The Local Dog Breeder, Reinterpreted

Well raised pups make the best pets

I wrote this article ( The Local Dog Breeder, Reinterpreted) for the most recent Australian Shepherd Journal. I’m posting it here for anyone who is interested. It essentially synopsizes my thinking about how hobby breeders can be an even more potent force at helping to keep shelter numbers down…

The following are some quotes from the article.

We have an image problem. The purebred dog and its breeders are in trouble. Animal rights activists, in their purported efforts to reduce the numbers of dogs in shelters, are pointing an accusatory finger at all purebred dog breeders. They make no distinction between mass producers, backyard operations and hobby breeders. They are waging a war for the hearts and minds of the public and gaining ground each year…

…in spite of all the energy, time, money and commitment the majority of us hobby breeders put into doing this breeding thing the right way, the public’s perception of us continues to erode. We are increasingly being painted with the same brush as puppy mills and the likes of Michael Vick. We are alternately puppy factories and dog show snobs…

…The propaganda has worked its magic on us as well as the public. We have internalized the notion that reputable breeders do not breed pets and our message to the public often reflects that. Our blame lies only in having allowed unscrupulous breeders to dominate the pet market. Imagining we are doing the right thing, we have actually stepped away from being part of the solution…

…Historically hesitant to market ourselves as professionals in the area of pet breeding, we fear being seen as “in it just for the money.” Stepping away from this responsibility is not a principled answer. This is a stretch for most of us, allergic as we are to the idea of breeding pets in any deliberate way. We cringe at the very suggestion that we focus our breeding programs on the pet market, but we must. We owe it to the dogs. They deserve to be born and raised in capable, humane hands…

…If we can harness just some of the ribbon chasing determination of thousands of highly motivated, educated, ethical breeders and redirect it towards chasing accolades for accomplishments that would benefit the pet market, we would have an inextinguishable force that redefines pet breeding and helps keep dogs out of shelters at the same time…

Read the complete Local Dog article here.

12 thoughts on “The Local Dog Breeder, Reinterpreted

  1. “…Ribbon chasing determination…” brilliant description of what is needed! I can’t tell you how many proud new puppy owners I see that have fallen for sites such as this one They picture Sue in her sun room playing with each litter (she tells them they are all raised there). Hmmm….funny how she has a full time job and all these dogs. That sunroom must be huge!

    • Interesting, though to pay attention to how these pups are marketed. We may not like it but they’ve got it figured out and do speak to what puppy buyers are looking for. I read these web sites and think “Hmmm, note to self…”. What can we learn here?

  2. This is a timely post, as I’ve just had someone contact me saying they heard I have Aussies and want to know how they can get one from a “good” breeder. I really don’t know how to help steer her in the right direction, where a breeder could educate her towards what would make a good puppy match for her (unfortunately she seems focused on color). A “good” breeder would probably be put off by her specifically wanting a “red merle blue eyed female” — but if they reject her too emphatically they could drive her into the arms of the sketchy puppy mill breeder or internet vendor who will probably be only to happy to find that and charge her for it.

    • Thanks for writing. I agree with your point. I don’t have an issue with color focused clients as long as they are willing to wait for the right temperament and don’t jump at the first dog wearing the desired color coat. I think its fair enough, given this may be the only dog they have for the next 12 years, to wait for what they want. They have opted for the predicability of a purebred and a piece of that is appearance related. You might steer that client to this referral page on my website. It might help in their search.

  3. Well well done! Loved every bit of it and will put it out there to people I come in contact with. Thank you for writing a cogent, intelligent article that hits so many bulls-eyes for breeders and what a box we’ve gotten ourselves into!

  4. From Local Dog: “We must re-imagine ourselves
    not as hobbyists but as professionals; showing dogs our
    hobby and breeding pets our professional work. — We must not
    be reticent about positioning ourselves as the only good
    choice for people who choose not to adopt.”

    yesyesyesyes! I am not a breeder – but wait, the champion bitch at my feet might soon label me as such. Which highlights something relating to your above quote – the options for professional breeders to increase their influence through co-ownerships.

    This is a red-hot topic in my state right now, with our new dog breeder/seller license bill that was sold by the large humane society groups as the “anti-puppy mill bill”. I have testified in our legislature throughout the process, and admit I was unprepared for the vitriol when I spoke of my position as a trainer, SAR dog handler, and – gasp – co-owner. The hatred was palpable in the hearing rooms, and when I got to the state’s enforcement agency (ag/consumer protection) board hearing on the final Administrative Rules, I was asked questions that shocked me. Of course this board is used to dealing with farm issues, but hey, how come “who gets the money?” was the most pointed question?

    Everything is fraught, the animal rights groups have commandeered powerful, emotional language, but there does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel is still very long, but there it is, a little bright light. My state has a dog federation, open to individuals as well as clubs. I recently attended the AKC’s first Legislative Conference, where I realized that everyone who loves dogs must be made aware of the consequences of laws and regulations that look, on the surface, like ‘good for animals’. Joining a federation, or forming one if none exists in your state, is critically important.

    And work to change the language that has been usurped by activists – I have made a personal pledge to limit my use of that dreaded phrase . . . starts with ‘p’ . . . My goal is to never have to say it again.

    • I read your comment with interest and applaud your obvious commitment to the world of dogs. The vitriol is indeed shocking. I do believe that local networks of qualified breeders can have a profound influence within their respective communities as long as they redirect their focus toward the public and the pets they love. The public will directly influence the direction dog breeding goes.

  5. Pingback: The local dog breeder, reinterpreted | Our Life, Plus Dogs

  6. Its so sad the war that some people are choosing to fight! I love my animals… every single one of them. Many people need to remember that dogs are animals, they aren’t people. I can understand how some people don’t want animals abused, I don’t either!

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