Getting a Puppy or Dog? Breeder or Rescue?

Today it seems to be “politically correct” to obtain a dog or puppy only from a rescue or humane organization. However, one must keep in mind that many rescue dogs are placed there because of behavioral problems. While they can be rehabilitated, it takes a lot of time and effort and, with inexperienced new owners, those problems can resurface at a later date. Responsible breeders, on the other hand, know about critical periods and what type of training and socialization is needed at what time period. In contrast, many rescued dogs weren’t properly handled or socialized at all as puppies.

Rescuing dogs is admirable, and certainly needed. But thinking that a rescue dog is the only or always the best choice is absurd. For example, I recently spoke with a trainer who told me this: “In the past I worked mostly with young puppies who came from purebred breeders, and my classes focused on training basic manners and obedience. There were few serious behavior problems, and most of the dogs graduated into well behaved pets, some of whom went on to compete in obedience or other events. Today most of my clients have rescue dogs, and most of the dogs have serious behavior problems. I have had to completely change my class curriculum and find new ways to handle problem dogs. Instead of teaching obedience and manners, my beginning classes now have to deal with overcoming aggression, excessive shyness, inability to control the dog, housebreaking and bonding problems.”

Kids playground equipment makes a great play area for puppies.

Kids playground equipment makes a great play area for puppies.

Choosing a dog from known parentage gives the new owner a better idea of what their puppy’s temperament and health will be as an adult. Choosing a puppy on the referral of another fancier who has had experience with the breed of your choice is an excellent decision. Choose a puppy that is young enough to adapt but old enough to have had some
basic training already–another very wise choice.
Yes, purebred dogs from breeders have problems, too, but the incidence is less because good breeders know how to socialize, they start bonding and training way before weaning age, most pups are raised in the house where they have a great deal of exposure to various people, surfaces, sights and sounds before going to a new home. It is not true that most breeders raise puppies in a barn or kennel and never touch them. Most serious breeders of purebred dogs handle their puppies from day one, and they know how to handle them and what to expose them to at what age. There is a science to raising well adjusted puppies. And the puppies are loved, they get premium feed, the right vitamins and minerals, they are kept clean and parasite free. Pups that end up in rescue may have had no medical care, only the cheapest of food, and no or almost no handling. They were probably taken in off the street, or from a puppy mill where the dogs were seized by authorities.
If you want to give one of these puppies or dogs a home, more power to you. But be prepared to spend time and money overcoming health and behavioral problems. Do not go to a rescue expecting even a purebred dog pup to grow up looking or acting typical of a well bred, well socialized specimen of the breed. They may forever have issues; they may be of such poor quality they won’t look like a purebred even if they are; they may end up with serious health problems that result from improper care or poor breeding.

Neither is it true that crossbred have fewer health problems. Instead of inheriting the genetic problems from one breed, they may carry genetic defects from two or more breeds. They may have structural unsoundness that comes from crossing two very different types of dogs. Purebreds were developed over centuries and the defective dogs culled from the line. Today we cross pug-nosed dogs with long-nosed poodles, or dachshunds with hounds. The tremendous difference in type, structure, and purpose can create major structural problems.

I’m well aware that purebred dogs and purebred dog breeders have their problems and issues, too. But the trend to go overboard and try to make people think that the only way to get a pet is to “rescue” one is pure bunk and comes straight from the animal rights movement, which really intends that no one should be allowed to own a pet at all. Think about that seriously, dog lovers!

We need purebred dogs and responsible purebred dog breeders! I’d hate to think of a world without a choice of dog breeds…especially those that I count as my favorites!  What about you?

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