Modern dog breeding has been helped thanks to major discoveries within fields surrounding genetics, but also incredibly penalized because of irresponsible dog breeding practices and reckless or ignorant dog breeders.
Breeding Business is a major actor when it comes to ethical and modern dog breeding, this is why we wanted to go over the critical issues to tackle within our own community in order to move forward.
And with this post, we’re going to shoot a bullet in our own feet but hopefully, it will wake some dog breeders up!
Irresponsible Dog Breeding Practices
Dog breeding practices are going in two opposite directions:
- responsible and knowledgeable breeders are getting even better thanks to science and several advanced techniques that are now available to screen your dogs’ health
- bad breeders get worse simply to reach juicier margins and make a living out of unhealthy and weak beings who only seek love and hands-on care
We wanted to review the most common bad practices found in modern dog breeding knowing that for most of them, criminalization is impossible.
Overproduction of Dogs
The demand is here, clearly. Whether people want working dogs, guard dogs, or family dogs, breeders have successful days ahead of them. It is for this very reason that too many greedy and unheeding dog breeders produce more than they should.
Those who produce more puppies than required do it to sell them through intermediaries, online ads and pet shops. Others will breed as many litters as possible hoping to have that golden egg in each that will generate a lot of profit. If not, they’ll sell them for pennies and do it all over again.
If you add to that all the unplanned litters coming from incautious dog breeders and dog owners, we then have to face a too high quantity of puppies available at any time, sold for very little, and appealing to even the worst potential pet owners possible.
Quantity over quality is one of the important issues that have to be tackled as soon as we all possibly can. A lot of breeders often don’t know how many puppies to expect and becomes either overwhelmed trying to get rid of them as fast as possible, or underwhelmed trying to breed the bitch as soon as possible.
Inadequate Socialization of Puppies
Just like humans find it hard to cope with raising three children at the same time, dog breeders won’t be able to offer each puppy the socialization it requires when they are having too many litters, too often.
Some breeds do naturally need a lot more socialization than others, especially to avoid aggressive tendencies in the future. But how can you do it when all you focus on is selling your pups at the highest price while planning the next mating?
There is a conflict of interests and irresponsible breeders will opt for the money rather than spending time with each pup in various places, at various times, in various situations. This is burdening for other great breeders as the general public feels like breeders are factories and incubators, with no love or care given to the newborns. We all know this is not true but unfortunately, too many breeders give our beloved passion a bad name.
Production of Dogs With Health and Welfare Problems
With an almost industrial quantity of puppies produced daily, comes another critical issue: the poor health and welfare of these dogs. These live in atrocious conditions and very little efforts are put into keeping them healthy and safe.
Instead, too many dog breeders want to breed the tiniest dogs in order to match the demand of that every-growing hype of toy, teacup, mini dogs. You know, the ones going viral on Facebook and Instagram, awing viewers by standing next to a can of coke. Disgusting breeding niche yet, incredibly profitable.
More and more breeding partners are selected without studying their genetic soundness and lineage which has insanely increased the growth of inherited medical diseases and conditions.
Unsuitable Facilities and Sales Outlets
Not everybody will buy a puppy after researching the breeder. Not everybody buys a puppy after meeting him or her several times. Most people feel like they want a dog, end up going to the pet store or check out classifieds and a couple of days later, the puppy is home.
In these situations, future owners have no idea the manner in which the puppies are sold and sometimes, illegally imported. Even worse, while most pet shops operate in complete legality, the breeding practices of the big puppy farms producing these litters back to back are horrendous. Yet, the buyer does not seem to care and only sees the low price tag.
Practices That Serve the Breeder and not the Dog
The main reasons why dog breeders let down their own dogs is to serve their own selfish objectives: spend less money, make more profit, sell more dogs. They forget that dog breeding should put the dogs first.
It translates to taking shortcuts and cutting corners:
- avoiding vet bills by doing very little health checks, if any
- breeding bitches back to back without a year or two of rest in between two litters
- keeping dirty facilities to simply save money on cleaning
- offering little free running space to save time and box these dogs up
Most of the time, these breeders don’t even aim for pedigree breeding, they just breed a type of dog such as “German Shepherd” type of dogs. They will buy new founding stock for hype breeds and get rid of them as soon as the trend dies down. Rinse and repeat with the newest hottest dog breed. Dog breeders should absolutely learn how to read a dog pedigree to get better.
Failure of Breeders to Ensure Good Health
Breeders often have an inadequate worming and vaccination regime, and carry out too few health checks. Scoring your dogs for hip dysplasia is not enough.
The web offers us many databases to know what breeds are affected by what conditions while, at the same time, offering the matching DNA tests to spot and breed these issues out of your bloodline. This should be the first thing any new dog breeder learns.
However, many breeders see these DNA checks as yet another overhead cost and would rather take a gamble by breeding potentially unhealthy dogs over doing their homework to only produce litters from healthy parents.
Puppy farmers and even popular dog breeders keep on doing this because the law and legislation currently allow that. Kennel Clubs do not always require precise checks to be performed before registration, therefore, breeders feel like there is no need to incur extra costs.
