Back Yard Breeders - The Devil Incarnate
A little harsh you think? Not me. Back yard breeders account for 2/3 of the dogs in the U.S, and I am sure the number is equally as disgusting in Canada. Back yard breeders are the single biggest cause of pet over population in North America. So, aside from the obvious...why do I HATE back yard breeders *oh so much*? First, let's go over just what a back yard breeder (BYB) is.
Back Yard Breeders - A Devil of a Definition
A simple definition would be an average pet owner who breeds their dog (horse, guinea pig, etc). They could be breeding their dog for many reasons;
- they were too stupid or cheap to get them fixed and it just "happened",
- they think their pet is the CUUUTEST thing EVER since it's a cool colour, it's big, it's small, it walks on water and want to make more for themselves or others,
- they want to pimp their beloved pooch out to make some extra $$$,
- they are just really that stupid and ignorant. (This applies to ALL BYBs)
What the Hell's Wrong With Them?Lack of Knowledge and Experience
Reputable breeders have the knowledge and experience required to successfully breed, and home dogs. Ensuring them a better chance at a long, healthy, one home life. Breeders who further their knowledge through books, education, and being members of breed clubs and associations have a true understanding of what it takes to be a good dog breeder. Hands on experience is also important, as is having a good working relationship with a vet to oversee your breeding. A lack of knowledge or interest to learn leads to many problems, and over population.
BYB Do Not Health Test Their Dogs - and Most don't Even see the Vet
Any dog should have their hips (OFA or PennHip), eyes (CERF) and ideally their thyroid tested prior to breeding. Even cross breds can be affected by genetic problems sometime in life. What BYB have you ever heard of that checks their dogs for this? A lot of BYBs don't even have their dogs regularly vaccinated or de-wormed. These dogs could have serious health or genetic problems they are passing on to their puppies. Do you think the average person buying a dog from a BYB is prepared for the type of medical problems they might encounter thanks to irresponsible breeding? The answer is NO. When the dog becomes sick, or crippled, it ends up homeless, scared and depressed.
Think about birthing. Do you think BYBs have the experience to handle this if it goes wrong? Will they recognize the signs that the bitch needs a C section? Will they be able to afford it? DO THEY EVEN CARE??? They don't realize that if there are complications not only are the puppies lives at stake but so is the mothers. They could lose their beloved dog because of their ignorance and greed.
Breeding for Cuteness, Colour, or Cool Breeds
People have obsessions with dogs who are cute colours, really small, or really big, or whatever breed is the newest trend, or trying to create a new trend breed. BYBs who do not have the knowledge of genetics do stupid things to get the colour they know will sell.
For example, my dog Shaeffer is a double Merle. When you breed a blue merle with another blue merle you have a high risk of getting a double merle - or lethal white. More times than not, these dogs are deaf and/or blind. The reason people do this is the highest chance of getting a blue merle - a highly sought after colour. They do it regardless of the complications some of the puppies may be burdened with for life. These poor pups have an extremely hard time being placed in homes. For more information on Lethal Whites please go to :
(I am not associated with Lethal Whites website I just like their website and info)
Other BYBs breed for size, say to get very small teacups or very large Danes. This can lead to all sorts of health problems down the road. Too small dogs can have serious leg and eye issues, as larger dogs can have serious hip and heart problems. BYBs often get the idea of crossing two breeds which they like. This is NOT a good idea. It's impossible to tell which traits the parents will pass on, and the traits you like from each breed could be suppressed and you end up with a bad mix from both. This can also lead to a laundry list of health problems.
Why Are They Breeding?
Are they breeding simply for money or to make more puppies? Get free puppies? Ignorance and can't afford to fix their animals? Any of these reasons are NOT reasons to breed.
Good breeders will breed with a goal in mind. They will breed for desired traits and temperment that will improve the breed. They breed puppies that will grow into show quality dogs or become good family pets. Most reputable breeders also are dedicated to ensuring their dogs have good lifelong homes.
The Single Biggest Contributor to Pet Population and Unwanted Dogs
The statistics speak for themselves:
- Of the 52.9 million dogs who live in the United States, approximately 2.9 million of them are killed in shelters annually (AVMA, 1998, and AHA, 1998).
- Puppy mills churn out 20% of the total number of dogs whelped yearly, and roughly 1% are the results of feral dogs reproducing on their own. Less than 12% come from breeders who actively test their stock in conformation, obedience, and field trials.
