The American Kennel Club considers a breeder to be the person who was the owner or lessee of a dam at the time of mating. But is a breeder more than that? Is a breeder someone’s whose participation goes beyond merely owning or leasing a bitch? Does a breeder exemplify more than just being listed by name on a piece of paper?
A breeder is someone who nurtures a bitch, studies and selects a proper stud dog, carefully plans a litter, is present at birth, and oversees the raising and development of healthy puppies. A breeder endures the disappointment of a missed mating, a false pregnancy or ill bitch. A breeder suffers through approximately two months of constantly watching and caring for a pregnant mother-to-be. At due date, a breeder is ever present, ready to guide and assist as needed. Preparations have been made long in advance, a veterinarian notified.
A breeder is on edge and alert to the slightest sign of a problem. A breeder knows the heartache that comes with a dead puppy, the sorrow if something goes wrong with the bitch. Twenty four hour days run together as a breeder watches over a new litter. Disappointments are acknowledged to be part of the package.
A breeder is constantly in “tune” with both the bitch and the newborn pups. Always present-almost hovering-a breeder delights in the creation of treasures for the future. Puppies are attended to and prudently guided down a path of individuality.
Show homes are thoughtfully considered for the very best. Pet homes are meticulously weighed with an eye and a mind towards what would be foremost in the interest of the non-show pup, who will eventually be spayed and neutered. All will be assured of clean surroundings in a healthy, happy home-like environment.
A breeder does not just mate two dogs together and hope for the best; does not merely seek the closest male stud with no idea as to compatibility of breed style or pedigrees; does not use the whelping box to produce puppies as livestock; nor sell puppies to pay for a “fix” in the show world. A breeder does not flood the market with unwanted puppies; does not peddle pups at flea markets, to jobbers or pet shops. A breeder does not settle for a home for a puppy, or sell the pup to the highest bidder with no regard as to where it will live or under what conditions it will spend the rest of its life.
A breeder’s responsibility does not stop in the mating pen or the whelping box. A breeder’s responsibility only ceases upon the death of the dog. A breeder provides cradle to grave service at all times for all dogs he or she bred. A breeder is always thoughtful, conscientious and responsible.
A breeder is always learning about the breed of choice. No book is left unopened, no magazine unturned, no letter of advice ignored. Knowledge is seeped into an unfillable reservoir to be soaked and emanated as necessary. A breeder readily acknowledges the requirement of being able to devote long hours and hard nights to the responsibility of caring for and nurturing a breed of dog for generations of the future.
AKC’s requirement of a name on a piece of paper does not tell the full tale of just who or what is a breeder. While anyone can see their name on that piece of paper as long as he or she is the “official” owner or lessee of a dam at time of mating, a name on a paper means little if the knowledge, time and “hand-on” experience is not also present.
The pet store said they don’t use any puppy mills.
Of course they won’t admit that they do! Any breeder that sells to pet stores is not an ethical breeder. Good breeders don’t send their precious puppies away to be bought sight unseen by anyone with a whim and a wad of cash!
I found this great ad in the paper!
Responsible breeders rarely advertise in the paper. They usually have homes lined up for their puppies and kittens well before they are born. There are exceptions, so screen any breeder that you find in any advertisement carefully! The same goes for ads in dog and cat magazines. Some are from good breeders, but some are from notorious puppymills.
What’s a “backyard breeder”? Aren’t most dogs and cats bred in the backyard?
“Backyard breeder” or “BYB” is a slang term for the casual breeder; the person who breeds for money, or because “Fido is such a nice pet”, or because “She’s a purebred and we want our money back”, or “The kids think it would be fun”. BYBs are responsible for producing the vast majority of unfit, unsound puppies and kittens.
The breeder said I couldn’t see the parents.
Then walk away! You must meet the mother of your dog. If she is shy or aggressive or unhealthy, then expect her pups to be the same. It’s OK – in fact a good sign – if the father isn’t on the premises – as mentioned above, responsible breeders breed to the best male, not the most convenient one.
Only fancy show dogs and cats need testing before they are bred.
Genetic disease in dogs and cats is devastating. Every year, uncounted families are heartbroken when their beloved pets are crippled from hip dysplasia, go blind from progressive retinal atrophy, are found to be deaf, die of cardiomyopathy, or suffer from many other disorders. Many of these tragic incidents could have been prevented with proper genetic testing before breeding and/or screening of the puppies or kittens. Responsible breeders do this; irresponsible ones do not. By conducting thorough genetic screening programs, responsible breeders can greatly reduce their chances of producing an affected puppy or kitten. Irresponsible breeders can make no such claim.
What’s all the fuss about genetic disorders? I haven’t ever seen a dog with one.
Have you ever seen an old dog with “arthritis”? A young dog that couldn’t move around very well? Chances are they had any of a number of genetic defects such as hip dysplasia, Legg-Calve-Perthe’s disease or patellar luxation. Ever met a blind or deaf dog? Except in extreme old age, most blind and deaf dogs become that way because of genetic disorders such as PRA and congenital deafness of white animals. Ever met a dog with extreme allergies? This tendency is inherited. The list could be a very long one. Many times, we just don’t think of our dogs’ problems as genetic when, in fact, they are.
The breeder said both parents had been checked by a vet, so I guess the pups or kittens should be healthy.
Most vets are not experts in canine or feline reproduction. They also may not want to lose business by telling their clients not to breed. In addition, the breeder may have heard only what he wanted to hear, not what the vet actually told him!
No vet can tell that a dog or cat is free of genetic disease just by looking at the animal. Most genetic tests require special examinations by qualified veterinarians. Your best bet is to know what genetic tests are needed for the breed that you are interested in, and to ask the breeder to show you the results of those tests.
I don’t want a fancy show puppy or kitten. I just want a good pet.
The most important job that any dog or cat has is to be a good pet! There are several qualities that a dog or cat needs to have to be a good pet. It should be healthy and well-socialized (to children, other people, and other animals). In addition, it should grow up to look and act like what you would expect of a dog or cat of that breed – after all, you chose a breed based on the characteristics that it should have. A Golden Retriever puppy should grow up to be a 70-pound easily trainable retrieving maniac that loves everyone and can play all day. It should not grow up to be a 120 pound dog that fights with other dogs, hates kids, cannot be housebroken, and refuses to retrieve.
If someone simply breeds two unevaluated Goldens together, the offspring may not look or act like a true Golden should. If these offspring are bred to other unevaluated dogs, pretty soon you will have dogs that are Goldens in name only but that look and act nothing like a well-bred Golden Retriever.
In addition, anyone who buys a dog or cat as a family pet want to ensure that the animal is healthy.
Responsible breeders will ensure this by doing the proper genetic testing to ensure that the parents of their puppies or kittens are healthy. Less reputable breeders are unlikely to know that such tests exist, let alone do them.
Your best chances of getting a healthy pet are to buy one from someone whose motivation for breeding is to produce the finest possible dogs and cats. That means someone who breeds only dogs and cats that are themselves good pets and good representatives of what their breed should be. It also means someone who tests the parents to make sure that they are free from any genetic defects before they are bred. It means someone who knows the background of their dogs and cats well enough to know what they should produce.
Once you’ve found a breeder, ask many questions. A good, reputable breeder will be happy to answer any and all questions, and will be impressed that you are that concerned / interested, too.