"I don't want a show dog; I just want a pet."
I had to share this here. What a wonderful post about the reason great breeders are important. Copied below from the Ruffly Speaking blog.
I don’t want a show dog; I just want a pet.
by Joanna Kimball on July 13, 2010
This is one of the most pervasive sentiments that puppy buyers, especially families, express when they're looking for a dog. What they really mean, of course, is that they don't want a show BREEDER – don't want to pay the high price they think show breeders charge, don't want to go through the often-invasive interview process, and think that they're getting a better deal or a real bargain because they can get a Lab for $300 or a Shepherd for $150.
I want you to change your mind. I want you to not only realize the benefits of buying a show-bred dog, I want you to INSIST on a show-bred dog. And I want you to realize that the cheap dog is really the one that's the rip-off. And then I want you to go be obnoxious and, when your workmate says she's getting a puppy because her neighbor, who raises them, will give her one for free, or when your brother-in-law announces that they're buying a goldendoodle for the kids, I want you to launch yourself into their solar plexus and steal their wallets and their car keys.
If I ask you why you want a Maltese, or a Lab, or a Leonberger, or a Cardigan, I would bet you're not going to talk about how much you like their color. You're going to tell me things about personality, ability (to perform a specific task), relationships with other animals or humans, size, coat, temperament, and so on. You'll describe playing ball, or how affectionate you've heard that they are, or how well they get along with kids.
The things you will be looking for aren't the things that describe just "dog"; they'll be the things that make this particular breed unique and unlike other breeds.
That's where people have made the right initial decision – they've taken the time and made the effort to understand that there are differences between breeds and that they should get one that at least comes close to matching their picture of what they want a dog to be.
Their next step, tragically, is that they go out and find a dog of that breed for as little money and with as much ease as possible.
You need to realize that when you do this, you're going to the used car dealership, WATCHING them pry the "Audi" plate off a new car, observing them as they use Bondo to stick it on a '98 Corolla, and then writing them a check and feeling smug that you got an Audi for so little.
It is no bargain.
Those things that distinguish the breed you want from the generic world of "dog" are only there because somebody worked really hard to get them there. And as soon as that work ceases, the dog, no matter how purebred, begins to revert to the generic. That doesn't mean you won't get a good dog – the magic and the blessing of dogs is that they are so hard to mess up, in their good souls and minds, that even the most hideously bred one can still be a great dog – but it will not be a good Shepherd, or good Puli, or a good Cardigan. You will not get the specialized abilities, tendencies, or talents of the breed.
If you don't NEED those special abilities or the predictability of a particular breed, you should not be buying a dog at all. You should go rescue one. That way you're saving a life and not putting money in pockets where it does not belong.
If you want a purebred and you know that a rescue is not going to fit the bill, the absolute WORST thing you can do is assume that a name equals anything. They really are nothing more than name plates on cars. What matters is whether the engineering and design and service department back up the name plate, so you have some expectation that you're walking away with more than a label.
Keeping a group of dogs looking and acting like their breed is hard, HARD work. If you do not get the impression that the breeder you're considering is working that hard, is that dedicated to the breed, is struggling to produce dogs that are more than a breed name, you are getting no bargain; you are only getting ripped off.
Good read thanks for sharing
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Can we make an "I don't want a show dog; I just want a pet" sticky in the breeders section? It could include other posts with additional very good views that would build upon this one.
I had an interesting conversation with my neighbor yesterday. I told her Lana was in heat and I had another couple of weeks before life returned to normal. She asked if I was going to breed her. I said "No, I don't really want to show her and besides I was allowed not to crop the ears so her chances of finishing are slim". The neighbor asked why I hadn't spayed her. I said I had promised the breeder I would keep her intact until she could get a repeat breeding successfully with quality bitch puppies (tragic story behind this). I added that I might keep her intact for health reasons. Then she said "but she is so beautiful and there are so many other ugly dobes getting bred, why not have a litter?". I gave a normal response but the clincher was this:
"She looks so healthy and well-balanced." "That's why I bought a top quality bitch from a show breeder." She said "in horses, the conformation mare often costs way more in vet bills the 'more they approach the standard' ".
