What Makes a Responsible Breeder?
Contributed by Cherri Thomson
In the past, we have had several discussions arise when a list member asks for help with a breeding question. Many times, the discussion begins in an unfriendly way, due to long time responsible breeders feeling that the questions asked now after the fact, should have been asked and answered long before the dog became pregnant.
In order to clarify just what is considered to be responsible breeding, I have taken the liberty of outlining a "Code of Ethics" that I, as a responsible breeder follow. IMHO, this is what makes a Responsible Breeder!
1. Only dogs that are in sound health, both mind and body are used in a breeding program.
2. Only AKC/CKC (or whatever registering body your country approves) registered dogs are bred.
3. Only dogs that have been tested for whatever genetic defects are common in that breed are bred. If the tests should come back with results that may indicate the dog would pass on this defect to its puppies, then the dog is not bred. If family history indicates a strong possibility of defects (ie. disc disease in our Dachshunds is long thought to be "familiar") then that dog is not bred.
4. Only female dogs that have reached the age of 2 years, and have had at least one previous estrus cycle are bred. Dogs under 1 year would never be bred. Female dogs are not bred more than once a year (or every other season) to allow their bodies time to recuperate between litters (in the case of a single puppy in a litter, a breeder may decide to breed again in the next season if, and only if the bitch has completely recovered from that litter, and at least 6 months has passed).
5. Only those dogs that closely fit the AKC/CKC (or other) Breed Standard for their breed are used in a breeding program. The "worth" of the dog is proven by competing successfully in recognized canine events like dog shows, obedience, field trials, den trials, tracking, and the like. Dogs that have major conformation faults are not bred.
6. A litter is not bred unless the breeder has the time and money to properly care for and raise the puppies. Breeders need to be prepared for the possibility of hefty vet bills, and substantial time spent AT HOME caring for mom, whelping, and raising the puppies.
7. A responsible breeder will know the pedigree and health of many generations of their breeding stock. They will have studied the dogs in the family background, with the idea of producing puppies that are superior in conformation and health.
8. A responsible breeder will have purchasers lined up in advance of the puppies' birth. All puppies will be sold only to purchasers that are screened for their suitability (ie. fenced yards, safe homes, someone at home enough to properly care for and train a puppy, a willingness to make a LIFE LONG commitment to the puppy). No puppy will ever be sold or given to a pet store, or dog broker (the majority of All Breed and Breed Specific Dog Clubs state this in their Code of Ethics, too). A clearly written and signed legal Purchase Agreement, outlining the health guarantee, breeder's responsibilities, and purchaser's responsibilities is in effect on each and every sale. A clause in that contract calls for pet quality animals to be spayed or neutered (strict non-breeding agreement or limited registration).
9. The responsible breeder also agrees and insists in writing that any puppy sold that can not stay with the purchaser MUST be returned to the breeder for re-sale or adoption. It is a fact of life that people's circumstances change, and what may have once been a wonderful home may no longer be able to keep a dog. Far better that the puppy is returned to the breeder for re-homing than ending up in a shelter or passed on to an unsuitable home. Though it may not be convenient to take back a dog sold as a puppy many years later, it is the right thing to do!
10. It goes without saying, that before breeding the female dog, a responsible breeder will have researched the "mechanics" of breeding, and know all there is to know about the breeding cycle, the gestation period, and whelping of their dogs. They will know what to expect, when to expect it and how to deal with a safe delivery of live healthy puppies.
I hope this clarifies what I mean when I talk about responsible breeding. This outline of responsible breeders should apply to all. Even if you want only a Pet Companion Quality dog, do you not also deserve one with a pleasant temperament, good health and an appearance that is pleasing?