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By Lisa Peterson



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By Lisa Peterson


Adria Henderson

What makes the best pet – a pure breed or mixed breed? Whether you get your new dog from a reputable breeder or the local dog pound there are advantages and disadvantages to each selection. Here are some to help you make the right choice.





Know your breed characteristics: By knowing ahead of time what you are getting yourself into you can pick a breed that is appropriate for your lifestyle. The American Kennel Club’s web site (www.akc.org) has an excellent breed reference section that will put you in touch with the national clubs for all of the AKC’s recognized breeds. Those clubs will refer you to reputable breeders in your area.

Buy direct from a reputable breeder: By choosing a reputable breeder, you know where the dog comes from. Research breeders before you select one. Inquire about the facility, the parents’ health and show records. Reputable breeders gladly provide all the information and an invite to the kennel.

Medical history: Ask for the health background of both parents. Have their hips been certified? Have their eyes been checked? What health problems are associated with a particular breed? The breeder will be able to educate you about possible problems and show proof of good breeding stock.

Puppy or older dog: Many times breeders will have older dogs available for placement at a reduced rate or free. Some breeders place older retired brood bitches in homes. Breeders can direct you to rescue groups in their breed for a wide variety of older dogs waiting to be adopted.

Contract protection: Sign a contract at the time of purchase. Many times health guarantees are written into the contract. If anything should go wrong based on hereditary problems within the first year; a breeder may replace the dog.


Price: Purebred dogs are expensive. Expect to pay anywhere from $300 to over $1000 for a purebred puppy depending on the breed, availability and whether you want a show dog or a companion.

Waiting period: Some breeds are rare and there aren’t many litters in a year. You may have to wait a few months before puppies are available. Top breeders may have waiting lists for more than a year.

Health problems: While breeders do screen for known health problems, some breeds are prone to certain ailments and may crop up even though both parents were certified clear of any problem.

Popularity problem: After a movie starring a certain breed or a TV commercial becomes popular, so does the dog. All of a sudden everyone wants to have one. Then you have backyard breeders who are not professionals breeding poor quality puppies to capitalize on the latest trend.




Save A Life: There are already too many homeless pets in pounds and shelters across the country. Adopting your dog from a pound or shelter will save his/her life.

Low Cost: The fees for adopting a pet from pound or shelter vary from state to state but are usually under $50. This includes the cost of the first shots. Some municipal pounds have contracts with State agencies to refund $25 of the fee after you spay or neuter your pet.

Easy Access: Most cities and towns have municipals pounds, usually with adoptable dogs. Your vet will probably have the telephone numbers for the private shelters in your area. Most private shelters require screening of the adopting family and home.

Good Temperament: The old adage that “mutts” have the best personalities is almost true. Many mixed breeds have had some of the more high-strung or flighty behavior traits associated with some breeds “bred out” through years of backyard breeding.

Housebroken: The older dogs found at pounds and shelters usually have outgrown the housebreaking and chewing problems associated with puppies.


No History: Your pound dog comes with no background information. You will not know if he/she is afraid of cars, doesn’t get along with other dogs or cats, is housebroken or most importantly, whether the dog gets along with children.

No Medical History: Without the medical history usually available from a breeder you will have no information about the dog’s past and future profile. Some medical problems will not be visible or apparent at the time of adoption.

Socialization Problems: Some pound and shelter animals have spent their entire lives in a kennel. These dogs need patient and loving care or possibly a professional trainer to develop socialization skills that will allow them to function in a family setting.

Size: The cute little puppy that’s just the right size for your condo may grow up much bigger than expected!

No Temperament Testing: Without the availability of the littermates a Puppy Temperament Test cannot be adequately performed. The use of accepted testing techniques and observing a puppy’s reactions to his littermates, his mother and strangers is a valid indicator of the dog’s temperament.

And Now For The Q & A

Q: Is it OK to keep my one-year-old Golden Retriever tied up to a cable in our yard while we’re away? My husband and I work and are away from home for about eight hours. We’ve tried leaving him in the house but he goes crazy grabbing clothing and toys and chewing everything in sight.

M.L. of Sandy Hook


A: Tying your dog up outside all day actually aggravates the problem. When your dog finally goes inside to be with the family he will no doubt jump all over you, bark or bite at your hands or clothes. He is just “unleashing” all his pent-up energy.

A puppy needs and craves attention. Keeping him isolated from people will only increase his appetite for attention in whatever manner he can get it, good or bad. A dog that spends his whole life tethered outside becomes antisocial and will certainly develop behavior problems such as chewing and biting.

Leaving a dog outside all day is dangerous. Other dogs or animals can get into the yard and your dog is defenseless against an attack because he can’t get away. A solution would be to find someone who can visit with the dog during the day.

Spend as much time as you can with your dog when you come home. Dogs that have developed stable relationships with their families and have learned that they can count on spending quality time with the family when you get home usually do just fine when left alone for reasonable amounts of time.

Send your questions to Animal Lifestyles via e-mail at animallifestyles@usa.net or P.O. Box 427, Botsford, CT 06470


- Adria Henderson and Lisa Peterson are the owners/operators of Safe At Home, LLC, a Newtown-based pet sitting service.

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