Every dog in the entire world came into existence in one of two ways: responsibly or irresponsibly.
A responsibly-bred dog is one whose parents were healthy, both physically and genetically. Their mother was cared for throughout her pregnancy, provided shelter, protected against disease, and fed an appropriate diet. When the responsibly-bred dog is a puppy, they are provided with mental stimulation and socialization to help them grow into a confident, self-assured dog. Even before their mother was bred, it was known that the responsibly-bred puppies would spend their lives being wanted.
If the above description wasn’t the case, the dog was the result of irresponsible breeding.
Obviously, the dogs themselves have no say in the matter and I am not, in any way, stating that an irresponsibly-bred dog is any less deserving of love and care. Irresponsibly-bred pets deserve love, respect, dignity, and a lifetime of snuggles with a human who loves them. Simultaneously, in a perfect world, irresponsibly-bred pets would not exist.
If you want dogs to continue to exist, they have to reproduce. Period. Let’s stop pretending that the dogs in shelters and rescues are not the result of breeding, as though they miraculously sprung forth from the head of Zeus fully formed. All dogs are the result of breeding. We get to choose if they are the result of responsible breeding or irresponsible breeding.
Unfortunately, there aren’t enough responsibly-bred dogs to go around. Responsible breeders have high demand for their puppies, and it’s common for a potential puppy-buyer to wait anywhere from 6 months to 2 years for a puppy to become available.
What happens when a family decides that they don’t want to wait? They start to look for other sources of puppies. Perhaps they hear of a friend of a friend whose dog had an accidental litter, or they see an ad for puppies available now in the newspaper. They wanted to support a responsible breeder, but don’t these puppies deserve a good home too? It isn’t the puppies’ fault the humans managing their parents did so irresponsibly. Our culture of instant gratification wins again and the family accepts the irresponsibly-produced puppy.
Responsible dog breeders and, consequently, responsibly-bred dogs, are in short supply in our society. This is a huge part of why irresponsible puppy producers are able to persist – when demand far outreaches supply, the quality is suspect. If the family above had been able to find a puppy from a responsibly-bred breeder, they never would have looked into other sources.
We desperately need more responsible dog breeders, and it is my goal to help make this a reality. It can be incredibly overwhelming to get started as a responsible dog breeder, and I strive to make it easier to understand science-backed strategies to produce healthy, responsibly-bred puppies. If you want to know more, check out my Responsible Breeder Checklist to get started.
I believe that training more responsible dog breeders is one piece of the puzzle to enabling every pet to be healthy, wanted, and cared for. True, it is only one piece, but it is absolutely essential to the future of dogs. All dogs are the result of either responsible breeding or irresponsible breeding, and I hope one day all dogs will be responsibly-bred!