Thursday, October 16, 2008

Breeding - Good or Bad?

The question of breeding was posed to me this week when someone I know came up to me and asked why I seem to go back and forth on breeding. Why sometimes I think breeding is bad, and sometimes I think breeding is good?

That's a pretty big (and vague!) question. Breeding in and of itself is neither good or bad. It is the application or execution of such an action that dictates its intent and its polarization (good vs. bad).

Responsible dog breeding is a good thing. What does that mean? Well, if someone is breeding by intent (on purpose), then all the pups should be show quality pups. They should be registered, tattooed and properly socialized (as is acceptable for young pups - this does not mean that a million people should be handling them; I will get into "socialization" vs. proper socialization later.) The responsible breeder should interview people and there really should be a waiting list for the puppies - this shows that there is a need for more of the breed. When there is no need, you see the shelters fill up with purebred dogs - just run a search for certain breeds ... you'll notice that in North America there are 7,884 chihuahua dogs available for adoption today on So why are people still breeding so many non-show worthy dogs?

Poor breeding is not acceptable. If you aren't breeding good quality dogs, don't breed. If you don't know what you're doing, don't breed. You're just filling up the shelters with your poor quality, problem ridden dogs. We've all seen the stories of puppies born without limbs from poor breeding. Here is a relatively recent one from North Shore Animal League regarding some chihuahua pups:

These are obviously poorly bred puppies from a BYB'er who shouldn't ever have owned dogs let alone bred them! But what about the ones that don't have such blatant defects? What about the ones that are poorly bred but have all four limbs?

Here is an example of a chihuahua breeder (and yorkie, maltese, "morkie", shi tzu, etc breeder) that is a classic example of what I believe is bad breeding:

I went through the site and can't seem to figure out whether the pups are registered - which usually means they aren't. They also don't tell you a smatter about the parents of the pups. Notice the "Free Puppy Contest" that you can enter in!

Did you see the hind end on the puppy called "Teacup Autumn"? For reference, here is a link to the AKC Standards for Chihuahua: Notice that the "Topline" should be level. Not rounded as you see in the video of the puppy called "Teacup Autumn". See how low the tail is on the hind end? It should be placed much higher up. Also, there is no such thing as a Teacup Chihuahua - according to AKC, the dogs should all weigh under 6 lbs at maturity, otherwise they are disqualified.

And finally ... here is my example of a good breeder. The dogs are show quality - and many have won best of breed.

This breeder has links up that show the results of the puppies that they have sold. They also show their own dogs winning again and again in shows. If you compare these dogs to the AKC Standards, they should all come very close if not meet the specs outlined. Not that I think that we really need many more chihuahuas out there that need homes, but at least these people are breeding responsibly.

And ... Last but not least! I thought I would include a Chihuahua available for adoption from one of the N. American rescues simply for comparison's sake. Scary thing is that the below linked dog Koko is actually closer to AKC Standards than the above BYB'er!

** NOTE ** I chose chihuahua because the breed is getting so much publicity right now. There is a new Disney movie coming out that features the Chihuahua, celebrities are jumping on the bandwagon (insert ... Paris Hilton, etc), not to mention the Taco Bell Dog! I have also seen ads that push that this breed is very easy to train ... then why are there so many on that can't go to a home with kids, cats, or other dogs?


Chef said...

Great blog and very thought-provoking. I am glad we are linked. I'll certainly keep up with all your postings.

I agree with everything you have said here. However, breeding responsibly doesn't necessarily mean the bitch and dog, hence the puppies, must meet official standards. If someone has a male and a female and they have a waiting list of committed owners for the pups, is it irresponsible to breed the couple? If the dogs are sound and the pregnancy and birth are followed by a veterinarian, couldn't this coupling be considered responsible?

I have a lot of admiration and respect for many of the breeders of show quality dogs who I have met. They make little or no money on the pups they sell. One reason they breed is to keep the breed in top condition and to perform the tasks it was orginally bred for.

But I don't think everyone who wants to breed their dogs but isn't a registered breeder, should automatically be considered irresponsible. Breeding without demand is the big issue, as you said.

Keep up the blog!


DogsDeserveFreedom said...

Good points and all well stated. I think for me, it would depend on if there was a need. If there are a lot of a certain breed in rescue, then even if people are wanting pups, I would suggest they adopt from a shelter (there are lots of rescue pups out there).

For the breeds that are well known, there are often many already looking for new homes.

Here are some good examples taken from just this afternoon of dogs listed for adoption that are looking for new homes:
Beagle - 8,106 dogs
Black Lab - 5,197 dogs
Border Collie - 4,794 dogs
Boxer - 5,792 dogs
Chihuahua - 7,895 dogs
Dachshund - 3,888 dogs
German Shepherd - 7,852 dogs
Labrador Retriever - 20,075 dogs
Pitbull Terrier - 9,984 dogs

So, just from those numbers, we can conclude that there are over 73,000 dogs of well known breeds that are homeless right now (since these numbers are pulled from and don't list BYB'ers, etc). Knowing this, I don't think that I could agree with anyone breeding more of certain breeds even if they did have a waiting list for pups.

I also very much don't agree with people who don't know what they are doing breeding. During my time working at a vet clinic I saw people coming in with their pet dog who they had bred because they wanted to ... some did ok, some lost puppies, some lost the litter and bitch.

Barb said...

I'd be willing to bet that the breeders of most of those 73,000+ dogs on Petfinders didn't actually intend to breed their dog!! Most homeless dogs - and virtually ALL homeless puppies - come from accidental breedings. The "breeder" i.e. owner of the bitch, not only didn't want a litter but had no clue how to find good homes, and probably no desire to go to that effort.
Show dog breeders don't necessarily breed better or healthier dogs than BYBs do - but at least they've got a plan. ALL breeders should have a plan -beyond making a few $$ that is. Whether you're trying to produce a calmer dog, or a faster dog, or a dog with a bigger head or more level topline or a better shoulder or a better sense of smell or a stronger working drive or whatever - as long as the breeder has a plan and is trying to produce pups that are better than their parents in some way then it's usually a good thing.

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

Barb, I agree. If the breeder is looking to improve the breed they are breeding (as you said), and if they are finding adequate homes for the dogs, then by all means.

Those dogs that are up for adoption are the ones that don't make it, run away or are dumped. That's my point. They aren't all mix breeds. Often they are purebred and a good home was found. Unfortunately, said good home moved to a no pets apartment or had kids that have allergies to family dog.

My questions are ... Why would someone make more mix breed dogs that aren't needed? Why do people think that they have to breed their family pet because they would like the kids to "see the miracle of life"? If you want that for your kids, get in touch with a breeder or a vet and get your kids doing volunteer work with the dogs. They will learn an awful lot more there than at home.

If there are so many purebred dogs in rescue, then someone out there is breeding far more purebred dogs than are needed (not to mention of questionable conformation).