If you are a veterinarian, vet tech, groomer, dog trainer, dog walker – anyone really that works with companion dogs you’ve often heard from clients that they got their dog from a good breeder. Someone that “breeds for health and temperament” etc.
In reality though, at least to those of us that know what it takes to be a good breed; good breeder usually means the person they got the dog from came across as a nice person that said things that made it seem as if they were a good breeder.
There is a very simple test to apply that can quickly give a good indication as to whether the breeder may be a good breeder. Ask the dog owner – how often the good breeder that breeds for health and temperament has contacted them since they picked the dog up.
The answer is almost always – NEVER! Even when there is contact, it is too infrequent and the questions asked are more for looking for accolades as opposed to parsing out the strengths and weaknesses inevitable in all breeding so that they can improve upon each and every litter, and make the breed all it can be.
How can a good breeder that breeds for health and temperament know they are a good breeder that breeds for health and temperament if they aren’t contacting each and every puppy owner throughout the dog’s life to ask the questions that would reveal whether they are producing dogs with satisfactory health and temperament. Answer – they can’t and so in my view, they don’t qualify as a good breeder.
I want to support good breeders that truly breed for health and temperament but there are so few of them that walk that talk. I do know a few. After going to extraordinary efforts to prepare their pups for their new homes (house training, crate training, critical imprinting etc.) one of many rituals they collar is that they contact weekly for the first couple of months, monthly to for the next year, quarterly after that and annually thereafter. No other way of knowing if what you are producing has true health and temperament.
The reality and I say this with confidence – based on what I’ve been exposed to over the last few decades working with companion dogs and dog owners, the effort most breeders make puts them in the same category as puppy mill breeders. They just have better living conditions for their living breathing income stream. That doesn’t mean they don’t necessarily love dogs or the breed or the owners they sell these dogs to. It means that good breeding requires much more than love. It’s genetics, behaviour, financial investment, blood sweat and tears and much more.
I LOVE good breeders there are just so darn few of them. Thank you, Sue Rueger – Weimeraners and Patricia Robertson Flat Coated Retrievers – 2 fantastic dog breeders) If you want to learn how to be a good breeder, beg either or both of these two to take you under their wing.
I wish there was a way to help future companion dog owners find those special few that take breeding seriously.
I wish even more that there was a way to encourage more of those that breed dogs to understand that being a breeder should require more than knowing the difference between a male and a female dog.