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To Breed or not to Breed

This article appeared in the AKC Gazette, June, 1991, page 157, and appears here with the authors permission. If you wish to use this article, please contact the author for permission. By Dr. Zoë M Backman 
One of my pet peeves is the so-called "backyard breeder" who knows nothing about the breed standard, pedigrees, heredity and other important factors that affect breeding. They simply take two AKC registered animal's and breed them.  

Some people feel that Fifi needs to experience motherhood to feel complete before they spay her. This is not true. In the wild, most dogs do not get the opportunity to breed. And what the backyard breeder often gets is bad temperament or genetic defects and/or faulty representations of a breed that give us all a bad name. The worst part is that they quickly get rid of a litter for $100 per AKC registered puppy (and breedable as well!). Who wants to spend $500 to $1000 for a real dog that has been well bred and guaranteed when you can get one for $100, and you can breed it and make more pups and get your investment back? After all, many responsible breeders sold pups with a spay/neuter clause prior to the limited registration.  

I was so excited when the AKC started the limited registration! I could at last sell my pets with a clean conscience. I would know that nobody was breeding a faulted animal, or breeding for fun and profit (what profit?). If somebody tells me that they want a pet and then says that they want to breed her, I usually educate them in understanding that a breedable bitch is not a pet, and that the quality of the animal they desire is different. I then show them a different puppy.  

I am still disappointed in the way they issue limited registrations. I cannot see backyard breeders issuing limited registrations. I think that all litters should be issued limited registration certificates and that at one year of age those animals that have been evaluated by the breeder and two AKC judges and meet the breed standard can be upgraded to breedable status.  

In Germany, Sweden and Norway, breedings must be approved. Only dogs approved at one year of age can be bred to other dogs approved for breeding. The dogs must gain titles and show promising litters when re-evaluated for permanent breeding rights. If American dogs were restricted in some way, the Midwest puppy mills would go unlicensed and be hard pressed to sell their sick, inferior pups on the open market. The backyard breeder would also be unable to sell that litter of cute pups, and most breeds would benefit from such restrictions on breeding. I met a lady at a show who announced that she wanted to breed her cute little six month old pup. She knew that I produced about one litter a year and wanted to know when she could breed Fifi. I glanced at Fifi and thought her to be a shepherd-sheltie mix. "Why would you want to go through the expense of breeding pups just to have a litter of mixed breed pups?" I asked, putting my paw in my throat.  

To which the reply came, "Can't you tell an AKC Shepherd when you see one? I thought that you were a Shepherd breeder." Oops!  

All that they saw when they gazed lovingly, at their Fifi was the wonderful house pet that they loved and adored. They did not see the grossly undersized, poorly pigmented, high-strung animal, that by no stretch of anyone's imagination would fit the breed standard. Rather than further insult the woman, I and several other breeders tried to stress the expenses involved in breeding a litter. We calculated that the cost of a perfect delivery with stud fees, shots and tests would run $1205 to $2155 (a C-section would cost an additional $500-800). Then we told her that Fifi was that lovable due to what she, the owner, put into her animal. and besides, there was always the possibility that she could lose her beloved Fifi due to complications at birth!  

The woman would not be swayed! She will breed her AKC registered dog and sell her AKC registered pups regardless of the breed standard. She did not know what OFA was, much less what genetic diseases her bitch might carry. Further, she was not going to test her for any genetic diseases as she knew that Fifi had none. This is not responsible breeding. It is such irresponsible breeding practices that have ruined many breeds and created many public relations problems. I am not advocating that only AKC champions be bred. I am, however, advocating that only AKC registered animals that are within the breed standard be allowed to breed. This can be accomplished by using the limited registration as the normal registration, and the breedable registration as the additional cost registration.  

Additionally, dogs should be surveyed at specialty shows, and an additional fee be charged for a breeding permit for a bitch or stud. This would give the restricted/ limited registration some meaning. All dogs should be tattooed prior, to a breed survey so that no substitutions could be made. In closing, I must say that most "backyard" breeders do not realize that they are doing a great injustice to a breed by their irresponsible breeding. They need to be educated so that they are aware of the breed standards, genetic faults of their breed and proper breeding practices. It is because I love my dog and my breed that I advocate strict breeding practices in order to protect and improve the breed. I think that all breeds of pure-bred dogs need to be protected.  


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