In Defense of Purebred Dogs

Filed Under: Dogs, General Care

The Labrador retriever is again the top breed in the United States, having maintained that coveted spot for most of the last two decades. The German shepherd has, however, replaced the Yorkshire terrier for the number two spot, moving the Yorkie to number three.

Rounding out the top ten are golden retrievers in the number 4 spot, followed by beagles, boxers, bulldogs, dachshunds, poodles, and the Shih Tzu.

As a whole, total AKC registrations continue to decline. The number of purebred dogs registered in the United States has declined since 1992 as more and more states and the federal government have enacted regulations targeting dog breeders. This crackdown has been instrumental in closing down puppy mills, but it has also put many reputable breeders out of business. According to NAIA, or the National Animal Interest Alliance, 700 separate pieces of legislation were passed, directly affecting their membership last year alone.

In direct contrast, we are continuing to import more purebred dogs where we have no control of the welfare or breeding of these animals. Has over-regulation exported yet another industry? Many American breeders are passionate about their dogs, work hard to eliminate genetic defects, and are concerned for the heath and well-being of their puppies. Let us not have years of bad press chase those competent breeders out of business. We need to be leaders in animal welfare without legislating purebred pets out of existence. For many, having a purebred dog guarantees certain traits they have learned to love and desire in their pet.

Although no two dogs are the same, breeds have all developed certain genetic characteristics that new owners expect will be inherited by their new puppy. A person wanting a couch companion can expect a toy poodle or Shih Tzu to be a velcro companion, while the duck hunter or avid hiker may prefer the more rugged companionship of a Labrador or golden retriever. People primarily adopt pets to serve a specific purpose, which is often best provided through years of selective breeding. Compromising on those desired traits may result in unrealistic or unmet expectations that interfere with the development of the human-animal bond, which is never advantageous for either owner or pet.   

Purebred dogs bring joy to our lives. We need to make sure, however well-intentioned the legislation, that conscientious breeders are not regulated out of business. Competent breeders provide us with some of the best friends we will ever have in life. We need to weed out the bad breeders while simultaneously encouraging the good ones. Personally, I don’t mind paying for my best friend so that I know they have had a good start in life and have a sound genetic background.

Breed associations and breed rescues can often assist you in your quest for a purebred best friend while answering all pertinent questions you may have concerning that specific breed. These same organizations can provide you with the names of some reputable breeders in your area. We need to stop the rhetoric that all breeders are bad and that everyone should only adopt mixed breeds of dogs. Somehow we have equated making a profit, promoting a specific breed, selective breeding, and providing best friends as being a tainted occupation. Mixed breeds can be wonderful choices for companionship, but they do not always express the best traits of each breed. In fact, the reverse may hold true. The genetic pool of some mixed breeds may not be expressed phenotypically, creating surprises in the behaviors and traits exhibited.

Prospective owners deserve a choice in selecting who will be their best buddy for10 to 15 years. For many owners, their expectations can best be fulfilled by a purebred dog whose genetic heritage they have come to love and appreciate.


“Labrador Retrievers Top AKC’s Most Popular List.” DVM Newsmagazine. March 2010. P. 8.

Verdon, Daniel. “AKC Registrations Continue to Decline.”  DVM Newsmagazine. March 2010. P. 12.

Topics: breeds

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