I got this email the other day from a friend who had told me she was getting a new dog — in response to my query: What kind?
We’re getting a yellow lab. We went back and forth on purebred vs. rescue and it was a really tough decision. My dog is a rescue and my husband brought a purebred chocolate lab into our relationship. The lab passed away a couple of months ago, so we’re looking to get some company for my neurotic little rescue dog… we ultimately decided to go with a breed that is for the most part really good with kids.
It sounded to me like my friend already made a commitment to a breeder, and I’m not a (private) nagger, so I didn’t pursue it. But I’ll say it here. You don’t have to choose between getting the breed you want and getting a purebred dog. According to the Humane Society of the United States, one out of every four dogs in the United States is purebred.
You read that right: One out of four.
And the fact that they’ve been given up doesn’t mean they are loser representatives of their breeds. Most dogs end up homeless because of circumstances that have little to do with them — including the sudden homelessness of their owners.
The American Kennel Club lists rescue organizations for more than 150 breeds. There are even rescue groups devoted to designer hybrids like Puggles and Labradoodles. Ask your local shelter if they know of rescuers in the area that specialize in the breed you’re seeking, and also check sites like Pets911, Petfinder, and Craigslist (if I’ve missed any major ones, please share).
One last thing: that neurotic rescue dog vs temperament-tested purebred dichotomy? Nuh uh. Some purebreds are pure nutcases. And some mixed breeds from shelters are the nicest dogs, ever.
And of course there’s training, for nutcases of every type… But that’s another topic.