Choosing A Dog: Rescue Vs. Purebred

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Deciding whether to get a purebred dog or to rescue one from a shelter can be a difficult choice for many people. There are so many more factors influencing this decision than you would think.

Allen St. John, a contributor to Forbes, wrote a great article about this conflict. His story about his two dogs gives us both perspectives, and might help any dog lovers out there who are wrestling with the decision of what kind of dog to get.

 

Westminster, “Show Dog”, and the Battle Over Purebred Puppies

It’s Westminster Week at Madison Square Garden, the time when Jeremy Lin cedes the floor to Pekingese, Syke Terriers, and Flat-Coated Retrievers, all battling for Best in Show. The Westminster Kennel Club dog show is America’s chance to celebrate the purebred dog, to talk knowingly about pedigrees and conformation.  This year, there’s a  little extra buzz, with Martha Stewart’s Chow Chow winning Best of Breed, and Josh Dean’s newly released book Show Dogs: The Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred, which chronicled a year in the life of an Australian Shepherd.

But the rest of the year, the breeding establishment is under fire from those who cite the genetic problems with pure-bred dogs and further argue that it’s irresponsible to continue to breed dogs when so many rescue dogs need homes.

“In New York, the trendiest dog to own is a rescue,” says Dean. “It’s part of an urban, educated, progressive mindset and it’s getting more and more fervent every year.”

Animal advocates don’t mince words on the subject. “Westminster and the dogbreeding industry it props up are directly responsible for the fate of many of the dogs who end up in shelters and euthanized for lack of a home,” writes PETA Foundation staff writer Lindsay Pollard-Post

Putting aside puppy mills—horrible places where pure-bred dogs are bred in massive numbers and under inhumane conditions for sale in pet stores–there are sound counter arguments for getting a pedigreed dog through a responsible breeder of the kind that show at Westminster and smaller shows throughout the country.

“They know the breed so well that they know what the puppies are going to turn out to be: Size, temperament, lifespan, how much they’re going to shed,” explains Dean. “They don’t sugar coat it at all. They’re very honest, because their worst fear is having an owner who’s unhappy.  If you go to a pound, you have no idea what you’re going to end up with.”

I’m in unique position to shed some light on this controversy, having lived with wonderful animals at both ends of the spectrum. Here’s a tale of my two dogs: Alison, the brown rescue dog, and Tessie, the pedigreed golden retriever.

To read the rest of Allen St. John’s story, visit Westminster, “Show Dog”, and the Battle Over Purebred Puppies.

Thanks Allen St. John for the great photos of your dog Tessie!

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