Wherein I take on the AKC and the Today Show

I’m not really a big fan of the American Kennel Club. In my eyes, it promotes the idea that a dog has to be purebred to be considered worthy.

Worthy of what, I don’t know… maybe recognition in general?

Worthy of being on some list, like the AKC’s Most Popular Dog Breeds in America? Which serves to prove what, exactly? I’m not sure.

But such a list is sure to be picked up by a national news program for a segment that will inevitably put these “top breeds” in high demand… until the families who buy these dogs realize that having a dog can be quite a demanding responsibility, and give the dog up because it’s just “not the right fit” or some other excuse.

Phew. I know I seem like I’m on a rant right now, and I guess I kind of am. It’s stemming from this rather innocuous-seeming video I saw this morning on the Today Show:

I mean, really, just look at those puppies. PUPPIES! How could you not fall in love with those sweet, innocent, docile little guys?

#5: The Beagle

#4: The Golden Retriever

#3: The German Shepherd

#2: The Yorkshire Terrier

#1: The Labrador Retriever

And you watched the segment above, so you KNOW that all 5 of the breeds are GREAT for families! And TRAINABLE! And POPULAR! Who WOULDN’T want one!?

Now, full disclosure here: one of my dogs, Ryder, is a purebred black Labrador Retriever. And she is quite beautiful:

I didn’t purchase her. She was one of a litter of purebred Labs given away for free, to good homes, almost 7 years ago. She came with AKC papers. I just didn’t care. It didn’t matter to me that she was registered with some club to prove that she was “pure.” So I didn’t register her. She is, and always has been, my sweet, loving, funny, adorable black Lab. I love her for those qualities, not any club-appointed “status.”

My other dog is a big, 110-lb. mixed breed named Seth:

He has lots of hair. He’s mostly black, with brown paws. He is silly, sweet, gentle, kind and sneaky.

According to the AKC, there is nothing “pure” about him.

To me, he is pure love and perfection. And again, to me, that’s all that matters.

In fact, of the 5 dogs I have had in my lifetime, Ryder is the only purebred I’ve had.

Bismarck was a mix between a Rhodesian Ridgeback and who-knows-what-else. And he was my big, sweet, loyal, brilliant, brave boy. Pure? Again, pure love.


My childhood dogs – my “brothers” Cracker and Carmel – were littermates that we got when they were 8 weeks old. They had been abandoned. We have no idea what breeds they were a mix of. It didn’t matter. They were our family members for almost 13 and almost 14 years, respectively.

My point is that yes, all puppies are cute, cuddly and pure sweetness. But people are going to watch segments like these, promoting the “top breeds” and think that they have to get them. And many are going to soon realize that those cute, cuddly, sweet puppies nip at things, and pee on the carpets, and bark at the mailman and – gasp! – grow.

And that’s why there’s a necessity for so many groups dedicated to the rescuing of purebreds. Those “great for families,” “trainable,” “easy care,” “obedient” AKC-registered puppies that become, well… dogs. Dogs that some people, for whatever reason, give up on.

So I just wish programs like the Today Show would consider these things before they put such segments on their show. Dogs don’t need to be purebred to be special. They don’t need to be one of the Most Popular Breeds to be special. They don’t need to be mixed breed to be special.

They just need to be brought into families that understand the love, responsibility, and commitment necessary when it comes to caring for them.

About Audrey

Audrey McClelland has been a digital influencer since 2005. She’s a mom of 5 and shares tips on her three favorite things: parenting, fashion and beauty. She’s also a Contemporary Romance Author.

Sign Up To The Ultimate Style Newsletter for Moms


ShopStyle “List” Of all Things I Like and Blog About



  1. 1.22.09

    I second your emotion(s)… as a “sister,” then mom and now grandma to the most perfect “un”pure 5 doggies whose paws ever touched this earth – Chippy, my childhood mix of German Shepherd and Beagle; my sons, Cracker & Carmel, littermate mixes of Shepherd and Lab and possible Retriever; my grandsons Bizzy and Seth (described in Jane’s post).

    My love for my other granddogs, Finny (deceased Lab), Timothy (brown Lab), Emmy and Odom (miniature Jack Russells) and beautiful little Ryder (black Lab) is whole and perfect and pure, too… but I agree with Jane that “pure” gives slant to something less in another animal that may be a perfect fit for a family.

  2. 1.22.09

    As a Seeing-Eye puppy raiser growing up, I’m afraid that all I’m used to are purebred dogs – but bred for a specific reason, not just bred to give a frameable certificate to their owners.

    It breaks my heart, though, how many people adopt puppies and act all startled when they not only don’t train themselves, but actually grow up.

    The work that animal rescue organizations do would be so much easier if not for these unthinking people!

  3. 1.22.09

    I agree, Jane. Each dog is an individual with different needs, traits, etc. I’ve had both “pure” breds and “mutts” and have loved all of them equally. There is no difference between the two when it comes to the love, loyalty and affection they give you.

  4. 1.22.09

    It is this kind of promotion of certain breeds as ‘family friendly’ and ‘easy to train’ that has lead to a source of contention among some of my family.

    A particular family insists on having a dog even though they don’t have the time or true desire to be good owners. They already failed miserably with a pure bred Black Lab which was lucky enough to be taken in by a foster family willing to make an attempt at resolving his food aggression issues. We have no idea if they succeeded or not.

    A few years later they decided to try again. This time with 2 male AKC registered German Shepherds. One has not had his collar on since before Thanksgiving. It came off out side and no one bothered to find it and put it back on him.
    While visiting with Princess one of the pups scratched her right under the eye. The next time we came over we asked if we could put them on leashes so she could see them again because the previous incident made her afraid to come visit.

