The choice of dog and breeder may mean serious health consequences for your pet--and your life.
Q: What’s your opinion on pedigreed dogs? I like the idea of getting a pedigreed puppy from a breeder whose dogs have competed in dog shows, but is there a downside?
A: Most breeds of dogs consist of relatively small populations, and conformation competitions—aka, dog shows—reward a very narrow range of looks. For these reasons, pedigreed dogs are more or less inbred. Genetic diversity is limited. That, in turn, means most modern breeds are troubled by at least a few inherited disorders. Many breeds routinely suffer from serious health conditions that shorten their lives.
I’d be wary of a breeder whose dogs competed only in conformation shows, like Westminster and Crufts. Conformation is a beauty contest; the dogs who meet their narrow and exaggerated criteria for looks are not necessarily the nicest and they’re not likely to be the healthiest, either. It’s a much better idea to look for a breeder whose dogs participate in activities, such as agility and herding, that require actual physical functionality. Be aware, though, that if a breed is more or less divided into working lines and show lines, the working-line dogs are often more intense and energetic.
Want to raise a happy dog who loves to play and cuddle -- but still comes when called and doesn't chew up your favorite shoes?
Then check out The Dog Trainer’s Complete Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Pet!