Chapter 5
How To Know The Best Source For Your Dog

Breeders, General Comments

Types of Breeders. When you think of a breeder, you probably think of a dog-industry professional who engages in a thoughtful, deliberate, active breeding program to create high-quality purebred puppies. Your mental image may include professional kennels or a private home with professional-grade dog runs and other dog-related equipment. But that mental picture is much different than the reality of most breeding programs. Being a "breeder" does not mean there was any effort used to mate two well-matched dogs in an attempt to achieve the desired result, that the litter was intentional, or even that the litter is purebred. All it takes to call oneself a breeder is to own a female dog that has a litter or own a male who mated with a female. For the purpose of our discussion of dog breeders, we are going to classify them as belonging to one of three groups. As the primary source for dogs, every dog you will find in your search has been bred by a breeder that falls into one of these categories. The first category we are going to refer to as a "responsible" or "reputable" breeder. The second class is what is usually called a "backyard" breeder and the final group is what we will call a "commercial" breeder. Oh, and that mental image you had only applies to the first group, the "responsible" breeders. Many Breeders Don't Know Enough about Genetics. Purebred dogs suffer from so many health problems today that purebred and designer dog breeders must have a reasonable understanding of the genetics involved with the breed he, or more likely she, is working with. If a breeder can't tell you what health problems are common in the breed(s) she works with, she doesn't know enough about genetics. If a breeder does not know enough about genetics, she isn't a responsible breeder. Likewise, if a breeder doesn't perform health testing on her breeding stock, she is breeding without regard to the genetic health issues of her dogs and isn't a reputable breeder. Some breeders simply don't know enough about genetics to make responsible decisions about how to breed their dogs. Sometimes breeders delude themselves into believing their dogs are so superior they simply couldn't have the same diseases that are so common in all the other breeders' dogs. But in other cases, breeders intentionally ignore genetic warning signals and what should be health concerns to breed unhealthy dogs in an attempt to cut costs and pocket a few extra bucks, potentially at your expense. When you get a purebred dog, there is a chance you may be getting an unhealthy dog. The best way to increase the chance of getting a healthy purebred dog is by conducting the research needed to find a responsible, knowledgeable breeder. Even then you're not guaranteed a healthy dog, but your chances are much better when you find a breeder who has a solid understanding of genetics and applies that knowledge in her breeding program.