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Why it's time to stop buying pedigree dogs

The Guardian logo The Guardian 17/06/2019 Felicity Cloake
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Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

‘What breed is she?” is one of the questions I’ve learned to avoid in the dog park, along with “Ooh, what’s he rolling in?” and “Are you sure that’s play-fighting?”. The park seems to be populated entirely by saints who have spent inordinate amounts of time and money rescuing mutts from conflict zones. There’s no greater piece of canine one-upmanship than the casual reply: “Oh, she’s a Syrian street dog.” At which point I have to admit that I bought my dog as an eight-week-old pedigree puppy, a decision that seemed wise at the time, as neither my partner nor I had ever cohabited with one before, but that now makes me feel like a cross between a eugenicist and a child trafficker.

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Clearly, pedigree dogs are an outmoded, ridiculous idea, so the news that the old English sheepdog – a perfect visual representation of the genre, with its utterly impractical silky mop – is now on the Kennel Club’s endangered “at watch list” might seem like a vindication for progress, but it’s hard to feel that way, looking into its … well, I presume it has eyes somewhere under all that hair. Other native breeds at risk of dying out include the sleek little Manchester terrier, and my beloved sturdy Scottie.

After all, mongrels are well known to enjoy better health than their overbred pedigree counterparts, as well as presenting a fun guessing game for life – where did that tail come from? Is digging up the council flowerbeds is a sign of terrier ancestry? But the rescue element seems to me to be more important than the ancestry. There are plenty of pedigree dogs in need of a good home, for one reason or another – Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, for example, has seen a huge rise in French bulldogs and pugs given up for adoption in recent years.

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So if you’re thinking of getting a new best friend, whether it has got documents stretching back to the stone age, or was found in a box in a layby, please consider rehoming, rather than buying. I will next time, I promise.

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Gallery: 10 of the best dog breeds for families [INSIDER]

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