Beyond Breed Labels

ruthlessphotos-7206At Fetching Dogs, we believe that visual breed identification is unreliable and unscientific at best. There is no accurate way to distinguish which breeds are in a dog, purely based on looks. Instead, we put emphasis on each individual dog’s personality, traits, and behaviours, to properly promote them for what they are – dogs.

In Rescue, it has always been deemed important to list at least one breed in a mixed breed dog, even though nobody in the world is qualified to visually identify a dog. This is because it looks more appealing than “Mixed Breed” on listings and promotional material. But we have decided that it is far more important for adopters to know about the dog itself, rather than what genetics may or may not make up its look. And we simply cannot condemn Breed Specific Legislation for (wrongly) visually identifying dogs if we are carrying out the same unscientific practice.

The most important thing for us is to be completely honest, with ourselves and with adopters. When we rescue a dog from the pound, there is no possible way for us to know its genetics, unless it has come with papers to prove it is a pure bred. The last thing we want to do is give an adopter wrong information and the wrong impression – people may think they are adopting a Cattle Dog x based on a guess, when in fact the dog may have no Cattle Dog in it. Their research into the breed characteristics has been for nothing and their expectations are immediately crushed. We want people to meet our dogs and judge them solely on their personality and behaviour.

We feel that, by avoiding breed labels, we will be giving each and every dog a better chance to find their forever home. Breed will not take center stage, they will. We also need to be aware that applying breed labels to dogs can carry serious consequences, especially in the time of Breed Specific Legislation, which uses these types of breed labels to seize and kill family dogs, all because of their looks, rather than actions. No dog should ever be judged by the label they fall under and we feel it is a great disservice to the dogs to categorise them as such.

The emphasis should always be on the dog’s behaviour. After all, even within pure bred dogs there is great variation of behaviour – and you will often find that puppies in the same litter are vastly different from one another too.

The worst thing we often see in this country is a dog entering the pound and being labelled as a breed that is often maligned. That dog’s chances of ever making it out of the shelter, because of that label, are immediately diminished. This is a cruel and unscientific approach. The emphasis should always be on the dog’s behaviour. After all, even within pure bred dogs there is great variation of behaviour – and you will often find that puppies in the same litter are vastly different from one another too.

At Fetching Dogs, we will not be identifying dogs as specific breeds or breed crosses if we have no evidence to suggest it. We will not make unfair assumptions, we will not mislead the public, and we will not use the same science as a legislation that is ruthlessly killing beloved dogs. Instead, we will be all about the dog; their character, their behaviour, their quirks… whatever makes them who they are.

We believe we will find better adoption matches when we have moved beyond breed labels, focus on each individual dog, and give each one the best possible chance at finding their family.

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