I made a post yesterday that touched on more controversial topics, which I don’t usually do, but in this case I thought it was necessary. I want to clarify something in my biography, when I mention the “animal industry” I am not referring to the industry of breeding animals or selling animals, but instead to the industry of products for animals. Animal nutrition has really become a major issue for pet owners, and I find that to be incredible. You can search through my previous posts and read about how I have been impacted by the choices available to consumers for animal nutrition. Other parts of the animal industry include products that help us owners give our dogs optimal care. Twenty or thirty years ago there was one style of dog training, and it was not nearly as positive as it is today. Pet owners are now in a place where they can explore all of the products produced by the animal industry like toys, beds, grooming tools, training aids (like the Halti), treats and much more that was not available to dog owners years ago. Today, the animal industry continues to grow, as a multi-billion dollar industry, as pet owners continue to spend more money on quality food and other pet merchandise than ever before.
I do not at all support the breeding of dogs for profit. I have blogged about my distaste of breeders who purposely breed mixed breed dogs for profit, as this goes against every parent breed club’s code of ethics. I in no way am saying that a “designer breed” like a Yorkipoo is a bad pet, or that you should not love your pet, but simply that I do not agree with the practice of breeding mixed breed dogs intentionally – especially when there are many mixed breed dogs and puppies in shelters. I support responsible breeding by hobby breeders. I have blogged numerous times about this. I am appalled at people who breed and sell puppies for outrageous prices – I see it all the time in classified ads, and encountered this numerous times. It is not fair to the consumer, and it does nothing but hurt the breed. Responsible breeding by hobby breeders is far different than people who breed for profit.
A responsible breeder will usually break even on a litter, but often times may even lose money by breeding – and by “break even” it only includes the breeding expenses, and does not include the costs associated with owning the dog until it is old enough to breed. To breed responsibly, you must have a true understanding of not only genetics and the breed which you are breeding, but also a desire to better the breed. First, you will need to prove your bitch or stud in an arena like obedience, conformation, hunting, rally, etc. to display that there are traits which should be passed on to future generations. This costs money in training classes for you and your dog, travel expenses, etc. Of course, there will be the regular dog owning expenses like food and veterinary care. At two years of age, you will need to have clearances done, for Golden Retrievers hips, elbows, heart, eyes and thyroid are standard. These are x-rays performed by an orthopedic vet, eye exams performed annually by a board certified ophthalmologist, and heart clearances performed by a cardiologist. Assuming your dog passes these clearances, you’ll then need to research genetics, and select a mate that has also proven him or herself in breed events, as well as passed all clearances. Also, clearances should be done for multiple generations on both the mother and father’s side before ever breeding. You’ll also need to put in time researching both pedigrees to see what positive aspects could come from the breeding, but most importantly research to try to avoid any negative flaws that might occur in breeding. There are costs associated with the actual mating, then there will be lots of vet bills during the pregnancy, then the puppies will be born. Oh yes, and let’s not forget the costs of things like a whelping box, and heaven forbid something goes wrong, you’ll need to be prepared for an emergency c-section. Then you have eight weeks of veterinary care and food for the puppies. You’ll also want to start socializing and training the puppies at 4-5 weeks of age. At around seven weeks you’ll want to consult with other breeders for temperament testing and evaluations. You’ll also need to invest in puppy packets to make and send home with potential families. Should a family who purchases a puppy from you ever not be able to keep it, you should include in your contract a clause stating you will at any time in the dog’s life take it back, and specify that this dog may never be given away or surrendered to a shelter.
There are risks associated with breeding, which I don’t believe the general pet owner is usually prepared for – like their beloved pet dying during the pregnancy or birth. I believe a bitch should have no more than 3 litters in a life time, and usually just 1 or 2 litters. After she is finished breeding, she absolutely must be spayed.
There are plenty of breeders who have tons and tons of dogs and bitches and breed numerous litters a year, and this is a practice I do not support. A responsible hobby breeder puts so much time into planning and caring for each litter that they only have time to breed one or two litters a year, and many times less than that.
I absolutely in no way support or condone the breeding of dogs for profit. I am very against the idea of making money on the backs, or in this case litters, of dogs. I do however, support completely responsible breeding that is done to better the breed. A responsible breeder will usually have every puppy spoken for long before the litter is born, and often times even before the litter is born. The puppies will be sold on spay and neuter contracts, and are never to be surrendered to a shelter or given away. While a puppy from proven parents with clearances may be more expensive than a puppy from a backyard breeder, they are still often cheaper than puppies from irresponsible high volume breeders and puppy mills, and responsibly bred puppies tend to be much, much, much healthier.
I hope this post has clarified my standing on some issues, and helped you understand how I feel about the animal industry, where it relates to products that help us pet owners care for breeders. I in no way support dog breeding as an industry, because when done responsibly, the breeder will not make any profit. I would love to one day know enough about Golden Retriever breeders to be able to breed, but I know that I don't have that knowledge at this point in time, and it will probably be many, many, many years until I know enough about the breed, genetics, and breeding to produce a litter responsibly.