By Kathy Diamond Davis ************************ Puppy Mills and Backyard Breeders vs Responsible Breeders Does it really make a difference where you get puppy, provided you find the breed you want? Yes, absolutely. If you're not planning to breed the dog to produce winning show dogs or dependable working dogs, it might seem unimportant to seek out a breeder who strives to improve the breed with each litter. Actually, it's vitally important, and ignoring this concern can lead to sad times in your home. What Is a Puppy Mill? The term puppy mill is a label that every breeder denies applies to them. Every pet shop denies that their puppies come from puppy mills. So what exactly is a puppy mill? Other names for this type of breeding operation might be puppy farm (sounds idyllic, doesn't it?) and commercial breeder (sounds professional). Wherever dogs are produced for profit, the animals are at risk. It's seldom profitable to breed dogs humanely and responsibly. The profit comes when dogs live their lives in cages, rather than with human companionship. The profit comes when commercial operations provide only the minimum requirements to keep a dog alive and able to breed. Filth, loneliness, fear and pain constitute the typical life these dogs know. Puppies produced in this situation have the wrong start in life. Experiences in the early weeks are critical to a dog's development. Commercially bred puppies miss vital experiences they need during this time, and they are exposed to experiences that harm their emotional stability for later. One experience many of them have is to leave the mother and littermates far too early in order to be in the pet shop on display for sale at the "cutest" time. Behavior problems you may experience with a puppy from this source include housetraining issues because the puppy has been confined too close to feces and urine. This causes damage to the pup's natural instincts to keep the den area clean. These pups have also typically missed important conditioning to appropriate surfaces for defecation and urination. They may never have even been on grass. A frightened mother dog can transmit her fears to her pups. Leaving the mother and littermates too early can result later in biting problems, since the pup has missed early bite inhibition that needs to happen in the litter. Breeding dogs who have lived normal lives will have been observed around children, men, other dogs, cats, strangers, unexpected situations and other things that some dogs cannot handle. If the temperament of either parent isn't safe around humans, a responsible breeder will not use that dog for breeding. Dogs in a commercial breeding operation do not live normal lives, so the breeders do not know whether the dogs they use for breeding have reliable temperaments for family life. Decisions about which male to use with which female are based on profitability (how many puppies they can get in how short a time), leaving genetic issues for the unsuspecting puppy buyers to worry about later. The physical problems that result from a poor start in life as well as poor genetic selection of the parent dogs can also profoundly affect the behavior of a puppy bred by a commercial breeder. Pain and fear cause dogs to react defensively. Dogs don't show their pain in the same ways that people do, and often a change in behavior is the first sign-sometimes the only sign-that the dog is ill or has a genetically based health issue. Responsible breeders make their breeding choices based on producing puppies with the genetics for both good health and good temperament. Responsible breeders will be there for you later if there are problems. A responsible breeder will place each pup personally, not through a third party such as a pet shop or dog broker. The commercial breeder is not interested in any problems you have beyond the time your purchase check has been cashed. What Does the Term Backyard Breeder Mean? Another attempt to define various kinds of breeders results in the term backyard breeder. This term is used to describe people who breed dogs without knowing what they are doing. The motive may be profit, and occasionally someone of this sort will make a tidy profit from turning out puppies without spending the money to provide them with good care. More typically they'll produce one litter, find out how expensive, exhausting and heartbreaking it is to breed dogs, and have their female spayed. The American Kennel Club estimated in 1996 that about 70 percent of purebred, AKC-registered puppies were from this source. The backyard-bred puppy may make an all right companion dog, if the parents were good companion dogs. Genetic health and temperament problems may be waiting to emerge as the pup matures, since this type of breeder isn't likely to have done the appropriate testing of both parents to make a good genetic pairing. It's completely a gamble as to how things will turn out with a puppy you acquire from this type of breeder. You should expect that these pups will have missed early experiences that a responsible and knowledgeable breeder would have provided. It's also likely some things will have been done that were not good for the future temperament of the pups, such as mishandling by children. These puppies are probably the cheapest pups to purchase, especially the ones the breeder can't sell at the most profitable "cute" age. Responsible breeders have homes lined up for their puppies in advance. They have acquired reputable credentials on the appropriateness of the parent dogs before breeding, in the form of testing for genetic problems common in their breeds as well as titles or other verification that the dogs are good examples of their breed. As a result, their puppies are in demand. The unprepared, uninformed person who decides to give breeding a try is surprised to find there's no demand for carelessly bred pups, especially at high prices. Without care for making good genetic matches between purebred dogs, it's the nature of breeding for the healthiness of the breed to deteriorate. Only a strenuous effort to maintain good health in the breed prevents this natural effect. In the wild, survival of the fittest works to preserve a species. Unlike wild canines, dogs who live with people don't have to be able to hunt for their food, and they can live with severe disabilities. As a result, there is no survival of the fittest among purebred dogs unless breeders make responsible decisions to remove the less fit from the gene pool. Unlike nature wherein these dogs would die, in our homes they only need be spayed and neutered and then live out happy lives with loving people. What's Best for You? If we were to discuss what's best for the dogs, it's certainly for them to be bred only by people who will take excellent care of parents and pups. Great suffering in dogs is alleviated when breeders refrain from reproducing genetic problems. Only breeders who put the welfare of the dogs ahead of profit make these difficult decisions. To learn how to make the right decisions, responsible breeders work with experienced mentors and do a great deal of study. Such a discussion would also include the inhumanity of keeping a dog in a cage for a life whose sole purpose is to produce puppies for human profit. Every puppy purchased from such a source is a powerful vote. That purchase makes it profitable to breed the parent dogs again, and the cycle of suffering continues. When you see a puppy, you don't see that suffering. It's easy to think that suffering that happens in commercial breeding has nothing to do with you. Sadly, chances are good that you and the puppy will become part of the sad cycle of suffering. Genetics play a huge role in dog temperament, as do the experiences of the first several weeks of life. Getting your puppy from a responsible breeder is not only a socially responsible thing to do, but also the best way to wind up with a healthy puppy who grows into a healthy and happy dog.
