Q-WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT BREEDING
A- Breeding dogs has become
quite a science in the last few years. With the growing popularity of Dog
Shows, and the increased exposure from T.V., many people get into breeding
thinking that they can produce a dog just like the one they saw on TV, or
worse, that it is a very profitable venture. As breed popularity surges and
wans, fly-by-night breeders try to meet demand by mass-producing puppies.
Also, there is a constant market for pets. Thus, puppy-mill operators are
thriving. Unfortunately, indiscriminate breeding is inviting a host
of problems, as every breed has it's share of inheritable disease. In order
to prevent the puppies you produce from inheriting these diseases, you need
to spend alot of time researching pedigrees, testing your breeding stock,
and working with fellow breeders to produce dogs that are healthy and good
representatives of their breed. There is a huge amount of responsibility
undertaken when breeding your dog. It should not be taken lightly.
Q-I PAYED GOOD MONEY FOR MY
DOG, WHY SHOULDN'T I MAKE SOME OF IT BACK?
A- Unfortunately, breeding healthy
dogs is not profitable, and usually expends quite a chunk of change from
your pocketbook. The only way puppy-mill owners make profits is by compromising
the quality of care that the breeding stock recieves. We've all seen the
horrible pictures of cages stacked upon cages full of dirty, half-starved
dogs and puppies. Females are bred every season until they cannot produce
anymore pups. They are then sold at auction or killed. Many puppies
are shipped out when they are just 6 weeks old, and a (not) surprising large
number never make it to their destination alive. That $800 puppy in the
pet store was bought from the puppy mill for $100. With such a small profit,
I can guarantee you the animals do not get the best care available.
In order to breed responsibly, your dog must recieve routine veterinary
care, be tested free of disease, have a good temperament, and not have any
severe fault or disqualification listed in the breed standard.
Q-WELL, OUR DOG IS A FAMILY
PET. WE AREN'T A PUPPY MILL!
A- The majority of purebred dogs
come from what's commonly called the "backyard" breeders, namely those who
own a female and want to have a litter so that the kids can see "the miracle
of birth", or maybe to make some spending money, or because they want a puppy
"just like Buffy". Although these dogs recieve much better health care, most
being family pets, the owners do not think to check for inherited disease
or temperment problems. Also, once the puppies have been sold, the breeders
no longer feel responsible for the future health of the pup. Very few of
these 'breeders' would stand behind a puppy they sold if it came up lame
with hip dysplaysia 4 yrs later. And because of their lack of 'lifelong'
committment, many of those cute puppies end up in homes that are not appropriate,
and thus the dog is condemned to a life of living in a backyard or worse,
end up at the local pound. The concientious breeder screens potential
puppy owners to make sure the dog will have a good home, and they are there
for the buyers for the life of the dog. As for the "miracle of birth",
there are many things that can go wrong at whelping, not to mention it is
a very messy and bloody affair. Are you prepared to explain to your
children why that puppy died? Why it was deformed? Or why the
dam died? Are you prepared to expend a great amount of money should a c-section
be required? Are you prepared to take enough time off of work to watch
over the pups the first critical weeks? Are you prepared to hand-feed
orphaned puppies every three hours if the dam dies, does not have enough
milk, or develops mastitis and cannot nurse her puppies? The less prepared
you are for trouble, the more likely you are to have it. There is
no fun in consoling your children when they witness the ugly side of breeding.
Q-SO WHAT MAKES "RESPONSIBLE"
BREEDERS SO DIFFERENT?
A- The responsible breeder is
a devotee of the breed. They know the breed inside and out, they are usually
active in some way in dog shows. Their main concern first and formost is
the health of the parents and puppies. They take the steps necessary to ensure
that the parents are free of any hereditary disease and that the pups have
the best chance for a long and healthy life. They do their best to produce
dogs which closely follow the written standard for the breed. They stand
behind their puppies and are always there for the purchasers for the life
of the pup. They put their heart and soul into their dogs. Some of these people
are well-known breeders, some aren't. They produce several litters a year,
or they may go several years between litters. Either way, they are cautious
about what type of home the puppies go to and are willing to take one back
if need be. When choosing a stud for their female, they find the one who
is most compatible physically, mentally, and pedigree-wise. If they offer
a male for stud, they not only make sure he is healthy, but that he is a
good example of the breed and can pass on the desired characteristics. They
also are cautious about the females he is bred to. They too must be good,
healthy representatives of the breed. A good sire owner is as concerned about
the future welfare of the coming pups as the dam owner. Like they say, it
takes two to tango!
