Once you found your Dog Breed purchase a book on the breed or search online so you can check the Breed Standard for the breed you have your heart set on. The Breed Standard will describe the physical appearance that is desirable in dogs of that breed, including acceptable:
- Size range – often different for males than females (males are usually a little taller).
- Color – There may be several accepted color types. In schnauzers, color standards include pure ‘black’, ‘black and silver’ and ‘pepper and salt’. Brown is undesirable, as is white socks (though puppies often start out with either, resorting to the standard as their adult coat comes through).
- Correct set and size of the ears.
- Desirable ratio of back length to height at the shoulder.
- Eye color.
- And more, depending on the breed in question!
Become familiar with these standards so you will be able to recognize a quality animal from a reject. Go along to shows and examine the winners and runners-up, armed with your new knowledge, and quietly assess their strengths and weaknesses to yourself. There is no such thing as the perfect dog, however, as any breeder can tell you!
Research the way the different color types are inherited in your breed. In schnauzers, for example, a black and silver pup can be born of pepper and salt parents (if they both carry the gene for it) but never a black.
Find out what the main genetic weaknesses are that lurk in the breed. Every breed will have at least one! Research whether it is possible to screen the parents for the problem and how useful such a screen is for avoiding problems in the progeny (you could start with a telephone conversation with your local veterinarian). If it is possible, then mark it as something to query breeders about when considering buying from them.
In Australia, small cute cross-bred dogs are currently all the rage. Due to healthy demand, they are fetching prices close to (and sometimes exceeding) that of many popular purebred dogs. Cross breeding is definitely frowned upon by the kennel organizations. Like independent breeds, hybrids between different breeds are not recognized by the main registries. However, that has not stopped people from developing special breed blends customized to the demands of the puppy buying market.
Selective crossing between different breeds results in “designer dogs”. Poodle crosses, for example, confer low-allergy coat characteristics in the pups. Popular examples are the Cockapoo (Cocker spaniel x Poodle) and Labradoodle (Labrador x Poodle). The practice causes much controversy; opponents cite unpredictability of temperament or type and lack of pedigree history (and thus knowledge of ancestral hereditary diseases) against the practice.
However, due to natural hybrid vigor, cross-bred dogs tend to have far fewer genetic problems than their parent breeds, and are usually healthier and longer-lived.
If you are contemplating meeting the demand for designer cross-breeds, your should subject the breeds you are considering drawing upon to the same considerations for inherent fitness and overall design as when choosing a purebred breed.