Who doesn’t love puppies? They are SO cute, so cuddly, so entertaining! I regularly get e-mail from pet owners who want to breed their female or offer the stud services of their male. The motivation can vary: the desire to reproduce a beloved pet, the novelty of breeding and raising a litter, the potential to make money from the sale of puppies. I can understand and appreciate these motivations but, as a responsible breeder, I know that those few, short weeks of fun also come with months and years of work, dedication…and responsibility.
I write this post two weeks before I fly from Seattle to Florida to attend the 2016 National Beagle Specialty with two puppies from this year’s litter. I’ll share a hotel room with a good friend from Sweden who is flying in with two of her dogs. I’ll be reunited with my breeding partner from Argentina who will be bringing a dog that he has bred and he will fly home with one of the puppies that I am taking to Nationals – a puppy that we co-bred. While there, we will see nearly 300 beagles from around the country and around the world. We’ll have a chance to enjoy the company of fellow breeders as we share the latest results of our breeding programs and discuss important issues within the breed. Through the internet, we all stay in touch daily but events like this create and strengthen friendships and help to formulate important breeding decisions for the future. We are responsible breeders; stewards of the breed that we love. We love our dogs, our fellow breeders who share our passion, and the wonderful families who give great homes to the dogs that we breed.
What does it mean to be a responsible breeder?
- A responsible breeder puts the welfare of the dogs and the breed first.
- A responsible breeder is actively involved in purebred dogs through a breed or kennel club and/or participation in activities such as exhibition, field trials, agility, obedience competition or support of breed rescue organizations.
- A responsible breeder devotes a great deal of time and money to providing the best possible food and care for their dogs.
- A responsible breeder is knowledgeable about their own dogs, the dogs in their pedigrees, and trends in the breed…and they give careful thought to the decision to breed each litter. This knowledge includes an understanding of health or temperament issues that exist in the breed and in the bloodline and an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the dogs included in the pedigree. There are no perfect dogs…but a responsible breeder can identify goals for each breeding and accurately assess the results.
- A responsible breeder carefully screens the homes for her puppies and sells pet puppies with limited registration and a spay/neuter agreement.
- A responsible breeder assumes lifelong responsibility for the dogs that she brings into the world. Great care is taken to select an appropriate home for each puppy but…life happens…and sometimes a dog can no longer stay in its home. A good breeder will always offer a home to any dog that she has bred and find it a new home if necessary. If every person who breeds a litter of dogs accepts this responsibility, there will no longer be a need for breed rescue organizations or shelters.
- A responsible breeder acknowledges and accepts the responsibility to educate the public about the breed and about responsible dog ownership.
- A responsible breeder knows that breeding dogs is a labor of love…and NOT a way to make money. The costs of exhibiting, health screening, stud fees, c-sections, feeding and raising a litter, and maintaining breeding stock adds up FAST.
What does it mean to be a responsible dog owner?
- A responsible dog owner gives great thought and consideration to their decision to bring a dog into the home and they consider the time and effort involved in giving the dog a good life.
- A responsible dog owner understands the dog’s need for a safe and secure home, providing adequate fencing and confining the dog to a crate when it travels in a car.
- A responsible dog owner provides high quality food and proper medical care.
- A responsible dog owner is prepared to properly train and socialize their puppy.
- A responsible dog owner always walks their dog on a leash unless it is in a designated off-leash area (more to come in another post).
- A responsible dog owner spays/neuters their pet per the terms of their agreement with the breeder and stays in touch with the breeder throughout the life of the dog.
- A responsible dog owner understands that they are making a lifelong commitment to their new companion – a companion with physical and emotional needs.
If you’re thinking about getting a puppy, spend some time with a reputable breeder who has devoted their life to the breed. They will answer your questions and help you to understand the breed and its needs. Support responsible breeding by purchasing your puppy from a reputable breeder.
If you’re interested in breeding a litter, again…visit with a reputable breeder. They will discuss with you the investment of time and money involved. Breeding responsibly is much more than finding a male and a female and then waiting for the puppies to arrive. According to the ASPCA, nearly 4 million dogs find their way into shelters each year…and nearly 3 million of those are euthanized. These dogs are not the product of responsible breeding. They are the result of pet owners who wanted to have a litter, they are product of puppy mills, they are the product of dogs that should have been spayed or neutered.