We have a new puppy. We didn’t take in a stray. We didn’t find him from a pet rescue website. And we did not, as I had always imagined we would, go to our local shelter and pick out a sad-eyed, fuzzy puppy looking for his forever home. Instead we bought a purebred puppy from a breeder – no apologies.
No apologies, yet I find myself explaining our decision over and over to family and friends who are advocates of shelter pets.Actually, I’m an advocate too. I think adopting is a wonderful way to add a pet to a family. A dog certainly doesn’t have to be a purebred to be lovable and adorable. When I hear of someone looking for a dog, I always encourage them to consider a rescue dog.
In fact, for many people and families, a rescue dog is the best option. Until a few weeks ago, I assumed it was the best option for our family too. But turns out, it wasn’t. A few weeks ago, after lot of research and a great deal of thought, we bought (and adopted) Rufus, a UKC registered redbone coonhound.
Here are the reasons my family decided to get a purebred.
- We knew what we wanted and what we didn’t. Our dog search began just after my youngest son read Where the Red Fern Grows. From that point on he was, like the boy in the book, aching for a dog of his own. He was convinced that a redbone coonhound, just like Old Dan and Little Ann, was the perfect dog for him. I wasn’t so sure. What about a nice lab mix or boarder collie combo? We did our research, and slowly we began to weed out certain breeds. We raise bison, so we ruled out any of the herding breeds – because bison do not take kindly to being herded. We have a lot of landscaping, so we ruled out diggers like terriers. We knew we wanted a shorthaired dog because farm dogs tend to roll in yucky stuff. We also wanted a dog we could keep in the house, so we didn’t want a dog who would shed or be too hyper. As the list began to narrow, we decided we didn’t want to roll the dice with a pound puppy. Turns out, my son was right. A redbone is the perfect dog for us. According to the The American Kennel Club, the breed is even-tempered, amiable, and easy to train. They are energetic and active when outside but content to lie around the house for hours too. This sounded like the perfect dog for our family and for our young son.
- We believe in maintaining breed standard. Don’t breed or buy while shelter animals die. I’ve seen it on websites, T-shirts, and bumper stickers. This slogan is catchy and a great way to encourage people to consider adopting a shelter pet. But it doesn’t make sense for everyone to stop buying from breeders. If that happens, eventually there will be no more purebred dogs. We never hear of anyone calling for the extinction of the black rhino or the mountain gorilla, but if no one is breeding labs or poodles or Siberian Huskies, eventually there will be no more of these breeds. In order to maintain quality bloodlines and breed standards, dogs have to be bred and their puppies sold to people who appreciate the specific qualities of the breed.
- We want to support responsible breeders. Our family has alway believed in supporting locally owned, family businesses. Buying a dog from a quality breeder was in keeping with that philosophy. Also, many of the families who breed dogs do so, not just for the extra income, but for the love of the breed. Their dogs are not just sires and dams, but beloved family pets whose puppies are given the best possible care until they are sold to loving homes. Reputable breeders keep their dogs in safe, healthy, and comfortable living conditions and up to date on all shots and vaccinations. Responsible breeders are advocates for the health and well-being of dogs, just like rescue advocate are.
- Our son deserved this dog. Our son earned this puppy by doing chores on our farm. For months he has consistently and compassionately taken care of our pigs, chickens, and ducks. He has shown himself to be responsible and reliable. It was time to get him a dog of his own. Unless something terrible happens, this will be the one and only dog we get for our son. This is the dog he will grows up with, and this dog, this breed, was his heart’s desire. We don’t always give our children their heart’s desire, but in this case we could, and it seemed like the right thing to do.
Not every family should buy a dog from a breeder, and not everyone should adopt from a shelter. Choosing and owning a dog is a big deal, a big commitment. The right dog for anyone is the dog that is the best fit for them – no matter where it comes from.