Purebred Problems

Taboo, schmoo! Leslie Phelan confronts purebred breeding practices on the first date

By Leslie Phelan


I may never own another pug.

I know, I know, that’s a bold statement coming from me, the woman who squeals any time she sees one, and is quite sure that if she were born with a tail it would most definitely be fawn and curly. I love pugs, both for their demeanor and for those portly physiques that are so widely celebrated. Sometimes this love is all I’m really sure of in life. But I will probably never purchase another purebred pet again.


I recently went on a dog walk ‘date’ with a dude who had a Great Dane. He must’ve waxed poetic for a good twenty minutes on the importance of neutering in order to keep bloodlines pure, lest anyone accidentally let their purebred dog mate with another breed, a lesser breed, or in the worst case scenario, a mutt.

Hearing that, I then shared with him something I’d recently discovered, which is that ‘mutts’ or anything outside the standard definition of a breed are actually what dogs look like in their natural state. What we call ‘pure’ breeds are the effect of what happens when you mate a dog with its cousins, siblings or even parents in order to keep the dog’s line looking the way we like ‘em. He raised an eyebrow in a way that both beckoned me to continue and begged me to stop.

Naturally, I went on.

“So that’s a war I’ve been battling in my head,” I said, as I leaned down to pat my little furry inbred mutants on their practically snout-less faces. I am a wrinkle aficionado, and love purebred pugs’ iconic doggy looks. But then I think about the awkward and rather incestuous breeding practices necessary to produce them and find it ludicrous that this is what it takes to create the kind of aesthetic ‘purity’ we value so highly. Buying purebred pets encourages these practices, which only allow a dog’s DNA to be pulled from a very shallow gene pool. I’m conflicted because I have fallen in love with the result, but I kind of resent the means. I don’t like that this is what happens when humans play God with their companion animals.

Anyway, the guy struck me as the type who probably loved the God-playing part of it all and we never texted each other for a dog walk again. One day I’ll be a lady who doesn’t bring up in-breeding during the first hang session and I’ll know I’ve come a long way.


Photo credit (Great Dane): aenee/CC