Last column I talked about “Bred for Purpose” dogs. Dogs bred by caring people to high standards. And while making a profit is a nice side benefit, it is not the main concern.
“Bred for Profit” dogs can be just the opposite. Commonly called puppy mills or backyard breeders, many of these breeders are concerned solely with how much they can make from the dogs. Most have no breeding records, and may not even know which two dogs are the parents of any litter. And this is where the doodle craze becomes a problem, because now every dog can have a purebred like name, but be bred from a dog’s breakfast of a gene pool. Breeding a registered poodle to a registered lab retriever is one thing. Breeding a cross to a cross with no documented heritage is worse than a mutt, because they could have so many common ancestors reinforcing bad genetics.
Some backyard breeders are using catchphrases like double doodles, F2, and such to make the animals appear to be more like a purebred. But, if the breeder doesn’t have a written lineage of the dogs involved in producing an animal, there is no guarantee they are not inbred. A double doodle could have the same ancestor as each of the oodles. Without documentation, it can be just a mutt, and quite possibly a badly inbred one. I’m not saying all breeders of “designer dogs” are bad, just that a visit and a few questions can reveal a lot about your prospective new family member.
Some of these “designer dogs” are sold for more than purebred, but most these “bred for profit” dogs are cheaper than a “bred for purpose” dog, making them attractive to purchase. They are cheaper because they can produce so many more by having multiple litters per year, and save a lot of overhead by scrimping on food, housing and care. Some of these breeders don’t know any better, treating dogs as they would other livestock, like pigs or cows. It is unfortunate, and while many of the pups seem OK, many develop major problems down the line.
Overbreeding, inbreeding, unsanitary conditions, lack of attention and poor nutrition can lead to the production of sick and badly socialized animals. Dogs are resilient, and many of the animals produced this way go on to lead normal lives. But too many end up with serious problems, requiring surgeries, long term medication, or worse. Some never mentally recover from physical mistreatment they have received, and cannot lead normal socialized lives. The lucky ones find homes that can adapt to their special needs, the others face a much different, less fortunate end.
“Bred for profit” should be the target of activists. Many of the dogs that end up in rescues come from these breeders, either from seizures of animals at unlicensed facilities, or when a problem dog is surrendered. But they can be an attractive option, being less expensive. And now internet resources like Kijiji are making things even easier for unscrupulous breeders. People unknowingly buying from these breeders are endorsing the practice, and it is through education about this that we need to address the problem.
Visiting where the dogs are bred and raised will tell you whether it is a legitimate breeder or a puppy mill. If they send you pictures and want to deliver, they may have something to hide. In buying a puppy, we are talking about a 15 year commitment, thousands of dollars in care and feeding. Taking a drive to the breeding facility should be a minimum investment you can make in being sure this is the right companion animal for you, and that it has started its life with good care, and good genetics.
For more puppy buying tips, visit our website at aardvarkpets.com and click on “New Puppy”.
If you suspect someone of running a puppy mill, or subjecting animals to abuse, call the Animal Care Line at 204-945-8000.