Those thinking about breeding please
read, re-read, and
to remind yourself..........
Kind permission of Mrs Jo
To Whom It May Concern:
I put your puppy to sleep today. He wasn’t a puppy anymore, of course.
But he was the last time you saw him at eight weeks of age, or seven, or
six, or … just how young was he when you sent him out into the world? You
remember him, don’t you? He was probably the strong nurser, the pup who
dominated his littermates, the one who took charge of the food dish, who
barked first, who growled first. He was a cute, assertive puppy then.
You remember, don’t you?
Some three years later he came to me, a big, strong, adult. Through how
many hands did he pass before he came here? I wonder.
Did you stay in touch with the people who paid you for the cute puppy?
Did you tell them how to feed and care for him? Did you tell them to be
sure to socialize him well? Did your contract (you did have one, didn’t
you?) specify that you be contacted if his first family couldn’t keep him
Were they able to ask your advice when they couldn’t house break him
quickly? When he chewed up a shoe? When they decided it was easier to
put him in the back yard and ignore him? Were you there to help when they
moved and couldn’t take him along? When he was shuffled from place to
place? When no one wanted him because he’d never been trained, because he
had no manners, because he had never bonded with humans?
Did his sire and dam also have a high prey drive? Were they temperament
tested? Have either of them ever turned on a human? How many other
puppies did you send into the world? Do you know where they are? How
I thought you would want to know how this puppy turned out. He could have
been a loved and loving family member. He could have earned obedience
titles. He could have excelled in agility. He could have been a kind
therapy dog. He could have enjoyed the comfort of a loving master at the
end of long and happy life.
But, I put him to sleep today, at a little over three years of age. No,
he wasn’t sick or hurt or old. He could not be trusted. He would have
hurt someone. Even someone who wanted to help him, wanted to find him a
forever home. And the saddest part of all is that he didn’t care. He
didn’t even know that I cared. It was just another place to be sent.
Your pup of long ago is fine now. He romps happily someplace where there
is only love. Don’t give him another thought. I’ll think of him, day
after day. I’ll cry for him. After all, it was I who put your puppy to
A Heart-Broken Rescue Volunteer
WHAT IS A BREEDER?
(with a capital B) is
one who thirsts for knowledge and never really knows it all, one who
wrestles with decisions of conscience, convenience, and commitment.
is one who
sacrifices personal interests, finances, time, friendships, fancy
furniture, and deep pile carpeting! She gives up the dreams of a long,
luxurious cruise in favour of turning that all important show into this
goes without sleep (but never without coffee!) in hours spent planning a
breeding or watching anxiously over the birth process, and afterwards,
over every little sneeze, wiggle or cry.
skips dinner parties
because that litter is due or the babies have to be fed at eight. She
disregards birth fluids and puts mouth to mouth to save a gasping newborn,
literally blowing life into a tiny, helpless creature that may be the
culmination of a life time of dreams.
lap is a marvellous place where generations of proud and noble Champions
once snoozed. A Breeder’s hands are strong and firm and often
soiled, but ever so gentle and sensitive to the thrusts of a puppy's wet
back and knees are usually arthritic from stooping, bending, and sitting
in the birthing box, but are strong enough to enable the Breeder to show
the next choice pup to a Championship.
shoulders are stooped and often heaped with abuse from competitors, but
they're wide enough to support the weight of a thousand defeats and
arms are always able to wield a mop, support an armful of puppies, or lend
helping hand to a newcomer.
ears are wondrous
things, sometimes red (from being talked about) or strangely shaped (from
being pressed against a phone receiver), often deaf to criticism, yet
always fine-tuned to the whimper of a sick puppy.
eyes are blurred from pedigree research and sometimes blind to her own
dog's faults, but they are ever so keen to the competitions faults and are
always searching for the perfect specimen.
brain is foggy on faces, but it can recall pedigrees faster than an IBM
computer. It's so full of knowledge that sometimes it blows a fuse: it
catalogues thousands of good bonings, fine ears, and perfect heads... and
buries in the soul the failures and the ones that didn't turn out.
The Breeder’s heart is often broken, but it
beats strongly with hope everlasting... and it's always in the right
yes, there are breeders, and then, there are BREEDERS!!
Announcing "THE MIRACLE OF
Videotape Intended for all those who want to breed little
fluffy in order to let their children experience the "miracle" of birth,
this real-time video tape set can either substitute for home breeding or
guide you in making the most of your breeding decision.
Experience the joys of seeing a live puppy pop effortlessly from its
mother's body and see her consume the bloody afterbirth! (Most children
will squeal with delight when seeing this for the first time - many will
make a life-long commitment to celibacy then and there.) Enjoy watching
the frantic efforts of a breeder trying to resuscitate a still-born puppy.
See the hilarious actions of a bitch who searches for the puppy she
thinks she just dropped but which was quickly tossed into the
wastebasket because it was only a blackened, half-developed foetus.
Reserve a full 36 hours to see the entire set of tapes in one sitting to
really share the drama, boredom, and exhaustion of the breeder as she
labours to help her struggling bitch in extended labour. Watch as a
breeder tries to recruit several helpers to carry her dying bitch to the
car for transport to the nearest animal hospital in a futile attempt at
saving the beloved family pet (Seeing the children crying and asking
what is happening is half the fun!) Follow the fun as a breeder and his
wife alternate duties during a full week of 4-hour bottle feedings with
a fading puppy while also trying to keep 13 others dry and healthy!
