Humans first domesticated our four-legged best friends over fifteen thousand years ago from gray wolves. Anthropologists believe that these wolf cubs were taken from dens and raised within the communities and eventually selectively bred for various positive traits. Selective breeding continued until there was a wide range of physical and temperament varieties of these adaptable animals; from hunting assistant to lap dog, there was a breed for every job.
Although many people and organizations believe that selective breeding to develop purebred dogs is wrong, there is a good reason for why dog breeding took, and continues, to take place. For example, let’s look at one of the most uniquely developed breeds on earth – the Lundehund.
The Norwegian Lundehund developed as far back as 1600 AD to hunt puffins, an almost impossible task for their human master. Lundefugl, or puffins, nest in caves and hollows on the craggy cliffs along the Norwegian coast. To help them navigate the cliffs, Lundehunds have extra, fully functioning toes with complete musculature and joints. On average, instead of the four functioning toes of other breeds, Lundehunds can have over six toes per foot. Next, to aid in maneuvering in the tight passages preferred by the puffins, Lundehunds hare extremely flexible with forelegs that can be stretched backwards until they are perpendicular to the body and a neck that allows their head to be bent back along their spine. Next comes ears that can close over to prevent dirt and contaminates from entering the ear canals as well as missing teeth so that more puffins can fit in their mouths without damaging the valuable meat.
Was the Norwegian Lundehund vital to the survival of the rural folks eking out a living out of the harsh coasts of Norway? Hard to say for certain but it is hard to imagine the care and attention that would have gone into breeding such a unique set of genetic traits was done on a whim.
Why do you want a Purebred Dog?
The difference between purchasing a purebred puppy versus a mixed breed is there are predictable physical and temperament traits in the purebred puppy. Although there are exceptions, if you are able to view a pedigree and generational photographs along with meeting the parents of the pup, you can be relatively certain of what your pup will be like as an adult dog. This consistency is attractive on many levels – size, coat type, behavior, health and temperament are all within moderately known parameters.
The ability to predict traits is highly desirable. What if you had allergies to dogs but really wanted to share your life with one? Knowing that your dog will be non-shedding and most likely hypoallergenic is vital to your life together. There are also solid arguments for knowing what size your pet will be when they are full grown. What if you live in an apartment building that only allows dogs up to twenty pounds? Or you do not want a dog that you cannot lift into the back of your car? Purebred dogs generally are similar in size to their parents whereas a mixed breed dog can be nearly any size depending on what breeds are in the mix!
Is it vital that you know your dog is hypoallergenic or that it is a specific size? Yes. Is it wrong to want a purebred dog then? No, not at all.
The Cons of Purebred Dogs
Along with the positive aspects of owning a purebred dog, there are also some drawbacks. The positive hereditary traits are only one side of the coin. There are negative traits that can be passed along as well and are often overlooked by excited puppy buyers. Health concerns, aggressive or other unacceptable behavior, and musculoskeletal and growth issues are all common amongst purebred breeds.
Many of the negative traits are avoidable and proper health screening of breeding stock by the breeder is necessary to limit these problems in the offspring. Unfortunately, not all breeders are in it for the betterment of the breed and are anything but reputable. Reputable dog breeders not only health screen the breeding stock, they also guarantee their puppies to be free of genetic defects and behaviors.
What to Avoid when Buying a Purebred Dog
There is nothing wrong with wanting a purebred dog, just be aware of what it is you are buying. Poor breeding practices not only affect the overall health and well-being of the dog but they can also contribute to ‘puppy mill’ breeding and pet store puppies.
A puppy mill is a breeding facility that caters to the buyers that do not understand or do not care about how or in what conditions the adult dogs are kept or their new puppy was born. They are often sold in pet stores without kennel club papers demonstrating their pedigree and are often less then great examples of their supposed breed. They are often sickly or suffer from avoidable genetic conditions that will affect them, and you, their entire lives.
Is it wrong to want a purebred dog? No, wanting a purebred dog does make perfect sense for many people. Just be aware of what it is you are buying, from who and why it is you want a purebred dog versus a mixed breed.