I was stunned - I said our standard drives toward better health - is that not the case with horses? She said no. She has been in horses since she was born - many wins, prizes for performance horses - dressage, western something or other - herself, husband, family and the children.
Has anyone else come across this?
I was wondering if this is part of why buyers prefer to pay big money from crap puppies from K-tal et al?
I would disagree, however, with her phrase "the more they approach the standard."
What has happened with a lot of horse breeds is what has happened with the split between working GSDs and show GSDs, and yes, there are fifteen hundred pound QHs bred and fed strictly for halter classes that are every bit as crippled up as those hobbled GSDs gaiting around the ring on their pasterns.
As in everything else, in looking for a great horse breeder, you look for health testing, pedigree research, the purpose and vision behind the pairing, and appropriate titling for the breed--which should always include performance titles, IMO.
A horse is an awful big expensive lawn ornament, otherwise.
I hate the 'I just want a pet,' mentality.
(My family breeds a certain breed of pony and we often get 'why does it cost so much? It's a pony! from people)
Being 'just a pet' is often the highest calling a dog can have.
People by and far ask so much of their 'pets':
Pets are running buddies, couch companions, playing with the kids, curling up in bed with them at night. Members of the family.
Being 'just a pet' there is often so much more expected of a dog because they are welcomed into lives and families and asked to be well-tempered and loving, sharing space and living with them day in and day out.
I feel like people don't understand the demands that they make on dogs - take for granted they are bred to be companions.
Until they have a badly bred one. Whose temperament is unsound and bites a their child. Or who gets horribly sick and dies far too young.
And then there's heartache:
My aunt got a lab from a pet store. 120lbs, white, by 18 months Trixie was severely dysplastic. She ended up putting him down before his 4th birthday because he was barely able to walk and riddled with arthritis. It broke her heart. This was the dog who she had had since he was a puppy and saw her through a divorce and start of a new relationship and getting back on her feet and moving forward with her life again.
Next time around she did her homework and she and her husband made sure they bought from a good lab breeder who health tested his dogs.
Friend of mine's family rescued a dog from the shelter. Dogs temperament was not stable. Ended up putting her on doggy prozac. She couldn't be trusted around people that were not the immediate family. They loved her to bits. But she was a hard dog to handle. Next time around they went to a breeder who health tested and bred dogs for stable temperaments and good health with all the clearances.
And not to say that every byb or rescue dog is bad or will end up sick or unstable and causing their owners sadness and grief.
But people need to realize what they ask of 'just a pet' and they owe it to themselves - and the dogs - to do their best when selecting 'just a pet.'
This probably isn't quite coherent I apologize. Something that's been ruminating in my head a little bit (and I love Ruffly Speaking's blog and photography, been a fan for a while).
Abby, I will sticky this in the Breeders section. Thanks for the suggestion.
The short answer is usually, "Most horse breeds are generally healthy, as are their standards."
But nobody in their right mind would consider buying from a conformation-show horse breeder (in horses, it's called "halter showing"), and only the bold or the naive jump into color breeds (paints, appaloosas) without doing thorough research on them. Why? Because those are the parts of the horse industry that pay less mind to health and general soundness than they do to "good looks", "chrome", and "flashy coloring", and they wallow around in the genetic filth of linebreeding in a tiny kiddie-pool, without taking advantage of the larger, healthier gene pool the breed as a whole enjoys.
My absolute favorite example of this principle is they way HyPP came plague the AQHA, otherwise one of the healthiest purebred horse breeds. It was about 40 years ago that the halter sire named "Impressive" came onto the Halter showing scene and started gaining lots of attention & won big. His descendants also proved to do well, they carried the characteristic heavy musculature (bordering on grotesque hypertrophy) that characterized the Halter show Quarter Horse look in the 80s and 90s, and those huge muscles took very little effort to build.
Fast forward to the 1990s, it became obvious there was a problem when horses started collapsing, sometimes dying of suffocation in seizure-like episodes in which they basically lost muscle control. The disease was identified as Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis, an inherited muscle cell membrane sodium-channel defect similar to what's seen in other species. The trend was identified that almost all carriers and affected horses in the AQHA trace back to Impressive, and a genetic test was developed to identify it.