And, as an extra added attraction: Laugh with us at the madcap antics
of a typical shelter worker as she accepts new animals while keeping a
straight face as mom and dad assure little Kevin that the n ice lady will
take VERY GOOD care of 8-year floppy. Enjoy the thrills as she later
shoves unwanted puppies and adult dogs into a gas chamber as she chokes
back tears and goes home to try and explain to her children just what she
does at work! And, for a limited time only, we will include free of
video tape of a recent arrest made by the local animal control officer
who discovered that someone had falsely declared his male dogs neutered
(to save on license fees) and then discovered he was planning to do the
job himself at home!
The second half of the same bonus tape shows the chagrin of a backyard
breeder who was tracked down from her telephone number which was all she
ever gave out. This wonderful person would arrange to meet people at
local shopping malls where she handed over her 4-5 week-old puppies for
$120 each! We were all amazed to find that those 20 puppies she was
selling each year all came from the same single bitch and dog. Yes, if
you, or a friend, are considering breeding Fluffy to show children the
"miracle" of birth, be sure to get this video and show them the miracle
of death at the same time! We have high hopes for this video,
following as it does on the tremendous success of our first effort: "Do it
yourself home vasectomy, featuring George "squeaky" Baker," and its
sequel, "Do it yourself home explosives mixing, by Bob "lefty"
Anderson." !Special to the first five purchasers, one frozen still-born
puppy - just wait until you take it home and see how the kids' eyes
light up as the pup thaws!!
1996, John A. McCormick, President and CEO, Nocturnal Aviation Videos.
Reproduction and distribution of this advertisement in its entirety
strongly encouraged. Phone, e-mail, or postal orders NOT accepted, this
tape is sold ONLY in person because I REALLY want to meet you.
When you bring a pet
into your life, you begin a journey - a journey that will bring you more
love and devotion than you have ever known, yet also test your strength
and courage. If you allow, the journey will teach you many things,
about life, about yourself, and most of all, about love. You will come
away changed forever, for one soul cannot touch another without leaving
Along the way, you will learn much about savouring life's simple pleasures
- jumping in leaves, snoozing in the sun, the joys of puddles, and even
the satisfaction of a good scratch behind the ears. If you spend much time
outside, you will be taught how to truly experience every element, for no
rock, leaf, or log will go unexamined, no rustling bush will be
overlooked, and even the very air will be inhaled, pondered, and noted as
being full of valuable information.
Your pace may be slower - except when heading home to the food dish - but
you will become a better naturalist, having been taught by an expert in
Too many times we hike on automatic pilot, our goal being to complete the
trail rather than enjoy the journey. We miss the details - the colourful
mushrooms on the rotting log, the honeycomb in the old maple snag, the
hawk feather caught on a twig. Once we walk as a dog does, we discover a
whole new world.
We stop; we browse the landscape, we kick over leaves, peek in tree holes,
look up, down, all around. And we learn what any dog knows: that nature
has created a marvellously complex world that is full of surprises, that
each cycle of the seasons bring ever changing wonders, each day an essence
all its own. Even from indoors you will find yourself more attuned to the
world around you. You will find yourself watching summer insects
collecting on a screen. (How bizarre they are! How many kinds there are!),
or noting the flick and flash of fireflies through the dark. You will stop
to observe the swirling dance of windblown leaves, or sniff the air after
a rain. It does not matter that there is no objective in this; the point
is in the doing, in not letting life's most important details slip by. You
will find yourself doing silly things that your pet-less friends might not
understand: spending thirty minutes in the grocery aisle looking for the
cat food brand your feline must have, buying dog birthday treats, or
driving around the block an extra time because your pet enjoys the ride.
You will roll in the snow, wrestle with chewy toys, bounce little rubber
balls till your eyes cross, and even run around the house trailing your
bathrobe tie - with a cat in hot pursuit - all in the name of love. Your
house will become muddier and hairier. You will wear less dark clothing
and buy more lint rollers. You may find dog biscuits in your pocket or
purse, and feel the need to explain that an old plastic shopping bag
adorns your living room rug because your cat loves the crinkly sound. You
will learn the true measure of love - the steadfast, undying kind that
says, "It doesn't matter where we are or what we do, or how life treats us
as long as we are together." Respect this always. It is the most precious
gift any living soul can give another. You will not find it often among
the human race. And you will learn humility. The look in my dog's eyes
often made me feel ashamed. Such joy and love at my presence. She saw not
some flawed human who could be cross and stubborn, moody or rude, but only
her wonderful companion. Or maybe she saw those things and dismissed them
as mere human foibles, not worth considering, and so chose to love me
anyway. If you pay attention and learn well, when the journey is done, you
will be not just a better person, but the person your pet always knew you
to be - the one they were proud to call beloved friend. I must caution you
that this journey is not without pain. Like all paths of true love, the
pain is part of loving. For as surely as the sun sets, one day your dear
animal companion will follow a trail you cannot yet go down. And you will
have to find the strength and love to let them go. A pet's time on earth
is far too short - especially for those that love them. We borrow them,
really, just for awhile, and during these brief years they are generous
enough to give us all their love, every inch of their spirit and heart,
until one day there is nothing left. The cat that only yesterday was a
kitten is all too soon old and frail and sleeping in the sun. The
young pup of boundless energy wakes up stiff and lame, the muzzle now
grey. Deep down we somehow always knew that this journey would end.
