LETTER: Want a dog? Find a good breeder

First Lady Michelle Obama has narrowed the family's search for a dog to a rescued Portuguese water dog, says the People magazine Web
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

First Lady Michelle Obama has narrowed the family's search for a dog to a rescued Portuguese water dog, says the People magazine Web site.

If true, the Obama children may be waiting for a long time.

Few Portuguese water dogs end up in shelters. Over 75 percent of dogs in our nation's shelters are mixed breeds.

Portuguese water dogs are not that common. The American Kennel Club registered 122 of them in December, as compared to 7,511 Labrador retrievers.

Perhaps the first lady should consider buying a dog from a responsible breeder. Breeders generally fall into three classifications:

-- Responsible breeders have their dogs tested to eliminate genetic faults from breeding programs. They breed to produce healthy dogs that most closely fit the standard for that particular breed.

They are often members of their breed's parent club and follow a strict code of ethics. They interview prospective buyers to ensure that their puppies have the best opportunities for good, permanent homes, They mentor buyers. These dogs seldom end up in shelters.

-- Millers breed for money. They give little or no regard to health problems or breeding to the breed standard. They sell to pet stores, where animals are often purchased on impulse and may e relinquished to a shelter for lack of a mentor.

-- Uneducated breeders cross breeds or breed two of the same breed without regard to the breed standard. They let dogs roam free and breed at will. They do no health testing, nor record keeping.

Mixed breed dogs are not healthier than purebred dogs. No one does genetic testing on mutts to eliminate faults. Untested dogs are most likely to have the inherited problems of both parents, according to the late Dr. George Padgett, a specialist in breeding disorders of canines.

Suzanne Hively

Huron