    Over the next 10 minutes our hearts broke and we worked very hard to keep our true feelings from surfacing. After owning the pups for over 3 months these 6 month old German Sheps were obviously not leash trained, did not understand commands like sit and one wouldn’t even respond to his name.
    For safety reasons I have told Princess she is not allowed anywhere near them. They are still not being trained and are getting much bigger.

  5. 1.22.09
    baltimoregal said:

    Totally. Also, with the AKC “top” lists, it’s only registered breeds. In Baltimore I see mostly pits and pit mixes and mixed breeds- the sign of compassionate and educated dog owners. I’m quite sure our top ten list would be different if it went by “dog license.”

  6. 1.23.09
    Heather said:

    I totally agree, Jane. I’ve never understood the importance or hype behind the AKC.

  7. 1.23.09
    Jen said:

    My fiance and I wanted a dog before we anticipated him going into law enforcement academy for 26 weeks our first year out of college, since I would be living alone.

    My Mom & Aunt convinced us to avoid spending $700 on a purebred and we ended up getting our “fur-baby” from the local animal shelter when he was a little puppy. He had been abandoned on the street, rescued by police.

    We think he is part lab, and part pit bull, but he is the sweetest, most loving dog in the world. Wonderful with adults, amazingly patient, trusting, and gentle with children (even when they pull on him, etc. all he has for them our kisses).

    When I think back, I’m so grateful we listed to my family and rescued our Johnny Cash. For $100 donation to the shelter, we took him to our home, and he has paid us back 1 million times more with the joy he has brought us.

    Especially in economic times such as these, the media should promote adopting such pets, especially when a lot of good family pets are abandoned due to foreclosures, etc. in shelters.

  8. 1.23.09
    joanna said:

    Interesting topic. I understand the purpose of having “dog breeds”- certain breeds have certain strengths and weaknesses, and being able to research those before taking on dog ownership is valid and probably a good idea. The idea of “dog shows” is really about a beauty contest, not as much about temperament or being a good pet. As for us, we decided we wanted an Australian Shepherd or Aussie mix, kept our eye out on craigslist, and ended up adding to our family for free. We were able to give an unwanted dog a home, and didn’t really care that we couldn’t register him or know his pedigree- just cared that he was a good fit for our family!

    And don’t get me started on pet stores.

  9. 1.23.09
    Diana Corlett said:

    As I see no one has opted-in on the side of purebred dogs…I will just add my two cents. I am a responsible dog breeder of over twenty years experience. And I have a question for you all. Would you really be willing to see all the wonderful breeds of dogs DISAPPEAR and have only mixed breeds/Heinz 57 dogs on this earth?

    Dog shows certainly have their detractors and I agree that, like every other human-based entity in the world, they are not perfect. But without them, purebred dogs would be all but certain to degenerate into what you see coming out of puppy mills…poor approximations of the true beauty, health, and temperament of all the various breeds. Registration, too, is needed if you are to breed pure bred anything, be it horses, or cattle, or cats, or yes, even dogs, and therefore there must be a registering body in charge…such as the AKC.

    Don’t get me wrong. I grew up with, and loved dearly, a number of mixed breed dogs, and appreciated them fully for the wonderful companions they were and all the unconditional love they offered so unconditionally. But that said, why must we denegrate the purebred dog fancy and all the responsible breeders who give their all to their breed? Responsible breeders who take back their puppies and do not swell the ranks at the local dog shelter.

  10. 1.25.09
    Jamie Lee said:

    I think you make some great points, Jane. Having just watched “Hotel for Dogs” with my daughter, I’m tuned into all things related to canine care and protection.
    The dog I grew up with was a German Shepherd mix named Boomer. She was a fabulous dog – not a mean bone in her body, scared of lightening, and could eat an entire bowl of leftover beef stew and leave every single pea in the bottom of the bowl.
    The first dog I got after moving away from home was a Rhodesian Ridgeback named Spencer. He is still alive at 12, but living with my ex … one of the painful “side tragedies” of my divorce.
    If I could have one wish granted in relation to this issue, it would be that pet “stores” would become a thing of the past. No pet stores, no puppy mills. No puppy mills, no irresponsible breeding. No irresponsible breeding, no over-population or weakening of the genetic strain.
    It’s hard to believe, in this day and age, that people are still too ignorant (and I say that without entirely blaming the general public) to know they should never, NEVER buy from a pet store.
    Thanks for raising your voice in favor of the puppies.

  11. 1.26.09

    Thanks so much for helping to promote our fabulous mutts! I love my wonderful border collie/lab/german shepherd, WhateverSheIs, mixed breed, Sadie, who I rescued from a local shelter. She is happy, healthy, bright and active and the perfect dog for me. I personally could never buy a dog knowing that there a millions of dogs in shelters in need of homes.

    If you are looking for the perfect dog for you, yes, it’s a good idea to know a little about the mix. However, with most mixes, it seems as though the bad characteristics of certain breeds are bred out when they are mixed with the other breeds, making the mixes healthier than purebreds and in many ways better dogs.

    For those who are still not convinced that they should rescue a mutt, consider rescuing a purebred instead of buying one. 25% of dogs entering shelters in the U.S. are purebred, and there are plenty of great breed-specific rescue groups who are adopting out purebred rescue dogs. Many people believe rescue dogs are loaded with problems, when actually the most common reasons for surrendering a dog to a shelter is relocation, lack of money, foreclosure and divorce.

    Thanks for speaking up for mutts and rescue dogs!

Comments are closed.