Purebred Dog Rejects

“She’s a reject,” the man explained. “Most breeders don’t want them. But we just love her.”

“I understand. Our dog is a reject too.”

In fact, most purebred dogs are rejects. And I feel very lucky to have ours.

Golden retriever puppies in a whelping box.

Honey and her litter mates:  Which one in this puppy scrum will go on to win prizes?

Honey Meets A Purebred Reject

Last week, we were hanging out at the marina with Honey. A man walked by with an exceptionally cute little dog—mostly white with a single black ear.

The little pup obviously wanted to say hello so the man asked if it was okay.

I told Honey to sit. We’ve found that many small dogs find Honey overwhelming in friendly golden greeting mode. So we let them approach her first.

The little white dog was fearless so we let Honey off leash and the two chased and played.

Honey kept trying to make herself tiny—bowing down, lying on her side—to encourage the little dog to jump on her.

Honey the golden retriever rolls in the grass.

I can’t get any lower than this, little dog. Jump on me now.

As they played, the man asked if we knew what breed his dog was.

I looked her over but had no idea. She didn’t look like any dog I had seen before.

He told us she was a Chinese Crested Powder Puff. Yep, this fuzzy little dog was the same breed as those mostly hairless dog with fur only on their heads, feet, and tail.

Apparently litters have hairless and furry dogs. But most breeders only want the hairless ones. So we never see the others. Or if we do, we don’t recognize them.

Sammy is a Chinese crested hairless dog.

Sammy here is what we expect to see when we hear the phrase “Chinese crested.”

Breeding The “Perfect” Dog

We all know about jerks who breed dogs only for profit. To them, breeding the perfect dog means one that they can sell. To anyone.

But I’m thinking about serious hobby breeders. The ones who protect strong blood lines and try to breed perfect (and hopefully, healthy) dogs.

Honey’s breeder is always looking for that perfect dog she can show and then breed to create new, healthy and perfect golden retriever puppies.

When Honey was six weeks old, her breeder took her entire litter on a road trip to visit an experienced golden retriever judge. They were looking for the puppy that best met the show dog breed standards.

They identified two dogs with promise. One stayed with the breeder and the other went to someone else looking to show their dog. The other three, including Honey, were purebred rejects.

Luckily for us, Honey is not a reject companion.

Why Honey Is A Reject

I don’t know much about showing golden retrievers.

I do know that Honey is not big enough to meet the show standards for a female. She’s very petite—only 50 pounds. People often ask if she’s still a puppy.

And she doesn’t have that blocky muzzle that is popular in the American show ring these days.

Honey the golden retriever up close.

How could anyone not find me beautiful?

Honey’s face is slender and delicate compared to the squarish bear faces you’d find in a kennel club show.

But if Honey doesn’t look like the “perfect” golden retriever, she acts like one according to the temperament standards:

“…friendly, reliable and trustworthy. Quarrelsomeness or hostility towards other dogs or people in normal situations, or an unwarranted show of timidity or nervousness, is not in keeping with Golden Retriever character.”

Honey, the golden retriever reject, is the perfect dog to me.

Reject In One Way; Perfect In Another

Dogs are lucky they don’t know how we categorize them.

Honey doesn’t care that she’s not perfect enough to win prizes at dog shows.

If only people could be the same way.

No matter how many skills and talents we have, we see only the ways we’re not perfect. Or envy someone who is better than we are.

I feel lucky that words come easily to me. But I constantly read the works of others and say, “I wish I could do that.”

My husband has a better ear for music than the average person but he seems to resent the fact that he’s not Mozart.

Honey is not perfect by the standards of the Golden Retriever Club of America. But she’s been a loving companion, patient foster-sister, and friend to everyone.

And that’s perfection enough for me.

Honey the Golden Retriever Takes an Apple for Teacher.

You’re perfect to me, Honey.

