By Lisa M. Costello, DVM, MS
|To me, a breeder is
a person who has two dogs that unite sperm and ova and produce
puppies. It is as simple as that. I do not believe the term "breeder"
implies any special qualities to a person with regard to their
knowledge about the breed, their ability to evaluate dogs, their
ability to pick good dogs or anything else. If you have two dogs
of the opposite sex, they breed and you are responsible, then
you are lucky enough to be a "Breeder". This is the same definition
of all the people who supply pet stores and make puppy mills a
What makes a *Good breeder*? Now to me, that is the real question.
Does it mean you have to keep a puppy from each litter? No. Does
it mean you have to use two champions as sire and dam? No. Does
it mean you can only breed one litter every 5 years? No. Do you
have to be a member of the parent club? No. Do you have to plan
and wring your hands over every single litter you produce....no,
not even this. Here is what it means to me, as a person who sees
hundreds of puppies every year from all kinds of breeders....98% of them not in my category of a "Good Breeder."
|"Good breeders don't actually know it all and they know they don't know it all. They
learn with each litter . . . "|
I think you need to know your breed (this would rule out all the
Puggles, Labradoodles and all the other ridiculous mixes they
sell for thousands of dollars that are not breeds but mongrels).
This doesn't mean you sit ringside and talk to other people or
finish a Champion or go to a lot of shows, trials, etc. It means
you are involved in the breed for more than 6 months (or even
a few years) before you breed, you get to know people in your
breed, you learn about the different familial lines in your breed,
you become familiar with the function of your breed and most of
all, you learn the health and temperament problems inherent with
your breed. This is a tall order but the longer I am in whippets,
the less I think I truly know and I have always considered that
to be a good thing...it means I keep learning. Good breeders don't
actually know it all and they know they don't know it all. They
learn with each litter and they WANT to learn with each litter.
Good Breeders health test parents of litters as much as possible
and they DO NOT BREED AFFECTED DOGS. Good breeders educate new
owners with respect to what might be in their puppies pedigree
with regard to disease and are open about breeding healthy dogs.
They are interested in full disclosure.
I think being a Good Breeder means you take every puppy you produce
seriously and to your heart. You are creating living, thinking
beings that deserve the best life they can have on this earth.
That does not mean they have to run around a show ring, break
out of a box on the track or chase the white plastic bag (that's
all icing on the cake). It means they live in homes where they
are loved and considered for their individual qualities as a living,
thinking, loving dog. Not a single person can tell me 6 litters
of puppies produced in less than 3 months time on one property
can fulfill that unless you have at least 20 or 30 people raising
those puppies on a daily basis. The puppies should have individual
attention, they should be handled on a routine basis, have their
nails trimmed, be given baths, fed good quality food, dewormed
and vaccinated appropriately and started off in their new homes
with the best possible chance (ideally knowing what a crate and
leash are as well). The owners of the puppies from a Good Breeder
should be able to utilize that breeder as a mentor, as a friend
and as a resource of knowledge about their breed and what lifelong
Being a Good Breeder means you will take those puppies back, regardless
of circumstance, for the remainder of their lives. It doesn't
mean you have to keep all of them (Good Breeders don't) or control
the rest of their lives or their owners lives...but you need to
be there if they need you. Does it mean you have to find the perfect
homes? No one can do this on a 100% basis but having homes on
waiting lists before litters are bred sure helps. Being a Good
Breeder doesn't mean you won't ever have problems with dogs or
owners or have litters that don't turn out or dogs that really
should not be bred....it means knowing these things do and will
happen and how to navigate them successfully.
|"Being a Good
Breeder doesn't mean you won't ever have problems . . .|
it means knowing these things do and will happen and how to navigate them successfully."
I would say the great majority of puppies I see today have only
breeders behind them, not Good Breeders. I have seen many pups
in the show ring that are no different. I don't think there is
one definition you can give with regard to number of litters per
year, puppies produced per decade, number of champions finished
per year, field titles earned, trials attended, etc. etc. etc.
that will successfully define a Good Breeder....it is in how you
introduce those puppies to the world and how you introduce your
new owners to their huge responsibility.
In closing...consider this statistic, which I learned at a recent
lecture on puppy gentling and early training in the vets office:
80% or more puppies today will lose their lives due to behavior
than any other single disease entity.
What this means is that the large majority of dogs who die will
do so because of behavior problems, not health issues (voluntary
euthanasia). Behavior is the main reason dogs are turned into
shelters, rescues or abandoned or euthanized in our civilized
world today. Man's Best Friend? Not so much anymore. I think Good
Whippet Breeders are one of the first lines of defense in keeping
this statistic to a minimum in our breed....they choose the owners
of their puppies, they help educate them and field problems when
they occur. I think anyone seriously considering breeding needs
to think about the minds and health of the 1-13 puppies/litter
they plan on producing. If you can stomach that and can step up
to the plate....you might just be a Good Breeder.
"What is a Breeder?" Copyright © 2007
Lisa M. Costello, DVM, MS.
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted by permission.
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