The Pawsibility Poll that I’ve had up over the past few days hasn’t had a lot of votes, but so far it shows a pretty even distribution of responses on a complicated and emotionally charged issue. We asked, “Do you think it’s okay to purchase a purebred dog with so many dogs in shelters?” To date 38 percent voted yes, 33 percent voted no, and the remaining 29 percent responded that it was too complicated an issue for a simple yes/no answer.
For the sake of full disclosure, I voted yes, but I want to expand on the question a little bit and give people a better chance to express their views.
One of my three dogs was purchased from a reputable breeder with the other three being rescues of one type or another. I believe that responsible breeding and placement by responsible breeders is necessary to carry on the lines of the individual breeds. However, in my opinion some of the breeds seem to be promoting dogs as accessories rather than additions to the family. The most obvious example at this point in time is the Chihuahua.
I’d like to offer this excerpt from the AKC Meet Breeds page for the Chihuahua…
Graceful, alert and swift-moving with a saucy expression, Chihuahuas are highly intelligent and should not be underestimated even though small in size. The breed can be any color – solid, marked or splashed and the coat may be long or short. These sassy little dogs are well known as “purse dogs” like the famous Bruiser in the movie Legally Blonde starring Reese Witherspoon.
Using words like “saucy” and “sassy” seem to reek of marketing prose rather than actual descriptive terms for the dog. Of course then they go on to actually mention a movie which of course seemed to popularize them as a fashion accessory.
Let’s compare that description with the AKC Meet The Breeds description for the Pug…
The Pug is well described by the phrase “multum in parvo” which means “a lot of dog in a small space.” They are recognized for their even-tempers, playful personalities, and their outgoing, loving dispositions. This square and cobby breed comes in fawn, silver fawn, apricot fawn or black, with a well-defined “mask” on his muzzle. A popular companion dog, the pug also excels in the show ring.
This description strikes me a better descriptive of the actual personality of the dog and less like a marketing brochure for a Gucci purse.
I am not trying to single out the Chihuahua, there are other breeds that use these same types of practices. I am using this as an example of what I see as a lack of responsibility on the part of some breed organizations and breeders.
In times where so many people are surrendering their dogs for economic and other reasons, I think breeders and breed organizations have an extra mandate to ensure that the puppies they produce do not end up in shelters. Marketing a breed using appeals to vanity is not promoting responsible ownership and stewardship of that breed, it is only adding to the possibility that more dogs can end up in shelters once their owners realize the maintenance and care that their new accessories require.
So now is your chance to expand on my little poll. What arguments would you make for and against the purchase of purebred dogs in these times?
I look forward to hearing from you.
*** Authors Note:
The original version of this article referred to the descriptions of the Chihuahua and the Pug as being from the breed standards. They were pulled from the AKC Meet the Breeds page for each particular dog.