Responsible Breeders

    Buying a new puppy or dog is a large commitment.  You are taking on a responsibility
for the next 10 - 15 years.  Once you have decided which breed is appropriate for you the
next step is finding a responsible breeder.  But what exactly is a responsible breeder?  First
of all let us rule out pet stores, puppy mills, and backyard breeders.  The chief reason these
people breed dogs is to make a profit.  They want to keep their costs down and their profits
high.  However breeding dogs is an expensive endeavor.  Done properly there is no profit to
be made.  But what exactly distinguishes a responsible breeder from those who are out to
make a profit.  There are many factors.


    First and foremost responsible breeders are not breeding to make a profit, but for the
betterment of the breed.  They strive to continually improve the quality of the dogs they are
breeding.  They are breeding to the standard for the breed.  The standard is a written
description of the breed that portrays the ideal specimen for the breed.  Breeders who show
their dogs are generally striving for the ideal in their breed.  With Deutscher
Wachtelhunds we are striving for hunting/gundogs.  Your first step is to find a breeder
who hunts their dogs.  Wachtelhunds are exclusively bred by hunters for hunters.  But this
is not the only criteria of a responsible breeder.


    A responsible breeder breeds only healthy dogs.  All breeds have particular health and
genetic concerns that plaque them.  All dogs who are bred should have all the health testing
done that is particular for their breed, plus a genetic history work up of their ancestors. 
Health concerns such as epilepsy, PRA, luxating patellas and thyroid disorder, elbow and
hip dysplasia are all concerns and can raise their ugly heads generally in the first several
years or longer.


    Responsible breeders always give health guarantees with their puppies.  This can range
from a simple 3 day health guarantee to a lifetime guarantee for certain genetic defects. 
They should provide a written guarantee along with a health record.  They will always take
back any puppy or dog purchased from them.  And be able to provide a lifetime home for
that dog if the dog is not place able for whatever reason.


    They adhere to the code of ethics set forth by the parent club for their breed.  Generally
all code of ethics address how often a female can be bred.  Most breeds follow the rule that
a female should not be bred two heats in a row and must be rested one heat cycle before
they are bred again.


    They sell their pet quality dogs on a spay neuter agreements.  A responsible breeder does
not want their pet quality dogs being bred.  Since betterment of the breed is first and
foremost a pet quality dog should never be bred.  This should not be an issue for the
Deutscher Wachtelhund since none should be sold for pets.

    They raise their puppies in their home, underfoot.  The puppies receive lots of
socialization and are not stuck in someone's kennel or basement with little or no interaction
with humans.  Puppies should not leave the breeder until they are a minimum of 8 -12
weeks of age, preferably 10-12.  They need to stay with their litter mates and their mother
to learn proper socialization skills.  In addition most breeds go through a fear period
during this time in their life.  Puppies who go to their new homes at 5-6 weeks are doomed
to having many behavior problems later in life.


    Responsible breeders screen their prospective buyers making sure the potential new
owner is suitable.  Ideally references are asked for.  They also stay in contact with the
puppy's new owner.  They are there if needed for advise and encouragement.  They want to
stay involved in their puppies' lives.  A responsible breeder will be sure to inform any
prospective new owners on the pros and cons of their particular breeds.  If a breeder only
tells you all the good things about their breed then find another breeder.  He is trying to
make a sale not making sure his puppies end up in suitable homes.


    Breeding dogs take a lot of time, money and effort.  Ethical breeders should feel
responsible for the welfare of all dogs they produce for their lifetime regardless if they live
with them or another family.  Buying a dog or puppy from such a breeders should bring
you years of happiness, not heartaches.  Buying only from a responsible breeder will give
you the best assurance this will be the case.  Support responsible breeding by buying only
from ethical breeders.

 

DEFINITIONS

The following was written by Sierra Milton. Copyright  2001.  All rights reserved. I have slightly
modified it,
 - Dave Pepe.


    If there were a caste system within the dog world, the breeders would be at the top,
followed in descending order by puppy-raisers, design-a-doggers, backyard breeders, and
puppy mills.  The danger to the public is that any one can call themselves a ‘breeder’
without having done more than put two dogs together with resultant puppies.  Education is
the key.  Hopefully, more and more people will stop and think about where and who they
are getting a puppy from and, more importantly, why.  

