Project puppy: mixed breed or purebred?

Mixed Breed or Purebred?

I was quite pleased to find that all but one of the dogs that had been called in to audition as a spokesdog was a mixed breed. While I adore dogs of all shapes and sizes, and have a particular passion for understanding the history of breeds, I am thrilled when people choose the adoption option. I have found that many people are gravely disappointed when they choose a purebred dog they saw in a movie, or commercial and it doesn’t live up to the idealized image presented in the media or in the breed standard. After all, few Collies are as apt to consistently save a little boy’s life as Lassie and few German Shepherd Dogs are as heroic as Rin Tin Tin.

While there is certainly a predictability factor to choosing a purebred, it has most to do with looks. In regards to temperament and behavior, some breed generalizations ring true (after all, we developed breeds to highlight specific behaviors). Unfortunately, many of these generalizations result in people choosing a dog in the hopes that it will live up to this idealized reputation with little or no guidance from them. In reality, even those breeds that are believed to be great with kids, or relatively quiet, or easy to train, require the guidance of a loving family to help them reach their full potential.

There is no such thing as a push button or ready-made family dog. Once you have chosen a dog that has the general characteristics you believe are best suited to your family, it is your responsibility to help guide the pup towards its full potential. Furthermore, within a breed, and even a litter, there will be a wide range of personalities. Much like how two children from the same family will have two unique personalities. So, if you choose a particular breed, be sure to spend plenty of time getting to know the adult dogs in the breeder’s line and the pups in the litter you are choosing from.

Read all Project Puppy: choosing a puppy installments

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Andrea Arden is an animal behavior counselor, rescuer, author, speaker, and a resident pet expert on the Today Show. For more information, check out her website, AndreaArden.com.