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Pet Parent Survey Results: Designer vs. Rescue Dog Behavior

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We recently conducted a survey polling mixed-breed dog owners to see if there’s a noticeable difference in reported behavior between dogs purchased from a breeder and those adopted from a shelter or animal rescue organization.

Our survey polled 1,000 mixed-breed dog owners, and the results offer some pretty interesting insights. While we firmly believe that the love, care, and training a dog receives in its home will influence behavior far more than where that dog came from, the results are still worth noting.

Where are the dogs coming from?

Of the pet owners surveyed, 44% reported that they purchased their dog from a breeder. These mixed-breed dogs are often referred to as hybrid or designer dogs. 29% of respondents adopted their dog from an animal shelter or rescue organization. 

Other respondents received their pup as a gift (15%), and a smaller amount found and brought home a stray (8%).

What is a "designer dog"?

A designer dog is an intentional mix of two distinct purebred dogs where the result is a blend of desired physical and behavioral traits of the two breeds combined. 

Common examples are the more recently popular poodle mixes, like the golden retriever/poodle mix (Goldendoodle) and labrador retriever/poodle mix (Labradoodle). When a purebred dog is mixed with a Poodle, the puppies often inherit some of the desirable traits found in Poodles, such as their impressive level of intelligence and their hypoallergenic coat.

Image of Goldendoodle via Unsplash

Why do people choose to buy designer dogs ?

Of those that bought their mixed-breed or hybrid dog from a dog breeder, the primary reason was a desired combination of physical traits from the two owner breeds. This is not particularly surprising, as designer dogs are becoming increasingly popular.

The majority of those that adopted from a shelter claimed that breed was not that important- that the adoption was more about providing a home for an animal in need (57%).

Reported Behavior Differences

Nearly 57% of the pet owners that purchased their dog from a breeder reported that their dog had many behavior issues. On the other hand, only 19% of pet owners that adopted their mixed breed reported behavior issues.

This means that pet owners who purchased a mixed-breed dog from a breeder were three times more likely to report numerous behavior issues than those adopted from an animal shelter or rescue organization.

What about professional training ?

The majority of respondents who have worked with a professional trainer were those who purchased their dog from a breeder. In fact, those that bought their pup from a breeder are almost twice as likely to seek help from a professional dog trainer.

Do Adopted Dogs Behave Better than Dogs Purchased from a Breeder?

The survey results make a strong case for the behavior of adopted dogs, but it’s also important to consider the typical age of a dog when they’re brought home.

Dogs purchased from a breeder are almost always taken home at a young age. As we all know, puppies can be mischievous, destructive, and training can be challenging. This difficult period might lead one to believe their pup has issues when they may actually be observing normal puppy behavior. While they are undeniably cute, all puppies require time and exposure to be properly house trained and socialized. 

Most shelter and rescue dogs ready for adoption have moved past that difficult puppy stage. Staff members at adoption centers will usually work on house training and socialization to prepare these dogs for success in their new homes. 

Additionally, at adoption centers, pet owners have the opportunity to choose their dog based on observed behavior and insights from their caregivers. In terms of managing behavior, this can be a great advantage in knowing what to expect and how to mitigate undesired behaviors.

Image of puppy playing via Unsplash

So what does this all mean?

Animal behavior often tends to be a reflection of the owner or caregiver rather than the dog itself. With proper training, a loving home, a healthy diet, and plenty of exercise and attention, any dog can become a valued companion, regardless of whether that dog is from a breeder or a shelter.

If there is a specific mix you’d like to welcome into your family, there is nothing wrong with finding that exact type of dog from a reputable breeder. Just make sure to do research and know that you are buying from an ethical and certified professional rather than a puppy mill.

But if you’d like to adopt a dog in need, there are many deserving dogs out there waiting for a forever home. The nation’s overburdened animal welfare system is always looking for trustworthy pet parents to welcome shelter and rescue dogs into their homes.

However we choose to find a new pet, we can agree on one thing- the work that rescues and shelters do is essential. 89% of the pet owners that purchased a dog from a breeder still feel that adopting dogs from animal shelters and rescue organizations is important.

If you’d like to speak with a veterinary expert about mixed-breed dogs, we are here to help.  Our Online Sign Up takes a few minutes and we can put you in touch with a virtual vet right away. 

You can also visit our Pet Education Center, which is packed with useful information about caring for your furry friend.

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