The AQHA excruciatingly slowly implemented "scarlet letters" to be placed on registration papers, much like the Dobe z-factor, of known descendants of Impressive, unless they tested clear for the disease. They finally have only recently barred descendants of Impressive from being registered until they are tested, and refuse to issue registration to those who test homozygous positive for the disease, while carriers are still allowed.
Anyway, the point is that in only a couple of decades, ONE POPULAR Halter sire had a massive impact on the breed, though most of it was confined to those conformation-show breeders. Within that sire's own lifetime, there were thosands of registered horses which tested homozygous positive for a genetic defect of which he is the only known source. As one might imagine, many were exceptionally inbred with many incestuous pairings, their COIs are through the roof.
Of course, it's completely unsurprising that Impressive was a genetic accident-waiting-to-happen, considering that Three Bars (a Thoroughbred popular sire in the AQHA) appeared 3 separate times in his 4-generation pedigree, but that's really a lot by most horse breeding standards where linebreeding generally doesn't seem to be all that prevalent. Well, except in Halter showing circles...
That's a textbook example of the tangible damage that Popular Sire Syndrome causes. It's not always caught, but it happens every time breeders choose to wallow in teeny-tiny gene pools full of linebreeding filth, rather than taking advantage of the broader gene pool. Sooner or later, it becomes impossible to avoid all the "floaters" swirling around.
It looks like this same nonsense has been happening in the Doberman world for some time now too, and since conformation showing seems to be more popular than performance or pleasure activities, it's honestly not too surprising that there are so many super-important health tests and other concerns over heritable diseases. That's just what happens when breeders aren't content with just a taste of a potentially good thing and gorge themselves on a particular sire or bloodline they think will throw them a champion or two, and the breed pays the price.
My mentors for animal husbandry in the horse/livestock world roundly rejected linebreeding as a path to success. I do to. I absolutely will not buy any animal, including a Doberman, that has any obvious evidence at all of systematic linebreeding in its 4-generation pedigree. If I see a single name repeated anywhere, or too many similar names on each half of the family tree, I just walk away. If a breed has been around long enough that it breeds true, there is absolutely no compelling, or remotely sane reason to impose another genetic bottleneck.
It suffices to say it's nigh impossible to find any show lines that meet those criteria.
Stepdad used to own a heavily Impressive bred mare (free from HYPP) nasty nasty temperament - I refused to handle her. She loved him and hated anyone else. She ended up getting severe navicular at age 6 and we put her down. Beautiful horse to look at but also the most unathletic thing I have ever had the displeasure of riding. Classic halter lead and feed huge body on teacup feet.
My family's own breed is a very different breed and I will disagree with you somewhat re: linebreeding. In my breed there are certain 'nicks' that are known to be all but golden especially in terms of jumping ability.
That being said we manage breeding very, very carefully because it is SUCH a small breed (only 5 sire lines) and watch in-breeding coefficients. There's also been a recently discovered genetic disease :( UC Davis is still in the process of developing a test and I'm on pins and needles because some of the known affected ponies share direct lines with a few of my own and knowing how small our breed is we'll have to manage it carefully without losing genetic diversity.
That's why the statement to breeders should be, "I just want a healthy, sound, and stable pet. Big names mean nothing to me. I don't want a by-product of your Next-Champion experiementation. I want an animal that has breed true and is a credit to the breed just by being what it is supposed to be."
That's not "settling for a pet" because nothing more is needed.
It's appalling that some folks just seem to not even register that they're playing with fire, they think that reckless linebreeding will result in them cloning the success of that ancestor who enjoyed notariety. More often than not, the people who get burned are the buyers who don't know better than to believe the hype of BYBs who brag on the big names in their pedigree or bogus (and non-standard) "rare" traits as if they're something remarkable and desirable, when they're nothing of the sort.
