If you’ve made the decision to become a first time pet owner after going through all the factors to be considered (check out our article https://www.sugarpaws.me/pet-dog-or-cat/) the next step is deciding which breed or type of dog or cat to get.
Dogs and cats can be purebreds or mixed breeds. Both are beautiful and worthy of love and can have their own advantages.
We recommend adopting over buying, and rescue groups have purebreds and mixed breeds available for re-homing. In general it is best not to fixate on just one type of dog or cat. It’s better to have a general idea of what type of dog or cat would suit you best and then see which pet develops a bond with you when you meet. Animals choose us as much as we choose them so it’s good to be a bit flexible in this regard.
The first step should be doing your research on the breed (or breed mix) of dog or cat you’re interested in. Always meet your prospective pet first and learn as much as you can about it before bringing it home. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be to be a good pet owner. This is part one of a two part article on how to decide what type of dog or cat to get.
Animal lovers (and rescuers in particular) sometimes have strong feelings about people who want purebred pets. The problem is not with wanting a purebred pet. The problem is when that’s the ONLY type of pet someone wants along with the reasons for why they want just a purebred.
Some pet lovers are allergic to fur so they look for breeds that are hypoallergenic. There are dog and cat breeds that are better than others for allergy sufferers. Examples of some hypoallergenic dog breeds are Maltese, Poodle (all varieties), Bichon Frise, Coton de Tulear, Kerry Blue Terrier, and more. Examples of some cat breeds would be Sphynx (hairless cats), Burmese, Balinese, Cornish Rex, Oriental Shorthair, and more.
However, no hypoallergenic breed is 100% free of allergens – some breeds just produce allergens in much lower quantities than others. Sometimes pet owners who are allergic may still have to take anti-allergy medication either regularly or when their allergies flare up (perhaps during certain seasons for example).
Some people want purebreds because they’re looking for specific personality traits and temperaments that they know will make the pet a good match for them. It is true that every animal has its own unique personality and none is a copy of another. However purebreds have certain predictable personality traits and characteristics that they share with others of their breed. Purebreds are not bred only for their looks, they are also bred for their temperaments. Someone who wants a short haired dog that doesn’t require much exercise, loves lying around, is gentle, and doesn’t bark much might consider getting a Pug. There is a reason that most emotional support animals are Labrador Retrievers and most police dogs are German Shepherds. These breeds have specific characteristics that make them perfectly suited to what they’re needed for.
The same is the case for cats. Someone who wants an active cat might look into getting a Bengal, Siamese, or Abysynnian. Someone looking for a quieter gentler cat to cuddle that doesn’t require a lot of exercise might prefer a Persian or a Ragdoll.
Purebred Health Conditions
Unfortunately, physical characteristics and personality traits are not the only thing that are passed down during breeding. Purebreds can be genetically prone to certain health problems more than other pets. Not every purebred pet is going to experience the problems of their breed, but there is always a chance that they might show up sooner or later. Pugs for example are prone to obesity and can develop eye, joint, and serious breathing problems early on. Many require surgery to correct breathing issues they develop because of their short snouts. There is a whole list of health problems associated with Pugs, and they aren’t the only purebred dog or cat to suffer from breeding related genetic ailments. Scottish Fold cats for example tend to develop claws that curl inward, heart conditions, sore joints, and restricted mobility. The same gene that causes their ears to bend forward and curl (giving these cats an owl-like appearance) also causes bone and cartilage abnormalities in various parts of their bodies starting from as young as 7 weeks of age. These conditions cause significant discomfort and even pain and these pets sometimes need to be prescribed medication to have a decent quality of life. Not all purebreds are the same of course and there are healthier individuals even within breeds largely due to good breeding practices.
If you have a specific breed in mind, it is best to do thorough research first to see whether you would be willing and able to care for it should it start developing the known health problems of its breed.
Some animal experts and animal rights advocates say that breeding certain purebreds with known genetic issues (like Pugs and Scottish Folds) should be banned altogether as their genetic defects are significant enough to affect their quality of life and cause unnecessary pain and suffering. In some countries like Scotland, Belgium, Austria, and some parts of Canada, it is actually illegal to breed Scottish Folds now for example. As long as there is a demand for these breeds though, it is unlikely breeders will stop breeding and selling them altogether.
Breeders therefore play a significant role, and this is where another issue comes into play. Some breeders are licensed and registered with the government of their countries and are not motivated by profit alone. They love their pets and treat them as family members. They take great care to ensure their pets have the best healthcare and nutrition so their offspring are healthy too. Naturally the price for puppies and kittens from good breeders will be higher than prices at pet shops or unlicensed breeders. Some pet shops only deal with ethical breeders but the vast majority of pet shops unfortunately do not.
There are no licensed breeders in the UAE. This means that unless you buy a purebred pet from abroad yourself or from a pet shop here with a guarantee it is from a certified and reputable breeder from abroad, there is no way to know where your pet came from or what conditions it was born and kept in. Buying from most pet shops is not a good idea as they either buy pets from backyard breeders (not all of whom know best breeding practices) or import pets from puppy mills (where pets are kept in deplorable conditions and from where their offspring are crowded into crates and shipped off, many of whom die in the transport process or become very ill). If you buy these pets (even to rescue them from their miserable conditions), not only are you buying a puppy or kitten taken away from its mother too soon and with an underdeveloped immune system, you’re also ensuring that these pet shops continue to fill their cages up with new pets as they know the demand for them is there and someone else will come and buy them. As long as there are people buying from pet shops, the cycle of abuse towards animals kept in puppy mills will continue, which is why most animal rescuers are against supporting the breeding and pet selling trade. This is why adopting rather than buying is considered a better option.
Adopt Don’t Shop 🐶🐱🐰🦜
Another reason for considering adoption is the large number of pets that are abandoned or surrendered by owners for no fault of their own. Some people buy a puppy or kitten because they think it’s cute but then realize they don’t want to spend the time and energy required to care for it. Pet rescue groups don’t only have pets rescued from dangerous conditions on the street but also purebreds that are abandoned and left to fend for themselves or those who are surrendered because their owners just don’t want to take care of them anymore.