What do Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, 101 Dalmatians, Air Bud, Marley and Me, Lady and the Tramp, and Legally Blond have in common? They are all top-producing movies that feature a purebred dog as one of the main characters. The purebred dogs in these films include a German Shepherd, a Collie, Dalmatians, Golden Retrievers, a Labrador Retriever, a Cocker Spaniel, and a Chihuahua. What do these purebred dogs in these movies have in common? The dogs have become so popular – as a result of the movies – that they have been overbred to the detriment of the breed. Audiences the world over became enthralled with the intelligence of Rin Tin Tin, Lassie and Bud, the cuteness of Lady the Cocker Spaniel and the spotted puppies from 101 Dalmatians, the sweetness and naughtiness of Marley, and the adorable portability of Bruiser the Chihuahua.
Movies about dogs are fun to watch, but turning a breed into a fad where everyone wants one has disastrous results for the breed. Many people rush out to purchase the dog breed they saw in the movies without doing any research on the breed’s health, temperament, or exercise requirements. Many of these people expect the dog to behave just like it did in the movies and, when it doesn’t, they get rid of it.
Backyard breeders and puppy mills produce as many puppies of these breeds as possible for income. They don’t care who purchases the puppies, let alone do any health, temperament or genetic testing on the sire and dam. This results in dogs having genetic, health, and temperament issues; dogs going to the wrong homes; and, an overabundance of the same breeds as those in the movies. Animal shelters and breed-specific rescue groups become inundated with these dog breeds. Veterinarians start seeing an increase of the newly popular breed in their practice because of health and genetic issues, and dog trainers start seeing these breeds because of poor temperaments.
Let’s say you have seen a movie with a dog in it that you just love, and you want to own that particular dog breed. The first thing you need to realize is that the dog in the movie is a highly trained actor that works with highly trained handlers. Also keep in mind that the dog you purchase will most likely not behave like the dog in the movie. It is really important to do your research on the dog breed. Is this dog breed right for you? Do you have time to exercise and properly train this type of dog breed? Will this dog breed fit into your life next year or ten years from now?
If you have done your research and still feel that this is the right breed of dog for you, then find a reputable breeder. Reputable breeders make sure that the sire and dam have all genetic and temperament clearances done before being bred and will have documentation to prove it. They will keep the puppies until at least eight weeks of age, and they will ask you questions to establish that you will be the right fit for one of their puppies.
Remember that owning a dog is a lifelong commitment. Dogs are not a pair of jeans that you can just get rid of when you become tired of or outgrow them.