I’m taking another pass at the ever popular subject of Finding A Good Breeder, a subject I have visited before in various ways from Another One of those Stupid “how to find a good breeder” lists….. to Rin Tin Tin, or Run Run Run? This time from the perspective of finding a breeder that shares your values.
As part of my new podcasting project I kicked off with how I define a Responsible Breeder and Substandard Breeder I’ve detailed out the Ethical Breeding Standard we use ourselves and I’m presenting it here for you in visual and PDF form. I find the Breeder Standard to be a vastly more functional way of identifying breeders I want to support and work with than most other such resources out there, because it’s focus is on core values, relationship building, and mutual understanding.
The Breeder Standard also cuts through the general fog on this subject that occurs when we obscures what really matters in favor of things we have been taught are more important than they really are.
Primarily what I mean by this is the blanket assignment of ”good” applied to breeders producing dogs for competition (show/sport) and the blanket ”bad” applied to breeders who do not breed dogs primarily for competition but instead for companion homes. This age old “find a show breeder” advice just misses the mark and has led to so many problems in the dog community that it’s long past time we move to something more meaningful.
Why? Why is the ”find a breeder who titles their dogs” advice damaging to the dog community?
First, time has proven that there are just not enough competition breeders producing enough competition bred puppies to meet the demand for companion dogs. Why this is now the case is a subject for another day.
Second, the assumption that competition bred dogs by default make easy companion dogs for the typical pet dog owner is flat out wrong. Breeders of competition dogs are selecting and applying selection pressure for structural and/or behavioral traits that are important to them, traits that help them win to be honest, which may or may not even be in the best interest of the breed. These traits may or may not include traits that enable dogs to be easy companion.
Third, Competition breeders really never asked to be saddled with the responsibility of producing pets for everyone who wants one. While this community undoubtedly has enjoyed being considered the ”best” it does not follow that they want to do the work needed to produce enough puppies to meet demand, or to prioritize companion friendly traits over the traits needed to garner enough points to be considered successful. If the competition community really wanted to carry this responsibility they would be breeding more dogs and not attacking other breeders for breeding more dogs.
On the flip side, there are a growing number of breeders who WANT to specialize in breeding companion dogs and they are prepared to do this work. We need to stop demonizing them and start working with them.
Companion focused dog breeders are focusing on traits that enable dogs to be easy companions for the typical pet dog owner, this community is the foundation of our dog world and they deserve attention and respect. Companion focused breeders are happy to provide this.
Companion dogs breeders have chosen to breed for companion dog owners, they want this responsibility, and are producing the dogs to fill this need.
Instead of cultivating hostility between these two large groups of breeders we need to work together to ensure we are preserving our breeds historic type, increasing health when possible, producing enough dogs to meet the needs of the typical dog owner, and placing these dogs responsibly so they are an asset to their owner and community.
Now, before the universe shakes with the ”screams in points” of the show community, I am absolutely not saying that competition breeders are not a viable place to look for a companion puppy, or a delightful adult dog, I am JUST saying that we need to stop assuming someone is a good breeder simply because they compete with their dogs, or that if we are looking for a companion puppy our only responsible option is a competition oriented breeder (spoiler: it’s not).
If you are looking for a puppy for competition these judgements and choices are much harder for you, because if you want to succeed in your venue(s) of choice you really should only be considering breeders with a record of producing dogs that do well there. So, finding a breeder that shares all your core values may have to take a backseat to those competition goals, you won’t know until you are well into the breeder interview processes and have a good idea of the landscape of availability, time frame, contract stipulations (which can be wack), and all the other considerations when investing in a puppy for competition.
The following system for considering breeders focuses on three main areas: Valuing the dogs, valuing the puppy seeker, and valuing the breed.
For a more detailed step by step process for talking to breeders consider our free course on Finding the right breeder and the perfect puppy for you.