 
    BREEDER:  Technically, any person who mates two dogs and causes the production of
offspring is a breeder.   In the respected world of dog ownership, a breeder is someone who
breeds only when they breed for the betterment of the breed and intend to keep one of the
offspring.  The betterment of the breed considers the entire standard and not just any one
characteristic of the standard.   The primary difference between puppy raisers and
breeders is “awareness of responsibility; responsibility to the breed, to their goals, to the dogs
they have bred and to the dogs they hope to breed.  They also have a never-ending
responsibility to the people who have bought her dogs, to the people who are about to buy her
dogs and to the public image--not only of the dogs they have been producing but of the breed
itself.”   A breeder is a creator; they work toward a goal of perfection in their mind’s eye. 

They do not allow themselves to be deterred by others’ views or by what is currently
popular; they don't breed to fill a market of what will sell.  A breeder takes the time to
mentor, to share their philosophy and help those who ask over the rough spots.  They instill
within those who have purchased their puppies a sense of belonging, a pride in ownership. 
Breeders are there to answer questions, to encourage training, to teach critical assessment
before breeding.  They take responsibility for the dogs that they produces for the life of the
dog, always willing to take them back if necessary.  Breeders are not motivated by money
or supplying a market.  They do the necessary genetic background testing and assure the
dogs they breed are free of genetic problems.   Breeders are those who have paid their dues,
studied, learned, been mentored and now are also mentoring.  A breeder will have earned
and continue to earn the right to be respected.  Even some of the big-name breeders are
not what should be considered as breeders and actually are puppy-raisers who no longer
put the same amount of effort into thinking about the future of the breed. 


    PUPPY RAISER:   Refers to any person who breeds without attempting to understand
the genetics behind the two dogs being bred, think about what they desire the puppies from
the combination to be like, have a clear cut plan (or at the very least some plan) for the
future of the breed, hasn't considered all the possibilities concerning whelping, hasn't done
the medical checks and and only done the minimal health checks for hips, eyes and
whatever else is recommended for their breed, and proven their stock in some way --
whether in the show, field, obedience, etc. realms.  Puppy-raisers simply put two dogs of the
same breed together and hope for the best.


    DESIGN-A-DOG:  Designer dogs can be designed as the latest fad, bred to full fill a
certain, encapsulated niche, without a plan for long-term development of a breed type.  
Breeding for any one trait is irresponsible breeding.  This is just as true in the case of pure-
breed breeders as it is in those who cross-breed.  Any breeder that is "only breeding to
satisfy a need" is failing their responsibility as a breeder which should be to breed only
when they feel that it is to the betterment of the breed, and in the case of cross-breeds, it
would be difficult to argue that they were breeding to any established standard and instead
is breeding for a reason that is less than what most of us consider to be reasonable.


    BACKYARD BREEDER:  May also be referred to as a “whim breeder”, this person is
one who breeds without any forethought to why they should be breeding.  These people
often have reasons such as “wanting the children to see the miracle of life” or “everyone
just loves Fifi (or Fido) and wants a puppy just like her/him” or even more frightening
wants to “make a bit of money and recoup some of my cost in buying Fifi”.  Backyard
breeders, even when they have only one dog and produce only one litter, are the equivalent
and just as damaging to the breed as puppy mills.  The difference is only the scale of the
operation.  For the most part backyard breeders will have done no medical checks and
believe that ‘nature takes its course.’


    PUPPY MILL:   A business that mass-produces dogs for a profit with little or no regard
for the health and well-being of the puppies and dogs.   It is a facility where puppies are
sold to brokers, pet stores or individuals without regard for the puppy.  They usually have
several to many breeding animals in many different breeds and often, but not always,

substandard health, living and socialization conditions.  Some well-known and “respected”
breeders have fallen into the commercial breeding trap (see definition for Commercial
Breeder) by losing sight of the primary reason for breeding, which should be breeding only
for the betterment of the breed.  Production of puppies only because there is a market or
one needs a bit extra money is still commercial breeding and differs from puppy milling in
that commercial breeders sell only to individual buyers.  Some breeders who have slipped
to this level have well-known affixes or kennel names.


    COMMERCIAL BREEDER:  A person who maintains large numbers of breeding
females and/or stud dogs who breed two or more litters a year from bitches or who provide
stud services for more than several bitches per year.  These breeders may or may not
perform genetic testing or histories of ancestors and other criteria as shown in the
definition for "Breeders".  Some well-known and "respected" breeders have fallen into the
commercial breeding trap by losing sight of the primary reason for breeding - breeding
only for the betterment of the breed.  Production of puppies only because there is a market
or one needs a bit of extra money is still commercial breeding.  Commercial breeding
differs from puppy mills notably in that commercial breeders sell only to individuals and
never to brokers or pet stores.


    UNETHICAL BREEDING:  Any person who breeds dogs with profit as the main
motivation and without consideration for the health and well-being of the puppies is guilty
of ethical crimes.

Written & Modified by Dave Pepe

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