I actually find Redyre's post informative and a good post. It sums up a lot of my views concerning why I don't think mixing breeds is a good idea. I do agree with SOME of what Katz is trying to say - there MIGHT be someone out there trying to create a new breed - but Katz needs to remember that this involves not breeding a Poodle to a Lab over and over again - you need to at some point breed "Labradoodle" or "Labradoodle" in order to create a breed. First generation crosses AREN'T trying to create a new breed. And in fact, if you are starting to do this, I'd be trying that first cross in privacy and trying to scientifically work out the kinks - not trying to make some money off of an experiment. You'd need to keep those puppies from those early breedings or at least place them with friends in order to watch them grow and gain and understanding of what you were physically and temperamentally creating.
I disagree that you can pigeon hole and label a breeder simply by asking a handful of questions. I think that especially when looking for a pet there are other options than the breeder who shows and asks $1000 for their puppies. (I know that figure depends on the market for the breed) I also think there are breeders who show and only have 2 litters a year that I would never tell someone to get a pet from. And I don't think there is a magical list that tells you whether someone is responsible or irresponsible and I think that some breeders get to that responsible level in different ways than others.
My big point - the standard of care is much more important than "What titles does your dog have". I did not see questions on your list like "What kind of food do you feed your dogs?" Or "Where do your adult dogs live? Are they members of your family" or" Do your dogs and puppies have toys? Go on Family Outings?". Don't those things matter more than whether or not the breeder has hired a handler and sent their dog off to go win a couple of shows? Don't you want to know what the breeder considers good temperament and good socialization? Who cares if they socialize their puppies well if the parents have cruddy temperament and are shoved out in a kennel for their entire lives waiting for the next show...
"The first step in creating a new breed involves a definite vision of what the breed will look like and the writing of a breed standard to describe it."
I've seen this same idea in many posts/articles, and it has always bugged me. Shouldn't form FOLLOW function? And if so, shouldn't someone start with the behavior/motor patterns the new breed will need to do the job the new breed is being created to do? I understand that conformation and ability are connected, but shouldn't some of the finer points of the standard be left open until the breeder(s) sees which dogs perform the best so that adjustments can be made to create the best performer rather than the best beauty queen?
What makes a border collie a "border collie" is its abilty to herd and its herding style. No matter what the papers say, if a dog can't herd, it's not a "border collie"; it's just a black and white dog.
Abbylynne, I use that checklist because I think it is a starting point in finding a dog breeder. Now here are the reasons behind my questions. I didn't want the post to be very lengthy so I didn't see necessary to post my reasonings earlier but now I guess I have to:
1. How long have you been in the breed? You want a breeder who is experienced of their breed. An experienced breeder can explain to you most everything about the breed (ie congentinal defects, temperament).
2. What others have you bred? A breeder producing litters of many different breeds of dog is not going to be your ideal choice and probably should be suspected as a puppy-mill or backyard breeder.
3. What kind of congenital defects are present in this breed? What steps are you taking to decrease these defects? Avoid anyone who says "none", or "not my dogs!". There are genetic problems that are present in almost every breed. Do some research and make sure you know what kind of answer you should be getting. Avoid anyone who is breeding dogs with genetic problems, or who is not testing their dogs and bitches. Any breeder who does not perform genetic testing on their bitches and dogs are irresponsible.
4. Do you have the parents on site? Can I see them? You should be able to see the mother and any other dogs on site when you visit. If the breeder hesitates, you should wonder why. Maybe the dogs are not kept in clean, healthy conditions. Maybe they are too aggressive.
5. What are the good and bad points of the parents? What titles to they have? The dogs should have good temeperaments. Reputable breeders show their dogs. The dogs should be champions. This is important because the breeder should be trying to improve the breed, they will be comparing their dogs to other breeders and trying to breed dogs that match the standard. The only way to do that is to show their dogs. Many good breeders compete in obedience as well, and will have Companion Dog (CD) or other obedience titles for the parents. Often, this is a good benchmark for temperament and behavior.
6. Can you explain the puppy's pedigree? A good breeder should be able to tell you something about dogs on your puppy's pedigree. Have them explain the often cryptic letters and titles awarded. They should be able to at least provide you with a 4 generation pedigree and be able to tell you about the dogs.
7. Where were the puppies raised? How have you socialized them? You want the breeder to have raised the puppies in the house, around the normal daily activities of a household so they are used to the noises and activity of humans. Socialization is so important to getting a well-adjusted, well-mannered dog. Puppies should have been exposed to people, other dogs, new situations, normal household sounds and activities in order to learn. A puppy raised without this important social interaction can be shy, fearful, aggressive, or have other problems as they get older. Dogs need to know how to play, how to handle new situations, how to relate to people.