We knew that if we gave our hearts they would be broken. But give them we
must for it is all they ask in return. When the time comes, and the road
curves ahead to a place we cannot see, we give one final gift and let them
run on ahead - young and whole once more. "Godspeed, good friend," we say,
until our journey comes full circle and our paths cross again.
-- Crystal Ward Kent
was written in 1969 but still has
valid points in today's world.
WHAT IS A BREEDER?
Written by Peggy Adamson
Text of a
speech given before the Annual Symposium of the "National Dog
Owners and Handlers Association" in Feb. 1969; and published in their
The breeder is the
mainspring of the dog world. Without the breeder, there would be no dogs.
Without the dogs, there would be no kennel clubs, no dog shows, no
judges, no handlers, no trainers, no dog food companies, no dog
publications. Despite their importance, the breeder represents a very
small segment of the dog world, which in turn, creates the dog business.
Furthermore, they are the ones who seldom, if ever, make a profit, even in
the most popular breeds; and since they cannot take a livelihood from
their breeding activities, they must be able to rely on some other source
of income. Why then, do people ever become Breeders?? A breeder has, in
his mind, a perfect dog that he someday hopes to create. He presses on to
breed his ideal dog, unfettered by desires to be a conformist, or to
pander to the buying public. Like the artist or sculptor, he is activated
by a creative, inner drive which is totally unaffected by considerations
of what will sell or what won't. Unlike the sculptor however, he is
working with living flesh and is constantly fighting time. He can never
put his work away and come back to it later. The raw material on which he
labours is constantly changing - sometimes for the better, sometimes for
the worse; sometimes as a result of his efforts and sometimes in spite of
them. Nature and Time are his greatest adversaries, yet when he least
expects it, they may prove to be his greatest allies. The sculptor can use
the chisel to chip away at his mistakes, but it may take years for the
breeder to see where he has made a mistake - a mistake which in some cases
may never be remedied. True breeders speak the same language, whatever
their breed. Without the slightest previous communication, they discover
that they think the same way, they have the same ideals and goals and
standards of behaviour and the same awareness of responsibility. Like the
Beautiful People in the social world, they immediately recognize each
other - not because they know each other's names or who they are, but
because as kindred spirits they realize what they are.
Just Who and What IS a
Technically, anyone who owns or leases a bitch and produces a litter out
of her is a breeder of dogs. It is of no matter what considerations were
involved in the choice of mate or what the puppies were like, or how they
were disposed of- perhaps to the nearest pet shop. This person has bred a
litter, the minimum requirement to becoming a Breeder. He is now on the
lowest rung of the breeding ladder. How far upward he goes will depend on
many factors, some of which are under his control, and some of which are
matters of luck. Some people paint all their lives but never become real
artists; some people raise hundreds of litters of puppies, but never
become true Breeders.
Let us consider how people buy their first pure-bred dog. It usually comes
about in one or two ways. In the first case, the person passes a pet shop
with a litter of puppies, frolicking in the window, lingers to watch and
impulsively decides to buy one of them. Presto! he has now become a
dog-owner. In the second case, a person sees a dog in the street, in the
movies, or on television, likes it's looks and makes up his mind to have
one just like it. How does he go about it?
He picks up the newspaper, sees a litter advertised, goes to look at it,
and comes home with a puppy. Few people in either group have ever seen a
dog magazine or been to a dog show. They want to buy a dog (and I say this
in quotes) "with papers" although they have only the foggiest idea what
they mean. The dogs that these people buy are like children who grow up
with no family.
A much smaller portion of pure-bred dogs are bought as a result of
advertising in dog magazines and other trade publications. These are the
dogs which form the bulk of our dog shows. For the most part, they are
bought from Breeders. They are not usually the result of impulse buying,
but of considerable searching, looking and even waiting. Many of these
dogs are the second pure-bred dog for the owner, the first having come
from one of the two groups first mentioned.
How does a dog-buyer move from the first or second group to the third?
Some never do. But if, by sheer luck - and it is often just that- the
buyer gets a reasonably good breed specimen, he may become interested in
the breed and want to find out more about it. He may attend a dog show,
read books and magazines, seek out training classes and dog clubs and by
his own efforts come what the cognoscenti regard as a "Dog Person". But he
has to do this all on his own .Had he bought his dog from a real Breeder,
everything would have been much easier for him. Just what does he get from
the Breeder - or let us say, what can he expect?
First and above all, he gets a pride of ownership, not only in a breed but
in a family. The pedigree he gets with his dog will mean something to him
-the real Breeder will see to that. It will come alive to him - if not
immediately, certainly eventually! There is magic in a name which stands
for something, and it will rub off on all that possess it.
We see this in the case of our great families in the social and political
world, the Rockefellers and Roosevelt's, the Astor's and the Kennedy's. In
the dog world we find it in illustrious kennel names. These names do not
become illustrious overnight, nor are they illustrious merely because they
are familiar to people through aggressive advertising. A name which is
synonymous with quality in the mind of the public is that of a great
store, "Tiffany's". How long would it retain it's aura if we began
to hear television commercials shouting its' prestige, or urging "Rush to
Tiffany's this weekend for the greatest sale of the year"? Thus, because a
name is known to the public is no assurance that it is a great name. Only
years of high standards and good taste will create a name that is an asset
to a human being, to a product, or to a dog.
