About breeders in general.

This is a part 2 to my previous post here. I’ve already gotten questioned on our thought process of not “rescuing” a dog and getting one from a breeder instead. In the process I discovered some major pre-conceptions that are very prevalent in society about breeders in general.

Now before I get started, this is a big long rant, so click below at your own risk.

Now I’m not saying that those ideas are wrong, infact in many cases they’re right, but people (as is too common) are ready and willing to believe the stereotype no matter what the evidence.  

I have met proof that the stereotypes are not all there is.  Suzie of Himalaya Tibetan Mastiffs is not the “backyard breeder” of stereotype.  Her property is lovely, I’d love to own it myself, and her kennels are well maintained and clean.  She puts insane amounts of time and energy into her (15 adult) dogs, the sorts that good parents put into their children, and manages to do it while holding down a full time job (admittedly one with flexible hours).  She’s a Worldwide and American Kennel Club registered judge for the Tibetan Mastiff breed, but don’t worry that she’ll sugar coat them for you, if she doesn’t think that they’re a breed thats going to work out for you she WILL say so.  She’d rather hold onto her puppies for extra weeks or even months or years, if thats what it takes to find them a good home.

So how do you tell if the breeder you’re talking to is a good breeder that cares for the dogs as her children, or one who’s just breeding for the money the puppies will make her?  Well, the answer is a bit complicated, and depends on the situation and the breed in question.

When you contact the breeder initially do they want to know about the living situation you’re in and plan to place the dog in? or do they not care?

Do they want to tell you about their dogs, not just the awards won, but temperaments, physical tests passed (including tests for hip dysplasia, thyroid, or other genetic problems) as well as where you can find the public results of those tests for yourself? (because yes, those results are made public, usually for no fee)

Are they willing to invite you into their home to see their dogs?  and/or give you references to check out, including folks you can talk to who have purchased dogs from them that you can see talk about?

Alot of people stop at this point, if they’ve gotten there at all.  Afterall you just want a pet, why does this extra research matter?  In reality it matters alot.  A puppy from parents of stable temperament and in good health is more likely to have a good temperament and stay in good health themselves.  And trust me THAT matters.

Watch out for breeders of show dogs who are offering “pet quality” puppies for a discounted price.  Find out WHY the puppy isn’t considered show quality.  If its just a color variation that’s not allowed (or is less preferred) in the ring (not uncommon in some breeds) that’s fine, but if its because of a physical defect….some of those physical defects will end up costing YOU big-time down the road, in medical and vet bills, not to mention time and sanity as your pet copes with pain and suffering.  A kinked tail isn’t a huge deal, however deafness or blindness (even partial) can make training your dog very difficult, hip and elbow problems (including dysplasia) can result in quite a bit of pain for the dog and can require major surgery to correct.  An “inverted vulva” may not sound like a big deal….till you realize that it can mean major and constant UTIs, and can only be corrected with major surgery which doesn’t always work and can cause incontinence.  Lotsa fun huh?

Price is another issue people stop on.  Afterall the higher the price the more likely the breeder is in it for the money…..right?  Actually, its likely just the opposite.  Lower priced puppies are going to be easier to sell, thus making room for more puppies that can be sold.  Are there breeders out there looking to gouge customers with higher prices sure, but stop and think about what it actually costs to raise a litter of pups:

  • First you have the cost of basic health care and feeding of mom.  
  • Not to mention the cost of showing mom till she gets at least her Championship.  The championship itself is probably going to cost the breeder several thousand $.  
  • A good breeder is also going to take mom in for a pre-natel check at the vets to be sure she’s in good health and up to carrying a litter of pups.  
  • Then there’s dad, if the breeder doesn’t own dad then she’s paying a stud fee for his use, and if he’s a champion as well then that stud fee is going to cost more.  If the breeding is done face to face with actual sexual contact then there’s the risk and cost of transporting one or both dogs to the meeting.  If the breeding is done with artificial insemination (not uncommon) then there’s vet bills involved.
  • While she’s pregnant (approx 63 days) mom requires additional food and supplements to ensure the health of herself and her puppies, as well as additional vet care, and she’s going to require the same if not more while she’s nursing (the first 8 weeks or so of the puppies’ lives).
  • Once the puppies start eating dog food themselves (which starts at about week 5 though they’re not usually considered weaned till about week 8) they are also going to require special food and supplements to ensure health, as well as vet checks of their own, including vaccines, worming, and possibly other medications.

In smaller breeds the cost of food and general care is less, the larger the dog though the more its going to eat and the more its going to cost to keep them up properly.  AND all this assumes no major complications.  What if mom requires a c-section to give birth?  Some breeds ONLY give birth this way and they’re going to cost you more because of it, but even breeds that normally have no trouble birthing can require additional help under the correct circumstances.  Its all things to keep in mind.

So lets stop and think about it, if you have decided to go to a breeder for your puppy what would you prefer, an inexpensive puppy that could end up costing you so much more down the road because the breeder didn’t care?  Or spending a little more now to ensure a healthy dog down the road?