Hearing people say there’s no such thing as a responsible dog breeder as long as millions of healthy animals are killed in shelters really gets my hackles up. I have been involved with purebred dogs for more than 20 years, and have held the offices of vice president, editor and show chairman in the four clubs in which I maintain membership. Being a responsible breeder means being involved in various aspects of the sport.
The hot topic now is House Bill 2470, which would limit dog numbers and ban “puppy mills.” But I’m sure this won’t really limit puppy mills, because pet shops are exempt — and puppy mills supply those shops.
In their quest to rid the
The word “responsible” does not include just anyone who breeds a “purebred” dog. Allow me to clarify the term:
A responsible breeder constantly strives — through hours of research on health issues, genetics, nutrition and seminars — to ensure that any puppy raised is the highest quality possible. The books in a responsible breeder’s office have nothing to do with The New York Times best-seller list. Quality is determined by conformance to the American Kennel Club standard, a standard that is produced for each breed and initiated by the parent club of the breed before acceptance into AKC registration. Dog shows are not beauty pageants; they are for exhibiting breeding stock.
A responsible breeder’s puppies will never see the inside of a pet shelter or pet shop. Our puppies are placed in homes with contracts; a spay/neuter demand and a writ of refusal. This means that at any time for the life of the dog, if the new owner is unable to keep the dog, it is to be placed back with the breeder.
Puppies go home microchipped so if they are lost, the breeder is called.
Responsible breeders refuse to place a puppy in a home that is not in the best interest of the dog or owners. Puppies aren’t exchanged in parking lots of malls for cash, with the breeder never to be heard from again.
In 20 years, I have produced four litters, and I know where each and every dog is. Owners enjoy sharing photos and benefit from having breeders as a resource for questions or concerns.
Responsible breeders don’t keep their dogs in filthy cages, never to see the light of day. They don’t keep rebreeding the same sire and dam litter after litter just because it’s easy and profitable. Responsible breeders require testing prior to breeding to ensure the health of each dog, and that the match is in the best interest of the breed. Our dogs are happy members of the family with accommodations that most people would envy.
A responsible breeder will go into debt for every litter. There are no such things as shortcuts or profits. By the time you do CERF, SHOR, PENN Hip, OFA, DNA, ICSB, AI and any other range of breed-specific testing, there is no profit. I won’t define these acronyms and abbreviations; responsible breeders know what they mean.
If you don’t know what they mean, you should stop any breeding you may currently be party to and get informed about the breed that you are interested in.
Seek a mentor who has years of experience, read the AKC standard of the breed you are interested in and realize that the purpose of breeding any dog is to preserve a breed’s ability to perform the job it was originally bred to do. That purpose does not include creating designer breeds to make a sale, and then bragging about the “adorable puppies and wonderful family experience.”
As for genetic problems in purebred dogs, how much tracking and record-keeping is being conducted on mixed breed dogs? None. So it is easy to refer to the research conducted by responsible breeders. There are numerous surveys conducted by parent clubs every year to determine percentages of occurrence for juvenile cataracts, hip dysplasia or corneal atrophy. Responsible breeders are members of multiple clubs and participate in the research to better improve their breed. The AKC Web site, www.akc.org, lists all the clubs.
Also listed are rescue committees for almost every club. Rescue is an integral part of being an ambassador of a breed. Clubs will rescue dogs of their breed and post a national e-mail to find homes for them. Volunteers house the dogs until homes are found.
Our local club, McKenzie Cascade Dog Fanciers, an all-breed club in
So the next time you see that puppy in the window, or the shelter’s kennel, ask to speak with the responsible breeder that let him be placed there. You’ll find that a responsible breeder was not involved at any stage.
Charlene Sayles of