The Influence of the Real Breeder is Far Reaching He invests the people
that buy his dogs with the desire to become breeders themselves and an
appreciation of all this entails. From him, they learn a philosophy of
showing, a code of ethics in sportsmanship. They learn how to train their
dogs, or where they can be trained, how to handle their dogs and where and
when or whether to show them. The breeder encourages them to go to
training and handling classes, read books and dog magazines, advise them
how to breed their bitches, raise their litters, take care of their old
dogs. He answers innumerable questions and gives out emergency advise when
they can't get a veterinarian. All this, a good Breeder attempts to do.
Unfortunately, as the years go on, he realizes he has created a
Frankenstein, which grows constantly bigger and threatens to devour him.
For this reason, all Breeders eventually reach a point where the more
conscientious they are in recognizing the demands on them, the more
difficult they find it is to take care of all of them.
The Breeder is Like the Head of the Family He gives those who buy his dogs
a sense of "belonging". This is of the utmost to people with their first
or second dogs. They develop an interest in the dog's ancestors, about
which the breeder can give them a wealth of information, and in the dog's
relatives. Thus is built up a great family pride-- in their own dogs and
in all the other dogs that carry the same kennel name. They learn from the
breeder more about their breed and what constitutes a good specimen of it
than they could ever find out from any book. The breeder, in a good many
cases, is also a specialist. This is to say, he is an authority on his own
breed and can be expected to know more about it than any judge who is not
a specialist. He teaches those to whom he sells his dogs to evaluate their
own dogs, many times encouraging and training these people so that some
day they may be able to become specialists themselves.
The real breeder disciplines himself not to expect gratitude or
appreciation for his services-- which is well, because those who benefit
most will rarely give public recognition to the fact. The real breeder
does what he does because of what he is. he can not do otherwise.
Breeders have a great deal to say about their Breed Standard. They give
generously of their time to the national Breed organization and it is
through a consensus of the breeders that the Standard is arrived at, or
The Breeders are the Aristocracy of the Dog World If there is a caste
system, they are at the very top. Each breeder has a great sense of his
own worth. Individually, that is. He is proud to be what he is and what he
stands for. However, he rarely thinks of his worth collectively with other
breeders. That is because Breeders are independent and individualistic.
Therein lies their strength - and also their weakness. It is why their
importance as a group is constantly overlooked in the hierarchy of the dog
world. There are many more women Breeders than men Breeders, yet the
American Kennel Club , which could not exist without breeders, allows no
women to be a part of it's governing body. (**NOTE: Remember, this was
written in 1969) Even an all woman club which is a member of the AKC must
be represented by a man. Obviously, this discrimination on the basis of
sex is a matter which advocates of equal rights for women have not as yet
taken notice of!
The great advances made by any breed - and I am not here referring to
registration increases - have all been brought about by the Breeders. In
distinguishing between the Breeders in the best sense of the word and
those who fall short of it, I shall refer to these people as The
"Breeders" and the "Puppy Raisers" The primary difference between the
Breeder and the puppy-raiser is the awareness of responsibility;
responsibility to his breed, to his goals, to the dogs he has bred and to
the dogs he hopes to breed. He also has a never-ending responsibility to
the people who have bought his dogs, to the people who are about to buy
his dogs and to the public image--not only of the dogs he has been
producing but of the breed itself.
The Breeders are essentially givers. They give to their chosen breed much
more than they will ever receive. Their rewards are intangible rather than
financial. Here again is the great difference between the Breeder and the
puppy-raiser. The latter produces puppies in order to sell them, getting
them off his hands as quickly as possible before their cost has eaten up
his hoped-for profit. The breeder, on the other hand, has an entirely
different motivation. He breeds a litter only when he can devote the
necessary time, money and work to it. he never breeds when he knows he
will be up against a deadline; that is to say, a time when he knows all
his puppies must be sold.
Never, never does he breed a litter unless he plans to keep something from
it, which hopefully will bring him one step closer to producing his ideal
dog. If the litter is disappointing, he may sell the whole litter; but the
better the breeder, the less often he will find it necessary to do this.
The Breeder is constantly selecting and pruning his stock, sometimes
because he no longer needs it, and sometimes because he has discovered a
reason why he does not want it. The two reasons are very different. In the
case of a dog he no longer needs, the reason may be that he has gotten
from that dog what he wanted in order to further his breeding plans. In
the case of the dog he no longer wants as breeding stock, he may have
uncovered a reason why this dog would be detrimental to his breeding
The Breeder is Constantly Faced with Difficult Decisions Actually, the
latter are his breeding cast-offs. Yet they may be delightful as
individuals. They are not so faulty that they should never be bred, yet
they fall far short of the Breeder's standards. They are like the
so-called "seconds of sheets and towels by Famous Makers" that stores
advertise as "slightly irregular"
The breeder does his best to put these dogs in the homes of people who are
not primarily interested in breeding, but all too often they turn up later
with litters advertised in newspapers and magazines, trading on his name
and reputation to help sell the puppies. Though the dam and/or sire may
carry his kennel name, the puppies are not of his breeding, a distinction
that the dog buying public seldom realizes. Sometimes this causes the
Breeder embarrassment. Much more often, it fills him with annoyance. Many
years ago, this situation occurred in one of the dog magazines with a
Collie Breeder, who proceeded to feature the following statement in all
her advertising: "The purest water is at the well".
The Breeder's Greatest Problem is to Hold Down His Dog Population The
better the breeder, the difficult this becomes and each time he breeds a
litter, he increases it. For this reason, the breeder does not, and
cannot, breed often. He keeps more dogs than he should, not because he
wants to but because he will not part with a dog unless he is sure it will
be for the dog's best interests. As a result, many of these dogs live in
his house to the day they die, as treasured pets, even though they are no
longer used in the breeding program, either because they have already
contributed or because they can not make the contribution he wants.