8. How many litters do you have a year? Breeders producing more than 1 or 2 litters a year are probably not paying enough attention to the genetics and health of the puppies. If it is a small breeder, even two a year may be too much to be able to make sure that the breeding is going to be successful and produce healthy puppies. Definitely avoid anyone who always has puppies. Avoid a breeder who is breeding their bitch every year. If someone has unexpected puppies avoid them too. All puppies should be "expected" and well planned.
9. What guarantees do you have for this puppy? At the very least, the breeder should guarantee the puppy against any debilitating genetic problems, and insure that the puppy is in good health. A breeder should be prepared to take any dog back for any reason because this is part of being an ethical breeder. It is the breeders duty to make sure that the puppies have a good home and that it stays that way.
10. When can I take the puppy home? Puppies usually go home between 8 and 12 weeks. Avoid anyone sending very young puppies home. Puppies sent home too early don't have the chance to develop healthy interactions with other dogs, and can be sickly or have problems eating.
Most importantly, you should trust the breeder. If you feel uncomfortable with your breeder it may be best to continue your search.
Abbylynne, It is important to show your dogs because the breeder should be trying to improve the breed. When you show your dogs you will be comparing your dogs to other breeders. When you show dogs you are actually trying to breed dogs that match the standard. How would you know that your improving the breed if you don't show your dogs? Shouldn't a breeders first reasoning for breeding is to improve the breed? If it's not you have your priorities messed up. Why would you choose to breed inferior dogs that don't match the standard? You can find many pet quality dogs in the pound. Many reputable breeders compete in obedience as well, and will have Companion Dog (CD) or other obedience titles for the parents. Often, this is a good benchmark for temperament and behavior. Obviously, you if compete in obedience and win you can assure good temperament because you are actually competing with the best of the best.
scarydog - I understood the purpose behind your questions. I don't think they will necessarily point you in the direction of a good breeder as often as you think they might. I know or know of breeders who can answer most/all of those questions well that aren't what I consider responsible. I know a Sheltie breeder who would answer well to all of those questions but knows she is producing puppies with a defect that most don't test for, and she is still using the parents for breeding because they have titles. She also raises her puppies indoors, but her adults live in a Kennel building and are rotated once a week indoors for "people time". How can you tell if your dogs have correct or good temperament if they aren't a part of your day to day life?
And I still think you can't pigeon hole a breeder. You have to know more about how they got where they are, and why they do what they do. AND a lot depends what the person is looking for in a dog.
I don't show. I have had several of my dogs evaluated and know they are decent quality - not TOP quality conformation wise, but as I place on spay/neuter contracts, work to better what I am producing, and am concious of what faults I have in my lines and am trying to work out I don't think this automatically makes me a bad breeder. My breed is tricky to put CH titles on because the standard is lengthy, detailed, and there is a BIG variable within what can happen within the breed. Your odds of having great conformation in a litter of puppies isn't really improved that greatly by having titles (it is improved, but not by more than 50%). Un-titled dogs with good conformation but might have a fault that makes it tricky to title them can still have good quality puppies.
I am active in my local AKC chapter. I am working with a couple of breeders who do show to fix what I need to fix to improve what I'm doing. I DON'T breed to make money (In fact, I'm lucky if I break even with everything I put into my dogs - and after 5 years I won't break even totally for at least another 2 years because every time I get close I improve something). A large percentage of my puppies/dogs compete in Obedience, Agility, or they actively herd/participate in herding trials. I also have a good number of puppies/dogs that do therapy work (are trained therapy dogs).
I stand behind my puppies with a better than average health guarantee. The temperament of my dogs is exceptional (one comment I get even from breeders who point out my conformation flaws is how outstanding their temperament is - and they even go as far as to tell me that the temperament of my dogs/puppies is better than their show dogs). Socialization wise, I do an outstanding job and I take it VERY seriously.
I do have more than 1-2 litters a year. I don't breed a single litter unless I have AT LEAST 50% of the possible puppies spoken for before I breed the litter. Right now I have a 20 person waiting list and I'm not even expecting a litter for at least another 3 months so it will be at least a 6-8 month wait for some of the people on the list. I am still in contact with the first person I placed a puppy with 5 years ago and with 90% of the families I have placed with since. I keep from my own litters - partially to be able to watch/moniter what my improvements look like - partially because I know that temperament wise I'm only improving upon what I already have. I breed selectively and each breeding I do is done for a reason (one paid I breed producing puppies that are OUTSTANDING with children - and I mean good worth mentioning, not normal good for the breed).
