At the snooty dog contests and kennel clubs, the fashionable have always strutted their prize-winning pooches carefully in keeping with one particular credo – the more purebred a dog is, the more high class it becomes.
At a very upscale dog show at London recently, as the contestants walked their preternaturally well-groomed porcelain doll dogs past the judges, at least two members of the audience weren’t impressed. They held up protest signs that said something like Purebred shows helped kill dog adoption.
This is really a stand that pushes a lot of people’s buttons. The snooty dog enthusiasts hate the thought that their pursuit of perfection in the dogs they love and admire, could be not as superior a path to take as promoting ordinary mutts.
On the other hand are the real dog lovers who just like dogs the way they are – and would really like to promote dog adoption around the country, so that we can begin to do something about the millions of dogs that are put down each year at the dog shelters. They love to point out how even the White House did its bit, by adopting a shelter dog.
Now this problem may not be as straight forward as it sounds. For instance, did you know that of all the dogs you’d find at any adult shelter, purebred dogs would account for about one in four? It isn’t as if purebred dogs are all in homes already, eating precious little finger sandwiches made of their favorite dog breadspread.
The whole problem with prize dog breeding is that most breeders do it carelessly. Purebred dogs often have very serious genetic defects – they don’t get bred far enough from their own family and a considerable amount of inbreeding occurs.
About two out of three purebred retrievers in the US for instance, died of cancer. Most of these problems occur when you buy your purebred dog from one of the low end pet stores. Getting them from knowledgeable breeders, will usually lower your chances of finding one with a problem.
Of course, breeders need to not try so hard to breed for a certain particular favorite look. That way you only have a few dogs to play around with, and you end up breeding them together so often, that there has to be inbreeding. If all of this is about how shelter dogs don’t get adopted the problem lies in a different place.
They say that about 2 million dogs are put to death each year. That is about the same number of adopted pet dogs that die each year of old age with their loving families. Those families would want a new dog to replace the old dog with.
The thing is, not enough is done to make sure that dog adoption at shelters is made easy. For instance, they close really early in the evenings, so that it becomes difficult for working families to go to them for dog adoption. In addition, they don’t have arrangements with local communities for foster care programs.
Another way to look at the dog adoption problem is this. One out of every two adopted dogs in the US, is returned within a few days of its having entered a home, because there happens to be a personality mismatch between the dog and the adoptive family.
What happens to that dog? Of course, they put it up for adoption again, and if they are unsuccessful they put it to death. The entire reason that a purebred program exists is that it makes it possible to breed certain personality traits into a dog, so that it can be be predicted to have a personality that will go with a particular family. As you can see, the dog adoption stands are not as simple as they seem.