Occasionally, in the case of the one who has already contributed, he may
either sell or give this dog to someone else, who will indeed be fortunate
and can thus benefit from the Breeder's handiwork. This person may be
another breeder, or he may be a novice. In the case of the dog he does not
wish to use in his breeding program, it may be sold or given to someone
who is not interested in breeding and who wants just one dog as a lifetime
The one dog owner who gives a dog his individual attention for the
duration of its' life, loving it, training it, perhaps showing it, can do
for the dog what no Breeder ever can. Because the breeder is so well aware
of this he sometimes parts with his very best dogs, often to the surprise
of others. If this dog happens to be a male, there will be no loss to his
breeding program unless the dog goes to a distance place, but in the case
of a bitch, he usually reserves some breeding rights. Where a sizable sum
is involved, this usually is a right to select the stud and chose a puppy
from the first litter. In this case, the Breeder is taking a calculated
risk, and one which he frequently finds disastrous; namely, the gamble
that there will be a bitch in that litter that he can select to carry on
with. If there is not, he has lost far more than the one fine dog he has
sold, and there is really no way of estimating the full extent of his
The breeder is always thinking in terms of the past and the future, while
the single dog owner is concerned with the present. The Puppy-Raiser does
not Care to Whom he Sells His Dogs The important objective for him is to
get them sold, and as quickly as possible. He is like the gardener who
scatters his seed all over the ground with little regard for it's
subsequent growth and cultivation.
The breeder, on the other hand, has deep concern for the ultimate
destination of what he has produced. To him, a dog is not an
over-the-counter commodity to be sold to anyone who wants it and has the
money to pay for it. This matter of attitude is another one of the great
differences between the breeder and the puppy-raiser.
When the Breeder sells or disposes of a dog, whether very young or grown,
he is parting with something that is much more than what it looks to be in
the eyes of the prospective buyer. The buyer sees a beautiful specimen of
the breed- healthy, sound and a look of quality. The breeder sees all
these things, but a great deal more. To him, the dog represents years of
hard work-- often menial work-- years full of excitement, exultation and
disappointments. He does not merely see the beauty in the individual dog
before him, but a long line of ancestors, dogs that he knew and loved and
that went into the making of this particular individual. When the Breeder
looks at an animal he has bred, his view has an extra dimension-- he sees
that dog in DEPTH.
The Breeder Carefully Screens Prospective Buyers He knows that changes of
ownership can have a traumatic effect on a dog, especially if there are
several of them. The dog becomes confused and loses his sense of security,
an absolute necessity if he is to have confidence. This situation is as
disastrous to a dog as it is to a child, in fact more so because there is
no way to explain to a dog what is taking place. From the standpoint of
the breeder, the ideal one-dog owner is a pearl beyond price. The more
such people he can enable to possess his dogs, the more successful he will
become as a Breeder, and the more successful he is as a Breeder the more
likely he is to have more good dogs than it is practical for him to keep.
Unlike the puppy-raiser who breeds his bitches every season and often has
several litters at a time, the breeder rarely breeds his bitches more than
three or four times in a lifetime, and some times not even that many. The
expenses of maintaining his dogs year after year are exorbitant, and
coupled with this never-ceasing drain on his resources is the gnawing
awareness that even though they get the best of food, veterinarian care,
and love, he cannot possibly give them the advantages which would be
theirs in the case of the ideal one-dog ownership. For this reason, he is
usually reluctant to sell to other breeders, feeling that the dog would
not be bettered by the change of homes where it would still be one of
many. He can give each dog he owns everything that money can by and his
limitations of his can allow - he can literally give the dogs his entire
house, and all his furniture - piece by piece! But the only thing he
cannot give is the important feeling of being # 1 dog in the household,
and the chance for constant exposure to the outside world.
The Puppy-Raiser Rarely Asks Questions If the buyer wants a dog and has
the money to pay for it, he has met theonly requirements necessary to take
possession of the dog. But the Breeder's attitude is very different. The
Breeder not only asks many questions to which he must get the right
answers or he will not sell the dog--he must also know something of the
buyer's background. What dogs did he have before? How old were they when
he got them, and what eventually happened to them? What were the things
that he liked about each one and what were the things that annoyed him?
From these answers, the Breeder will have to determine what kind of
dog-owner this buyer has been, and what kind he is likely to be. Did he
have only one dog who lived to be 13 or 14 or more, or did he have several
dogs, each of which he disposed of for a variety of reasons. Obviously,
the latter buyer is going to be a bad risk. He is like the car driver who
has many accidents, none of which he believes to be his fault.
When considering a buyer, the breeder must project his thinking into the
future. He must decide whether the germs of future trouble are lurking in
the buyer's present situation and thinking. If a young man, is the buyer
likely to go into the Army, or to college? If an older man, does his wife
want this dog? If a bachelor, who will care for the dog if anything
happens to him? What attitude does the buyer have toward his past
disappointments? Does he blame everyone except himself? Is he the type of
person who is always trying to get as much as possible for as little as
possible? Would a really good dog be wasted on him?
To the extent that the breeder can make these evaluations successfully, he
will save himself many future complications. No matter how many dogs he
has, as long as his money and his health hold out, his dogs are a problem
to him, but only a problem. The problems of keeping them well fed and
comfortably housed may seem difficult at times, but they are not serious.
