Purebred dogs, they are all the rage nowadays. But what does it mean for a dog to be purebred? Pure breeding is a concept in genetics where individuals of similar genetic composition are bred together in an attempt to retain as uniform a genetic composition as possible. Usually the aim of this is for the retention and inheritance of desirable genes from parents to offspring. Pure breeding gives the extra security that a future litter of pups will have the desired characteristics, be they aesthetic criteria or related to performance or function.
In order to keep track of pure breeding, a system of stud books and pedigrees was developed. Pedigree is when a dog’s lineage is recorded going back a number of generations. This allows for the breeders to have enough information with regards to the candidates they are considering for breeding purposes. It also helps to reinforce the main breed or line characteristics and also help weed out genetic problems when properly used.
The idea of keeping breeding records was around for as early as the 13th century when lords and knights tried to improve the breeding of their horses by keeping some records and selecting only the best horses. However, the modern, highly organised system of breeding books and pedigrees for dogs started sometime during the 18th century. The first pedigree dog is thought to have been Major, a Pointer that was described by John Henry Walsh in 1865 in an attempt to curb disagreements between dog show judges due to the lack of breed standards.
So a purebred dog is the way to go right?
Not so fast! Purebred puppies can be said to have better traceability and can be expected to grow up to look and act a certain way. However this highly depends on the breeder. If breeders do not take care to make the most out of the information that the pedigrees and breeding books provide them with, or resort to questionable breeding methods, a breed’s restricted genetic pool can lead to greater odds of their litters carrying breed associated genetic disorders. It is therefore imperative to do the right choice and choose the right breeder even if it means paying a bit more money.
So should I get a purebred dog or a cross bred dog?
This highly depends on what you are looking for as a prospective dog owner. Cross bred dogs can be fantastic dogs for families that are not too demanding and do not have many boxes for their dog to tick except for it to be a loving companion and a furry friend to cuddle with on cold days. However if you have some special requirements, the unpredictability of what a cross bred pup would grow into could be too much of a gamble and often leads to disappointment. Furthermore randomly crossbred dogs might not be very suited as specialised working dogs and would not suit the needs of the farmer, hunter or person in need of personal protection. One must keep in mind that purebred dogs were found to have a greater chance of carrying genetic breed specific diseases; something that can be avoidable by buying dogs from a good dog breeder that believes in ethical breeding.