- BYBs produce nearly 67% of all the dogs born annually in this country (Gardner, 1994)
PLEASE don't ignore the facts. If you are looking for a dog, go to a rescue or shelter. DO YOUR RESEARCH!
If you MUST go to a breeder, make sure they are a good reputable breeder with references. I will post about what makes a good breeder in the future.
Please don't reward these greedy, selfish people who have no care or concern for the animals they are using.
For more information on back yard breeding follow these links:
A Letter to a Back Yard Breeder from http://www.houstonsheltiesanctuary.com/BYB.htm
Dear Backyard Breeder --
I am writing this in a state of anger, frustration, and sadness. I think you will understand why as you read this letter. About two years ago, you decided to breed a litter of Shelties. Your bitch wasn't really breeding quality, and you certainly didn't know enough about the breed, so perhaps it was greed, ignorance, or the desire to show the kids the highly overrated miracle of birth. You managed to find a male of equally undistinguished parentage, and the deal was consummated. Your bitch, who had previously been confined to the backyard because she was not housebroken and had absolutely no manners, must have felt like royalty when you allowed her to stay in the garage while she tended her puppies. The puppies received very little handling and only absolutely minimal vet care. After all, you had to make money on the litter. You started to panic when the pups were 6 weeks old, and prospective buyers were not exactly beating a path to your door. The price dropped to $75, and the interview for prospective buyers consisted pretty much of "Did you bring cash?"
One lively, playful male was sold to a young couple with a toddler and another child on the way. Any responsible breeder would have known this was a bad placement and would have counseled the couple to wait until the kids were 4 or 5. Maybe you didn't know any better, or maybe you just didn't care, so you sold them the puppy. Things were okay for a very short time, but then the puppy, in his youthful exuberance, was knocking the toddler down, and the kid was becoming afraid of him. The parents, novice dog owners without a clue about training, banished the pup to the backyard. Unfortunately he was lonely and started barking and digging. They called you and offered to return him, but you said you didn't want him back and that you were getting out of dogs. (Thank goodness!) They ran an ad in the paper...free to good home, but they were pretty lenient on the interpretation of good home.
A young man took the puppy. He saw this free, AKC registered dog as a way to make extra money standing the dog at stud. I guess the income wasn't that great, or the guy spent it too quickly. The dog was hit by a car. The owner neglected to get veterinary care until 5 days later and only did so because the leg was all swollen, and the dog was in severe pain. When the vet told him how much the treatment would cost, the owner said to euthanize the dog. The vet thought the dog was too sweet to kill, so she called someone in rescue. This person paid for the treatment and took the dog home to heal. When the dog was healed and no adopters were forthcoming, she called me and I took the dog to foster.
He really liked living here. I taught him some basic manners, and he got to watch TV in the evenings. He liked playing with my dogs. When a good possibility of a home came along, I adopted him out. Things were fine for the first 2 days, but then he started to show unpredictable aggression, not to the adopters, but to guests or people they encountered when walking him. They reluctantly returned him to me. I did more socialization and then got another rescue person to take him for a week and see what kind of results he got. Same story. The dog was fine for a very short time and then began displaying unpredictable aggression. I took him back knowing that the only alternative now was to put him down. A dog with unpredictable aggression is just not a candidate for placement. We have so many more dogs looking for homes than there are homes available that resources cannot be spent on a dog with unsatisfactory temperament.
So, Back Yard Breeder, you produced this dog and then abandoned all responsibility for him. I took him to the vet yesterday. He knew something was wrong...probably because I was crying and my hands were shaking. I knew I had to do this, but I really liked this dog and hated that this was the way it would end. I held him in my arms as he drifted off. There is no more confusion and instability in his young life, and now he has playmates at the Rainbow Bridge. I know that for at least the time he lived here he was happy and well-cared for. I can't help thinking that if you had been more selective of buyers and if his owners had been more responsible and provided him with care and training, he wouldn't have had to die. Maybe it was genetic. Perhaps his parents had aggression problems, and you never considered that when you bred the litter. I don't know. I just know that I wish you could feel as bad as I do over this.
I suppose the irresponsible people who owned him along the way have to share the blame too. The young couple bought on impulse without doing any research into the breed. They didn't train him and then just gave him away when he became inconvenient. The young man who let him suffer before seeking vet care should never own another pet. But by and large, Back Yard Breeder, I blame you because you made a conscious decision to create life and then refused to take responsibility for what you had created.
A Rescue Worker [Author Unknown]