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Consider Options When Choosing A New Pet
By Jamie Vickers
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- From the pound or with a pedigree, a pet is still a pet. There are advantages and disadvantages to both purebred and mixed breed animals.
Dr. Thomas Lenarduzzi, a veterinarian at Mississippi State University, said both purebred and mixed breed animals make wonderful pets.
"Sometimes purebred animals have more predictable traits than mixed breeds, but hereditary diseases may be a problem for some purebred animals," Lenarduzzi said.
One advantage of purebred animals is their predictable temperaments. Certain behavioral qualities are among the reasons for the purebred process. It is easier to predict the irritability or sensitivity of these animals.
Size is another advantage of buying a purebred pet. A breeder should be able to tell within 10 percent the size the animal will be as an adult. Other traits that pertain to an owner's needs are also easily predicted in purebred pets. These needs include pets that are watchdogs, hunting companions and compatible with small children.
One obvious disadvantage to owning a purebred animal is cost. But a more significant disadvantage is hereditary disease.
"As a veterinarian, my main concern is hereditary problems that occur in purebred animals," Lenarduzzi said. "Problems are caused by years of close line breeding or inbreeding that magnifies genetic diseases unintentionally."
The magnification of the disease usually occurs because the breeders attempts to gain one specific feature or breed standard or trait with disregard to other genetic features. Genetic problems include hip dysphasia, internal metabolic pathway defects, progressive retinal atrophy, cardiac abnormalities and epilepsy.
Lenarduzzi said hereditary diseases are found in all types of animals. Problems have been found in horses, pigeons, dogs and cattle. Breeders of these animals wanted a specific color, size or strength and unknowingly neglected health and quality issues.
"Theft may also be a problem for purebred animals," Lenarduzzi said. "These pets are more likely to be stolen or kept if someone finds them."
Mixed breed animals are often adopted at a low cost or are free, but the veterinary costs are usually the same for mixed breeds and purebred animals.
One trait of mixed breed pets is unpredictability, especially if the father and mother are unknown.
"Size, health and temperament are far less predictable in mixed breeds," Lenarduzzi said. "But pet owners can cultivate different temperaments in their pets whether they are pure or mixed breeds."
Socialize and train pets when they are young. The socialization period for puppies is between 3 and 12 weeks of age, and kittens should be socialized when they are between 2 and 7 weeks old.
"Whether your pet is a purebred or mixed breed, all pets need proper care," Lenarduzzi said. "Training, vaccinations, proper diet and attention are all required to maintain a cherished pet and prevent future health problems."
Contact: Dr. Thomas Lenarduzzi, (601) 325-3432