But I Just Want a Pet!


Why a pet is just as important

by Lee Hanrahan


Good breeders frequently hear puppy buyers say “but I just want a pet”. For some inexplicable reason, they think well-bred dogs and pets are two different types of dogs. If you suggest that they find a dog in rescue they say “no, I want a purebred dog”. They want to buy a purebred puppy from a breeder – but they ‘just want a pet’. What is the difference between a well-bred dog and a pet? 

Is it price? I will agree that most people are not willing to save up to buy something they really want. I have a sneaky suspicion that if good breeders accepted credit cards they would probably sell more puppies. I have seen it explained to someone that the initial selling price of a puppy is just the drop in the bucket. That how buying from a breeder that health tests will increase the odds their new puppy will live a healthier life. This they seem to get it…. Yet I have seen people who understand this still purchase from bad breeders. This isn’t a car stereo that you can just toss in the garbage after it breaks in 6 months – this is a living creature that you will hopefully cherish for over a decade.

Some shoppers will agree that health testing is important, but then there are the titles… Good breeders title their breeding dogs in Schutzhund (or HGH). Is this some bizarre, unique, crazy, ridiculously excessive practice? No, they do it to preserve the traits that make the GSD a GSD. Does it mean you must train in Schutzhund with your new puppy - No. Does it mean your new puppy will have over-the-top, out of control drive and will be a horrible house dog - No. Does it mean your new puppy will eat small children and attack your neighbours - of course not.

Some will tell you that because the GSD is a herding breed and since very few actually need to herd sheep, that these working titles are useless. The German Shepherd Dog was created around 1899 – Schutzhund was developed in the early 1900’s – I think someone saw that coming! Schutzhund has been testing the breed for a hundred years. The breed is and has always been a working breed. Make sure you get what you pay for!

But you just want a pet right?

The free classifieds are full of German Sheperds, Shepards, Sheppards and the like - most under $500. These puppies are as cute as a button! Does it matter that the 'breeder' can't spell the name of the breed they are trying to sell? You just want a pet right?? Does it matter that the only difference between these puppies and the dogs in rescue is their puppies are a couple of months younger. Neither has any investment put into the breeding – they are the same dogs.

There are really three choices when it comes to getting your next puppy. First, you can find a reputable rescue organization and give a dog a chance. Second, you can buy your puppy from someone who is taking shortcuts to produce puppies and you can deal with that for the next 10-15 years. Or third, you can find a good breeder who has invested their lives in the breed, health tests and titles their breeding stock to ensure your pet is a well-bred dog.

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