After watching the Westminster Dog Show, a lot of people will probably start buying Affenpinscher puppies - to get their own little version of Banana Joe, this year’s “best in show”. Then, a couple of weeks later, many of them will be heading to the animal shelter after they find out the alarming number of respiratory problems they have. They’re also prone to skin conditions and knee problems. Not to mention they get low marks for child friendliness and can be difficult to train.

I’m not bashing this breed – it’s adorable, highly intelligent, athletic and high energy. But a lot of people will see this adorable dog and buy one, not thinking long-term about the care that goes into it.

It’s not just Westminster, shelters are flooded with Dalmatians after any "101 Dalmatians" release. And Paris Hilton, Taco Bell, and “Beverly Hills Chihuahua 1, 2 & 3” can take some responsibility for the thousands of Chihuahuas in shelters right now. Even Uggie, the dog star of the movie "The Artist," is a Jack Russell terrier that was given away by two different families before being adopted by his current handler.

So, while we can still enjoy the tradition of the Westminster dog show, let’s remember that a dog is not just a breed. As the Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan says, “The breed is like a suit of clothes a person wears. It’s who they are underneath that matters most.” A shelter dog might not have a fancy suit, but they might be the love of your life.

Want to adopt? Go to www.PetFinder.com. Want an Affenpinscher? Go to http://www.affenrescue.org/

In fact, you can find pretty much any pure bred through a rescue organization. Simply Google the breed you’re looking for and the word “rescue.” But do your breed research first, so you can make sure the dog you want is a good fit for your family and lifestyle: http://www.vetstreet.com/dogs/breeds

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