Irresponsible Dog Breeders
These bad dog breeding practices tend to originate from uneducated dog breeders who despite having the best intentions at heart will fail during their execution. A lot of people get involved in a lot of hobbies and end up failing, the only difference here is that actual beings are at stake.
Lack of Knowledge
Breeders from all breeds just don’t do the homework. Why? Because it takes time, it requires a lot of reading, and they need to grasp scientific concepts and knowledge they’ve perhaps never heard of before.
Only with a deeper understanding of heredity, canine genetics and what makes a dog breeding program successful, good dog breeders will leave the breed in a better situation than when they got introduced to it.
When browsing Facebook Groups, classifieds or random websites of dog breeders, I am flabbergasted by the misuse of the word “bloodline.” I understand the word sells a lot and sounds wise, but we’ve all got to respect the word and its meaning! Dog breeding is not about making money or being a social media viral personality. Too many see these as the ultimate goal of breeding their own bloodline.
Once you clarify what your objectives are, you need to plan how you will get there. It’s called a breeding program, or a breeding plan. It’s something you’ve got on paper or in your mind and it details what traits you want to focus on, and how you want to improve these traits. By using external bloodlines (outcrossing), or other dogs of yours (linebreeding), or the same stud for several generations (back-breeding), or another method?
Let’s do the maths. Seeing noticeable results commonly takes a few litters and you must wait a year and a half or two between two litters, so having great results can easily take you over five years. You may use back-to-back breeding to speed the process up but this is only recommended to very experienced breeders with high-quality female dogs.
Most people don’t have the patience, they want results fast. Most breeders, especially in the bully world, buy two famous names, breed them together, and don’t even know if the breeding is a success or not simply because they didn’t have any purpose behind this breeding. They just want puppies, fast. Now they’ve got little creatures to sell at a high price.
Even on a day to day basis, rare are the full-time breeders so many only spend an hour a day with their dogs. It may be how you raised your family pet but it surely is not enough for a dog breeder.
Lack of Funds and Budgeting
Planning when you own a dog is essential, and by planning I mean budgeting and putting money on the side for any dog emergency that may occur in the distant future. Yet, most breeders forget about this or simply sign up to a dog insurance and think they are all set, forever. It’s like paying $50 a month is the price to pay for tranquility… But it’s a huge mistake because some emergencies aren’t necessarily health-related:
- what if an owner gives you the puppy back?
- what if you’ve reached payout limits?
- what if dog food prices are increasing?
- what if you must organize a thorough kennel cleaning?
Veterinary checks and bills also add up very fast when you breed dogs and have litters, this is why dog breeders must know how to price a puppy. Getting rid of all your pups by cutting their price tag can bite you back severely in the future.
Dogs Are Sentient Animals
After few litters, many dog breeders tend to consider dogs as commodities that they produce and sell. In fact, this is extremely common and if the breeder managed to make a miraculous profit on his first litter, the lack of compassion becomes almost inevitable.
Dogs are specific behavioral and physical needs that must be fulfilled regardless of the breeder’s financial and personal situations. As soon as a person turns to dog breeding, the dogs should come first. They are sentient animals who never asked you to engage in breeding dogs. Dog breeders should register these responsibilities before they even own a dog, let alone breeding several.
Over-Reliance on Charitable Entities
Shelters and rescue organizations are a cornerstone of how our society looks after unfortunate dogs. These rescue centers have our pets’ welfare at heart and they do their utmost with very little funding to help dogs with a wide range of health concerns and ethical issues. Some of these dogs require expensive surgical operations and without the help of some kind veterinarians, these dogs wouldn’t make it simply because of a lack of dollars.
Funds should clearly be allocated to such animal welfare organizations because these dogs need our help, but the real cure isn’t in funding. Instead, authorities and legislators should work hard to prevent these rescue centers from getting full. Most of them are over their capacity throughout the year — irresponsible dog ownership should be punished and penalized!
Taxes we do pay in high amounts aren’t used to help animals in any way, and we should start to voice our expectations at this level. In my humble opinion, punishing bad breeders and irresponsible owners is the best strategy to empty dog shelters and rescue centers, and in the meantime, helping charitable organizations care for unfortunate pets is a priority.
Future of Ethical Dog Breeding
Dog breeders have for too long gotten away with despicable dog breeding practices, and most of the American and Western population see all breeders as wearing the horns of Lucifer. More and more breeds are suffering genetic-based health conditions resulting in shorter life expectancy, breathing problems, increased hip dysplasia and many more troubles. Closed gene pools in purebred dogs are becoming an issue, too.
The advances made by laboratories and veterinary universities are helping dog breeders with the efficient screening of inherited conditions making the future generations healthier and healthier. But this is valid only if breeders are willing to get educated on the latest updates pertaining to their breed, as well as also pay the price for each of these health checks.
Kennel clubs and legislators should and most likely will, at some point, enforce specific laws and regulations that will require specific health checks before any mating proceeds. It is an important step that will bother only the people who shouldn’t even breed in the first place.
If you are serious about breeding high-quality dogs, check out our bestseller — The Dog Breeder’s Handbook!