The emotions you get when adding a puppy or even an adult dog to your family is a little bit what I imagine skydiving might feel like. It is filled with anticipation, anxiety, excitement and a sense of euphoria when they finally come home. A huge part of the anticipation and anxiety is finding the right dog for your family. If you are looking for a loving pet and family member, adopting a shelter pet is a fantastic option. You can find a wide variety of mixes in all different sizes, colors, and personalities at your local shelter or at a rescue within your state.
Sometimes adopting a shelter pet is not the right option for your family or your needs, and that's okay. Purebred dogs have been developed over hundreds of years to do very specific jobs, tasks and services. In fact, the American Kennel Club recognizes seven groups of dog breeds. These groups are; Herding, Hound, Non-sporting, Sporting, Terrier, Toy and Working. Each group represents a category of dog breeds that were bred and developed for a specific purpose. A fantastic example is the Bloodhound; the Bloodhound was developed to have a, “long wrinkled face with loose-hanging skin and huge drooping ears”(AKC.org). These features allow the Bloodhound to have exceptional tracking abilities. This is due to the fact that as they are tracking a scent, the scent is swept up by their large ears and catches in the wrinkles of their face.
What you need to know
If you have made the decision that you want to add a purebred dog to your family, there are a few options to consider.
- Develop a relationship with a responsible breeder to obtain a puppy
- Find a local breed-specific rescue
- Find a breeder that is in the process of re-homing a dog.
The best way to begin the process is to research the breed you are interested in and find the breed’s national club. Nearly every purebred breed within the United States has a national club that develops and maintains the standards of their breed. Anyone can become a member of a breed club but each club has different entry requirements; usually you need recommendations from current club members. For example, my two dogs are Cardigan Welsh Corgis and their breed’s club is called the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of America. Each breed club is a little different but most will have detailed information about their breed, a breeder directory, suggestions for finding breeders and information about their breed rescue.
Gwenhwyfar (L) and Saphira (R), Purebred Cardigan Welsh Corgis
Once you have completed your research about the breed you are interested in, it is time to start searching for a breeder or breed specific rescue. Breed specific rescues can be national, regional, statewide, or local; they focus on the rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing of their specific breed. Using Cardigan Welsh Corgis again as a reference, the national breed specific rescue is called The Cardigan Welsh Corgi National Rescue Trust. The best place to start when looking for a breed specific rescue is the breed club or local breeders. Speaking with breeders can also help you to find young or adult dogs that are being re-homed for various reasons.
Questions to ask about purebred dogs.
When searching for a responsible breeder there is some essential questions you must ask.
Are you a member of your breed’s national breed club? If not, why?
- Members of a breed club are held to a set of ethical codes and practices which protect the standards and health of the breed. If a member violates those rules they can be removed from the club. Some breeders simply may not belong to their parent club due to various reasons. If they are not a member try to figure out why; use your intuition when evaluating their reasons.
How long have you been a breeder of (insert breed name)?
- A more experienced breeder will be able to answer more of your questions if you are looking for a mentor. However, new breeders are valuable as well. If the breeder is new, ask for information regarding their mentor in the breed.
What type of health and genetic testing do you complete on your breeding dogs?
- Based on the breed there are various health and genetic tests available to prevent hereditary diseases and issues. An example of a genetic test is degenerative myelopathy also known as DM. DM causes the affected dog to slowly lose function of their rear legs when they are between 8-10 years old. DM is a hereditary disease that is close to my heart because it affects many breeds including mixed breeds. My very first dog, Nina, is affected by DM which causes her to be in a wheelchair. She is still very happy and active because of her wheelchair but with a simple genetic test, we can eliminate DM.
Nina - Boxer/Lab with DM
What types of competitions or activities do you participate in with your animals?
- If you are looking for a dog that can herd, you ideally want to get a dog with parents that demonstrated herding instinct. If you are looking for a dog to do therapy work with it is essential that the parents have solid temperaments. At minimum the breeder should demonstrate that they do obedience work with their animals.
Saphira doing therapy work through Therapy Dogs International
What is your health guarantee and contract?
- The vast majority of responsible breeders will have a health guarantee and contract. Health guarantees usually only cover genetic or hereditary defects. Contracts will typically include a spay/neuter requirement and a re-homing clause. A responsible breeder will accept the return of your puppy/dog at anytime for any reason because they have the dog's well-being in mind.
These are just a few of the questions you should ask to begin the conversation with your potential breeder. When you find the right breeder the relationship becomes more of a friendship than a transaction. My mentor and friend, Nancy has been the best resource I could ask for when learning about Cardigans. She is friendly, open, knowledgeable, and always willing to answer my questions. Finding the right breeder is a long process but when it is done right, you will never regret it.
Corgi-Mom & Dog-Lover
Want fun products that represent your dog's breed? Check out these products.