You've finally got the puppy you always wanted. It is a purebred, with papers that prove it comes from a long line of fine dogs. Does that make your puppy a good buy? Not necessarily.
Americans own about 20 million purebred dogs. More and more, owners are finding out that purebreds may have serious problems along with their pedigrees. Purebred Collies, for example, tend to have eye trouble that can quickly turn into blindness. Cocker spaniels often suffer from ear trouble, kidney problems, and extreme nervousness. Golden retrievers may quickly develop hip trouble, skin allergies, and cancer.
The reason for these problems, some critics charge, is that purebreds are often bred only for looks, which do well at dog shows and impress prospective owners. At dog shows, for example, judgest mostly consider appearance--the shape of a dog's head or the quality of its coat. It is harder for judges to consider or give marks for an even disposition or a keen intelligence.
The American Kennel Club advises dog buyers to think carefully about the kind of pet they want. Buyers should go to dealers or breeders with a known good record. And care should be taken to pick a puppy that is alert and friendly.
Then, of course, say pet experts, someone intersted in owning a dog might look at a healthy mixed breed. Dogs of mixed breed are often healthy and intelligent, without many of the problems purebred dogs have.