Purebreds are dogs from a breed registered by the ANKC (American National Kennel Council). A purebred puppy must have known parentage. The parent dogs need to both be of the same ANKC-registered breed. If a dog has three generations of known purebred parentage, then it is pedigree. Purebreds are the result of many generations of selective breeding for specific physical traits or behavioral traits.

Designer dogs, or crossbreeds, are the results of breeding two purebreds of different species. The ANKC does not recognize designer dogs as breeds, but they are considered breeds by some people. Some designer dogs are labradoodles (poodle and labrador mixes), cockadoodles (cocker spaniel and poodle mixes), and puggles (pug and beagle mixes).

Why do many people choose purebreds or designer dogs?
There are many different reasons why people get purebreds or designer dogs. One reason is that they like a dog's appearance. People may see a dog in the movies and want the breed. To show off wealth, people might buy a rare or expensive breed. Another factor is a dog's reputation; for example, a rottweiler can make a guy look tough. Some people breed champion pedigrees to try to win dog shows. Some people like to get little dogs they can carry around in purses. Also, people get purebreds for breeding purposes. Other reasons can be the popularity of a breed and favorable reference by others.
Purebreds are sometimes selected for a specific temperament, behavior, or instinct. Christopher O'Reilly of Austin, Texas, chose a British Lab because of its calm temperament and it being an all-around family dog. His dog's name is Belle Starr and is pictured at right.

Purebreds also are often chosen for their nature to do work, such as hunting, sled pulling, or protecting. According to Ryan Garrick, Deputy Sheriff and canine handler for Washington County, Oregon, the German Shepherd is a common police dog because it's smart and a fast learner, has a painful but non-maiming bite, is very protective, and is able to detect and identify smells at a quicker pace than humans. Another breed commonly used in police work is the Belgian Malinois because it is very accomplished at narcotics detection.

Belle Starr, purebred British Lab
Where do people get purebreds or designer dogs?
Typically, most people getting a purebred or designer dog go to a pet shop or a breeder. Christopher O'Reilly purchased Belle Starr from a reputable breeder in Tennessee. The breeders let him see the mother, see Belle's test results, and see her kennel. He also liked that they kept close attention to genetic and physical problems. These are a few of the things that a reputable breeder should let you do when choosing a puppy.

The problem is that many breeders are not reputable. Pet stores and breeders may get their puppies from puppy mills. Puppy mills are networks that breed designer and purebred puppies, often in inhumane living conditions. They are designed for profit only. To read more on puppy mills, click here.

It is also possible to get designer dogs or purebreds from shelters or breed-specific rescue groups. Check the Internet or your local shelter and see whether they have available the kind of dog you are looking for. The bonuses are that you likely will only have to pay an adoption fee instead of the full price of a purchased dog, and you give a homeless dog a home!

Deputy Sheriff Ryan Garrick with his K-9 partner Hudson
What are some advantages to having a purebred dog?

Purebreds often have predictable personalities and behavior. Another advantage to owning a purebred dog is that someone can make money with it through breeding and winning dog shows. People can admire it, too. Large amounts of information from breed-specific books, including care and health, are often available. People can also join breed-specific clubs and networks .

What are the possible disadvantages?

Some purebreds have breed-specific diseases. Other breeds have a negative reputation, such as how many people think that rottweilers and pit bulls, no matter how they are raised, are dangerous and aggressive. Inbreeding can create a smaller gene pool, leading to potential problems with health, intellect, and sometimes unpredictable personalities or neuroses. There is also usually a high cost, which includes purchasing and transporting the dog, potentially higher medical costs, and registering the dog. Not neutering or spaying can lead to accidental births and overpopulation. Selling "accidental" puppies can lead to bad breeders and inhumane living conditions. Puppies that don’t sell are sometimes dumped or killed.