The following is the third part in a series of eight articles about breeding dogs. Although it applies to a dog, it also applies to cats. People do not realize that there are cat mills which are similar to puppy mills. Note that these articles are based on my years of experience, my opinion and that I do not intend to refer to any individual. Please read the entire eight articles to glean a full understanding of breeding.
There are six types of breeders.
- There is the ethical breeder who studies lines and has a goal that they hope to accomplish with a breeding. This goal can be for a litter who has a solid temperament. It could be for conformation showing, for a good working dog and a combination of qualities. It is important to understand that temperament and intelligence are the two qualities that make a dog a good pet or working dog. A dog who meets the conformation standard without a good temperament or intelligence is not a desirable pet or working dog.
Ethical breeders are typically involved with a breed club or organization that monitors the ethics of the breeder. The ethical breeder does not produce multiple litters at one time and often only has one or two litters a year. They do not breed their dogs before they are tested for inherited issues or are under two years old. The ethical breeder will only breed those dogs who are worthy of breeding having been cleared of inherited issues and has been proven as a good show or working dog. Only exceptional dogs are bred. Ethical breeders work with the puppies from birth to placement so that they are socialized.
Ethical breeders often have waiting lists for puppies because their lines have been proven. They also only line breed or outcross. They rarely if ever inbreed.
The ethical breeder rarely makes a profit from their dogs due to the expenses of raising, testing and proving their dogs. Their litters are consistent in temperament, health and conformation. The ethical breeder will often guarantee the quality of their puppies.
Puppies from an ethical breeder are registered with a recognized registry. In the US this will be either the American Kennel Club or the United Kennel Club. In some cases, there are breed registries that are recognized as well. There are other registries that will register any type of animal and those that cater to the puppy mills. (See Registries Part 2)
- The new breeder. Everyone has to start sometime. A small in-home breeder who is being mentored by an experienced breeder can be a quality, ethical breeder. Not every breeder has a large kennel. Most ethical breeders have a number of dogs that live in their house with them as pets. A home-raised puppy from an ethical breeder is the ideal place to get your puppy. The quality of the breeding is not measured by the number of dogs a breeder has, but by the care and goals of the breeder.
- The commercial breeder mass produces puppies from a limited number of dogs. Their puppies are often registered with a national registry but the care and planning of the lines does not exist. Their goal is to make money so they often shortcut the testing and care of their dogs including the puppies. Their puppies are not from proven stock, are not consistent in temperament, health and conformation. These breeders will produce the breeds that are popular and likely to sell. They often produce a number of different breeds.
- The puppy mill breeder. These people breed solely for profit. The dogs are often kept in cages and rarely given attention. They are not part of the family but viewed as livestock. They do no testing or planning and have no goals except to produce puppies and make money. Often these puppies are not pure and are not registered or if they are, they are registered with a non-recognized organization that supports puppy mills.
These puppies are often not consistent in temperament, conformation and are more prone to health issues.
- The backyard breeder. This is the person who thinks they can make money from their pet. Due to a lack of understanding about breeding these puppies are one step away from the puppy mill breeder. The parents have no health testing, there is no consistency in the litter since they are randomly bred with no understanding of genetics. Because the backyard breeder does not understand all that is involved in producing and raising a quality dog, they do not take the precautions or socialize the puppies properly.
- The last type of breeder is a rather recent phenomenon. This is the designer dog breeder. These people take two different breeds and try to create a dog of their own design. There is no consistency in the puppies that result because they do not have a solid goal. One of the excuses these people use is to create an allergy free dog. Because allergies are not a result of dog hair but of dander, this is not possible. All dogs have dander. Unfortunately, since there is no consistent conformation with designer dogs, there is no way other than a DNA test, to prove that the dogs are the mix that the breeder claims. I have had clients come to me with a dog that was supposed to be a Labradoodle and the dog grew up to be a terrier. Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee the puppies and the buyer cannot know for certain that they are getting what they paid for. Also, it is unfortunate that these breeders charge as much or more for the mixed breed puppies as a buyer would pay for a well-bred puppy from an ethical breeder. These puppies are not registered or if they are, they are not registered with a recognized organization.
What is also important to consider is that a person who has a well-bred dog from an ethical breeder is not likely to cross this quality dog with another breed. Therefore, by default, many designer dogs are created from less desirable stock, often obtained from puppy mill breeders.