Why don't I show? Why do I still think this makes me a responsible breeder? When I started breeding there was not another GOOD breeder of my breed in my area (I live in a part of the country that isn't big on dog shows and most breeders are farm breeders/puppy mills or BYB's). We had JUST gotten the internet (we were slow...) and most of my research was done through books initially. At the time I started the Kennel Club in my area was TINY and only offered limited Obedience trials. There was no breeder in my breed active with the Club. When I was looking for a breeder I was against shipping at all. So I traveled to every breeder I could find within 6 hours of me. I was a little too trusting on what others who weren't showing considered good conformation and since I didn't have a trained eye I couldn't pick out the potential show puppy in a litter. I chose my breeders based on how the puppies were raised and the temperaments of the parents and litter.
And now I'm attempting to better what I have and what I'm doing. But since my dogs aren't "livestock" I'm not about to sell dogs that are part of my family because they might not be 100% conformationally correct. I also don't breed soley JUST to produce the next champion. I breed to improve the breed - but temperament is my first priority - and I try to do that without compromising conformation.
I also have only limited testing done on my breeding dogs. My choice. I have extensive knowledge of what is in their background not only health wise, but also temperament wise. I agree that testing is important - but cleared hips don't always mean that the dog won't produce a puppy with displaysia. Most breeders in my breed DON'T test for everything that the breed can have go wrong and they also DON'T know what is going on behind the dog. I think too often a breeder who has tested hips looks too good to the unsuspecting buyer - good hips don't mean there is no history of skin problems or thyroid disfunction. I offer a 2 year health guarantee that covers and genetic or birth defect that requires treatment that exceeds the price of the puppy. And I will give money back. I have never had to use my guarantee and I'm in contact with 90% of my families.
I do MAINLY breed for companions. That doesn't mean my dogs are poor quality and it doesn't make me a lousy breeder. It just means that I personally would prefer to see my puppies in pet homes, or in a home where they will compete in agility, obedience, herding, or be a therapy dog. I also keep my prices in a range that reflects this and I'll tell someone looking for a puppy to show to go to another breeder I know who does actively show. I also tell them not to use a breeder who doesn't actively show no matter what they say about the quality of their dogs.
Do I think I'm contributing to the pet overpopulation because there are pets in the Shelters - NO. I don't breed unless I have most of my puppies spoken for. Right now, I could place 4-5 litters of puppies that I don't have. And I won't breed litters just to fill this - but I personally think that by giving those looking for companion puppies the option of a breeder who is responsible (in what I feel are the important areas - and so do they) at a reasonable price, I'm doing something great. They get a puppy that is as good or better than some of the companion puppies that the "show breeders" are placing at a more reasonable price, from a breeder willing to give them AT LEAST the same quality of communication and information.
In 5 years do I hope to be able to answer EVERY one of your questions with the answer you're looking for? YES. Am I going to get there the way you probably consider as the right way - probably not. Because I'm not going to stop breeding (unless no one wants a puppy from me) and I'm not going to sell my current dogs and "start over". In 5 years am I hoping to be better than most of the other breeders in my breed - YES.
Why I breed is about the dogs 1st - but about the people looking for a great companion 2nd and always 2nd.
I don't agree that the two options for someone looking for a companion dog is "breeder who shows" or "pound". Most dogs in the pound/Shelter (and please know when I say this that I'm not implying people shouldn't look in Shelters - or shouldn't go their first. I have several I've rescued - including a deaf Sheltie dropped off by her irresponsible breeder) are there because they were badly bred, because no responsible breeder would allow their puppies/dogs to end up there. I'm sure it happens on occasion, but not if you screen your homes, and have good lines of communcation.
If the average person is looking for a companion dog I think telling them that their options include "Wait a year for a GOOD breeder to have a litter you MIGHT get to choose from if the breeder doesn't deem the whole litter show potential and IF you get a puppy you pay $800-1000 for it" OR "Go to the pound. They have pet puppies." is poor. That would probably be the reason that a lot of good, intelligent people end up buying from Puppy Mills and BYB's. People getting puppies from me might not have one that would excell in the show ring - but they are getting a healthy dog (with the guarantee to back it up) with excellent temperament (I do compete in Obedience with several of my dogs) and a breeder who offer support and stands behind their dogs.
I may be being presumptious - and I welcome it if others would like to say so - but the average middle class person just wants a dog that is healthy, happy, and wants their adoption experience to be a good one. The shelter is not always an option (especially if you have young children or you want some sort of guarantee that your dog is going to be healthy and someone will be accountable for their health) and if you don't have a breeder that meets your criteria - what then? I'm from an area that doesn't have a lot to offer by way of showing (we don't even have an agility club outside of 4-H - let alone much for conformation). In my area - I'm pretty much the best breeder someone is going to find. If I lived in Ohio, I'd agree that not showing would be lazy on my part. In my area - I applaud breeders who have the resources to travel or higher a handler to actively. Not many do. It's one of the reasons the Midwest has such a high Puppy Mill ratio...