Chapter 4
How To Know What Type Dog Is Best For You

Purebred Dogs


Many people who have some familiarity with purebred dogs prefer one or more breeds over the others. Some people may have had a certain breed as a child. Others might have fallen in love with how a specific breed looks. But before you consider getting a purebred dog, make sure you know what to expect from any specific breed in which you have an interest, and purebred dogs in general. In the section that follows, you will learn the information you need to know before you choose a purebred dog.

What is a Purebred Dog?

A purebred dog is a group of dogs that have been bred together over many generations to ensure that a set of predictable traits are passed on to their puppies. If two dogs that are very similar are bred, the offspring will more likely have these same traits. This is the idea behind what is called selective breeding. In other words, a breed is a group of dogs with specific traits that, when bred, can be expected to pass on those traits to their puppies. These traits are determined by the dog's genes. So purebred dogs have genetically-programmed traits. With a purebred dog, you have a reasonable idea of what to expect, physically, when the puppy matures into an adult. You know approximately how large it will be and how it will look. You will never see a small brown Dalmatian. Dalmatians are large white dogs with black spots. But some people don't realize that many behaviors also have their roots in a dogs' genes. A friendly dog breed like a Golden Retriever is friendly because each dog inherits genes that govern this behavior. As a result, it would be extremely unusual for a Golden Retriever to be shy or suspicious of people. Likewise, traits passed from dog to dog within a breed like high activity levels, patience with children, or slobbering are all controlled by genetics. So genes determine not only physical characteristics, but they can determine behavioral traits too. We will discuss more about how genes influence purebred dogs later in this chapter. Right now let's talk more about what it takes to be recognized as a dog breed.