You may have seen or heard about or even own one of those trendy mixed breed dogs with funky names, such as a Maltese-Shih Tzu or the Cavoodle or Pugalier. Or a Labradoodle or Puggle. Also known as a “Designer Breed”.
I really don’t like the idea of people mixing up dog breeds like they mix their cocktails. It’s just irresponsible. If you want a purebred dog, get one from a reputable breeder, who will give you the dog’s papers to prove its lineage. If that’s what floats your boat. Or if you want to show your dog. Some people keep pets as a status symbol. But not everyone has similar aspirations. Some just want a family pet their children can play with and grow up with, a jogging partner, a lapwarmer even.
Don’t buy a dog because of a cute-sounding funky “designer” name. Forget about the label, bottom line is – if it’s a mixed breed it’s a mutt. Don’t think your trendy mutt can then be bred to another trendy mutt to produce litters of other trendy mutts that you can then sell for profit. Because your trendy mutt is a hybrid that will not breed true. So your plans for producing litters of cute trendy mutts will result in one or two that look like their adorable parents, yes, but the rest may resemble their grandparents, whatever was in their mix. And if you’re in it for the money, regardless – shame on you. Think about the thousands of dogs languishing in shelters, being euthanized to make way for other homeless dogs, because you, the backyard breeder, are producing puppies that turn into dogs that end up in shelters, because supply is more than demand.
If you just want a family pet or a fellow couch potato or running partner, choose adoption as your first option. If you’re patient enough or lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time, you may get the breed of dog you’ve always wanted. And when you save the life of a shelter dog, you’re actually saving 2 lives – that of the one you’re bringing home, and the one who will take its place in the kennel.
Where do shelters get their dogs from? Here are some sources:
1. Pounds. Animal rangers pick strays up off the streets. If they are microchipped, their owners are contacted to come and reclaim their dog. If they are not microchipped, and their owners don’t come forward, the dogs then end up in shelters, available for adoption.
2. Surrenders. It’s always heartbreaking to have to surrender a dog. Reasons for doing so could be a relationship break-up, moving abroad, change in lifestyle, arrival of a child, inability to give the dog the care and attention it needs, owner’s illness, or death of the owner.
3. Puppies born to mothers already in shelters. Sometimes female dogs arrive at shelters already pregnant. When their puppies are born, after weaning and having their first vaccinations, both pups and mother dog are made available for adoption.
Some quick tips on choosing a dog:
1. Make sure it suits your lifestyle. Active dogs need active families. Otherwise be prepared for destructive behaviour. Enrichment toys help. If you’re out at work all day, don’t get a dog that wants attention all day. That’s a recipe for disaster.
2. Size matters. Big dogs don’t do so well in tiny houses. Little dogs may not like children treating them like toys.
3. Are you a neat freak or happy hippy? Dogs shed hair everywhere. Will you be forever cleaning up? Have you allergies? Then consider a hypoallergenic dog, or one with short hair. Or get a reptile instead.
4. If you already have a dog and want another, a good rule is to find one that is: a different breed, different size, different sex. Too much of the same can double the trouble!
5. Neuter your dogs! You want to be part of the solution, not contribute to the problem.
So what if your rescue dog is just a mutt of indeterminate breeding? Think of it as having a unique dog, a true one-off. It’ll have hybrid vigour, meaning it has less chance of suffering from congenital defects purebreds may have, or of getting ailments and diseases purebreds are prone to. Your dog will be a good conversation starter, (great for meeting new people!) as they ponder and try to guess what its genetic makeup is.
Dogs aren’t fussy that their humans look and smell funny. Why should you be fussy that your dog isn’t 100% perfect either?
Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, but perfection lies in the heart.