In the hands of the wrong buyer, however, the dog becomes a hostage.
Why?? Because the breeder cares. It could not matter to the puppy-raiser
because he would not concern himself about such matters.
Regardless of how carefully he screens the buyers, the Breeder will still
have occasional disappointments. Human nature being what it is, this is
inevitable. Dogs will be returned to him-- and he will accept them-- not
because of any fault in the dog, but because the buyer himself, or the
conditions of his life, have changed. What happens to These Dogs? Few
people realize the number of older dogs that live to the age of 13 or 14
in the homes of Breeders. In the business world, these dogs would be
considered obsolete equipment and destroyed. But the Breeder's world is
different. He recognizes a responsibility toward anything that he has
brought into the world and takes care of it until the dog is dead-- or he
is. If he can find the right person to sell or give it to, he does; but if
he can not, he continues to keep it himself. The drain on the breeder's
strength and finances is merciless. Occasionally, when faced with severe
illness or drastically reduced income, he may have to decree that some or
all of his dogs be put to sleep. And even this costs money. When a breeder
makes this decision, few people understand it.
The general public and those who have never known the responsibility which
goes with more than one or two dogs will probably regard this as cruelty.
But, as previously stressed, the Breeder has a responsibility for whatever
the brings into the world until it goes out of it. If the dog is in the
wrong hands, he must try to get it back, and then either keep it or see
that it is put into the right hands. If the Breeder is no longer able to
do this, there is only one way he can be sure his dogs will never know
hunger or abuse. That is euthanasia. To the breeder who loves his dogs,
there is no more tragic decision he will ever have to make. when he
himself is faced with incapacitating ill health, or even death, he must
recognize the cold hard facts regarding the future of his dogs. Without
his guiding hand and sense of responsibility, the dogs are much better off
dead. A breeder will make any sacrifice to avoid this situation, but when
it arises, he will do what he knows is necessary. Why? because he is a
Breeder and feels responsibility towards his animals.
Now, what of the Breeder's Responsibility to His Breed? A successful
breeder usually becomes something of a public figure. He may be requested
to write about his breed, to speak about it, to judge it. His relationship
to his breed is something very different. As a judge and as a writer, he
must be completely objective. Indeed, he must bend over backwards to
achieve this impartiality.
The breeder's responsibility to his breed does not permit him to use
opportunities either in judging or writing to exploit his own stock. He is
abrogating this responsibility to the breed, not to mention considerations
of good taste, if he uses a magazine's breed column to promote his own
breeding, or in judging to favour the same. He can make known his
bloodlines and his winning through the paid advertisements, providing they
are honest and factual, but never uses the public space to get free
publicity. When the breeder writes for the public, he is representing his
breed, not himself or his stock, and it is this broader perspective that
sets apart the true Breeder with a sense of responsibility from the
commercial one whose only consideration is to promote his wares.
A Breeder has Great Care for the Public Image of His Breed He tries to
inoculate these values in the people to whom he sells his dogs, and in
everyone with whom he comes in contact. He is reluctant to criticize what
he considers the shortcomings of other Breeders, or to fault the products
of their handiwork. He scorns high pressure salesmanship and the
advertising techniques of Madison Avenue. Giving straightforward answers
to the people who have bought, or are about to buy, his own stock, he
neither glosses over the faults nor makes exaggerated claims or
predictions. He is forthright in his thinking, his talking, his actions.
People instinctively trust him, not because he asks for their trust,
(which he does not) but because of what he is.
The real Breeders are the heart and soul of the dog world. They stand
proud and often alone, resisting commercialism, criticism, undeviated in
their search for perfection and idealistic in their code of ethics.
The Breeders Code of Silence - By Sierra
most modern-day breeders and the Mafia have in common? What a strange
question, you may say. It is, sadly though, a very real commonality. The
answer is simply what Padgett, a well-known geneticist refers to as the
“Code of Silence” for breeders and perhaps more commonly discussed as
“omerta” for the Costa Nostra. Both are deadly silences. It’s easy to
understand the reasons for the conspiracy of silence when it refers to
criminals, but what reasons can a breeder possibly have for maintaining
The reason most often given for not sharing genetic information is the
fear of being made the object of a “witch hunt.” It lies much deeper
though. It begins with ownership and the human need to see what one owns
as being the best. Remember the “keeping up with the Jones” mentality?
Everyone wants the very best and the accolade of owning the best.
Admitting that what one owns or has bred may have faults is difficult for
most people. Also at fault is the huge financial and emotional investment
that breeders have in their dogs. Discovering that there may be defects in
the sires and dams that breeders have so much of themselves invested in
becomes frightening and causes many to refuse to even contemplate that
their dogs may possess defective genes. Egos and fear of being labelled
“poor breeders” are ultimately the reasons for breeders maintaining this
detrimental code of silence.
Even more dangerous than the Code of Silence though is the refusal to
contemplate defective genes may exist within a breeding program and be
present for generations, quietly meshing through many bloodlines before
manifesting itself. Could it be possible that dogs which appear healthy
can actually be spreading dangerous, sometimes lethal genes throughout the
breed community until finally two healthy, but gene-defective carriers
combine to produce that first tell-tale affected offspring?
Of course it is and time and again the geneticists tell us how this is
possible. Simplistically, breeders cannot see defective genes and
what they don’t see must not exist. Therefore using that logic, all the
untested dogs must be as beautifully healthy inside as they are
structurally beautiful outside. If only that logic were true!