btw: when you say that fear is transmitted by the mother do you mean before or after birth. I have always said that babies in utero can pick up the vibes, also someone who is always nervous holding a baby finds that the babies tend to cry. Intresting that dogs feel the same. Everyone who wants to breed should read your posts first. You are always full of knowledge.
ltlgto, Can you do a thought for protection/schutzhund training. I am finding valuable information in your posts and protection/schutzhund training is something I am experienced in but have much room to learn.
Ltg: If you go to www.wizardofclaws.com and click on references there are so many people writing in asking "I have had ten people asking me to stud him" or "when can I breed my Chi" Do you think if you purchase a dog like a car it is yours to do with as you wish? Your thoughts on owner control. Meaning, they bought it and if they want to breed let them it is their money.
i just believe that if you breed a dog you should only do it a couple of times and no inbreeding . and you shouldnt charge such high prices. animals are pets, not property like a car. and i think it shouldnt cost a arm and a leg.
louisa not all dogs are pets. some are not kept as companions but as workers. Some of these animals are worth every penny you pay for them. and to charge 600.00 for a dog barley covers food and veterinary costs and other supplies. and inbreeding can be very successful if you are properly educated on breeding practises
Aisha- >btw: when you say that fear is transmitted by the mother do you mean before or after birth. I have always said that babies in utero can pick up the vibes, also someone who is always nervous holding a baby finds that the babies tend to cry.< The mothers pass on their traits to their puppies from birth. Much of the imprinting occurs between 3-12 weeks. Selling a puppy before 8-10 weeks is detrimental to their learning process. If the mother is the nervous type, the puppies are likely to be also. You want a mother who is confident, outgoing, and is willing to clean and play with her puppies. MLS2004- >Ltg: If you go to www.wizardofclaws.com and click on references there are so many people writing in asking "I have had ten people asking me to stud him" or "when can I breed my Chi" Do you think if you purchase a dog like a car it is yours to do with as you wish? Your thoughts on owner control. Meaning, they bought it and if they want to breed let them it is their money.< That is a pretty sad site. They are puppy brokers plain and simple. The prices they sell their puppies for is outrageous. And marketing teacups and tinys to the rich and famous (which doesn't make them good pet owners) or anybody else really goes against my grain. Should an owner be able to do as they please with their dogs? No more than a parent should be able to do with their kids as they please. You wouldn't ask your 12 year old daughter to go out and have a baby and then sell the baby just to make money. Just because they can doesn't mean they should. Unfortunately, all puppies are cute! Especially to their owners. Cute does not make them breed quality. 999 out of a 1000 people on the street would not know a breed quality dog from one that is just cute. Just because they show and win a championship does not make them breed quality either. Health and temperment should be the first two considerations. Conformation should be third. Sorry, I don't know if I answered your question, but at least you know how I feel about breeding. I think (LOL). Louisa- >i just believe that if you breed a dog you should only do it a couple of times and no inbreeding . and you shouldnt charge such high prices. animals are pets, not property like a car. and i think it shouldnt cost a arm and a leg.< It depends on the dogs. Most dogs should never be bred. Period! Inbreeding is a type of control for certain genetics you are trying to get from your dogs. It has been practiced by experienced breeders for years with good results, but even they must out-cross once in a while. How much you charge for a puppy depends on a lot of things. Remember, a breeder puts the same amount into a pet/companion puppy as they do a show quality puppy. The cost is in the stud fee, health testing, whelping costs, etc, etc. Out of six litters that we have whelped, only one went to a show home with an unlimited registration (must be shown to a title and health tested and at least 2 years old before he can be bred). All the others have been limited registration (spay/neuter contracts). Except the ones we have kept for ourselves. If when they get older they do not meet show standards, they are then neutered/spayed and sold as pet quality. This happens in toy breeds when there are maximum height limits. One of our best males conformation wise we kept til' 7 months. He went over by an inch. He was then neutered and sold to a couple who just adore him! He was very hard to let go because his temperment was fantastic as well as his conformation, but as a breeder and someone who shows, you can't keep them all. It would not be fair to the dogs. You place them as if they your child were going to this new home. Sorry so long! LTLGTO
ltlgto.............I agree with what you have said here. Some good answers to a lot of questions. I know this will make me look like a real bad person, but if I had a twelve year old daughter that was pregnant, I might ask her to sell it at this stage of my life. I would not want the money, I am just tired of taking care of kids.
Another great post ltlgto...as always...I enjoyed it an added it to my booklet...haha...I sat and watched animal planet and they had puppy mills and collectors on...what can be done...does any one know?
EXCELLENT post LTLGTO! I will send it to my breed club. And some friends, who have a lot of pups each year. I believe it is in many of our nature's to be good...We have no guidelines. The guidelines must be sensitive to all the followers, not just a select or few. THAT was a good article. Thank you!
Elegant post. Last night on MTV, I saw a gal who gives Poodles a bad name, and a gal who gives Pugs a bad name. The Toy Poodle gal carried her dog everywhere. It NEVER left her side, no matter what. The dog was PINK. And the Pug gal looked for a female to breed her Pug with. She found a 7 MONTH old pug, and the owner of the female, a couple days later, didn't want to breed her because the male was too big. Serves her right.