I've not heard any evidence that mixed breeds are necessarily any healthier than purebreds - lots of supposition, but no evidence. I think the key to healthy dogs is knowing the backgrounds of the dogs to be bred. Are they free of hip dysplasia , elbow dysplasia , PRA, heart problems? Labs and Goldens have many genetic problems in common and if you just put one of each together without checking for the existence of those problems in the lines of each I'm not at all sure why one should expect to get a healthier dog.
If I were to be looking for a dog from a breeder I would only purchase a dog from a breeder who used great care in breeding. That means I would expect the breeder to understand the rudimentary genetics of important genetic diseases (to the extent of mainstream knowledge) and to test both the parents for diseases that might be expected to show up in the breed. For both breeds that includes hip dysplasia (hip x-rays required for screening), heart problems and more. I would expect the breeder to be aware of the health histories of at least the parents and grandparents of the sire and dam, and also many of the siblings of each of those generations. I would want also some independent evaluation of the temperaments of the same. If the breeder is not taking positive steps to detect and avoid genetic disease then they are not someone I would care to support. Careless breeding is not a kind and loving thing to do to a dog. Breeding on blind faith alone is careless breeding at its worst.
I also would purchase only from a breeder who shows true commitment to trying to keep dogs out of shelters instead of adding to them. That means the breeder commits to requiring that if person takes a puppy, then later decides that they cannot or will not provide what the dog needs the breeder takes it back, even if it is an old dog.
And what about a breeder who says they do all the testing etc? Sorry, but I want some evidence. For example, if they aren't submitting results to an independent health registry, such as OFA, then they aren't making it easy to track overall results. One reason bad breeders don't like to use such registries is that it may reveal missing dogs. By that I mean that if a breeder only submits results on their dogs that pass it is easier to notice. They submit the dogs that pass to make themselves look responsible, but they still breed the dogs that don't. And if the breeder is making claims about great temperments where is the evidence? There are a lot of dog activities that require great temperaments. And most leave some kind of evidence beyond the breeder's say-so. Since most activities allow mixed breeds there is no excuse for not having outside evidence of good temperament.
Mostly I cannot see buying a dog from a breeder unless I had very specific needs. If that were the case predictabilty would be very important and a mixed breed dog just can't provide the same kind of predictabilty as a purebred dog bred by a careful responsible breeder. In my case I would much prefer to take a dog from a shelter or rescue than to do anything to support the people whose dogs end up dying in the same. If you work full time you will not be spending enough time with the puppy to get any socialization/training benefits over a rescue or shelter dog. If you have no stong need for particular breed characteristics I strongly encourage you to adopt a dog that will otherwise die.
A GOOD shelter or rescue evaluation can really do a good job of matching dog to owner. Here are some books to read to learn more about shelter and rescue dogs.
Second Hand Dog by Carol Lea Benjamin
Successful Dog Adoption by Sue Sternberg
Complete Guide to Mutts by Margaret Bonham
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See the Rescue Mutts shop for t-shirts, buttons, magnets, stickers, mugs and more.
Copyright © 1998-2003, Diane Blackman Created: March 3, 1998 Updated November 12, 2007
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