So you feel that your life and home are ready for a new member to join it, but what do you choose a puppy or a poundie a pedigree or cross breed?
Let's get one thing straight whatever you choose it’s probably not going to be an easy ride. But whichever you choose it has to be right for you, no one will frown upon you if you choose to get a puppy over a rescue dog, or a pedigree over a cross breed, everyone’s situation is different, you may choose to have a puppy and then in a few years time choose to take on a rescue dog or decide that the puppy training and toilet training wasn’t something you enjoyed so you decide to never opt for a puppy again, this is a common occurrence.
Puppies can come from a breeder or a rescue, some pups come from backyard breeders or puppy farms, some are pedigree some are not, what you choose is entirely up to you.
if you purchase a puppy from a breeder you need to consider the health of the puppy, health tests are vital and expect to be asked a lot of questions by the breeder, they will want to ensure their pup that they have invested so much time in is going to the right home, likewise a rescue, they will not have test results to show you, but they will ask you a lot of questions to make sure you are the right home for a puppy from them, and they will equally need to answer your questions.
It will always going to be hard to walk away from a puppy because they are cute and easy to quickly fall in love with them, but if you have any alarm bells ringing you need to walk away, equally if a breeder turns you down, ask them why they will have valid reason’s, for instance, the breed may not be quite right you and your situation, another breed though may be more suitable, don’t get upset its constructive information that you can use to your benefit to get the right dog for you.
We all know puppy farms are not good places, they are just cashing in on the puppy trade and the pups from these places are often very ill and very scared, they do still deserve loving homes, but if we buy these pups we only fuel the puppy farmers and cause heartache to ourselves when we take these pups on, they should be avoided.
This is the term we use for indiscriminate breeders, breeders who only breed for money, not the welfare of the dogs, they may be pedigree breeders or crossbreed breeders, you may not be able to see the dam and the sire and they can’t provide health test results for the parent dogs and the pups will be highly priced, these breeders should also be avoided.
These again maybe pedigree or crossbreed breeders, they breed at home, and maybe have a littler or two a year or less than this, they may only breed sporadically every few years, but when they do breed they do it with the welfare of the dogs at heart, they health test for everything needed, genetic tests, eye tests and x-rays, it’s worth checking what health tests are required for your chosen breed or for the two breeds your chosen crossbreed will come from, these are no guarantee that your puppy will not have it’s own health problems but it at least means the breeder is trying to reduce the incidences of this happening.
You will also be able to meet the Dam and possible the Sire, meeting them will help you to see the possible temperament of the pups and also how the breeders are with their own dogs. If you cannot see the Sire, ask for the breeder to arrange a meet or if they are working dogs or show dogs, go and meet them at a show.
And now you have to make your choice puppy or adult dog.
Puppies are hard work they take up a lot of time in play and training, the amount of time you will spend outside with your puppy waiting for it to go to the toilet could be great, and then you’ll have the accidents that you’ll be cleaning up.
pups need regular small meals between 3 and 4 in fact, the smaller the dog the less meals they need as they tend to grow and mature faster, but larger dogs can be eating 3 meals a day until they’re well over a year old, and there is exercise, you may have gotten your puppy with the intention of enjoying lovely long walks or running with it, but you can’t do this straight away, young bones and joints are vulnerable and too much exercise can have very detrimental effects on your puppy as it grows
Older rescue dogs
Rescue dogs don’t only come from charity rescues they can come from private rescues or through pedigree breed club rescues. Older rescue dogs may come with baggage, Making them potentially as much hard work as puppy, who knows what they went through before they ended up in rescue, they may well be very well behaved but losing their original owner may have a detrimental effect on them or they may have problems that are the cause of them ending up in rescue, but the right new owner may be able to help them through the issue this may be behaviourally or medically.
The rescue will ask you a lot of questions about your lifestyle and the sort of dog you are looking for and they will match you to the right dog, if may not be what you expected, but it could be the perfect dog for you.
Pedigree V’s Cross breed
Hybrid vigor is the biggest argument heard for getting a cross breed, In theory the greater mix of genetics makes the dog more robust with less health and behavioural problems, but sadly this just isn’t the case. Mixing two pedigree breeds can also mix physical and behavioural genetic problems. If the breeder does their homework and health tests they may well produce a litter of fabulous pups, but they equally may not. Crossing two breeds is really a step into the unknown each time it’s done the genes can mix in different way’s in each puppy or each litter which can throw different attributes in each puppy. O’Neill et al., 2013, discovered that there was only a slight difference in longevity between pedigree or cross breed dogs but this was also breed dependant with many pedigree breeds outliving the average expected age of 12 which out lived many crossbreed dogs. Research is more often weighted towards pedigree dogs as the owners more interested in breed health which means statistics are often biased
Pedigree dogs are less a step into the unknown, the lines are known, behaviours and health issues are known, of course there will always be the odd problem, but this is why each breed has specific health tests and the breeders know the breed so well, this can also be useful when two breeds are crossed but you can never be sure what genes will express in the puppy and what overall effect this will have on health and behaviour.
Speak to vets, vet nurses, trainers and behaviourist’s, to breed club members and secretaries, go to shows, agility shows and working tests, talking to other owner you will get so much information and they will want to be honest with you and they’re always so happy to talk about their dogs because they love them
Do your research and make your choice, think about insurance and food costs and the cost of training and any activities you may want to try, none of this will put you off if you are sure you can dedicate you life to another who can bring so much to you and you to it.
But what ever your choice do not look down upon others who make a different choice, too each their own and there is room for everyone to have the dog or puppy they want from where they want.
O’Neill, D., Church, D., McGreevy, P., Thomson, P. and Brodbelt, D. (2013). Longevity and mortality of owned dogs in England. The Veterinary Journal, 198(3), pp.638-643.
Clair Litster-Huckle has a BSc (Hons) in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and an MSc Animal Behaviour and Training and has studied Canine psychology and Canine diet and nutrition.