Good article, but it should also emphasize working lines as well. Since coming on this site I have changed my way of looking for a puppy, but it also got me thinking, could there be trainers that are the equivalent to BYBs out there. I have been searching in my area and there are people that advertise they are in the Schutzhund clubs and throw out the words "military and police training" but merely teach biting and forget about the tracking and other qualifications. And just because they belong to a club doesn't mean they train your pup to pass these rigorous tests. There are others so many, and in a town in the middle of nowhere it is difficult to find good trainers. Search for past students and find out if they got titled or compete in trials and so forth or you are just going to someone who will ruin your relationship with your dog. You wouldn't send your kid to any school that has a website, so make sure you are training your dog with the best too. If anyone here knows of a good site to find quality trainers, please share. Thanks,
She has since passed away and her children are continuing her lines.
And they are just disasters.
The original breeder had the touch. They don't and it's miles apart in difference.
Luckily I will say people have now educated themselves on what a good representative of the breed should look like and that bloodline has fallen out o favor as we try to move back to a breed that looks what it is supposed to look like and can perform at the same time.
(I once calculated COIs on some of the animals produced by the original breeder we're talking 19-25 COI - I almost fell out of my chair. Most of my ponies hit between 3-5 which is about 'average' for the breed).
That's another thing - she bought a GSP from a show breeder with hunting titles on the parents - Junior - but some Senior somewhere in the pedigree. But this bitch just doesn't hunt (to coin a phrase) - she will chase birds flying into trees all day long and has so much energy but she can't hold a point and they have been training her since she was a little puppy. (I don't know much about hunting so I can't say if that was good or bad training).
They are going to buy a male solely based on his hunting ability - but the conformation is suffering by her admission. Then she went on to comment about Lana and give her impression of show breeders based on her experience with horses.
And at the same time if i may excersize my opinion, while i agree, i feel as though every dog (dobe, or not mix mutt whatever) deserves a good home. I am currently in the process of finding homes for some small 6 breed mutt puppies. They may have health problems they may not, my 4 breed rat mix ( mind you these puppies were gifted, no money asked) has been in best of health since we got her. Sheer Luck i suppose. but to chalk it off like some of these animals should be discarded put down or forced to go to a shelter (where theyll end up euthanized anyways) Just isnt fair.
Now like i've said in the past, i happen to have a Doberman, Who has defects, they may be from inbreeding, they may be Z factor, it could be a mix further back in the bloodline. who knows. What I do know, is in the future, having done research yes if im looking for a "Pedigree doberman" i will be turning a blind eye to BYBs and finding a reputable one with papers registration the whole 9yds. why? because i might just get lucky with this one and have no issues. or god forbids she could keel over at age 3.
In any case i come from the belief any dog you acquire should be recognized as a family memeber first and whatever else you want second. just my .02
I have Arabians and the closer to the standard the sounder the horse in my opinion. Iíve taken my winning halter horses and done many 25 to 50 mile endurance rides barefoot as well as winning performance classes. Furthermore, my Arabians have stayed sound well into their late 20ís or early 30ís. Not saying that some Arabian folks donít get caught up in every fad and extreme that a few of the big name trainers are pushing, whatever year and era, and get themselves some not so true to the standard horses, but as a rule at least in Arabians most have done fairly well, at least the folks who breed to the standard rather than to the current fad or current National Champion, for that reason alone. I've bred mares to several National Champions over the years and just bought a breeding to a horse that very well might win this year, but always for what the horse brings to the table ...not the title and the hype!
In horses, and I would presume in dogs, you can never ever lose sight of correct structure. If they donít have it then do not breed them! You can get a little type and exotic back in one generation, mess around with structural problems and it will always come back and haunt you. With that said, there have been several National Champion Stallions that you couldnít have paid me to use.
I couldn't agree more. I have rescued and volunteered and fostered countless dogs. I have a two year old boxer and now I am on a search for another working breed...the Doberman. I never realized what a well bred and properly socialized dog looked like until Ali. She is strong, confident and a pleasure to train and work with......on the opposite end I have also dealt with a beautiful Catahoula with severe separation anxiety that could never have a stable temperment because of her bad breeding. It does make a difference and the money spent on a purchase of a good dog makes a difference that will last the lifetime of your dog.
