Fri, 09/08/2023 - 3:09am

Who Does This Help?

Restrictive contracts and breeding terms might do more harm than good

We might use different words, but I think most of us will agree that the goal of dog breeding is to produce a better, healthier dog and quality pet, and to preserve a breed. I also think a true breeder thinks of how the puppies he or she produces will benefit the breed in general.

Here are some quotes from a pamphlet published by the American Kennel Club:

·         Keep in mind that the difference between a purebred and a well-bred purebred can be summed up in two words: responsible breeders.

·         Responsible breeders maintain and improve the future of purebred dogs.

Are there any of us who disagree with either of those statements? Are we not trying to produce dogs that will go on and contribute their better attributes to the breed’s community? I think I can see many of you nodding your head in agreement.

If that is so, why do we have breeders who have such restrictive contracts and conditions that would appear to only hurt the breed and only benefit that particular breeder? Looking out for Number One is understandable, but not looking out for only Number One at the expense of all others.

There certainly may be some very real reasons for spay-neuter contracts or limited registrations, but I think there are breeders who have gone way over the top. Consider this situation shared with me by an intelligent, quality breeder and judge. She decided to breed her Non-Sporting bitch and contacted the owner of a dog she had seen and liked. (As a matter of fact, someone very close to her had awarded this dog a Best in Show.) The stud-dog owner said her dog could be used under the following conditions:

·         $10,000 stud fee (by the way, the average size litter for this breed is five puppies)

·         Any puppies from this litter had to be sold under a spay/neuter contract and this was to be done for two generations.

What? If this dog is so special, why would you not want to have his get seen in the show ring? Again, if this dog is so special, could not his get help produce quality and improve the breed? Who does this breeding help? Well, the stud dog owner would be $10,000 richer, and I imagine the stud dog got something out of the breeding. The bitch owner was limited to selling any puppies to “pet” homes, and obviously had to sell each pet for AT LEAST $2,500 each to just break even when you add in vet fees and other expenses. The breed in general is not better off because the progeny was not able to carry forward whatever strengths the sire and dam had to offer. With the restrictions of breeding to this stud dog, the breed will never improve, and the only one who gets anything out of it is the stud owner. That’s not how I look at a breeder.

Here’s another true situation: An experienced show-dog owner had been away from our show community for a while, but now decided she would like to get back into our competition with a young Sporting breed. She did some research and found a breeder she thought would have quality youngsters available. When contacted, this breeder said she did have puppies available, but there were some conditions to which the buyer would have to agree. 

·         The price for a 12-week-old “show puppy” was $5,000.

(I would like to comment on the term, “show puppy”: We may like to think that all our puppies are good enough to be “show dogs,” but in fact, only a percentage of all puppies whelped grow up to be true “show dogs.” All puppies may not be good enough quality to show, but all deserve a forever loving home.

(Most breeders grade their puppies at various intervals — most often being at least at eight weeks through 12 weeks. Certainly, many basic traits can be seen at that age, but no one can see the future to know how these pups will mature both physically and mentally. There are those who hire people to grade puppies, or friends are used for this purpose at “puppy grading parties.” These are fun and have some real value when assessing certain basics of conformation and temperament. However, I can truly grade a litter without being wrong only at about a year old!)

·         The puppy MUST be shown and if the puppy did not finish in five or six shows, a handler was to be used, and the handler would have to be the breeder at her normal handling fee.

·         If a bitch was taken, she had to be bred by the age of two years, and she had to be bred to one of the stud dogs owned by this breeder — at her normal stud fee — and this breeder got to take pick of the litter in addition to the stud fee.

·         If the puppy was a male, he could be used at stud at any time by this breeder — at no charge — and he could not be bred to any other bitches unless approved by this breeder for the rest of his life.

Again, who does this help? There are certainly some palatable conditions when someone buys a puppy, and these are usually to allow the breeder to keep track of the health and growth of her puppies. That is a good thing. A clause that says the dog should go back to the breeder if there is a problem should be in every contract. The ability to breed to a dog that is essential to furthering your breeding program is fine, and most people will agree to that, and these conditions can benefit the breed, but overly restrictive conditions are just the breeder flexing her muscles — and adds to the image the general public has of our community as being non-inclusive and goes a long way to chasing the public to “doodles” or to adopt a dog. As Commander Perry — and Pogo — said, “I have met the enemy and they are us.”

Certainly, breeders have the right — and the responsibility — to protect their puppies by finding out about the purchaser. What are the conditions in which the dog would live? Are there other dogs in the household? Are there children and how old? Is the property fenced? Will the dog live in the house (as opposed to a doghouse in the backyard)? All these questions and conditions are valid, but is it really necessary to charge a $2,000 non-refundable deposit before the litter is even born? Who benefits from that?

As far as controlling how this puppy will be bred in the future, a good breeder builds a relationship with her pet owners, and they will then want her guidance. Even controlling one litter or getting a puppy back may be acceptable, but to try to control everything about this dog’s life in perpetuity is simply invasive and unreasonable, and intelligent people will look elsewhere — and that may be to those who are selling “purebred” dogs that are of “special” or “limited” colors, known to us as disqualifications, at ridiculous prices. Those so-called breeders of designer dogs don’t really worry about the young dog’s future — the only thing that matters to them is the color of the purchaser’s money. At times, it sounds like the “breeders” cited above fall into this same category.

So, why are we chasing puppy buyers to these fraudulent “breeders” by putting so many unreasonable conditions to buying puppies from “true” breeders? We have the best collection of true quality preservation breeders, so let's put our best foot forward and not drive families away. Great breeders breed dogs not only for the betterment of the breed, but most importantly, to grace the lives of those who love them for just being their cherished companion, their dog. Remember, we all started somewhere.

What do you think?


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