Let’s examine some of the terminology that you are likely to encounter during your research:
Anyone who knows anything about ‘puppy mills’ knows that they are very bad news. No one wants to buy a dog that has been bred by a puppy mill.
People who run puppy mills are people who treat dogs not as pets, but rather as livestock. Their breeding standards and practices are all geared not to the health of either the breed or the individual dogs, but rather exclusively toward maximizing their own profits.
Their dogs are often restricted to living their lives in filthy cages. Females are bred to exhaustion, having one litter after another with no opportunity to rest and/or recover. Genetically dangerous inbreeding is very often a common and unrestrained practice.
No one in their right mind would ever knowingly buy a dog from a puppy mill. Unfortunately, puppies in pet stores often come from puppy mills, and on the Internet, some puppy mills can be remarkably skilled at hiding their true nature. Puppy mills now often run their own ‘pet store fronts’ to eliminate the middle man and make it easier to conceal their breeding business.
Beware of buying from breeders who offer many different breeds of dogs for sale. Much more often than not, a breeder that raises more than a single breed is running a puppy mill. Don’t get me wrong….There are responsible breeders who do raise more than one breed, but if you come across a breeder or kennel online that offers multiple breeds, it would be wise to exercise extra due caution.
The term “reputable breeder” sounds real good, but this is actually a troubling term to many responsible dog breeders who breed purebred dogs for family pets, but have no interest in participating in the competitive world of dogs shows.
The world of purebred dog breeding has come to be rather ‘lorded over’ by people whose entire lives have become involved in the intensive breeding of dogs with certain very specific physical characteristics, which are considered desirable by them, and with showing those dogs in dog shows where they are judged according to these specifically established standards of beauty.
These people have come to commonly refer to themselves as “reputable breeders”, a term which they use to separate themselves from other breeders. Their common use of this term clearly gives the impression that other breeders, since they are not included under this purloined term “reputable breeder”, must therefore be somehow ‘disreputable’.
In these breeders’ opinion, dogs that do not meet their arbitrary standards of beauty should not be bred at all. Only dog show champions should be bred with other dog show champions. Only those puppies that inherit the correct physical standards of beauty should then be raised, and shown, to win dog show championships, and then be bred themselves.
It can be humorous to think that if people were ‘bred’ the same way that these people breed dogs, only the most beautiful female runway fashion models would be bred with the strongest and most handsome athletes. All others would be prevented from ‘breeding’. Do we think that this would ‘improve’ the human race?
These people who call themselves “reputable breeders”, who follow these practices religiously, think that it ‘improves’ dog breeds.
There are many conscientious and responsible dog breeders who have no interest in breeding dogs for show competition, but rather want to breed dogs for advantageous personality characteristics that make for excellent family pets. These highly dedicated and responsible breeders are excluded, by definition, from the ranks of “reputable breeders”, by the breeders who refer to themselves with that term. These ‘show breeders’ have commandeered this term, “reputable breeder” to refer exclusively to themselves, to people who breed dogs for show competition, implying that dedicated, conscientious, and responsible breeders who breed excellent and healthy purebred dogs for characteristics that make them excellent pets are somehow “disreputable”.
Over-restricted gene pool in dog breeding:
There are many facts about the breeding practices of these self-styled “reputable breeders” that these ‘show breeders’ do not want the general public to be aware of.
Many of their breeding practices have led directly to the prevalence of severe genetic health problems among many breeds of dogs. These breeding practices restrict the gene pool of the various breeds to an unhealthy degree, primarily through the practice of inbreeding, including what is well known in dog breeding circles as the “popular sire syndrome”.
The “popular sire syndrome”, which is prevalent among the self-styled “reputable breeders”, among ‘show breeders’, dangerously restricts the gene pool of the various breeds because among show breeders a relatively small percentage of ‘championship’ males sire a dangerously large percentage of ALL puppies that are produced. As this practice continues from one generation to the next, (and a generation for a breeding sire is some 7-9 years), the gene pool grows ever more restricted.
Championship females have a much smaller effect on the overall gene pool, because each female only has at most one litter of 4-6 puppies each year, while a “popular sire” often sires hundreds, or in some cases even thousands, of puppies each year.
This severe restriction of the gene pool, with an ever greater percentage of puppies inheriting their genes from a continually shrinking gene pool, passed down generation to generation from an elite group of each generations “popular sires”, leads directly to the heartbreaking incidence of the genetic diseases that have come to be so prevalent in some breeds.
Over half of all Pugs, for example, (51%), are now born with the gene that leads to hip dysplasia, a crippling genetic disease that afflicts dogs in the prime of life. Over the years, breed after breed have become very popular, only to soon be ‘ruined’ by the inbreeding practices of show breeders, (the self-proclaimed “reputable breeders”), including the popular sire syndrome.
Popular breeds like Cocker Spaniels, Beagles, and German Shepherds have fallen in popularity as show breeding practices have introduced the prevalence of genetic diseases into these breeds. (The prevalence of genetic diseases among the current most popular breed, Labradors, is said to be steadily increasing).
Back yard breeder:
This is a term used primarily by show breeders to refer to breeders who breeds dogs for any other reason other than to breed champions that win dog shows. The accusation is made that “back yard breeders” are irresponsible people who have no business breeding dogs at all.
Show breeders, who want to have exclusive control over dog breeding, want the public to believe that “back yard breeders” are just one small step removed from puppy mills. Show breeders claim that “back yard breeders” fail to maintain the standards of the breeds, because they breed dogs that are not ‘show quality’ dogs.
Certainly there are some breeders who might properly earn this distinction through their careless and/or casual breeding practices. They may not properly care for their dogs, or make sure that their dogs are healthy before breeding them. Irresponsibly casual breeding is not good for dog breeds, or for individual dogs.
Responsible pet breeder:
There are many dog breeders who love dogs, take excellent care of their dogs, and make sure that they breed pedigreed purebred dogs that are healthy and happy, and exhibit characteristics that make them excellent family pets.
A responsible pet breeder’s breeding stock will almost surely have championship bloodlines in their pedigrees, but these breeders are more concerned with maintaining a diverse gene pool by making sure that there is no genetic relation among their dogs for as many generations back as they can trace.
Responsible pet breeders certainly enjoy it when one of their puppies show exceptional physical beauty, but they know that physical beauty is NOT the primary characteristic that makes a good family pet.
Responsible pet breeders want to breed healthy and happy purebred dogs. They breed for characteristics of personality and behavior that make dogs beloved family pets.