even-tempered for its entire life. These breeders spend countless hours researching pedigrees before breeding, and take excellent care of both the parents and the puppies. You can expect to pay much more for these dogs, but the investment can be worthwhile in the long run.
Unfortunately, this caliber of breeder is grossly outnumbered by backyard breeders and puppy mills, who breed dogs indiscriminately with only profit in mind, and the results are tragic. Health and temperament issues are quite common. For example, I worked with about a dozen hyper-aggressive golden retrievers last year. All were AKC registered.
Furthermore, I have had several clients over the years that had wonderful dogs that were plagued with severe health issues, some so pronounced that the poor dog had to be euthanized. So do your research before spending big bucks on a pure-bred dog.
Mutts (cross-breeds, including the designer breeds) pose the same risks, and benefits. The biggest concern with mutts is genetics: You have no way of predicting what you are going to get. Breeding two wonderful dogs doesn’t automatically mean that you are going to get wonderful puppies. I have dealt with some very nasty puggles, Labradoodles, and goldendoodles.
On the upside, mutts can be the best dogs that you’ve ever met. Many people swear by them, and adopt their dogs. Not only are they saving a life (and money), but they are also theoretically avoiding the health issues that can be caused by too much line breeding (having the same dogs in both the sire and dam’s pedigree). Though shelter dogs usually have some psychological baggage, they also tend to be extremely loyal once they realize that they are “home,” and a little training can cure any issues that they may have had.
The inspiration for this article is our German shepherd mix, Pippin. She was found in a box on the side of I-25, down by Fountain, with two littermates, at about 7 weeks of age. My wife and I were the temperament evaluators at the Humane Society at the time, and Pippin failed the puppy test, being too aggressive and dominant, but otherwise great. So we adopted her in October of 2001, with the intention of training her to be a K-9 and selling her to a unit.
That notion lasted about three days, when I fell in love with her, and she has been my Little Baby Girl ever since! Dynamite obedience and protection work, and she started detection, but wasn’t really into it. She has done several demos, and I would take her with me when I trained with K-9 units, and she would always be in the rotation, doing all of the same things that the K-9s did.
Pippin turned 11 in August. She worked on one of our new decoys last Sunday, who was amazed at her strength. I told her that Pip is only about a third of what she used to be, but still gets the job done. Without a doubt, the best $85 we have ever spent!
Ultimately, the choice is yours whether to bring a mutt or a pure-bred dog into your family.
Hopefully, this article has given you some food for thought, and dispelled some preconceived ideas that you may have had on this topic.
Jim Beinlich and his wife Bianca own Cool K9’s Dog Training in Colorado Springs. Find them at www.coolk9s.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/coolk9s.