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Many people ask the question: "Should we get a purebreed or a mutt?"
Why is this question so controversial? Is one dog the same as another? Is there a benefit to 'getting what you paid for'?
The truth is that one dog is like another - at least in many respects. What is not true is that every dog is equally suitable for your family. Dog rescuers may tell you to look beyond the breed and breeders tell you that you won't know what you're getting with a mixed breed. They're both right.
If you want a family dog the responsiblity is the same regardless of whether you rescued an abandoned dog from the shelter or paid upwards of $1000 for a puppy with registration papers. What is different is how you can predict the suitablity of a dog for your children.
What You Know and What You Don't?
While each individual dog has it's own personality, there are strong traits that can be breed related such as energy requirements, size, determination (a factor to consider when training your dog) and general disposition. I say general because there are always exceptions to the rules. Getting a pure bred puppy can answer some of those questions for you and help you select a good match for your family.
On the other hand you can never absolutely predict a puppy's temperment and if you are not at all concerned with size, energy or trainability then you can find a loving, good natured puppy with any genetic background. Being able to identify these traits is possible although there are still no guarantees.
What About Mixed Breed Dogs?
If however you are looking for a grown dog rather than a puppy you can find many dogs in shelters that have basic training and are already 'settled' into their temperament. Unless the dog has no traceable history and has shown aggressive behavior you should be able to visit with the dog and determine how well it would do with your family without too much concern.
Having even a bit of understanding of the breed groups and requirements will also help you know what to expect since even broad groupings (like terriers or sporting dogs) often have predicitable traits that even a mixed breed dog is likely to show if the genetic history is identifiable. In fact you may find a unique mix that suits your family better than any other dog you could find in a purebreed.
Take time to get to know the puppy or dog before buying or adopting and get your children involved!
Shannon Emmanuel is a freelance writer and the author of 'Choose the Best Dog for Your Child'. Find out more about family dogs at http://www.choosing-a-dog-for-family.com.