Mixed Breed or Purebred Dog?
Should you purchase a purebred puppy from a breeder or adopt a mixed breed from a shelter? Some studies suggest mixed breeds are healthier because purebred dogs are more likely to inherit genetic diseases and have health issues due to their bodily frames and shapes. For example, hip dysplasia can be common in large breeds like the German shepherd, and patellar luxation (persistent dislocation of the kneecap), is often seen in toy and miniature breeds. Mixed breeds are less likely to have such genetic defects.
If you have your heart set on a particular breed, do your homework to understand its basic characteristics. While not all dogs of a particular breed behave a certain way, general breed traits can hold true for many. It’s tempting to focus on a dog’s looks but understanding a breed’s traits will help you make a better match.
When choosing a dog, whether you are looking for a purebred or a mixed breed, consider these factors:
- Personality. A dog with a calm, gentle temperament can be a great companion for any age. Golden and Labrador retrievers are known for their sweet dispositions.
- Size. While dogs of all sizes make good family pets, a large, rambunctious dog may inadvertently knock toddlers and small children down. If your kids are older, sporting dogs can make good buddies as they may tire each other out. On the other hand, toy breeds are easily injured if dropped or handled roughly by small children. Think about how a dog’s size will impact your life.
- Energy level. It’s important to be realistic about your lifestyle and activity level. Some dogs need more exercise, and if you can’t meet a dog’s exercise needs, his excess energy can lead to behavior problems. However, if you or someone in the family is a runner, a high-energy dog like a Border collie or Husky may be a great match.
Puppy or Older Dog?
Puppies—well, who can resist? You may want a puppy to grow up with your child, and like children, puppies are a lot of work. They need socialization, or exposure to new things, in the first four months of their lives to help them grow into happy, confident adult dogs. At this stage, their curiosity about new things outweighs their fear of the unknown. After four months of age, the window of opportunity starts to close, and new things may cause stress instead. Puppies could develop behavioral issues like fear aggression, separation anxiety or dog-to-dog reactivity if they aren’t properly socialized as puppies.
The benefit to adopting an older dog is that you have a better idea of what you are getting. He or she may still need training and will need time to decompress and learn your house rules, but older dogs tend to be less rowdy and more settled than puppies.
A Word About Kittens and Cats
If you are considering giving a kitten as a gift, think about the family’s lifestyle. A kitten may not be a good match for someone who travels a lot, but it may be a perfect family pet. Kittens, while super cute, are also fragile and prone to injury from grabby little hands or impatient older animals. Like puppies, they are hard to resist. Just keep in mind that kittens are extremely energetic and require a lot of time and patience. A kitten’s temperament can also be hard to predict, as it will change as the kitten matures into an adult. If you prefer a cat with specific temperament traits, it may be better to choose an older cat.
Purebred cats, such as the Siamese, have somewhat predictable cat characteristics based on their breed. For example, you can be certain that a Siamese will be loud and vocal, just as you can be certain that a Maine Coon will be friendly and affectionate. Before you buy or adopt, research different cat breeds to help you decide.
Male or Female?
You may have heard that male dogs are easier to train, are more independent and smarter overall. However, research shows that in training and performance, the personality and background of any individual dog were more important factors than sex.
Just as with humans, our behavior and cultural expectations of how male and female dogs are supposed to behave may color our opinions. So make your decision based on the individual dog and your own personal preferences.
Any dog or cat will bite if provoked. Children are fast-moving, loud and unaware of an animal’s body language. They are tempted to hug and kiss dogs and cats or disturb a sleeping animal, which can lead to bites and scratches. Unfortunately, social media is full of photos and videos depicting children in unsafe situations with pets because parents think it looks “cute.” Don’t be that person.
Learn and teach children about animal body language. And never leave young children unsupervised with any pet no matter how well you think you know the animal.
Caring for Your New Friend
Start your new pet off on the right paw with preventative care and regular wellness visits. Here are the basics:
- Vaccinations with boosters are especially important for young puppies and kittens as they do not have full immunity from many serious infectious diseases. For example, the parvo virus in dogs and panleukopenia in cats are both deadly gastrointestinal diseases. It’s critical to ensure your puppy or kitten has completed the entire series of combo vaccinations to keep him or her protected.
- A wellness visit is important because this exam helps us detect any possible health problems early. Common, treatable problems can be found before they are noticed by their owners.
- Spaying or neutering your pet has health benefits, in addition to helping with pet overpopulation. Spaying your puppy or kitten before her first heat offers the best protection from uterine infections and breast tumors. Neutering yourmale pet helps prevent testicular cancer and certain prostate problems.
- A microchip provides secure, reliable and permanent identification, which greatly increases the likelihood that your pet, if lost, will be returned home to you.
- Fleas, ticks and heartworm-carrying mosquitoes are out in full force, even this time of year. We can help you choose the best parasite preventions for your pet.
Whether you give a pet as a gift this holiday season or add a new furry member to your own family, we can help. From questions about nutrition and behavior to providing veterinary care, we are here for you.