Purebred dog breeds, from Maltese to Shih Tzu, have come a long way from their wolf ancestor. Selective breeding has yielded some of the finest dog breeds we love and know today. It allows us to produce unique looks, temperament, and physical traits in dog breeds.
But the outcomes of selective breeding can have benefits and drawbacks that range from physical strengths to health problems. In this article, we explore both. Because we believe that whether your dog is a pedigreed pooch or street mongrel, the most important thing is the bond you share and your dog’s wellbeing.
How to prove your dog is purebred
Whether Chihuahua or Dachshund, Labrador or Poodle, dogs and wolves share 99.9% DNA. So, if they’re still the same genetic content, what’s the difference between a purebred pooch and a street mongrel?
The answer is selective breeding within specific gene pools.
Official breed standards
To make a new ‘pure’ breed, the process begins by mating two dogs with the same appearance, physical tendencies and personality to produce puppies that share these characteristics. In other words, the breeder can guarantee the puppies will look and behave very much like mum and dad by breeding selectively from a limited gene pool.
This process of selective breeding must be regulated, documented, and repeated for several generations. After that time the bloodline can be registered as a proper dog breed, depending on evidence provided to a registry like Dogs New Zealand?. When you’re looking for a pedigreed dog, it’s important to check if the breeder is a member of a breeding register.
And you might be interested to know that new breeds of dog are being made all the time. Each of these must first make the official breed standards to qualify as a ‘pure’ breed.
Purebred dog breeds in NZ
Based on the official breed standards, the New Zealand Kennel Club currently recognises 224 breeds of dogs. All these purebred dogs fit into these seven breed groups, with some breed examples:
- Toy Group
Yorkshire terrier, Pug, Pomeranian
- Terrier Group
Bull Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier, Australian Terrier
- Gundog Group
Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, English Setter
- Hound Group
Afghan Hound, Beagle, Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Working Dog Group
Border Collie, German Shepherd Dog, Australian Cattle Dog
- Utility Group
Boxer, Dobermann, St Bernard
- Non-Sporting Group
Bulldog, Shih Tzu, Dalmatian
Benefits of a purebred dog
In the old days, purebred pups were mostly bred for skills and strengths in specific fields of work. Many of these same skills translate well for modern urban living too. For example, Retriever breeds and Spaniels were bred for tracking and retrieving fowl, foxes, and game shot in hunting sports. And Shepherd dogs were bred for agility and herding.
Such skillsets lend themselves beautifully to working with other animals and people. These skills usually translate into dogs who make good pets too, dogs that are sociable, loving, and loyal. As long as they get the right amount of dog exercise to burn through their bountiful energy stores. Read how to do this in our article: Active Dog Month: All About Dog Exercise.
Another example is the German Shepherd, which has a strong territorial instinct, making it a powerful guard dog who’s very loyal. And of course, dogs like the Chihuahua and the Pug who have been bred for their cute looks make great indoor dogs.
In short, if you’re planning to get a purebred dog, you can pick and choose a dog based on their temperament or their looks before even getting face to face with it.
This means you can also mix and match your choice according to your family or your lifestyle. For example, if you’re a sporty spice, you might choose a Border Collie who can run for ages without stopping. Or if you have a family of your own, dogs and kids might be your focus, so you might choose a sociable Labrador Retriever.
Purebred dog health problems & other drawbacks
The first drawback of a purebred dog is the price point because you’re paying for all the hard work that went into producing the breed. Sadly, this has led to money motivated and inhumane breeding with puppy mills in New Zealand. Avoid puppy scams by reading how to buy a puppy safely.
Another commonly cited problem is that some purebred dogs are more prone to congenital health problems from smaller breeding gene pools. If you’re planning on buying a purebred dog, do some research on your dog of choice to up your knowledge on what type of vet bills you might expect.
There are currently 396 inherited disorders identified in purebred dogs. Some examples are struggling to breathe, walk, mate, give birth and hip dysplasia. But that’s not to say your purebred will have these. Just that certain dog breeds can have these tendencies.
Take your time to understand the breed and the breeders before making a purchase decision. It’s a lot of money to spend – both upfront and ongoing – so make the right choice. Also weigh up buying purebred with giving a rescue dog a home. Consider the time, love and money you have to give your new family member and what sort of dog will fit in with your lifestyle.
Whether your pooch is Lady or the Tramp, they’ll very likely have a range of health and wellbeing needs throughout their lifetime. These could range from accidents and illnesses to routine vet check-ups and vaccinations.
Seriously consider taking up a dog insurance plan to reduce their health costs along the way.
Purebred dog – over to you
We’d love to know if you have a purebred or mongrel and what your thoughts on the topic are! Let us know in the comments below: