In today’s consumer-driven society, people often demand instant gratification. This mentality has also impacted the dog breeding industry. “Right now” consumers demand “right now” dogs. Unfortunately, this demand for “right now” has led to an increase in unscrupulous breeding practices.
Responsible breeders create the next generation of sound, health-tested, well-socialized puppies in the breeds you love. There is no standardization in the dog breeding industry, which means that anyone can call themselves a breeder regardless of their knowledge, experience, or ethics. The lack of laws has led to a lack of breeder oversight. No regulation or enforcement can make it challenging to differentiate between legitimate breeders and those who may be engaging in unethical practices. Dog breed fads and trends add to the creation of substandard dogs that have saturated the world with an unfathomable number of unstable dogs.
Convenience: a competitive advantage a new standard for customer expectations
Consumers live in an on-demand economy where with a few taps and swipes of technology, they can have what they want, when they want it – even a puppy right to their door. This sets a new standard for customer expectations, and an opportunity for rogue breeders to take advantage, evoking strong concerns about animal welfare.
As the demand for dogs continues to increase, many people turn to the readily accessible and available puppy mill or backyard breeder for instant gratification. This results in dogs with serious health and behavioral issues that could easily be prevented by getting a puppy from a reputable breeder that is the right fit for your lifestyle.
While responsible breeding practices prioritize the well-being of dogs, the process can be time-consuming. As a result, there are not enough responsibly-bred dogs available to meet the demand; a shortage of responsible dog breeders and, consequently, responsibly-bred dogs, are in short supply.
Breeders come in several categories: Responsible breeder, backyard breeder, puppy farmer.
All three sell puppies, but they have very different approaches to breeding and raising dogs. Without a solid understanding of what constitutes ethical breeding practices, it can be challenging to identify a reputable breeder from one who may be cutting corners or exploiting their animals for profit.
What is a Responsible Breeder?
ethical breeder, reputable breeder
🟢They have a mentor
🟢They protect the integrity of the breed
🟢They avoid the intentional mixing of breeds
🟢They focus their efforts on one or a select few breeds
🟢They are a member of a reputable breed club
🟢They register their dogs with a reputable registry
🟢They have their registered names listed
🟢They have pedigrees
🟢They adhere to their breed club’s code of ethics
🟢They are familiar with the breed standard
🟢They know about the breed’s predispositions to certain genetic problems
🟢They perform health testing recommended by their national breed club or OFA recommendations
🟢They have health clearances posted
🟢Their health testing matches in the public database
🟢They are entrenched in activities in the dog community
🟢They compete with their dogs (conformation, performance) in order to have an unbiased evaluation of their dog
🟢They have a first right of refusal
🟢They have titles behind their dogs’ name
🟢They clearly state their purpose for breeding
🟢They have goals behind their planned litter
🟢They breed for the betterment of the breed
🟢Each litter is an improvement to the breed
🟢They focus their time and energy perpetuating the best traits and eliminating the undesirable ones
🟢They wait until their dogs are old enough to breed
🟢They evaluate their dogs’ temperament
🟢They can identify their faults in their dogs
🟢They conscientiously choose their pairings
🟢They consider maternal nutrition and care
🟢They schedule age appropriate vaccines, de-worming treatments
🟢They provide structured socialization programs
🟢They keep puppies with their mother until at least 8 weeks; some breeds until 10-12 weeks
🟢They retire their breeding dogs when necessary
🟢They carefully screen new homes
🟢They don’t prioritize financial gain over their dogs’ health
🟢They knowledgeably answer all of your questions
Responsible breeders create the next generation of sound, health-tested, well-socialized puppies in the breeds you love by prioritizing temperament, health and structure.
Why Get A Puppy From A Responsible Breeder?
Dogs’ roles are changing; owning a well-bred dog is no longer a more desirable, prestigious, or even expensive pet. Because this narrative has changed, we want to link that cognition with ethics.
When you are looking to add a puppy to your family, it pays to consider purchasing from a responsible breeder. While certain ethical beliefs may guide one towards acquiring a dog through the mode of adoption from a shelter or rescue, one may consider purchasing from a responsible breeder due to the predictability and stability of the dog they know they are getting from a conscientious breeder of careful pairings.
By getting a puppy from a responsible breeder, you’re not only getting a healthy and well-cared-for pup, but you’re also supporting ethical breeding practices so they are well-adjusted and ready to thrive in their new homes.
- The dog will be a good match with your family and lifestyle
- Your puppy will be a good example of the breed
- You’ll know the history of the puppy
- Predictability of size, coat type, health and behavior
- Improves the odds that a puppy will have good health throughout life
- You’re less likely to acquire a fearful puppy
- The puppy will have an appropriate start to lifeskills
- Your puppy will always have a home
Health Testing: The Crucial Factor that Separates Responsible Breeders from Unethical Breeders
The one defining factor that sets responsible breeders apart from unethical breeders is their commitment and approach to health testing. Dogs are often advertised as “health tested”, but this can be misleading, if you know where to look.
“Health-testing” refers to recommended breed-specific tests carried out on the parents – before breeding. Purebred dogs and mixed breed dogs are prone to specific abnormalities genetic in nature. These health problems are unapparent to the average person and can only be detected with the appropriate screening. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog will never get sick. They are a form of risk reduction that your puppy will suffer from these conditions. Completing health testing evaluates their health in the present and allows predictions to be made about their health in the future. Testing enables earlier diagnosis and intervention, and can help track potential problems and provide solutions before the problems worsen.
Digging Deeper: The Importance of Knowing and Crosschecking Dog Health Records
When it comes to dog breeding, it is not difficult for anyone to present themselves as an ethical and responsible breeder by saying all the right things.
- Identify what breed-relevant genetic conditions your puppy may be a carrier of or at risk for
- Cross-check records in the public database
Every breed or mix is predisposed to their own set of diseases. Therefore, the tests your dog needs prior to breeding depends upon their breed. Health testing on both parents per the national breed club or OFA recommendations are to be completed before breeding.
The American Kennel Club website lists the recommended tests by breed online.
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) manages the database of records.
Health testing is not a secret, and it is nothing to be defensive about. Health test results are public records and accessible in a database.
You can easily crosscheck records which are readily available on the OFA Databases and CHIC DNA Repository; they are partnered with participating parent clubs to research and maintain information on the health issues prevalent in each specific recognized breed. If it is an AKC breed, you can find a link to the parent breed club by finding your breed listing under the “breeds” tab on the AKC website.
Passing off “DNA testing”, “vet clearance”, “Embark” as doing proper health testing to the unsuspecting buyer is not acceptable and is a misrepresentation of pre-breeding health clearances. Intentionally omitting health screening or withholding health screening results escapes responsibility.
Testing before breeding is the standard of care. These tests are tools to prevent problems. There is absolutely no excuse not to utilize these tools. It is the ethical responsibility and obligation of all breeders to perform the available tests.
Every dog deserves to live a happy and healthy life, and it is up to us to make that a reality.
Sheepdog Riggs, Forever in Our hearts
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