I recently came across a great opinion piece by Jane Porricelli, co-founder of Mom Generations. It’s about the most popular dog list that the AKC put out every year. Specifically, about how superficial the list is by only caring about breed and looks.
I agree with her completely, but would like to add a slightly darker take on the proceedings.
Of course, the list only has purebreds on it and the PR machine pumps it out through the world-wide media till it’s everywhere. Uninformed future dog owners see it and pick a dog from the list. And just like that, those ten dog breeds grow even more popular.
To meet the demand, puppy mills and backyard breeders churn them out as quick as they can with little regard for the health of the breed as a whole and the breed suffers as a result.
But what about all the mixed breeds in shelters across the country. The AKC list doesn’t mention them. Does that mean they are inferior? We of course, know it’s just the opposite. That mixed breeds are usually healthier and live longer, better lives.
But the uninformed future dog owner doesn’t know it’s false. And that doesn’t bid well for the millions of incredible mixed breeds in shelters across America.
So what can we do? For starters, we should be proud of our mixed dogs! And we should make sure our friends and family know it. Tell them how awesome your mix is and let them know how bad puppy mills are. That is one of the most important things you can do to change people’s misconceptions.
So I’ll start first. I have two mixed dogs, Max and Remy. They are my loyal friends and part of my loving family. Max is even on the masthead of The Dog Files and he’s one heck of a good looking mutt!
Wherein I take on the AKC and the Today Show January 22nd, 2009
By Jane Porricelli
Iâ€™m not really a big fan of the American Kennel Club. In my eyes, it promotes the idea that a dog has to be purebred to be considered worthy.
Worthy of what, I donâ€™t knowâ€¦ maybe recognition in general?
Worthy of being on some list, like the AKCâ€™s Most Popular Dog Breeds in America? Which serves to prove what, exactly? Iâ€™m not sure.
But such a list is sure to be picked up by a national news program for a segment that will inevitably put these â€œtop breedsâ€ in high demandâ€¦ until the families who buy these dogs realize that having a dog can be quite a demanding responsibility, and give the dog up because itâ€™s just â€œnot the right fitâ€ or some other excuse.
Phew. I know I seem like Iâ€™m on a rant right now, and I guess I kind of am. Itâ€™s stemming from this rather innocuous-seeming video I saw this morning on the Today Show:
I mean, really, just look at those puppies. PUPPIES! How could you not fall in love with those sweet, innocent, docile little guys?
#5: The Beagle
#4: The Golden Retriever
#3: The German Shepherd
#2: The Yorkshire Terrier
#1: The Labrador Retriever
And you watched the segment above, so you KNOW that all 5 of the breeds are GREAT for families! And TRAINABLE! And POPULAR! Who WOULDNâ€™T want one!?
Now, full disclosure here: one of my dogs, Ryder, is a purebred black Labrador Retriever. And she is quite beautiful:
I didnâ€™t purchase her. She was one of a litter of purebred Labs given away for free, to good homes, almost 7 years ago. She came with AKC papers. I just didnâ€™t care. It didnâ€™t matter to me that she was registered with some club to prove that she was â€œpure.â€ So I didnâ€™t register her. She is, and always has been, my sweet, loving, funny, adorable black Lab. I love her for those qualities, not any club-appointed â€œstatus.â€
My other dog is a big, 110-lb. mixed breed named Seth:
He has lots of hair. Heâ€™s mostly black, with brown paws. He is silly, sweet, gentle, kind and sneaky.
According to the AKC, there is nothing â€œpureâ€ about him.
To me, he is pure love and perfection. And again, to me, thatâ€™s all that matters.
In fact, of the 5 dogs I have had in my lifetime, Ryder is the only purebred Iâ€™ve had.
Bismarck was a mix between a Rhodesian Ridgeback and who-knows-what-else. And he was my big, sweet, loyal, brilliant, brave boy. Pure? Again, pure love.
My childhood dogs – my â€œbrothersâ€ Cracker and Carmel – were littermates that we got when they were 8 weeks old. They had been abandoned. We have no idea what breeds they were a mix of. It didnâ€™t matter. They were our family members for almost 13 and almost 14 years, respectively.
My point is that yes, all puppies are cute, cuddly and pure sweetness. But people are going to watch segments like these, promoting the â€œtop breedsâ€ and think that they have to get them. And many are going to soon realize that those cute, cuddly, sweet puppies nip at things, and pee on the carpets, and bark at the mailman and – gasp! – grow.
And thatâ€™s why thereâ€™s a necessity for so many groups dedicated to the rescuing of purebreds. Those â€œgreat for families,â€ â€œtrainable,â€ â€œeasy care,â€ â€œobedientâ€ AKC-registered puppies that become, wellâ€¦ dogs. Dogs that some people, for whatever reason, give up on.
So I just wish programs like the Today Show would consider these things before they put such segments on their show. Dogs donâ€™t need to be purebred to be special. They donâ€™t need to be one of the Most Popular Breeds to be special. They donâ€™t need to be mixed breed to be special.
They just need to be brought into families that understand the love, responsibility and commitment necessary when it comes to caring for them.