The science is clear: there is as much variety within a breed as there is between dogs of different breeds. Why, then, do so many insist that some breeds are always smarter or better than other dogs, especially those of mixed parentage? Why, when first meeting a new dog, do we ask “what kind of dog is it?” as if that would tell us everything we needed to know about that particular pup?

Some of it is culture, some of it is habit, but it all needs to be reconsidered. However and wherever you found your last dog, when the time comes to add another to your life please consider that each dog is an individual. Go into the process thoughtfully, and consider how we contribute to the millions of dogs euthanized annually with our choices. Unfortunately, even Kennel Clubs who set breed standards don’t always have the best health and happiness of dogs in mind. As an example, the AKC has actively opposed legislation to improve the lot of dogs born in puppy mills, and will give the vaunted purebred status to any born to two parents with papers, regardless of the conditions under which they are born. Also, the slight shift of “ideal” characteristics for each breed has led to some relatively grotesque morphological differences between current and previous versions of the same breed from just decades ago. Reputable breeders will do their best to raise their dogs in the best possible environs, but by conforming to the arbitrary standards set by Kennel Clubs they also become part of the problem.

It’s a complicated issue, but to me there’s one simple truth behind it all: Dogs are not products!

Our best friends of countless millennia are sentient entities with hearts, minds, desires, and volition. As much as we’ve grown to accept things like puppy mills as “just how it is,” just one look at the monstrous conditions in which these dogs are forced to live should be enough to make us see that we can and should do better. It starts with us!