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Should I buy an ACA registered dog?
June 15, 2009 3:01 PM   Subscribe

Should I buy an ACA registered dog?

I have been looking to buy a purebred pug puppy for months and have the best feeling about a breeder who only registers her puppies through ACA. I've done some searching, but haven't been able to come to a reasonable conclusion. If I am buying solely as a companion pet, is there any reason I should buy an ACA registered puppy? Most purebred owners swear by the AKC only.

My main concerns with the puppy is that she's free of health defects and well socialized before she comes home with me.

Thanks!
posted by jaynedanger to Pets & Animals (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
f I am buying solely as a companion pet, is there any reason I should buy an ACA registered puppy?

I can think of one very clear reason why you shouldn't: doing so lends your financial support to puppy mills, commercial mass-breeding farms which raise animals under substandard conditions.

Most of the dogs supplied by puppy mills or backyard breeders to pet stores are registered with the ACA or the America's Pet Registry, Inc., (APRI) which has less stringent standards for registration than the AKC or UKC.

My understanding is that AKC registration is the only one recognized outside the United States, as well. Not that such things matter for you if you're only taking in a companion animal. I've only ever purchased one purebred dog, (the others were mixed-breed rescues,) but she was registered with the AKC.
posted by zarq at 3:23 PM on June 15, 2009 [11 favorites]


Seconding everything zarq said.

Given the breed's unusually high number of health problems, shopping for the most reputable breeder you can find would be wise.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:27 PM on June 15, 2009


If you are purchasing solely as a companion pet, and have no wish to show or breed the dog, PLEASE consider adopting from a shelter or rescue organization. You can still have the dog screened for health issues (most, if not all shelters/rescues will include a vet screening with your adoption fee). And, adopting a purebred in no way guarantees adopting a well-socialized pet.

There are so many wonderful pets out there in shelters who make WONDERFUL, lifelong loving companions!
posted by bookmammal at 3:33 PM on June 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


ACA is a puppy mill registry that will register anything that you fill in paperwork and pay a fee for, and such registration is a huge warning flag for unethical, irresponsible backyard breeding. There is no reason that a breeder whose dogs CAN be AKC registered should not have them AKC registered in the US. Keep in mind that AKC registration by itself is not a hallmark of ethical breeding, it's just a registry, and plenty of backyard breeders and puppy millers have AKC registered dogs, but using something like ACA is like hanging out a sign that says "Hi, I'm a bad breeder".

Please do not reward such behaviour, either buy from an ethical breeder (ethical breeders do breed-appropriate health testing, insist that dogs be returned to them if you cannot keep them for any reason, at any time, and offer you lifelong support and advice), or go through a rescue.
posted by biscotti at 3:36 PM on June 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


One other thing which I probably should have spelled out.

Dogs that come from puppy mills and backyard breeders generally do have either socialization or health problems, sometimes both. Their health problems are typically the result of overzealous breeding techniques, (for example, females being bred every time they're in heat,) but also from poor medical care, nutrition or exercise

Since it can be hard to identify certain health/genetic issues at a very young age, there's some security in an AKC registration, which in some cases / breeds may include a genetic screening.
posted by zarq at 3:39 PM on June 15, 2009


Also wanted to add that you can get AKC-registered dogs/puppies from rescues, especially breed-specific ones. My English pointer/English setter mix came from a pointer rescue as a 2-month old (one of the few non-purebreds there), since she was an accidental breeding between show dogs and they didn't want mixed breed babies.
posted by emilyd22222 at 3:43 PM on June 15, 2009


there's some security in an AKC registration, which in some cases / breeds may include a genetic screening.

It would be nice if this were true. But it's not, at least to my knowledge. AKC registration is only registration, it states that the dog is (ostensibly) purebred, and came from parents who were (ostensibly) purebred, and they were AKC registered with a four generation pedigree, and someone filled in the paperwork and sent a check. Genetic screening is in no way part of AKC registration. Perhaps you are confusing DNA testing (required for foreign-born dogs or multiple-sire litters in order to AKC register their offspring), with genetic screening? DNA testing is just to confirm that the parent dog actually is the parent, it does not screen for health problems.

