WHAT IS A RESPONSIBLE BREEDER?
Oprah, peta, hsus et al would like you to believe there is no such thing as a responsible breeder. They are wrong.
Are there irresponsible, unscrupulous breeders? Of course there are. Breeders are no different than other segments of society such as lawyers, doctors, plumbers, mechanics etc.; there are good ones, not so good ones and terrible ones. The goal of this page is to give you the tools to find the best breeder possible. This can be a bit murky at times, but less so with a bit of education.
HSUS et al infer that all breeders who have websites are bad. They are wrong.
There is nothing wrong with using the Internet to find breeders; that is how you found this website. There are many like mine, that are showcases for the breeder or owner and their dog's accomplishments. There is nothing wrong with a little bragging. Litters are listed, but puppies are not available all the time, and often applications are included; buyers are screened and puppies are not sold to just anyone. THEN, there are websites that always have puppies, don't ask any personal questions of the potential buyer, do not want the buyer to ask them any questions about the parents of the pup, where pups are kept, how they are socialized etc. While I feel that these are the ones to clearly avoid, there are buyers who prefer this because they do not want to be asked questions by the breeder. Ask questions! A responsible breeder will take delight in the fact that you cared enough to do some research.
My personal recommendation is to only buy from Hobby Breeders who are members of a Parent or National Club (such as the Samoyed Club of America) or Regional Breed Club and actively participate in conformation (dog shows) or performance events (obedience, agility, sledding, herding, weight pull, therapy, carting etc.). The majority of these breeders have signed a Code of Ethics from their parent and/or regional club. I'll expand on this after giving you an idea of the other types of breeders.
Puppy mills are defined by the Humane Society of the United States as breeding facilities that produce purebred puppies in large numbers that are then sold either directly to the public or through various brokers and pet shops across the country.
What does this mean?
First of all, there is no legal definition of "puppy mill". This is an Animal Rights (AR) phrase that is now burned into the heads of the public. This phrase is now widely used by AR to describe ALL breeders.
What is a large number of dogs? This "magic number" can be anything that AR, who influence local and state legislators, say it is. This number can be changed on a whim.
A bit of history education is needed here. Small scale breeders did not appear in great numbers until after World War II. Before that, large breeding kennels were the norm. Little breeding was done during the war for obvious reasons, and there was a shortage of dogs when the war ended. Americans soon flocked to the suburbs and with more room, they wanted a family dog. Small scale breeders soon picked up the slack and provided the public with puppies.
What does this mean?
The reality of the "numbers" game is that one breeder can have two dogs that are not adequately cared for and another can have 100 or more dogs that are adequately cared for. Numbers also have no direct correlation to number of litters produced. 100 dogs does not mean 100 litters. Numbers alone mean nothing.
HSUS defines puppy mills as a facility that 'sells puppies directly to the public.' What? By that definition, *I* am a puppy mill! It is obvious that HSUS is against all breeders, period.
Brokers and Pet Stores:
For the purposes of this article, a broker is one who buys "lots" of puppies from the breeder to then re-sell to pet stores. Thus, pet stores get the majority of their puppies from High Volume Breeders.
What's a High Volume Breeder?
The term High Volume Breeder more adequately describes those facilities that house a large number of dogs and also have a large number of litters per year. This term describes numbers, not care. Many HVB have state of the art facilities with employees to care for the dogs and provide adequate veterinary care.
What's a Back Yard Breeder?
Back Yard Breeder (BYB) is yet another Animal Rights term used to conjure squalid conditions in the mind of the public. This term applies to anyone who has produced one litter in their lifetime as well as those who breed their dogs regularly. Most are not aware of health issues in their breed(s), and do no health testing for common diseases such as hip dysplasia, glaucoma and other eye diseases. This type of breeder often sell puppies through classified ads in local newspapers, at flea markets or the local Wal-Mart parking lot. These are average people who have litters to make some extra money and list their litters for sale in local newspapers. They most often charge less for puppies than pet stores or show breeders. Some breed their family pet because a friend or neighbor wants a puppy. Some find that litters are a lot more work than they bargained for and stop after one. Some do make money because they have little overhead costs (no health or pre breeding testing, puppy in exchange for stud service or they buy a male to breed to their female or vice versa). Some find that they enjoy breeding litters and want to learn how to be a better breeder.
Shouldn't there be a law?
There ARE cruelty laws to stop those breeders who keep dogs in squalid conditions, do not provide veterinary care, do not adequately feed their dogs etc. The problem is that these laws are not ENFORCED. Mainstream media, with their AR slant and "if it bleeds it leads" attitude, show video of raids against such facilities for sensationalism. Instead of providing USDA (HVB are required to have USDA licenses) with the funds to hire more inspectors, AR groups (and the press!) urge for new laws. If current laws are not enforced, what makes them think that additional laws would be enforced? Only those who already follow the law and adequately care for their animals are affected by new laws. This includes Hobby Breeders.
