Original working title was There Is No Shame.
You have two puppies to choose from. Puppy one you are told there is no good way to determine final size, coat type or expected behaviors as the puppy matures. Puppy two you are given clear details about what to expect for size, coat type and expected adult behaviors. What puppy would you choose? Would you choose the more predictable one? Predictability is not a bad thing for many owners just as others are able to take the chance at less predictability. What if you are told puppy one is a crossbred of undeterminable background and puppy two is a purebred? Now comes the finger pointing and blame if you chose predictability. There is no shame in choosing what you feel is best for your life. The life of the animal depends on your choice.
Over centuries and more, purebred dogs were specifically bred to do certain jobs. Even small differences like with the English and American Foxhounds made a change in working ability based on geography. Poodle, originally gun dogs, coats we developed to help keep the body and joints warm while working in colder waters. The corded coat of the Puli was developed for protection while working livestock. The scruffy looking mutt in Because of Winn-Dixie was actually a Berger Picard, a French herding breed. This predictability lets us know what to expect in a good representative of a breed. It is why a Basset Hound is not a Border Collie is not a Boerboel in looks or behaviors. Being able to choose predictability is important for many people. Careful breeding for different things has created predictability and that predictability eventually can become purebred dogs.
Crossbreds can make wonderful pets too. Just realize the mixing of genes creates varying levels of predictability – even in known crosses that are quite popular. Many breed identifications in crosses are often best guesses and may not be accurate. My old Hunter was a known cross. Hunter was given up when he matured to have the size of a smaller Newfoundland and energy levels higher than many Australian Shepherds. The cute puppy fast overwhelmed his first owners. Many of my favorite client dogs have been excellently raised, randomly bred dogs of guessed at but really unknown origin and carefully chosen through good rescue groups. Greater randomness is not bad either if you are prepared for things other than what you were told to expect – like with my Hunter who was with us for many years. If you adopt an adult rescue, you at least know the size and coat type. You can interact with the dog, check evaluations, talk to people and observe the dog in order to help you learn about your potential new pet.
You should NEVER be ashamed of making the best choice for your life! Purebred, crossbred, carefully chosen breeder or good rescue – there is NO SHAME. I could never imagine life without that choice. However, there are thousands of humans fighting to take away your choice to obtain the best type of dog for your life. The shame lies here. Do what you feel is right for YOUR needs, whatever they are. Now, fight for your right to choose what is going to be best for you!
Karen Peak is the developer of The Safe Kids/Safe Dogs Project, owner/operator of West Wind Dog Training in Prince William County and is working on her second book.