Unfortunately, far more emphasis is placed upon structural and superficial
beauty simply because it is something that is easily seen, acknowledged
and obtained. It’s also something without any “unnecessary” financial
investments. One doesn’t need to pay for x-rays or blood tests or
specialists’ knowledge in order to evaluate how a dog conforms to a
The real danger, though, comes not from those dogs who are tested, but
from those breeders who keep their heads in the sand and refuse to believe
that their dogs could be less than 'perfect'. We can begin to fix that
which we reveal, but that which remains hidden is a threat to the future.
But here omerta, that “Code of Silence” is very evident. Not only do these
breeders hold fast to the belief that their dogs are untainted by
defective genes, structural defects or temperament problems, but they also
believe that no dog that they choose to bring into their breeding program
through mating with their dogs could possibly be carriers either. After
all, they only “breed to the best,” and of course, that best just has to
Now the truly criminal act occurs. These breeders are quite often very
successful in the show ring; their dogs are thought to be the best – after
all, they have ribbons and placings and titles to prove how worthy their
dogs are! Because of their show ring success, they are seen as breed
authorities, people that newcomers to the breed trust for knowledge and
information. And the information these newcomers get is that there are no
genetic problems to be concerned with, no need to do that “expensive
testing when the dogs are all healthy.” Even more disastrous to the
breed’s future is that these breeders’ attitudes begin to prevail. The
newcomers see the success of these breeders’ dogs and buy them (even
though few, if any, have had even the most rudimentary testing for
structural faults, poor health or defective genes). The newcomers then
have a financial and emotional investment to protect which begins to
spread this attitude, with predictable results. Soon, because these
breeders are the “powers” within the breed (quite often judges, people
selected to discuss the breed at seminars, breeders who command respective
prices for puppies and stud fees, breeders seen winning), they use this
“power” to ensure that it becomes unethical to discuss any defects, in
either health or temperament, found in any of the pedigrees of their
sires, dams or progeny of their sires or dams. All too often one hears “I
don’t dare say anything if I want to win” or “there are three lines with
epilepsy (or heart or eye or pick a health problem), but you don’t need to
know about them.” Of course we need to know about them, how else are we to
make intelligent decisions about which dogs would best benefit the future
plan for our dogs unless we consider not only the structural beauty, but
also the hidden genetics that we are attempting to also improve?
What about the breeders who openly discuss the defects found in their own
dogs? Unfortunately, they are all too often labelled as “poor breeders”
and their dogs said to be “defective”. They are shunned and spoken of in
whispers and sneers. The very fact that these breeders are striving to
share knowledge openly and to scientifically test their dogs make these
breeders the subject of witch hunts by the very people who are either too
cheap, too unconcerned, too egotistical, too uncaring about the future to
even test their dogs, much less have the courage to honestly discuss their
dogs. Instead of applauding these breeders who choose to share
information, these breeders become shunned and hounded. As a result, and
because human nature makes us want to be part of a group instead of
outside the group, breeders begin to do what they do best – they maintain
silence and lie or refuse to admit what they do know.
As more and more newcomers join a breed and inexperienced breeders and
exhibitors all jump on the bandwagon of showing, owning and practicing the
art of breeding, they turn to the breeders who are winning, equating
winning with superior quality dogs. The breeders are, therefore, more
determined to have nothing bad revealed about any of their dogs, further
establishing in their minds the perfection of the dogs they breed and
further increasing the financial and emotional investment that they have
in perpetuating this theory. Winning in the show ring has nothing to do
with genetic health. Indeed, a number of the winning dogs are carriers of
genetic disorders at the least and, in some instances, are known to have
genetic health disorders. While a genetic disorder itself, depending upon
type and severity, should never preclude the dog from the genetic pool, it
is absolutely mandatory that people be aware of any area of concern in
order to breed intelligently. At the very least, the dogs that the dog is
bred to must be tested and their backgrounds looked at carefully to limit
the possibility of affecting more dogs or making more dogs carriers of the
disorder. Yet, because the winners don’t want to be labelled as “poor
breeders” and lose the accolade of being the best (as well as the possible
financial loss in not being able to sell puppies or stud fees at as high a
price), the “Code of Silence” becomes even more firmly embraced.
The newcomers, because they want to be accepted, avoid talking about the
sires and dams that produce poorly, whether it is structure, health or
temperament problems. Also, they too now have a financial and emotional
investment in addition to wanting to be accepted into the “winners club.”
They may even recognize trends in one or more lines in their own
pedigrees, but refuse to acknowledge these trends and keep them secret for
fear of being labelled.
Often, the breeders, while not openly acknowledging that there are any
problems, will attempt to dilute the possibility of the disorder rearing
its head by out-breeding to another totally different line. Dr. Jerold
Bell, a well-known geneticist, has this to say about this method:
“Repeated out-breeding to attempt to dilute detrimental recessive genes is
not a desirable method of genetic disease control. Recessive genes cannot
be diluted; they are either present or not. Out-breeding carriers
multiples and further spreads the defective gene(s) in the gene pool. If a
dog is a known carrier or has high carrier risk through pedigree analysis,
it can be retired from breeding, and replaced with one or two quality
offspring. Those offspring should be bred, and replaced with quality
offspring of their own, with the hope of losing the defective gene.”
