To date, I have never purchased a dog from a breeder. I've met hundreds of dog breeders, I am close with many, but still, I've never needed their services. If I ever change my mind, I'd at least know where to start looking for a puppy. But that may never be in my lifetime. Who knows. I go to the local animal shelter once a week to stay up to date with their inventory. I try and get a feel for dogs while I visit and try and match their personalities with friends and family I know are in the puppy-buying phase. I try and do my part in finding homeless dogs, forever homes. However, I am also not against the idea of puppy-shopping as long as it's done properly. I recently came across an article written by a large network where it claims backyard breeders and responsible breeders are the main causes of these homeless dogs in shelters. The article mentioned that no matter how responsible a dog breeder may be, there are still responsible dog breeders who don't ask the puppy-buyer to neuter or spay the dog. This mind-screwed me, because a breeder who doesn't enforce a puppy-buyer to spay or neuter, IS, a backyard breeder. That's like saying, there are no responsible babysitters, because even responsible babysitters keep your kid up past their bedtime... it sounds ridiculous no matter what context you put this in. But it works great on brainless people, I guess. I want to poke some more at this insanely controversial topic--puppy shopping--and shed light on why responsible dog breeders need to keep trekking through the mud. (I'm rooting for you guys!) But first, lets discuss what a responsible dog breeder is and not what bad things make responsible dog breeders the scum of the Earth, heh. The term: Responsible Dog Breeder, gets used in today's world of dog breeding very loosely. Breeders think because they love their dogs to death, feed them and bathe them, and play with them, that sole aspect, makes them responsible dog breeders. And that's false. One simply loves dogs if that's the case. And it is your duty to feed them, bathe them, and play with them. Similar to how mechanics love working on engines, it does not make them the most qualified. A car's engine still needs be fixed by a very competent individual who can guarantee a safe, working motor at the end of the day. Dog breeding is similar, to a degree. Not everyone has the eye. Not everyone goes the extra mile. And almost no one does their homework. Dog breeding, if you think about it, is easy to do--putting two dogs of the opposite sex in the same room to procreate is all the work backyard breeders do to prepare for a breeding. Responsible Dog Breeders Most responsible dog breeders never make a killer business from breeding dogs. It's not that they lack the business intellect to capitalize on the puppy-market, it's just, you can't make much money when breeding responsibly. Responsible dog breeders usually have losses that greatly outweigh their revenue at the end of the year. Instead of registering a business to report losses year-after-year, they live with the fact that their passion is nothing more than a hobby. Some laws, however, depending on the amount of females a breeders has, must register with the state so they are inspected periodically. But that's about it on the paperwork needed for running a breeding program out of your home. 1. Health testing Responsible dog breeders cut no corners in the health of their dogs; especially the dogs who get to pass on their seed. Various health tests are done by the time a dog is 1 to 2 years of age to ensure they are free of hereditary diseases commonly found in the breed. When a litter is born, within their first week of life, puppies receive their first physical exams by a veterinarian. For medium to large litters (7-10 puppies), thousands of dollars are spent on the puppies by the time they are 3 months of age--remaining shots, check-ups, food, even missed work days. 3. Conformation, work, and clubs Just like companies that attend trade shows and conventions to showcase and prove their products are the best, conformation shows are those where dogs are evaluated by judges to display proper build and structure for the breed. Dogs that win are considered worthy of preserving. But when you take travel fees (sometimes all around the United States), entry fees, and handler fees into consideration, the same return on investment for dog showing never equates in puppy sales. Responsible dog breeders, if not part of conformation shows, are always part of events like agility, obedience, shutzhund, herding, field trials, you name it. Responsible dog breeders are always taking part of some dog related event to preserve or keep breed traits aligned with their colorful history. Almost all responsible dog breeders belong to a breed specific club or organization--think of it as book club, except a club for breed specific nerds whose lives revolve around preserving the breed. 3. Worst salespeople Responsible dog breeders are the worst salespeople I have ever met in my life. Puppies can sell themselves--with their cute little faces and rambunctious little attitudes--yet I've witnessed little kids get their hearts broken because Mom and Dad couldn't convince the breeder to sell them the puppy. Responsible dog breeders are never after a sale; they much rather keep all their babies if it was mentally and physically possible. The
background check screening process is very strenuous--financials, work history, personality, your children's personalities (if any children), your interests, your history with dogs, why you want a puppy, does your spouse/bf/gf want a dog--it's endless. I would say that 10% of people who inquire about a puppy actually fill out the questionnaire. That questionnaire is then followed up with a puppy application--a binding contract (more like a guideline of protocols) with things like, if you (the owner) can no longer provide a home for the dog (meaning, you can longer care for the dog at any point in the dogs life), you must contact the breeder so they can find them a proper home. A proper puppy application will also contain a spay and neuter contract where the puppy must be neutered or spayed before a certain age with proof. This legal agreement basically states, if the puppy-buyer fails to neuter or spay, a hefty lawsuit is soon to follow. Damages can range in the tens of thousands of dollars--all which is clearly stated in the contract. So as one could imagine, that 10% of people who pass the questionnaire, fill out the puppy application, and sign the spay and neuter contract have shown serious commitment in owning a pet. This is probably all new information to the general public--the health testing, questionnaires and legal paper-work involved. I imagine because not all dog breeders follow this code of work, dog breeding as a whole, is frowned upon. And since people have different meanings for words, I thought I'd take the time to define responsible dog breeders. We should not enforce or encourage that ALL dog breeding comes to a halt. What then. What do we do when dogs live out their life? Do we really want them to go extinct? In short: Responsible dog breeders only seek responsible dog owners. Why not regulate dog breeding? What I would love to see instead are strict dog laws. Laws where dogs need to be health tested before breeding. And individuals wanting to purchase a puppy must go through strenuous questionnaires with strict spay and neuter agreements. Breeders who fail to health test their dogs or provide the background checks on potential puppy buyers must be fined or revoked the right to breed dogs. I think if these two laws were mandatory with owning a dog, there would be a shortage of homeless dogs 5 years, tops. Trust me when I say: responsible dog breeders are not the ones filling up our local shelters! It's the legal freedom that has caused an epidemic of dog breeders with bad habits. If my imaginary laws existed, backyard breeders would not take any part in breeding because it would no longer be a quick, side-cash scheme. One thing I've come to live with is, I know those 100% against puppy-shopping would never want the canine race to vanish, they just voice their opinion strongly because they know puppy-shopping greatly outweighs adoption. But preaching the way they do comes off as crazy. I personally would much rather learn why things are the way they are (who truly is responsible for overflowing shelters) and then make an educated decision by either adopting or supporting a responsible dog breeder. I'm sure we all know a person with a dying passion. People who live their life preserving a tradition or doing what it is they love to do in life, and not for the money, is how I feel about responsible dog breeders. They are people who provide the best services for as long as they are physically and mentally capable of doing so. Being a responsible dog breeder is a for life thing. Their passion and life decision to dedicate themselves to one breed of dog goes unnoticed. I thank them for preserving history in such echelon fashion. To think there are no laws regarding dog breeding, yet they go through all the trouble. Amazing. Lets be honest. Not everyone is fit to own a dog. And not everyone is cut out to breed dogs. What protocols or practices do you think should be enforced for both breeders and puppy buyers?