Can we drop the assumption of people looking for the "cheapest" dog and replace it with "affordable". Do breeders really assume the people who are spending $150-$300 on a dog have $2,000 to spend on a dog? I have a 2 year old doberman who I purchased from a breeder recommended on this forum and paid over $2,000 for him, and this was the "cheapest" puppy I could find from a "quality" breeder. That being said he was born with a genetic defect (it was something taken care of with minor surgery and won't affect his life moving forward.) I love my dobe and would love to get him a playmate but I don't have $2,000 to spend and probably won't any time soon.
The issue with people going to "back yard" breeders isn't that they want the cheapest dog (they would get a free dog from craigslist or the pound) but because the "best" breeders cost as much as a car. If you want to cut out back yard breeders consider reducing the price of your puppies to something affordable to the average american family, not just those who are well off.
As for the "used car" comparison. I'm not sure of the wealth of those who read these forums but I don't know of many people who can afford to buy the latest greatest car. Actually, it was just reported that new cars are not un-affordable to middle class american's.
If you want to be the Audi or BMW of dog breeders and price your puppies accordingly that is fine. But you can't be mad at the guy who buys a 1999 chevy because your prices aren't affordable.
If you want to stop back yard breeding be part of the solution. Don't say "hey, do your research and you'll see mine is better and by the way i want $2000 more than the other guy." All you have to do to see this is faulty logic is go the the grocery store. Put out bananas for 50 cents a pound and people will still buy the $3 a lb fruit loops.
As someone once told me "if money is the issue, it's the only issue." I firmly believe that if reputable breeders were priced competitively with backyardbreeders you would put them out of business. But instead you leave consumers with the "I'm to expensive for you so you have no other option" and then scold them for it.
As an example, how is it more affordable to purchase a dog for $300.00 to then have to turn around and pay around $4,000 to $6,000 for TPO? Or wait until it's done growing and pay around $5,000 each hip?
How about the cost to treat DCM? The cheapest common dobe problem would be probably thyroid, which still isn't cheap when you factor in the blood tests. Only the med is pretty affordable.
That is just considering physical problems, what about temperament? How much for being sued for medical cost, time off work, emotional damage after a dog attack? Or, your dog injures another dog? Possibly up in the tens of thousands.
It isn't cheap to purchase a cheap dog. If I'm going to spent that kind of money it is going to be for a dog that I saved it's life, not one that I gave money to a breeder for.
buying a poorly-bred dog for cheap is as much of a potential nightmare as getting a free boat, plus the heartache when the dog dies early of things that are preventable.
Kaloric- most awesome rant I have ever read on here!
If you think breeders charging $2000 per puppy are making money then I hate to inform you, you are wrong.
Good breeders who spend time in the breed researching, who buy quality dogs, who title their dogs, who pay for all the health tests and clearances and then search for the right mate for their bitch and pay that stud fee + all vet costs and then produce a litter (+ vet costs) and then crop their dogs (a good cropper = $$) are not making money off every litter. At best they might break even. (Unless they happen to have like 15 puppies a litter each time and then they might actually make a little something - I kid, I kid).
Because the good breeders. The breeders who breed for the betterment and love of the breed. They aren't pumping out puppy litter after puppy litter and breeding their dog to their bitch every time just because it happens to live in the same house.
Those breeders - the backyard breeders - the ones with the "affordable" puppies are the ones that are actually making money. No health tests or clearances, haven't gone to the trouble of titling their dogs (oh but AKC Champion Lineage like 4 generations back!) just toss them together and wait for puppies. More than likely won't crop (cause that costs money) and sell said cute puppies to the first people who line up at the door.
Hey look people will buy. We made some cash. Let's make more puppies! (Relatively quick and fast turn around).
And as far as affordability? I have seen KNOWN backyard breeders/puppy millers (the ones where every. single. person. here. is. in. agreement. - and that shocking fact should tell you something) charge just as much as the quality breeders.
Because they can. Because they know that's what the going rate for a doberman is. And they count on people being too uniformed and willing to just give out the money. (Whereas others would see the red flags and head for the hills).
(And then the 'affordable' ones who charge less get jumped because it must be a deal - instead of thinking wait why is this dog so much cheaper?)
I would almost argue that the backyard breeders undercut the quality breeders.
And they do in the long run.