Your Turn: By what standards is your dog perfect?

photo credit, Chinese crested: Sammy – Ride ! via photopin (license)

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  1. Margaret T. says:

    I don’t know of a single breeder of goldens who considers those dogs rejects. My breeder had tests done on every puppy, Suzanne Clothier’s CARAT test among others, for help in determining each puppy’s strong points and weak points. One was destined for conformation; that was a previous evaluation. Three were going to homes with competition in mind–obedience or agility or tracking. And four were straight out pet homes. But every single one was bred to be a wonderful pet, because if they can’t be that, then they are not good golden retrievers. They varied in how forgiving they were, and how long their attention spans were, and what intrigued them the most, food or toys, but they were all destined to be pets.

  2. Martine says:

    Our Duster is a mix, our Zach is a purebred. They are both loving companions who very much enjoy cuddling and just being with us. They accompany us as we work around the property. Duster is always mistaken for a Golden, and he has that temperament: he loves to meet other people and dogs. Zach is very shy and reserved, and he won’t approach men. By our standards they’re perfect for us.

  3. My dogs are perfect because they are great dogs, That’s about it,

  4. Wilson was a show dog reject as well. His back wasn’t perfectly level…..a jacked-up back end was the showring’s loss and my gain! He did exactly what we asked of him…healed a broken heart….perfectly!

    Jimmy was never bound for the show ring, but had his temperment tested for his performance sport aptitude. He was deemed to be the right combo of drive and biddability for agility. I think he ended up being a bit over the top in drive but he definitely was very willing to work, picks up new things easily, and loves the game. I don’t think he would have fit well in a just-a-pet home, but he was a good fit for me.

  5. Callie and Shadow are perfect Golden Retrievers in my opinion; and since they are MY (and Sam’s) dogs, our opinions are the only ones that count in this house.

    I personally think that disqualifying a dog’s “show quality” status because of its weight or the shape of its head is BS. The judges should be more concerned with the dog’s health status than some personal idea of what the perfect dog looks like.

    And then there’s Ducky. Certainly not a Corgi or Lab “show quality” dog by any standard. And we can’t even guess at what her first months of life were like before animal control picked her up as a stray. But we do know that all of her little imperfections make her a perfect addition to our little family. And, again, our opinions are the only ones that matter to us.

  6. My boys are PAWfect (to me) based only because they love me unconditionally. All the other qualifications aren’t that important. #justsaying

  7. I’m proud to say I’m a perfect specimen of a GBGV! Bailie on the other hand is a reject, her legs are about 2″ too long, her ears a bit short. Mom says she doesn’t care as she loves us both no matter if we are perfect or not. As long as we are healthy, everything is good. GBGV litters tend to have many pups with legs that are too long, so there are a lot of imperfect ones around and some are 4-6″ too tall.

  8. While I find Laika to be a perfect companion for me I am still shocked that she has such bad hips. It’s a shame that some people who breed dogs don’t do genetic testing beforehand to make sure dogs with hip dysplasia, etc aren’t being bred. I certainly can’t guarantee that she got it from her parents but considering they had an “oopsie” littler I’m guessing they didn’t do any health screenings… Grrr. But personality wise I wouldn’t change a thing.

  9. Honey is beautiful. We had a Standard Poodle once that was a reject because his nose was too brown. His nickname was mocha nose and we loved him all the more for it and his mocha lips. We thought those traits were outstanding.

  10. Just like with people, I like to look more at what’s on the inside than what’s on the outside. :) That was interesting about the Chinese Crested dogs, I didn’t know some were born covered with fur.

  11. Good article! As one of those serious hobby breeders, I have become far too judgmental when looking at dogs, critiquing to the point where I see only flaws and not all the exceptionally good points in dogs. I love hearing (and seeing!) that the owners of the pet quality puppies are (usually far more) happy with their dogs than the show group are. Dogs, thankfully, don’t judge each other OR humans. I wish we truly were more like them.

  12. Our beagle Kobi had an overbite and therefore could never be a show dog. Which was fine because no one was looking for one. He turned out to be the perfect pet!
    The current crew are perfect companions, and really, that’s the only thing that matters to me.