Unfortunately, refusing to acknowledge or test for genetic disorders
doesn’t make them go away. What we can’t see still has a huge impact on
the breed and continuing to breed these carriers of defective genes allows
the defect to take a firmer hold in the breed. Those breeders who try very
hard to breed healthy dogs and take every scientific precaution to ensure
genetic health are shunned for the very passion that should be applauded;
the efforts they take are trivialized at best and more often ridiculed as
“unnecessary” or “fear-mongering.” As a result, these breeders work alone
and, outside of their own kennel, their efforts make little impact on the
breed as a whole.
Omerta can only be broken by people who have the courage, conviction and
passion to ensure that the breed as a whole becomes stronger and
healthier. Instead of witch hunts for those who have the heartache of
dealing with the problems, the goal of applauding those with the courage
and determination to speak out openly should be taken up by every breed
club in every country. Awards in addition to those given to breeders who
have the most winning dogs should be given to those breeders who work
tirelessly to improve the breed. Prettiness and beauty doesn’t improve a
breed; genetic health and the ability to live a pain-free, healthy life
far surpass beauty, but are more difficult to obtain.
The cost of genetic testing is not high when one looks at the effects that
refusing to test may have on the breed. Ask any knowledgeable breeder
whose breed has rampant heart, blood disorder, eye or hip problems whether
they blame the lack of foresight and the refusal of past breeders in
making a further financial investment in the breed for the almost
insurmountable problems now and the answer is predictable. In the UK, it
is possible to do testing by certified specialists for hip, elbow, eye,
heart, blood, immune disorders for around a total investment of £295.00
(far less in the United States), less than a cost of a puppy or a stud
fee. It’s possible to do far less testing, but at what cost? Will the
breed suffer from heart problems in the future because a simple £7.50
stethoscope test (done through one of the breed-sponsored heart clinics,
in this case the Boxer) was not important at the time? Will the breed be
faced with trying to eradicate blindness years from now because a £16.00
eye exam (done through one of the many eye clinics held each month or free
if done at Crufts dog show at the clinic they hold each year) was thought
unwarranted? Will the descendants be filled with pain from bad hips and/or
elbows because the breed moved well in the show ring and didn’t look
dysplastic to the naked eye? (X-rays necessary for hip and elbow
evaluations are the most expensive testing at a cost of approximately £110
for hips and an additional £80 for elbows when done with the hips;
unfortunately it takes six different films to evaluate elbows and the cost
reflects the number of films necessary.) Testing for things such as von
Willebrand’s Disease (vWD) and thyroid testing (immune system) can be done
inexpensively as blood tests at perhaps £30 and £50 each. Granted, testing
for these genetic disorders won’t guarantee that a problem won’t occur in
future breedings, but testing will greatly reduce the chances of problems
and that is a good place to start.
If a breeder cannot provide proof in the form of veterinarian-issued
certificates or reports that genetic testing has been done, the buyer
should be aware that they purchase at their own risk! Caveat emptor!
Breeders may claim that their dogs have never limped or that there is no
need to do any testing because the breed is healthy. Some may even claim
that their veterinarians have said that genetic testing was unnecessary.
Those stances are irresponsible. Once again, genes are not visible and
carriers of defective genes may themselves appear healthy to the naked
eye. It is only with testing that we really know whether our dogs are
affected or not and only then with honest evaluation of pedigrees having
tested or affected dogs that the potentiality for carriers are realized.
What can we do to break the deadly Code of Silence? The majority, if not
all, breed clubs have a code of ethics that require members to breed
healthy dogs. One of the places to start is with the clubs. Instead of
being social institutions or “good ole boy” clubs, these breed
organizations could begin upholding the very real goal of protecting the
future of the breed by demanding and requiring that genetic testing be
undertaken prior to breeding. Far more serious than breeding a
sixteen-month old bitch is the practice of breeding without taking every
possible safeguard that genetic health is a priority. Yet, in many clubs
“poor breeders” are identified by the age at which they breed or the
frequency in which they breed rather than the very real criteria that
proof of health be mandatory. Take the emphasis off winning – how many
clubs determine “breeder of the year” based on the number of progeny that
wins? Are there clubs that actually require that the breeder also must
show proof that they are doing all they can do to ensure the future of the
We can break the silence by commending those with the courage and
determination to talk about problems, share successes and knowledge
instead of ostracizing them. Omerta fails if every puppy buyer and stud
dog user demands that proof of genetic testing is shown. The Code of
Silence fails when we realize that it is not enough to breed winning dogs
or to command the highest price for puppies or to have a stud dog that is
used fifty, sixty, a hundred times; we must take back the passion with
which we all first embraced our breeds and passionately work with
determination toward a future where the numbers of genetic disorders are
reduced each year.
If those you know breed without testing, ask yourself why – is it lack of
courage in perhaps finding a carrier within their breeding stock? Is it
because they fear a financial loss if they test? Is it because they truly
believe that their dogs couldn’t possibly be less than perfect? Is it
because they fear they will lose their “top breeder” standing if they
admit that there are problems that need working on? Is it because they
fear that it will be harder to breed beautiful and healthy dogs? Or have
they lost the passion with which they first loved the breed while they
were climbing the road to winning success? Or, more sadly, is it because
they really just don’t care about that which they cannot actually see?
It’s hard work and takes great courage to develop a breeding program using
scientific methods and tests, but the hope of a better future should drive
us all to that very commitment. The key is being able to work together
without fear of whispers or silence. Omerta, the code of silence, can be
broken if more of us decide that we are not going to tolerate the quiet
Click here to read
about the Downside of Inbreeding.
Tibetan Terriers Ireland