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Should you choose a Pedigree or Cross Breed?
Pedigree versus Cross breed
Certain breeds of dogs have particular traits. Over the centuries they have been bred to encourage specific characteristics. Some dogs are great for hunting, some for herding sheep, and some as guard dogs. Although like humans. dogs are individual and you can find what should be a very social animal being agressive, or a dog known for its agression being soft and gentle, by buying a certain breed you do have an idea of what character the dog will turn out to have. Just as important you will know how big it is going to grow!
As well as pedigree dogs there are a number of cross breeds around. It's important to remember that cross breeds are simply the result of two dogs mated together who are not from the same breed. Despite what a lot of advertisements lead you to believe, a labrador crossed with a poodle, for example, is not a breed in itself, and the labradoodle puppy may turn out to look like a pure lab or a pure poodle, or anything inbetween, and may have the characteristics just of one of its parents, or a mix of both. Buying a cross breed can be an expensive gamble as they often are being sold for more than a pedigree dog.
Some diseases and health problems in dogs are inherited. Particular breeds can have particular issues - large breed dogs, for example, tend to suffer from hip displaysia. A lot of research has been, and continues to be, carried out by the Kennel Club and breed associations to develop tests to identify those health problems that can be passed on from mother/father to offspring. If you buy a pedigree puppy it is important to check the health tests necessary for the breed, and to only buy a puppy from parents who have been health tested to ensure, for example, that their hips are good, and that they are not suffering from possibly inheritable issues.
A cross breed dog is sometimes mistakenly thought to be more robust and healthier than a pedigree, purely because it comes from a wider gene pool. However, the truth of the matter is that the puppy could develop problems from either breed unless its parents have again been health tested for the issues relevant to their respective breeds.
With a mongrel from mongrel parents it's anybody's guess as to how healthy it will be as it may still have inherited issues, but there are not established tests that are carried out by breeders of these pups.
Health Testing versus Vet Checks
When you go to buy your puppy you might be assured that the parents have been checked by a vet, and pronounced healthy. This is probably very true, but will give you no reassurance about the future health of your puppy. If the appropriate health tests have been done the breeder will be able to show you documented proof of this, and, if you are buying a pedigree dog, you will be able to check the results on the Kennel Club website.
Why are Health Tests Important?
If you are buying a pedigree or cross breed then you want to be assured that you are bringing home a healthy puppy. Nothing is worse for anyone - and especially when children are involved - to bring home a puppy that goes lame from hip displaysia within the first few months, or which goes blind due to an inherited disease.
Apart from the very expensive vetinerary treatment involved it will cause much distress to watch a beloved pet suffer.
To check on what health tests your chosen breed should have done, and for other information about the different breeds visit the Kennel Club's Breed Information Centre.
Where to buy a Puppy
Which brings us to the important point of where you should buy your puppy to ensure you are getting a happy and healthy pup!
Firstly DO NOT buy a puppy from a puppy farm. Puppies are kept in often very horrendous conditions and bitches bred from season after season, and the sole aim is to make money for the breeder, not to provide you with a healthy pup. Puppies are often sickly and weak. Puppy farms usually have a number of different breeds of puppy all available for sale at the same time. They often advertise in the free ads, and will have multiple adverts for different breeds, but with the same phone number. You may not be able to visit the puppy before you buy, but the breeder will offer to meet you at a half way point. Puppies from a puppy farm will often be cheaper, and will seem a bargain, but beware. If it looks too good to be true, it most certainly will be.
Puppy farmers need to be put out of business to save suffering on behalf of their breeding stock, and new owners being duped into buying puppies who may suffer ill health all their lives. So make sure you don't put money in their pockets!
Do not buy a puppy from a pet shop - firstly because it may well have come from a puppy farm, and secondly because it will not have had the best start in life. Puppies are not meant to be kept in a cage being ogled at by lots of customers and possibly being scared and frightened. A nervous dog can be much harder to deal with, especially with young children around. If a dog is nervous it's first reaction is to protect itself, and even puppies have very sharp teeth.
Cross breeds can give clues as to their ancestry, showing characteristics of their breeding. But you can never be too sure what is mixed in with their breeding. On the other hand, owners of cross bred dogs find they are usually loyal and intelligent, and make just as good pets as pure breeds.
As well as pedigrees and the first generation cross breeds there are the good old fashioned Heinz 57 dogs whose breeding will be anyone's guess. Mongrels can make really good pets although how big they will grow, and what character they will have will be guesswork on anyone's part.
Are Cross Breeds/Mongrels Healthier than Pedigree Dogs?
Whatever dog you are buying, try and make sure to see the parents. If the parents look like family pets, then the pup will probably be a good one for you. You may well find that the breeders of the pup you like will question you about your home and circumstances. Don't be offended by this - it is only because they care about their dogs, and are knowledgeable about their requirements. If the breeder seems doubtful that you will be able to give the puppy a good home think twice about it yourself - remember, they know the parents well, and what environment will help the puppy develop best.
If you are buying a pedigree puppy you should be given a Kennel Club registration certificate. Don't be duped by anything other than proper Kennel Club papers - you can ring the Kennel Club to check if you are in any doubt. Registration only costs £15 per puppy, so any breeder charging far more to have your puppy registered should be walked away from.
Be wary of anything that does not carry the Kennel Club name on it - something called Pedigree Paper/Certificate is now starting to appear, and is even being given to cross breeds (which can never be Pedigree - pedigree is where both parents were of the same breed).
When you go to see a puppy remember that you are buying a companion who will be with you for a very long time, and that this is an important decision to make. If you are not happy with the set up, or the breeder cannot produce all the documentation that you are looking for, don't be afraid to walk away. Try to resist buying a puppy just because you feel sorry for it - you will be handing over money to someone who is likely just to breed again to line their pockets. If people do not buy the puppies they are breeding then they will not make a profit, and are less likely to try again.