Where Are the Purebred Puppies?
By Jessica Freni
Why are doodles and their ilk so popular? Watch your neighborhood, go to your local puppy kindergarten, where have all the purebreds gone (never mind well bred)? An array of similar looking, curly coated mixes parade through the local Petco at the end of harnesses and flexi-leads. Hardly a purebred to be seen. Think a minute on what we can learn from observing a local puppy class- purebreds out numbered three to one (what purebreds are there are poor type, fad “rare” colors (here it is a rainbow of DQ color French bulldogs and “silver” labs that are popular)), these are people who mostly did not choose to go the rescue route, they were purchasing a puppy… so why the disconnect?
There’s a segment of the pet owning population that’s near impossible to reach, well meaning, largely misinformed pet “parents” who parrot catchy bumper sticker slogans like “Adopt don’t shop!” or “When you buy, pets die!” They spew hate towards breeders like it’s a vulgar, dirty word evoking only images of sad “puppy mills” filled with mournful eyes and dirty cages set to the backdrop of Sarah McLachlan music. You can try to explain to these people that responsible breeders actually keep dogs out of shelter and rescue, or that breed clubs support and engage in rescue too, or that studies show less than 5% of shelter dogs are purebred, but good luck getting through anything that doesn’t fit their agenda.
So, that brings us back to the prospective puppy buyer; people who are open to buying from a breeder where is the disconnect occurring that they’re not seeking out purebred dogs anymore? I think it all comes down to two words- marketing and accessibility.
Show breeders advertise to each other. Beautiful flashy ads of well-groomed dogs, their titles and accomplishments, these ads certainly have value to the modern breeder considering options for future breedings, but they largely do not reach to the pet public. Doodle breeders advertise to the pet public, and so they have no issue placing litter after litter at prices at, or exceeding their counterparts in purebred dogs from titled and tested parents. So, it is rarely that purebred dogs are too expensive.
Doodles type (this includes other “designer” mixes and fad colors) are masters of media- they are everywhere – flashy modern-styled websites, Instagram accounts full of catchy, high traffic hashtags, silly TikTok videos and Facebook pages full of cute pictures of puppies. Take some time and scroll through these accounts on Instagram and Facebook- engagement is usually high and new content regular (you’ll often find the account owners interacting in the comments). Accessibility is key. The average pet owner is sadly not going to go to a show and come to you, but “If the mountain will not come to Muhammad…” go where the people are!
Today, people do EVERYTHING online- meet their spouses, maintain relationships, look at real estate, buy cars, etc this is where they will start their dog search too. People don’t care about what doesn’t impact them personally, this translates to they do not care about preservation of breeds they don’t live with or may never have even seen. Hit the streets with your dogs, go to Petco, sit outside the local Starbucks, be a breed ambassador and start up a conversation. Carry some cards with you including links to social media accounts, and hand them out. Build and maintain social media presence varying show pictures with every day, casual, fun, approachable content. Without transparency, visibility, and accessibility there cannot be preservation, and without pet homes, there cannot be show homes. If you don’t think it matters or you cannot make an impact, I seriously urge you to go observe a puppy kindergarten class, and you can’t possibly walk away not thinking something has to change/ improve.