In Defense of a Pure Bred Puppy
When we first started doing our research for a puppy, we asked you, our readers, for input. Almost everyone suggested we rescue a dog. This makes sense, given that we have a very compassionate group of followers–moms, dads, and grandparents who love children, animals, and our planet.
Like many of you, my husband, John, favored rescuing a dog. I, on the other hand, have always favored purebreds from reputable breeders. We may end of with one of each at some point. For now, I “won” this match, and we settled on an English Field Labrador.
Read on to learn why we chose a purebred dog, and to meet Koa, the newest addition to our family. I also share about our favorite dog training books.
Our last dog love, Mele.
It has been 5 years since our dear dog, Mele, died at age 15. She was a pure bred Welsh Corgi. I discovered Corgis when I fell in love with Tasha Tudor’s books when I was raising my children in Vermont. I love Tasha Tudor’s illustrations, her gardening books, and her children’s books, which feature Corgis under foot. She always owned at least three!
Mele (which means “merry” in Hawaiian) was a great dog and we still miss her terribly. Working at Gimme the Good Stuff allows John and me to be home or in the warehouse every day, so after several years of missing Mele, we decided that this was the perfect time to get another dog.
Why I wanted to get another purebred dog
There are so many good reasons to rescue a dog that my reasons for wanting a purebred may sound shallow to you, but here goes:
- I wanted a puppy that I could raise and train from a young age. It can be more difficult to find a rescue puppy.
- I was looking for a specific temperament. With purebred dogs, you can reasonably predict what the puppy will be like as an adult. We got Mele, the Corgi, because I was looking for a small dog with a more mellow big-dog personality, and that is what she grew up to be. Now that I am older, I want a big dog that won’t be too much for me to handle. It can be much harder to predict what a random-bred puppy will grow up to be.
- I wanted a puppy that had good influences from the very beginning. Random-bred litters are more likely to be unwanted and the puppies are more likely to be raised without the consistent care administered by dedicated breeders. As with human babies, the care that puppies get in the first 16 weeks of life can be critical to their long-term development. If done wrong, this can create problems that are very challenging to deal with.
- I wanted a specific breed. I generally like big dogs more than small ones, and I’ve always loved Field Labs. I grew up with them because my father was a duck hunter. When I learned about English Labs recently, I realized that they fit the type of dog that I’m looking for. They’re calmer and generally more relaxed than their American Lab counterparts, and tend to be easier to train. As you can see in the picture on the right, Koa already likes to chill out at my feet!
The breeder matters, too!
Not all purebred dogs are created alike, of course. How they are bred and how they are raised in the early weeks are really important factors, so we decided to with a reputable breeder, Endless Mountain Labradors.
We visited the Endless Mountain Labradors before deciding on our lab. Endless Mountain Labs is a wonderful breeder and breeds labs specifically for their temperament. Donna Stanley, the proprietress, has YouTube videos with lots of great tips on raising dogs, rescue or purebred.
She also makes these essential oil blends. We tried the Calm Puppy Blend for his first few nights in our home in the kennel. He slept all night!
One of the problems with purebred dogs is that they often suffer from diseases specific to their breeds. Reputable breeders work hard to correct these problems. Our puppy, for instance, was selectively bred and cleared with seven genetic screenings.
My favorite books on dogs and dog training
Either a rescued dog or a purebred dog can become an ideal companion provided that the right elements are present. Good training is one of these essential elements. I have been reading the books by the Monks of New Skete, who train German Shepherds and write great books on training and raising puppies.
The classic bestseller that established the Monks of New Skete as America’s most trusted authorities on dog training, canine behavior, and the animal/human bond, updated to include the latest developments in canine health.
I’m also reading The Art of Raising a Puppy as we begin the journey of raising Koa to be a companion and friend. It’s very important that he be well trained so that he will be welcome anywhere. I see so many wonderful dogs who are a nuisance because of their owners. How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend is another great book from the Monks of New Skete.
I will continue to blog about our journey and let you know how it goes. Thank you for your input and support.
Please share your puppy and dog stories with us. We love to hear from our readers! I am learning that a lot of our readers are dog lovers too, and look forward to sharing more about organic doggy beds, nontoxic toys, and more!
To your health (and the health of all your fur babies!),
Suzanne, Certified Holistic Health Coach
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My husband and I have the same difference; he prefers purebred and I would rather rescue so we have both:P I just want to point out a few things:
-you can rescue a puppy (save a puppy from certain death but, still start from scratch….(I got mine at 10 weeks old), and
-just like in babies temperaments vary from dog to dog so there are no guarantees purebred or not.
Totally agree about the importance of finding a responsible breeder if it must be a purebred puppy…many breeders abuse and overbreed their dogs…you want to support those that treat their dogs/puppies with kindness and care.
Enjoy your new furbaby. I hope you have many years of of happiness with Koa!!
Millions of frightened dogs enter shelters and hundreds of thousands are euthanized each year. I think we should encourage others not to turn a blind eye to the suffering of the helpless dogs who need a home just because purebred dogs may have traits that are more pleasing to us.
