Pedigree Pups or Mix breed Mutts? Which is Best?

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Sis. K.M. Hartfield ©2006

          Most people who are not familiar with dog breeding don’t know the truth about the problems associated with registered animals with pedigrees.  Almost all AKC, UKC, and CKC registered animals will face genetically based health problems at some time in their lives.  These health problems are so rampant due to the systematic and continued inbreeding of limited gene pools, though many of these purebreds were originally derived from early crossbreeds many years ago.  These earlier crossbreeds had few genetically based problems, but as each breed continued to be interbred with close relations, they inevitably inherited many of the same defective genes that were suppressed in their early ancestors.   These genes, which are often dominant in purebreds, are usually recessive in un-papered and mixed breeds and rarely cause considerable health problems. 

            When considering the purchase of a new pedigreed pet, consider that the cost of raising a papered animal will likely be much more than having a mixed breed due to higher veterinary expenses, not to mention the initial expense of purchasing the pedigreed puppy. Often a person’s reasons for wanting a papered, full blood animal are simply those of maintaining their status in the community. And when you buy expensive papered animals you inevitably encourage the breeding and sale of them, rather than the adoption of the many unwanted animals already in existence. You should also consider that you may even have to put a papered animal down sooner due to unforeseen health problems than you might would with a healthier un-papered or mix breed.  The books I’ve read on breeding animals suggest that animals with known genetic defects shouldn’t be bred, but from what I’ve seen, in practice most breeders ignore this and breed their animals anyway.  Some of these genetic problems are minor and can be dealt with by the owner or with minor veterinary treatment, while others are extensive and can become major health threats to your family’s new pet. 

            So now you may be wondering just what is the purpose of buying /selling a registered animal?  One of the main reasons for registering animals is to prove that their ancestry several generations back were in fact full or purebloods.  Another reason is to show that the animal is “show quality” for the purpose of entering it in the prominent dog shows and dog trials, which also encourages the buying/selling of them.  There are many excellent choices of “pet quality” animals that may not be registered because of some perceived physical or behavioral characteristic, such as undocked tails or un-cropped ears on certain breeds that would be considered an undesirable trait and a “disqualification” by some judges in dog shows. And finally, one of the least known reasons for registering animals, and the best kept secrets is simply for breeders to raise the price on the sale of puppies! Breeders breed their animals to fulfill the law of supply and demand. When buyers demand purebreds, breeders will breed them. The greater the demand is, the higher the price is, as well.  AKC and UKC registered animals sell from $300 and up.  CKC Puppies are usually a bit less pricey, though this is fast becoming a fact of the past.  CKC registration is much less stringent and just about any dog that appears full blood can be registered with 2 witnesses of the dogs ancestral heritage and a couple of photographs.  Even “mutts” available at the local dog pound for adoption, of which most have been “fixed” before placement, are reaching the $100 dollar mark due to neutering and spaying costs. But the healthier mixed breed animals are probably the very animals that should not be fixed.  They might just be the only healthy animals left for future generations of dog lovers. But with the systematic extermination and “fixing” of these healthier “mutts” in local dog pounds, commonly called “humane” societies, the dog population will soon be dominated by unhealthy animals–with papers, of course! 

End Note: To Crop or not to Crop

            As far as tail and ear cropping goes, the practice was originally begun for reasons that are usually not still valid today.  Most of the time it is done for purely aesthetic reasons and isn’t necessary for “pet quality” animals.  For working and hunting animals it may still be practical, and it is often still a requirement for “show quality” animals. Personally I say leave ‘em like God intended ‘em to be!

For Further Reading:

Barron’s Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds, 2nd Ed.

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