Dog Breeders - who are they and what do they do? This quick start guide explores the good as well as the bad, and what to look out for when searching for a good dog breeder.
Good dog breeders are usually dedicated enthusiasts of a particular breed, their only aim in producing a litter being to improve and better their breed in terms of temperament, health and conformation. This is achieved by selecting only the best, most suitable male (stud dog) to mate with the most suitable female of that particular breed. However, it’s not as simple as it may sound and all breeders are not equal. Buying a pup from an unethical breeder can end in tears, so please read on to discover more about the often murky world of dog breeders.
You will find the best dog breeders have spent years upon years studying their chosen breed (normally after years of owning them!) learning about canine genetics, health and behaviour and, when they are confident they are up to the job, researching everything involved with dog breeding from mating and whelping to rearing litters to finding good homes and supporting the new owners should the need arise. Good dog breeders are normally themselves mentored by other good breeders who are often even more experienced and knowledgeable about the chosen breed.
Unethical Dog Breeders
Those who breed dogs purely for financial gain are frowned upon in the dog world, and not without good reason. Most of the time those trying to make a quick buck out of dog breeding are unethical breeders. Unethical breeders care little for the dogs they breed, and they don’t give a hoot about the problems that they ‘pass on’ to the unsuspecting buyer (which may only manifest themselves later in the dog’s life). Some unethical breeders are also referred to as puppy farmers and backyard breeders. Puppy farmer is normally the label given to those breeders whose sole purpose is to produce (farm) as many puppies as they possibly can without a care in the world for the health - present or future - of the pups or that of their studs and bitches. They rarely test their breeding stock for ailments and disease as recommended by the respective breed clubs – meaning pups may be born with certain diseases or have an increased predisposition to such diseases or other illnesses. If you buy from a puppy farmer, they win, you lose - they are happy with the money they make, but you cry the tears when your poorly-bred pup has to be put to sleep 6 months down the line because of a disease it contracted or was born with due to the puppy farmer not bothering to health test the parents. The best way to stop unethical breeders is to not buy from them – if they stop making money they’ll stop breeding and the chain of misery is broken.
Backyard breeders is the label given to people who know little about dogs (let alone breeding!) and decide to mate their bitch with a convenient stud dog (probably also owned by another unethical dog breeder) in an effort to make a quick buck. They generally use a whole number of excuses to justify the breeding, but these are often just a mask to hide their underlying motive, money. However, what they don’t realize is that a number of complications can lead to them spending more money than they ever imagined or worse, their bitch could die. To read more about why anyone should think twice about breeding (and why their excuses/reasons are weak), read the hard-hitting article called “thinking about breedin? Think about this” (see ‘Where next?’ panel for the link).
Ethical Dog Breeders
Anyway let’s get back to good dog breeders. Ethical breeders, as they are generally referred to, are the complete opposite of the unethical dog breeders we just talked about. Ethical breeders can invest thousands of pounds acquiring the best possible ‘stock’, sometimes even going to the expense of travelling abroad to view that stock on numerous occasions. They will also spend a great deal of money and time in owning, showing and learning as much as humanly possible about their chosen breed as well as studying all aspects of breeding and taking time off work to look after the litter when they are born. It’s not uncommon to find that the good, ethical dog breeders rarely make much money from breeding, because they generally invest all they have (and sometimes lots they don’t!) in the breeding and bettering of the breed they love.
How to find a good Dog Breeder?
So where do you find a good dog breeder? First you should research your chosen breed as much as possible, and pay particular attention to anything which is specific to your breed – especially which illnesses it may be prone to and what health tests are recommended by the breed’s breed club. Having a good background knowledge about your breed will make it easier for you to tell which breeders are devoted experts and which ones are not. Ask lots of questions of any breeder you contact, and don’t be afraid to try to catch them out about health tests etc – the good breeders really won’t mind such questions, in fact they will appreciate the fact that you have gone to the trouble to learn about the breed you are considering bringing into your life.
Take a look at breeder guidelines set out by dog clubs and societies such as the Kennel Club, and Breeders Charters which sites like Dogsey ask any breeders wishing to list with them to adhere to. You could always print them out and ask the breeder the questions over the phone.
Most good dog breeders have a waiting list so be prepared to wait for a pup. Consequently you rarely find these dog breeders ‘advertising’ puppies for sale either in free-ad type papers or other printed publications – generally it is sufficient for them to get ‘listed’ as a breeder with their respective breed club and on an all breeds website (like Dogweb) that has set out a strong and clear code of ethics (Breeders Charter) that those breeders wishing to list their details must agree to adhere to.
Unfortunately there is little legislation to protect you when buying from unethical breeders, so you really do need to spend that extra bit of time before going out and buying a pup – it may help ensure your dog is healthier and happier in the long run, and could save you a lot of money and heartache too.
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