Q-WHAT ABOUT WHITE BOXERS?
A- Contrary to what you may have
been led to believe, "white" boxers ARE NOT RARE! They appear in many, if
not most litters, and should not be bred. Ethical breeders follow a code
of conduct which prohibits them from breeding white puppies. While some breeders
do 'cull' their white pups at birth, this is (thankfully) a shrinking practice
as more breeders are placing these pups in loving homes. In fact, many breeders
are more choosy about homes for the white pups than the colored. Too many
consumers are suckered out of large amounts of money for a "rare" white
boxer, which may suffer from deafness in one or both ears. This is not saying
that white boxers are less desirable. They are every much as wonderful as
colored boxers, but due to their color inheritance, are more prone to deafness
than their colored siblings. And because white is a disqualifying color
in the breed, they should not be bred. But they are capable and welcome
to participate in obedience, agility, and tracking.
Q-WE WANT TO GET A FAMILY PET, WHAT
SHOULD WE DO?
A- A large problem we face today
is an explosion of unwanted dogs and cats. Although animal rights organizations
like to tell you that the majority of unwanted animals are purebred, the
opposite is true. But there ARE thousands of purebred dogs in animal shelters.
If you are looking for a housepet, and are not interested in conformation
showing, then you would probably be very satisfied adopting a pet from your
local shelter. If you are looking for a certain breed, there are breed-specific
rescue organizations set up nation-wide who take in unwanted pets and strays
and find suitable homes for them. These people are the unseen angels in the
dog world. If you are interested in a rescue boxer, there are alot of wonderful
dogs out there waiting for a loving home.
There is an inherent risk to purchasing a dog from a shelter or rescue.
Very seldom is any information available about the parents of that dog,
who the breeder is, if any health issues lurk in the genetic background, etc.
You may end up with a healthy dog that gives you years of enjoyment,
or it may develop numerous health problems that are both costly, and reduce
your pet's quality of life. Buying from a responsible breeder greatly
reduces the risk of unforseen problems. Thus where you get your next
pet depends on what risk factors you are willing to accept.
Q-I AM INTERESTED IN SHOWING.
WHAT DO I DO NOW?
A- If you want
a well-bred puppy from a breeder, then be as prepared as you can and do
your research before committing to a puppy. Good quality puppies,
even those destined for "pet" homes, may take some patience and waiting.
I suggest you go to local dog shows, watch the breed you are interested
in, and then talk to exhibitors after the judging is over with. Watch
as many shows as you can, and find the individual dogs who strike your fancy
the most. Then look at their breeding, and start looking for a puppy
from similar lines. Patience is a virtue in the dog-show game, so don't
rush into a deal that you may regret later. It's very important that
you start with the absolute best quality puppy you can find. Don't be lured
into thinking that a poor-quality puppy will improve with age, or that you
can "always breed it", and show the puppies. Starting with a poor specimin
will take you much longer to achieve your goals then to wait and save up
for a top-quality puppy. And remember that a single litter can contain gorgeous
puppies AND horrible puppies. NO breeder can guarantee that a puppy will
be a future champion. And while showing can be very rewarding, and
a great way to teach your children responsibility and sportsmanship, you
must keep in mind that it can also be very frustrating, expensive, and at
times political. Your best chance of being successful starts with finding
a good mentor. Someone you can turn to for advice, attend shows with,
learn from, and who will guide (but not dictate) the path you travel.
The more you educate yourself in your chosen breed, and dog shows in general,
the more prepared you will be to handle the ups and downs of showing.
And most importantly, you must remember that your love for the breed should
always come before your love of the win. If you are only into showing
for the ego trip, then you are not going to make the best choices for the
future of the breed.