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best in show: the pros and cons of purebred dogs

  • Dr. Kim
  • Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on
    Staff Veterinarian and Pet Health Writer of Petplan


This Valentine’s Day, some people’s hopes and dreams will not include chocolates, hearts, or roses.  These people will be wishing and hoping to see their dog attain the elusive title of “Best in Show” at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.  

February 14th is the start of the 135th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the ultimate symbol of the purebred dog.  The WKC Dog Show is the oldest continuous sporting event in the United States except for the Kentucky Derby, and is the dog show equivalent of the Super Bowl.  More than 2500 champions compete in 173 breeds and varieties, but only one will be named “Best in Show” on February 15th. 

“Best in Show” was given for the first time in 1907 when it went to a Smooth Fox Terrier named Ch. Warren Remedy.  She went on to win the following two years and remains the only dog to ever win the title three times.  Last year, the title went to a beautiful five-year-old female Scottish Terrier named Ch. Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot (aka Sadie).


I love watching the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.  The dogs there are the best of the best, and are remarkable examples for people wanting to know more about specific breeds of dogs.  The dogs are broken down into seven groups (herding, non-sporting, toy, terrier, working, hound, and sporting) and most of the commentary is very accurate regarding breed traits.  If you are looking for a purebred dog and are not sure what kind is right for you, this is a good place to start. 

Purebred dogs, like everything else in life, have pros and cons, and you should be educated in both before venturing out to get one. 

The Good

In general, specific breeds are known for specific temperaments, so you can narrow your search for a purebred dog based on your requirements.  There are exceptions to every rule, of course, but if you want your dog to hunt, or to guard your sheep, or to ride in your purse, you can guarantee that certain purebreds will inherit those traits from their parents. 

A responsible breeder keeps meticulous records, and therefore you will know the health of not only your dog’s parents, but his grandparents, great-grandparents, and beyond.  This is beneficial in knowing that your dog has a better chance of being and staying healthy when you adopt him and less of a chance of inheriting a hereditary condition, such as eye diseases. 

The Bad

Purebred dogs are expensive, especially when you are buying from a reputable breeder.  Expect to spend hundreds (and possibly thousands) of dollars to get the purebred dog of your dreams. 

The Ugly

Irresponsible breeders are everywhere.  These breeders perpetuate bad blood lines and will even breed close family members to attain what they feel is an ideal specimen.  The practice of inbreeding limits the gene pool and predisposes dogs to serious genetic health concerns. Luckily, Petplan pet insurance covers all hereditary and chronic conditions, so if a condition does develop, you will have the confidence to know your pet (and your family budget) will be protected. 

Buy responsibly

One of the things that enamors me to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is its commitment to responsible breeding.  None of the dogs you see on the screen were obtained from backyard breeders, puppy mills, or pet stores.  If you must have a purebred dog, be sure to do your research.  Get the RIGHT breed for your family from the RIGHT source.  And remember, your local shelter has purebreds, too, as do hundreds of breed-specific rescue groups.

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Dr. Ernie Ward, Jr.Veterinary Advisory Board of Petplan
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