Responsibility of a breeder – from an ethic perspective

Breeding a litter for fun? No way!

Most people see a fun aspect in breeding dogs (or other pets) but for a responsible breeder it requires a fundamental effort. They are a lot of breeders out there (yes, nowadays everyone can call himself a breeder) which believe “my pet looks good and healthy, it’s a lovely dog (at least from his own point of view), so why not breed a litter puppies?” This seriously should not be the basic thought when thinking about breeding. Breeders of purebred dogs are often bound to rules and restrictions of their kennel club, such as minimum age of the bitch, inbreeding percentage or breed specific health checks. Almost every kennel club has different rules and requirements and every breeder can decide for himself which club suit his breeding ethics. After all you stick to the rules and that’s it. There is no unity about suitable breeding requirements and sometimes it seems more like a contest and the winner has the winner scores with the highest bid until a new one is game. As example, one club sets a min age for breeding bitches at 15 months, the 2nd at 18 months, the next one at 20 months of age…. And so on. Diversity of clubs is assumingly higher than genetic diversity and it is difficult to rule out uniform breeding requirements that fits everybody’s ethics.

Fortunately some breeders believe in the importance to take the extra step across the line introducing a future oriented and safer level of breeding (same as we do). Responsible breeding requires more effort than good will only. After all, we lay hand on nature and the process of breed development, creation, anatomy and health of a living being. This should be done with respect, responsibility and the highest possible (recently available) scientific knowledge and aim for healthy breeding.

For this reason our breeding plans take the following aspects into account too:
  • Consistent self-improvement in science, research and statistics.
  • Evaluating breed specific populations and its history of inherited traits, monitoring the inbreeding coefficient and ancestry loss (counts for crossbreed projects too)
  • History, development and the originally intended aim/function of the breed
  • Genetics and Epigenetics
  • Anatomy, Physiology, Immunology and Embryology
  • Evaluating different breeding methods
  • Nutrition and Parasitology
  • Structured rearing and temperament testing of puppies and evaluating their new potential owner
  • Lineage documentation, analysis and corrections where necessary
  • Honesty and respect towards other breeders, new puppy owners and most importantly – towards yourself
A breeder, operating on this level has to face comparatively a lot higher expenses, such as:
  • Advanced studies and education materials
  • Detailed testing (DNA, x-rays, ophthalmologic tests, etc.)
  • Careful selection of breeding stock regarding health, temperament, unrelated bloodlines (very often bound to high expenses for import, travels and shipping) and detailed documentation
  • Optimized nutrition, training and care
  • Shelter, care and rehoming if an owner cannot or does not want to care for his dog any longer
Quality has priority

If you ask people to name a reason for breeding, you will obtain several answers. Most likely one of these:

  • I want to breed puppies once! (they are sooo cute)
  • Selling puppies (cash!)
  • Conservation and improvement of the breed (bingo!)

None of these answers are wrong in particular and people often combine more reasons in such a case. For breeders of purebred dogs normally the most important reason is the conservation of the breed. Outcrossing can improve a breed as well. The aim of a responsible breeder should be the improvement of each new generation compared to the previous within a population of dogs (health, fertility, temperament, longevity, looks, or a combination of those)

Thoughtless ‘mating’ of dogs for selling puppies should never be the fundament of any breeder and it destroys the hard-won gain of skilled breeders which have spent years of painstaking effort for improvement and wellbeing of their bloodlines. A considerate selection of the breeding stock will increase genetic diversity. Genetic diversity is a problem every breed has to fight recently. Therefore access to the lineage and inherited traits is necessary. If you cannot achieve it by pedigree, get the DNA and health checked.

Despite the aspects I just mentioned, a breeder carries responsibility for his new created generation of puppies. A respectful breeder cares for the future of each of his puppies and won’t give them away to anyone that pays the requested amount, but he will carefully investigate the people and new home. He wants his puppy to feel safe and loved in his new home and only a good match between puppy and new owner will create a friendship for life. A puppy that can grow up to a friendly and social dog within his environment. And even if this might not be the case the breeder should be there for him and care for his wellbeing in cooperation with the new owner. Maybe it’s not always easy, but that’s what you choose for as respectful breeder.

 “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln