Today is the day I talk about if (good/great/excellent/dedicated/etc.) breeders are people that are worth being supported – or if we should shame them and the people who buy from them.
Note before you begin reading this article: I am ONLY referring to proper breeders of purebred dogs who have plenty of experience and properly socialize their animals, breeding only healthy stock and doing thorough background research of any breeder. I’m not talking about backyard breeders – that’s for another day(s).
I would argue this one a yes, oh… wait, I AM arguing this one as a yes, silly me should remember ones tenses. While dog overpopulation is a very valid point against any dog breeding we should not (in my opinion) look down on breeders or purebred dogs due to the larger picture. As with (almost) everything I believe there is a time and place for breeders – and buying a purebred dog.
As a(semi-relevant) aside; I’m very big on my friends getting a mixed breed rescue for their first pet as I often hear individuals who haven’t kept a dog saying things such as “I want a husky because they like to run!” or “I want a beagle because Snoopy was a beagle.” These individuals often don’t understand that a Husky is a dog that likes to run MORE than the average dog, and that Snoopy – while maybe being a beagle by name – acts nothing like a beagle and your dog will not put on pilot goggles and sit on a doghouse all day. Purebred dogs are dogs that were bred with enhanced features from mutts(or purposefully crossed purebreds) to produce an animal that has a more predictable temperament and skillset than your average mutt. That being said – they also need those skills to be utilized more strongly than the average cross that you’re going to see and having a dog that’s purebred can require more training and care(not to mention finances) than a puppy picked up from a shelter. These dogs are meant for those who want a specific trait form their dog, which requires either thorough research and interaction with the breed at hand, and/or various experience with other dogs that have a decent sway to the wanted breed, so that an understanding and appreciation can be formed for the enhanced canine drives present.
However, I’m digressing. Breeders are important for maintaining the standards of their breed – they keep the breed and improve on the overall health and fitness of the line. There was a time once when the focus was more on aesthetics than function and I strongly disprove of that time. Reality states though that now is not then and now top breeders care more about health than eking out another inch from a Dachshund.
Breeders also show proper compassion for their animals – often requiring you to forfeit your animal to THEM if you run into a situation where you can’t take care of it anymore – no dumping it in a shelter or letting it loose to wander the streets. The dogs are registered with certain clubs(AKC, CKC, etc.) and may even participate in shows/events if the contract allows for it(with breeders often showing some if not all of their breeders). These shows are usually widely watched and everybody oohs and awes at the various breeds being shown – something that raises awareness and support for the keeping of pets.
Breeders are also great resources for how to work with their breed – they are truly passionate about the breed they work with and will often give you a textbook worth of knowledge if you ask a question on training, diet, or something else related to the breed. They are there for the breed and can honestly tell you the breeds ups and downs – for there is no breed that is meant for everybody and these people don’t want an unhappy match because that is bad for their pup. They create a standard that dogs should be given, without this standard backyard breeders would be in booming business.
On the note of backyard breeders – they’re currently the ones we’re trying to fight and most breeders are also actually helping with this. Good breeders make people sign contracts that require spaying/neutering of the animal at a certain age unless otherwise decided upon before signing the contract. Some breeders choose to be allowed to inspect the animal before the operation to ensure that the dog is not a potential candidate for breeding – but many just let the pups that they weren’t sure about get the surgery without an inspection. This means that these dogs won’t reproduce – the dogs that are sold to show, perform or just breed are often top quality and are only going to somebody with enough knowledge to be able to start working – quality control as best as can be done. These breeders screen their customers and often select the dog for the owners based on what information they gather and conversations – which helps create a more successful match than a customer can make when there’s five balls of fluffy love chewing on their expensive jewellery(yet you still want to take them all home). They educate new owners – once again trying to ensure that the dog has a good family to live with and that the owners don’t wind up feeling overwhelmed. This provides a community for a first-time dog owner to rely on, as opposed to backyard breeders that do most things wrong(even if their intentions are good) and then provide little support in the future when the dog is experiencing issues related to its raising that the owner wasn’t expecting. Top end breeders are an anti to the backyard breeder.
What gets me the most though on why we should keep purebred breeders around is that one day we will run out of dogs that are homeless(hopefully, the trend is going this way). If we all do our best to raise awareness to those around us of the issues of abandoning your dog, of not getting them spayed/neutered and of backyard breeding/puppy mills – people will stop buying dogs on impulse(or enough will stop that there’ll be few abandoned). Yes there will always be dogs being abandoned, but I would rather see the day when “supply” isn’t meeting “demand” and the breeders are there to step up and say “we are here and ready to help new owners learn about our breeds” than have backyard breeding run rampant with the few dogs that haven’t been automatically spayed – with all the health issues lying recessively in their DNA and waiting to be caught by another dog with the same recessives(feel free to comment if you want me to find a wiki that explains recessive genes).
I want the world to always have dogs, I want the world to have enough homes for dogs and I want owners and dogs to work well together. There will come a time, if we continue our efforts, that shelter dogs will be fewer in number than the amount of families wanting dogs and for this dream to be seen, the breeders need to be there. They will be there if we continue to support them and not shame purebred owners and it will be wonderful that people who want mutts can get them, and people who want purebreds will have resources to get them. In that world, the ideal world, there will be enough dogs for everybody, but not so many that any have to be put down due to not enough homes.
As for my background(so as to explain any biases I may have) I have one dog right now that I got from a shelter. I hope one day to rescue a Pit Bull puppy and raise her up lovingly. My personal dream though, from years of working with dogs and doing research and knowing myself, is to get a purebred Rottweiler that will show me what the breed is meant to be. From there? I’m not sure, I’m guessing I’ll wind up rescuing/fostering Pits/Rotties in the future as I always feel a little guilty for the ones that people cry bully at in ignorance.
We need to stop shaming people who buy purebreds because they support a higher standard. We need to work forward to both supporting good breeders and also reducing the number of dogs that are abandoned and lost to the system. Attacking breeders is not going to help us – they aren’t contributing to the problem at nearly the same magnitude as the average person does. Please educate your friends as to proper dog ownership(and leaving breeding to the professionals) before you point at the breeders.