Absolutely. If only more people would see it this way. Every time someone adopts a shelter animal, they not only save that life, but make room for one more animal to potentially be adopted out. It makes me sick to hear about people buying their pets from breeders, no matter how “reputable” they are. Yes, every dog needs a home, but every time someone buys a dog, you just perpetuate the cycle and encourage breeders to keep breeding. There are plenty of dogs in need of homes from reputable shelters, who have nothing to gain (i.e. $$, like breeders!) but do it for the love of the animals. I will no longer patronize this site.
This is lovely, Suzanne. Enjoy your new baby, Koa.
I’m sorry but you lost me at “breeder”. It’s one thing to choose a puppy who’se parents happen to end up getting together somehow ( my Grandma had a poodle who dug under the fence to get to another dog) but I have serious ethical issues with the concept of forcing any animal to procreate.
I will admit I’m more thinking about how they inject cows with bull sperm instead of simply letting them all both be in the same pen while they’re in heat and letting them do(or not do) their thing. So maybe I just need to do some research on puppy breeding to see exactly what they do.
But if you can elaborate on this ” selective breeding” I would appreciate it. And I would like to know what happens if any puppy fails a genetic screening? And when you say your puppy was specifically bred do you mean they specifically bred them for you or you picked from among ones that already existed? Because that’s another issue of breeders and puppy mills creating more dogs than may be able to find good homes.
I did read over the article still after my initial need jerk reaction and I do understand your reasons for wanting a purebred I’m just questioning your ( or rather the Breeder’s) methods. But I don’t mean to offend; I’m admittedly naive on puppy breeding but the terms “breeding” and “breeder” just put me off and makes me think their ‘bad stuff’.
Ps I do think Lisa has some good points though about no matter what someone chooses they need to be a responsible dog owner. And I have faith Suzanne that you are such a person and won’t say, take the dog back or anything if they do end up having issues. There are probably people who aren’t as responsible/mature who would either give the dog back or send them to some kill shelter if they didn’t 100% meet their expectations.
On a brighter note I do hope you have many happy days with your dog and that they are happy and healthy.
Erin, you know exactly what they do when the puppy “fails” the genetic screening. They are either sent to auctions, shelters, or destroyed. If they aren’t genetically what the breeder wants, the breeder can’t get money and that is the end game of breeding dogs.
Actually Amber, that is what happens to the puppies that are randomly bred. The irresponsible owners who allow their dogs to wander and breed can’t find homes for the puppies and take them to the pound. Or they sell or give them to anybody that will take them off their hands and that often can be someone who isn’t a responsible dog owner. The same is true for puppy mill breeders. Reputable breeders don’t destroy puppies. They love the animals and the genetic screening is done to the parents prior to breeding, not the puppies. They only allow very healthy dogs to breed. All other dogs are kept as pets. And all the puppies are sold. If there are puppies that are not sold they keep them as pets or sell them at a discount. No reputable breeders is destroying puppies and if you want to adopt a puppy you are screened to make sure that you are a responsible owner.
Hi Erin, It sounds like you are a dog lover too! Dogs are not forced to breed. They select a healthy male ( who is ready and willing anytime) and a healthy female and when the female is in heat they put them in the same room (so to speak) and voila! The parents are screened for genetic problems before they are allowed to breed. Dogs that are not as healthy or have a propensity for certain diseases are not killed! They just remain pets and therefore are spayed or neutered. The positive outcome of these “breeders” is that the puppies will remain healthy hopefully throughout their lives. Of course there are no guarantees and diet and lifestyle have a lot to do with the health of the dog. With random breeding puppies can have problems and then it’s harder to find good homes or irresponsible people are letting their dogs mate. There are too many unwanted puppies or puppies that are adopted and people aren’t ready for all of the responsibility. Responsible breeders are breeding excellent dogs and there are people who want them. If you want a puppy from a responsible breeder you are screened to make sure that you are a responsible owner. I hope this helps.
I had similar reasons for wanting pure bred, I’ve had 3 pure bred labs from reputable breeders that I met with and screened. They are all among the sweetest dogs you’ll ever meet but they could not be more different in energy level and personality. One is very mellow, one is extremely high energy and the other was somewhere in between. Despite being able to raise them and train them myself from the beginning, they all have their own unique quirks when it comes to behavior. And despite genetic testing and being free from common diseases to their breed, they’ve all also had their own share of unpredictable medical issues, just a fact of life and aging. Every dog needs a home no matter where it comes from so no matter what choice you make, I think the most important thing is that you’re committed to being a responsible dog owner, are prepared for all the challenges you might face with behavior or illness (and are prepared financially as well) and that you devote the time, energy, patience and love that they need.
I agree with you! There are too many dogs that are not cared for properly. It is a big commitment and people should treat it as such. It strikes me that dogs are somewhat like children. A combination of nature versus nurture. And just like humans there are no guarantees with health but we are doing what we can to keep him healthy. A combination of good food, exercise, fresh air, and lots of love.
I am a FAN of purebred dogs for the reasons you mentioned and MORE. I say BRAVO to YOU. The Key is finding a reputable breeder. I am so happy you wrote this, too many people who are more earth conscious can be vicious when it comes to purchasing a pure bred dog. I look forward to seeing your life evolve with your new friend and the many stories to come.
Thanks for the support Diana!