Why I recommend Hobby Breeders
Hobby Breeders not only love their dogs, they love the breed. Most sign a Code of Ethics (COE) which is a guideline for how dogs are raised and how pups are sold. Most COE forbid selling in "lots" (i.e. to a broker), selling to pet stores, selling to research labs or to auctions. Most COE also state the minimum age for puppies to go to new homes. Peer pressure to "do the right thing" is very real.
Hobby Breeders are aware of common health issues in their breed, and have health testing done on their dogs to avoid breeding dogs that have the disease. Many of these results can be found at the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) website at www.offa.org. OFA has lots of information with regard to various diseases, what tests are available and what the test results indicate. Health testing is not fool proof, and normal parents can produce puppies that have the disease. The major reason for this is that most tests are for phenotype (what that dog IS) and not genotype (what that dog will PRODUCE). At this time, there are very few genotypic tests (DNA) for disease, and the mode of inheritance in other diseases is not known. In an effort to reduce the incidence of disease, dogs that are affected with the disease are not bred. So, while not 100%, testing and not breeding affected dogs does reduce the incidence of disease. DNA breakthroughs are occurring at a rapid pace in some areas, and it is my hope that major diseases in Samoyeds (hip dysplasia, glaucoma, diabetes) will soon have DNA tests which not only show what dogs are affected, but what dogs are carriers of the disease.
Many HVB adequately care for their dogs and some hire people to socialize puppies. I personally think that pups raised in the home are better socialized to the sights and sounds that they will experience in their new home.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
While I recommend Hobby Breeders, as with society in general, there are excellent ones, those that are middle of the road and those that do the absolute minimum. Show breeders want the whole package; health, temperament and type (a combination of looks and movement). Show breeders have access to veterinary specialists who put on seminars as well as seminars from other breed experts. Show breeders are always learning. And while the media likes to paint breeders as adversaries and competitors for puppy sales, the reality is that we share our knowledge with each other, refer buyers to other breeders, applaud victories in the show ring and cry when a beloved dog dies. Our competitors might breed a litter we want a puppy out of or a male we want to use at stud.
My personal recommendation is to only buy from breeders who are members of a Parent or National Club (such as the Samoyed Club of America) or Regional Breed Club and actively participate in conformation (dog shows) or performance (obedience, agility, sledding, herding, weight pull, therapy, carting etc. events. Why? Because as members/exhibitors, they have access to much information about all things related to their breed, and because the bar is raised higher by peer pressure to breed the best puppies (heath, temperament and structure) possible. If ALL a breeder does with their dogs is breed them, hang up the phone or run away as fast as you can!
Quality Doesn't Cost. It pays.
Show breeders do genetic testing for the most common diseases of the breed. Minimum health standards are set by club Code of Ethics, but many breeders do more. The minimum requirements for Samoyeds is OFA normal hips (x-ray sent to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for evaluation) and CERF (eye exam by a veterinary ophthalmologist.) Many breeders also have elbow x-rays sent to OFA and do cardiac screening. This testing is not fool proof, but using the results as a tool gives breeders information needed to make the best choices and produce the healthiest dogs possible. The odds of a puppy contracting a specific disease is reduced when neither parent has the disease.
The cost of competition (a tool to prove quality), health testing, continuing education, stud service fees, veterinary costs etc are not inexpensive. And while most show breeders consider a litter to be a success if they break even, most lose money when all costs are considered (including the breeders time). QUALITY COSTS. A Volvo is more expensive than a Honda Civic for good reason. Who wouldn't buy a car that had a better safety record if they could afford it? The same is true with animals.
So what is a buyer to do if they can't afford a puppy from a show breeder?
Decide what you can live with.
Some breed experts are now putting on seminars that are targeted to HVB which in turn will make puppies sold from pet stores healthier. I will always prefer a puppy that is raised in the home to one that is raised in a kennel facility, however, I'm in favor of giving all breeders the opportunity to learn how to breed healthy dogs of good temperament. Even if show breeders charged less, we still could not fill the demand for a purebred puppy. Raising a litter is a lot of work and takes two months or more out of a breeder's "real" life. Socializing puppies is serious work. Temperament tests are done at 7 weeks of age, done in an area the pups have never been in before by people the puppies have never seen before. That alone is not easy for those who live in rural areas.
Some people don't want to prove to a breeder that they are worthy of owning a dog. Some breeders don't mind that and don't want to hear anything about the puppy once the cash is in his/her hand. Some breeders don't think they need to have any health tests done on breeding stock (one told me that her dog didn't limp and thus could not have hip dysplasia, a statement that is completely incorrect) and some buyers don't think a health problem could ever happen to their puppy. Some show breeders will sell a puppy on monthly installment payments while some won't. Just as there are many different types of owners, there are many different types of breeders.
I AM A BREEDER
THE RIGHT TO BREED
LEARN MORE ABOUT THOSE WHO WISH TO END THE BREEDING OF PUREBRED DOGS
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