I love dogs. I think I love dogs more than most things in life. And while I love all dogs, there are particular breeds that I love more than others. The gentle giant Great Dane, the gorgeous Rhodesian Ridgeback, the cute Beagle, the awesome French Bulldogs or the comical Pug, for example. However, the vast majority of breeders are not putting their dogs’ best interest first and only think about the money the dogs bring in. They will breed their dam during her first heat cycle between the age of 6 to 9 months, far before the ethically minimum age of 2 years old (and personally, since dogs reach maturity at age 4, I think no dogs should breed before this age), and keep breeding her during every cycle. They won’t check their dogs’ health and other potential genetic problems. They keep the dogs in cages, leading to developmental problems (physically and psychologically). They don’t comply with the rules of breeding and thereby breeding dogs that are related, sometimes even siblings. This kind of breeding will often lead to genetic disorders and generally unhealthy and unhappy dogs. And the argument that it is to keep improving the breed? These days, the dogs do not even look like the dogs as they were supposed to. See here what 100 years of ‘breed’ improvement led to.
If you want more reasons to not support breeding, watch this video:
Having lived in various countries that have a bad record when it comes to animal welfare, I would never buy a ‘purebred’ dog (there). Most ‘purebred’ dogs do not even look like the breed at all anymore, people just put two dogs together and that’s it. The dogs are kept in cages and sold in pet shops. Unfortunately, ‘purebred’ dogs are very much wanted, especially in developing countries or middle-income countries where they are seen as a status symbol. What people do not know is that by buying from these breeders, they are supporting the suffering these animals have to go through.
Most animal welfare activists would say “adopt, don’t shop” and I do agree. However, I also understand why someone would pick a specific breed due to the characteristics of a breed. When I arrived in Egypt, I adopted a Egyptian stray dog, a ‘baladi’. Her name was Bailey and she was beautiful and sweet. However, soon I discovered she was a working dog who needed to run and who had buckets full of energy. I would walk her for two hours a day, but it was not enough to get all her energy out. And considering the streets of Cairo were not the safest place to have a dog run off-leash (traffic, poison, packs of street dogs that are ready to defend their territory), it was very tough and it resulted into destructive behaviour. In the end, I had to rehome her, something I swore I would never do. She now lives with a wonderful family in the Netherlands, who live next to the woods and she gets to run off-leash for three hours a day and play with other dogs. It is still a bittersweet story to me, a lesson learned. But partly due to this, I will be more careful next time before bringing in an unknown mixed breed as it is hard to predict the temperament and other characteristics. Visiting a shelter with mixed and ‘purebred’ dogs would be a good option as the shelter will be able to tell you more about each particular dog and see whether the dog and you are a match. And some countries have specific breed rescue groups, which would be an excellent option to find the dog you love and be responsible at the same time.
Another option for these people who want a certain breed but don’t want to be unethical, I would suggest going to a good reputable breeder, but really do your research well and make sure they are not just backyard breeders with a high price tag and good marketing skills. Good breeders have their dogs medically checked on all potential health issues. They spend a lot of time caring for and socialising their puppies. They will want to know a lot about you too and make sure their puppies go to a good owner. They are happy to answer any questions you may have and are happy to talk about their dogs. They choose their dogs based on character as well as looks. The dams will have only two or three litters, not more. They do not always have puppies available, there may be a waiting list, but this is worth it. It’s a big red flag if a breeder always has puppies available. Ask good veterinarians, friends and/or local breed clubs for breeder recommendations. Not all registered breeders are good breeders. In many countries, being a registered breeder does not equal being a quality breeder. For tips on how to find a responsible breeder, see this article by the Humane Society.
The puppies won’t be cheap, but it is the price you pay if you don’t want to support the suffering. In the end, the health problems that puppies from malicious breeders or backyard breeders may carry with them will cost you a lot more money and heartbreak.