The only security in AKC registration is that the dog is purebred (ostensibly, since many, many litters a year have their registrations challenged and revoked due to falsification of documents or poor record keeping), has a pedigree on record, and the breeder has done the paperwork and sent in a check. It not a mark of quality, it is not a mark of good breeding, and it is not a mark of ethics. There are many, many problems with AKC, but NOT AKC registering an AKC-registerable breed, and instead using a known puppy mill registry like ACA, is a hallmark of poor breeding and should not be rewarded. Avoid.
posted by biscotti at 4:11 PM on June 15, 2009


please, please, please either adopt or buy only from a responsible breeder who will have you sign a contract that will entail, among other things, returning the dog to them should you need to give it up, and having to spay/neuter the dog. a responsible breeder who is one who breeds to improve the breed, not for profit. usually that means, that breeder's dog(s) have been shown and championed. please go to the pug dog of america site to find a responsible breeder near you.
posted by violetk at 4:11 PM on June 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's a lot of evidence to say that purebred dogs are liable to all kinds of problems, regardless of whether they come from puppy mills or not. A mutt is much less likely to have genetically-caused defects, and in my opinion mutts are generally more intelligent than purebreds.
posted by anadem at 4:18 PM on June 15, 2009


If you must have a purebred dog, please consider adopting through a breed rescue group. Most rescue groups will have puppies, as well as adult dogs, on an ongoing basis. A breed rescue is familiar with the breed and can answer your questions and give you support.

This page has a list of pug rescue groups.

You can also search Petfinder for specific breeds in your area.

A breed rescue will not have the smooth marketing techniques of a pet shop or unscrupulous breeder. Breed rescues are run by volunteers who care about dogs. It may take awhile for someone to get in touch with you. They will ask you to complete an application.

If you rescue, you are to be commended for doing a great thing -- for saving a dog's life.
posted by valannc at 4:52 PM on June 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


As a former owner of a purebred dog who had lots of health problems due to the fact that he was purebred, I say DO NOT BUY A PUREBRED DOG. Even if it's from a responsible breeder. Buy a rescue.
posted by kldickson at 5:44 PM on June 15, 2009


There's a lot of evidence to say that purebred dogs are liable to all kinds of problems, regardless of whether they come from puppy mills or not. A mutt is much less likely to have genetically-caused defects

I would love to see this evidence you speak of, I have never seen any such evidence, just conjecture and misunderstanding. To paraphrase: when a purebred dog has a health issue, people say "it's because it's purebred", and add that to their "evidence" that purebreds are unhealthy, when a mixed breed has the same health issue, people just say "oh, how terrible". And then the BBC comes along and completely messes things up. Mixes have all the health problems of purebreds, because mixes come from purebreds, people THINK mixes are healthier because of the above-mentioned (and incorrect) labeling, because people (incorrectly) think that mixing dog breeds creates hybrid vigor (it doesn't), and because fewer mixes actually have any of the relevant health testing done, so we just don't hear much about Bob's Shepherd mix that developed symptomatic hip dysplasia at age 2, because Bob didn't get OFA done and publish the results and educate his fellow Shepherd mix owners about which neighbor dogs to avoid breeding to (as good breeders do), he just got a Carprofen prescription from his vet. A well-bred dog is a well-bred dog (and is less likely to have a health problem), a badly-bred dog is a badly-bred dog. I have nothing against mixes, but this "mixes are healthier" nonsense drives me crazy.
posted by biscotti at 7:09 PM on June 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Breed rescue dogs are just as cute and will love you just as much.
posted by aquafortis at 7:35 PM on June 15, 2009


Totally concurring with what everyone else has said about avoiding both ACA and AKC and, if you MUST have a purebred, going the rescue route. (And valannc has already done the googling for you!) I've been taking my own mutts to a very active dog run for over ten years now and it's made me rabidly (ha!) anti-purebred.

