Considerations with Breeders
The Healthy Happy Purebred
Purchasing a dog from a breeder can be a wonderful experience or a nightmare. It would be nice to say that the best breeders have the healthiest, best temperamented dogs. Unfortunately the game of genetics and the impact of environment don't always make such generalizations accurate. What can be said with confidence is that an excellent breeder will never turn their back on one of their puppies or the person who has it. This can be invaluable as a knowledgable breeder is a beacon of light during difficulties that can arise.
Finding a good breeder is covered elsewhere so this is to help you contrast a breeder as a source (and we'll assume a good breeder) with the other options for finding a dog.
With an exceptional breeder, you will be overwhelmed. They will ask and ask again questions about your home and family and expectations. They will try to determine what you know and how you would do things. They will tell you things about the breed (and potentially, their dogs) that will seem negative as well as positive. They will seek your reactions to information that may not be to your liking. They will try to discover how you will deal with issues that can come up. Then, they will overwhelm you with information about their dogs. They will share health clearances, information about common health and temperament issues in the breed, show titles and achievements. They will be concerned and wary that you are able to offer a suitable home. In other words, you will suspect that they will never let you take a puppy home!
All this information benefits you greatly though. They will help you work through your expectations so that you can honestly determine if this is the breed for you, or you just fell in love with a face. They will provide you with more general insight into your dog (prospectively) than any other source.
The price charged by an exceptional breeder for one of their puppies is rarely under $500 and will often be over $1000 (for some reason this varies between breeds). Don't for a moment believe you are getting a bargain by finding a puppy of the same breed for less. The difference in price is reflected in the time, effort and investment the breeder has made into producing an exceptional litter. While this may not impact you immediately it will later when having a knowledgable breeder as a resource would be invaluable. Additionally, you can ask a breeder why they breed, the answer (as clearly backed up by the expenses they have with dog activities, testing and more) is not the money.
Much is said about hybrid vigor. This is a phenomena that takes place in breeding between species not breeds. So as a horse and a donkey can have viable offspring (a mule or jenny) that is a hybrid cross. One of the definitions of a hybrid is that it is not reproductively viable. Clearly most mixed breed dogs are capable of reproducing! They are not hybrids since all dogs from Chihuahuas to Great Danes are the same species. While some health concerns might be able to be diverted by breeding dogs that are outside the gene pool that carries the problem, odds are good that other health concerns can be introduced at the same time.
Breeding is a very inexact science. Breeders can strive to do everything properly and still end up with litters that are outside their best guess. This still means you are able to consider your dog from the point of view of some history and knowledge and awareness of the risks. Random bred dogs are not necessarily more vigorous because they are random bred. With randomly bred animals (our common mutts and mixes) you must concede that they rarely get the care they need before or during gestation. There is no guarantee that their health is good, and finally, they are ill-equipped to provide for the puppies even if they are rescued soon after or just prior to birth, as any temperament compromises on the part of the mother can effect the puppies.
So does DigitalDog encourage you to select a purebred from an excellent breeder? Or to seek out a suitable option from the local shelter? Or your favorite rescue? You will answer that question. DigitalDog simply provides information so that you might answer it best.
Let us know what you think. Write DigitalDog@DigitalDog.com.