The Westminster Dog Show is underway this week, so it’s a good time to remember that you don’t have to go to a breeder to find great dogs; you can find purebred dogs, as well as mixed breeds, available for adoption through shelters and rescues.
Not all breeders are bad; in fact, those registered through the American Kennel Club (AKC) must meet high quality standards. However, the facts remain that millions of dogs are turned into rescues and shelters every year, and of the four million that go into shelters, more than one million don’t come out – meaning, they die. And breeding dogs add to the pet overpopulation problem, which adds to the number of dogs euthanized every year.
It’s estimated that between 5 and 25 percent of dogs placed in shelters are purebred. Recently at my community’s humane society a long-haired, tri-colored collie came in because its aging owner could no longer take care of it. And, last fall two shih tzus were brought into the kill-shelter in my town, which is operated by the city; both had been used as breeders – one was 12 years old and not spayed. So, although good breeders do exist, so do bad breeders. That doesn’t mean the dogs are bad, they are just not as well-cared for, and many of them end up in shelters and rescues. In fact, the mission of National Mill Dog Rescue (NMDR) is to bring into rescue those dogs which are used in what’s known as puppy mills – backyard breeders whose priority is profit and who often shove these creatures into tiny cages. Through NMDR, these adorable animals, from small Maltese to large German Shepherds, are socialized, loved on, given medical care, and made available for adoption.
Other rescue groups, such as Big Dogs Huge Paws that specialize in rescue and re-homing the larger dog breeds, such as Great Danes, Mastiffs, and Newfoundlands, and English Springer Rescue America, with chapters around the nation, take in specific breeds that need new homes. Even the AKC endorses breed-specific rescues – learn more at http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/rescue-network/contacts/.
If you’re thinking of adopting a dog and aren’t sure what breed is right for you, watching this week’s Westminster Dog Show is a great way to learn about the various breeds. You can also review breed traits, personalities, and behavior patterns by reading up on the different types of dogs at this website: http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/. One of the most responsible things a person can do before obtaining a dog, whether through adoption or purchasing from a breeder, is to learn what type of dog best fits your lifestyle and desires. Do your homework before bringing a dog home!
The most popular type of dog in America is the Labrador Retriever; it is also among the top five most common breeds found in animal shelters (or lab mixes); black labs are also among the least likely to be adopted because the coat color tends to blend in with the dark surroundings of many animal shelters. And though Labs are popular, not one has ever taken Best in Show at Westminster. Neither has the Golden Retriever, Dachshund, or Chihuahua, all of which are also very popular breeds. Perhaps one of those will win this year. Stay tuned!
Wondering where to catch the dog show of dog shows? Visit http://www.sportingnews.com/other-sports/news/westminster-dog-show-2017-tv-channel-schedule-online-stream-coverage/n9nwcw6efxf16ki6f5eeqk5g to learn which TV stations are carrying this special event.
And remember two important things the next time you’re looking for a specific dog breed as a companion: (1) do your research on dog breeds and (2) adopt, don’t shop! One of the best ways to find a certain breed of dog, in addition to the earlier-mentioned resources, is to go to Petfinder.com – you can search for a specific dog breed, even sex and age, that is available through a local, regional, or national rescue or shelter.
The Westminster Dog Show takes place next month, and in anticipation of the big event, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has recognized three new dog breeds for competition: the Chinook, the Rat Terrier, and the Portuguese Podengo Poqueno.
The Chinook is an American dog breed. Originally bred as a sled dog by musher Arthur Treadwell Walden of New Hampshire, this rare breed makes an excellent family pet. Walden bred a farm dog of unknown heritage with a “northern” husky, possibly from Greenland, producing a litter of puppies with tawny coats. One of those pups, named Chinook, grew up to father a dog breed that not only had his physical characteristics but also his gentle disposition. A team of Chinooks transported supplies for Admiral Richard Byrd’s trek to Antarctica in 1927. The calm and dignified Chinook generously dishes out affection on family members and is known for its love of children. This breed is also known for its thick, tawny-colored double coat and amazing athletic ability. The Chinook needs lots of daily exercise – when bored it can be quite destructive and won't be entertained by lounging on the couch. These dogs thrive at dog sports, including sledding and agility, herding, and obedience and make great companions for active families. Chinooks stand 22 to 26 inches tall, weigh 50 to 90 pounds, and live 12 to 15 years. In 1965, the breed was considered the most rare type of dog in the world. Still uncommon, this state dog of New Hampshire seems to be making a comeback.
The Rat Terrier is also an American dog breed. His ancestry includes the Smooth Fox Terrier, the Italian Greyhound, Miniature Pinscher and Beagle. An all-purpose farm dog, this breed was used to kill rats and hunt small game. Like many of its terrier cousins, the Rat Terrier is smart and active, which means it needs plenty of exercise and mentally-stimulating activities – if not provided these things, the Rat Terrier can be quite destructive. Engaging in dog sports like agility and flyball will keep this energetic little dog stimulated mentally and physically. This breed is calmer than other terrier breeds and enjoys lap time with its people. Smart and fun-loving, the Rat Terrier likes to be involved and can be prone to separation anxiety. Therefore, early training and plenty of socialization is required for this breed (and its owner) to be happy. Rat terriers come in two sizes: miniature (10 to 13 inches at the shoulder) and standard (13 to 18 inches tall). They weigh between 8 to 25 pounds and can live 12 to 18 years. These small dogs can be big chewers. They are also known to be barkers and diggers. Plan to use a dog crate, tall baby gates and exercise pens for this breed. Because of their friendly disposition, rat terriers can make great therapy dogs.
The Portuguese Podengo is a sighthound originally bred to hunt rabbits in packs. This breed comes in three sizes and two varieties: the smooth, with a short, dense coat, and the wirecoat, with a medium-length, rough coat. Originating from Portugal, this breed resembles the Pharaoh Hound, Ibizan Hound, and Cirneco dell Etna, and is probable that all of these breeds share the same ancestry. The AKC registered the Podengo as part of the Hound Group. An alert dog, the Podengo makes an excellent watchdog. But, be aware: it likes to chase other furry creatures, and that would include the family cat! This breed can jump very high as well as straight up, therefore, insure you have a very tall fence if you get one of these dogs. Height sizes for these dogs are 8 to 12 inches, 16 to 22 inches, and 22 to 28 inches at the shoulder; weights are 8 to 14 pounds, 35 to 45 pounds, and 44 to 66 pounds. These dogs generally live 10 to 14 years. Well-muscled and extremely athletic, they need of regular exercise and excel at agility and lure coursing. Podengos can also do well in obedience and tracking.
As another season of Westminster rolls around, it will be interesting to watch these new breeds in the ring and see how they fare during the upcoming competition, February 10 and 11, 2014.
Photo credit: American Kennel Club
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.