Hybrid vigor is no guarantee of flawless good health, of course. I've encountered many mutts with physical problems (including one of mine, who had hip dysplasia and Cushing's disease). But the dogs with the most extreme and expensive problems, with the earliest onset, were purebreds. Same with behavioral issues.

Also, what do you mean by "well-socialized"? A puppy needs at least eight weeks with the mom and the litter, but it's not like those eight weeks dictate what kind of dog it'll become. The socialization and training you provide means far, far more.

Maybe it would help to know what you find most appealing about this particular breeder.

On preview: biscotti, I understand and agree with much of what you're saying. But I've known people who've acquired dogs through breeders who "do breed-appropriate health testing, insist that dogs be returned to them if you cannot keep them for any reason, at any time, and offer you lifelong support and advice"—and still ended up with genetic trainwrecks like my catastrophic mutt. The breeders were great about it, but the experiences were still emotionally and financially devastating.

It's always something a crap shoot, and I'd much rather take my chances with a rescue dog.
posted by dogrose at 7:47 PM on June 15, 2009


Genetic screening is in no way part of AKC registration. Perhaps you are confusing DNA testing (required for foreign-born dogs or multiple-sire litters in order to AKC register their offspring), with genetic screening? DNA testing is just to confirm that the parent dog actually is the parent, it does not screen for health problems.

I had to do some online research. You're absolutely right. My apologies to jaynedanger, and thanks for correcting me, biscotti

I was under the impression that the AKC required health tests, hip dysplasia ratings from the OFA, and various genetic tests for a slew of heritable diseases. I'm highly disappointed to find that they do none of these things. :(
posted by zarq at 9:55 PM on June 15, 2009


Dogs that come from puppy mills and backyard breeders generally do have either socialization or health problems, sometimes both.

Isn't this problem even worse with rescue dogs?
posted by smackfu at 10:54 PM on June 15, 2009


Isn't this problem even worse with rescue dogs?

No. While it’s true that some rescue dogs have behavioral or health problems that contributed to their homelessness, the sad reality is that healthy, well socialized, and beautiful pets lose their homes for a wide variety of reasons—especially during an economic recession. Rescue dogs may be purebred, but are more likely to be mutts, which as others have noted above are often smarter and are much less likely to have certain congenital health problems often associated with over breeding. And unlike a purebred puppy, your rescue dog is more likely an adult dog you can meet and observe before adopting. He will probably have had a recent vet workup (which may also identify conditions that may not show up on puppies), and shelter personnel (who are not making money from your "purchase") can in most cases supply information about your rescue dog’s temperament and social skills. Your purebred puppy, on the other hand, is an adorable question mark and the information you obtain about him from the breeder deserves as much scrutiny, if not more, than the information you obtain from any salesperson. I’m sure all breeders’ websites and literature evidence ethical and responsible operations with adorable puppies and beautiful dogs running in flowery meadows, etc. Who would want to show a toothless dog who just delivered her eleventh litter, crammed into a piss-rusted rabbit cage?
posted by applemeat at 5:26 AM on June 16, 2009


Please listen to biscotti and applemeat. Please. Make my weekly volunteer rescue transport one dog fewer.

And then let that "breeder who only registers her puppies through ACA" know WHY you made the ethical choice and got a rescue dog. Those people don't love dogs, they love money. And the only way to get them to stop is to stop supporting them financially.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:25 AM on June 16, 2009


There was an article in the New Yorker about the AKC. It might have been 10 years ago, but a librarian could find it. Some registered breeds are bred for specific looks and traits, to the significant detriment of health and intelligence. Do more research and find a really good breeder with healthy dogs, or consider a shelter or rescue dog. However, my last rescue dog was a disaster, so my best advice is research any dog thoroughly.

(My dog was badly neglected as a puppy. Lack of nutrition caused severe health and behavior issues.)
posted by theora55 at 9:57 AM on June 16, 2009


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