Because this isn't a breed of labs and poodles (though they have their own problems) Dobermans are a breed on the BSL list. They have a reputation. And every Doberman owner should be working against that. Should be an ambassador for the breed. - That is what the quality breeders are hoping for when they match up prospective owners with puppies and do screenings. No one wants to breed an agressive dog who attacks another dog (or worse a child).
When you go with a backyard breeder you are not choosing a 99 chevy over a BMW. You are getting a BMW with Nissan parts (and no not the ones that you can minimally maintain and it runs forever) inside of it.
And yes I know not everyone can just drop 2K on a puppy. I'm a broke, broke college student and saving bit by bit as I learn more about the breed. I'm doing my research.
How many times have you seen people come onto the forum I'M LOOKING FOR A PUPPY! And get all annoyed when they are told to do more research, you might have to wait, good breeders have a waiting list etc. And they won't and you see them turn around and buy a back yard bred dog or one from a puppy mill. It's not a question of being well off. It's a question of instant gratification and wanting something and not wanting to wait.
I'm pretty sure parts of this may not have made sense (pre-coffee) but please do realize it's not about 'affordability' and not as simple as 'just drop your prices to compete with the backyard breeders.' It's about the betterment of the breed.
And we should be working on putting all the backyarders and puppymillers out of business instead of crying that they are more affordable than the quality breeders.
Let's also not forget that when you buy a puppy from a good breeder, you are also buying that breeders expertise for the life of your dog. A good breeder is always available for questions & support. There is no price you can place on the relationship you can have with a truly good breeder.
You don't see a lot of posts on this forum from people with really well bred puppies trying to figure our how to take care of freshly cropped ears, how to post, or what to do about a number of little details that a breeder should be available for.
First, I never said people aren't willing to pay for quality, I said they can't. Most people don't have $2,000+ to spend on anything, a car/dog/loans. If you let people pay for your dog on credit maybe this would be a different story. Also, I didn't say you had to undercut backyard breeders, I said be competitive.
Second, realize 1) I'm not a breeder and 2) I'm trying to introduce how most American's are approaching purchasing a dog. We live in a society of "this is what I want and I will get what I want." If people want a Doberman, they will buy one they can afford, they won't get a breed they don't want because it's "the right thing to do." People don't even purchase dogs to match their life style, plenty of active dogs are purchased by owners who are to lazy to walk them simply because they want that breed.
Third, a very smart business person told me "if price is the issue it is the only issue." This means people aren't going to listen to your points of "if you don't buy quality now you might pay extra in the future" if they can't afford the quality now. Back to the car example, everyone wants a BMW, Audi, or other luxury car but they can't afford it, so they buy something else.
Forth, most people won't believe you don't make money on selling a puppy for 2k. Let me explain my thought process as a non-breeder and having no knowledge of breeding as to show how others view this.
1) cost of blood testing, lets say this is $1,000. I would think you only need to test a dog once, so if you dog has 8 litters, and 6 dogs per litter, that would be $20.83 per puppy.
2) cost of a male stud (if you don't use your own). I've heard this can be ball-parked at $1500 per litter depending on the stud. Comes out to $250/puppy.
3) Ears/Tail/Vet. I did a search on this forum and the median price was about $300/puppy.
4) Vet for mother. No idea on this one but lets say it's $500. $83.33/puppy
5) Food. Most puppies leave for their homes between 8-10 weeks. I would guess 70 lbs of dog food would last a litter this long. 70 lbs costs me about $150, so $25/puppy.
6) Misc. The total from above is $679.16. Lets round it up to $800 per puppy.
Now for where breeders/consumers will disagree. The cost of showing and and other training. I have no idea of the price of this as it will vary from breeder to breeder, I'm sure it can exceed $10,000 per dog. As a breeder you incorporate the cost of this into your puppies.
Now as a consumer I might have a problem with this. This is not a direct cost of breeding your dog, testing it for genetic defects, etc. This is your hobby, you enjoy doing this, and you want the people who purchase your puppies to pay for your hobby. If the only reason you show is to increase the price of the puppies you sell then you aren't selling "pets" you are selling "show dogs."
I'm just trying to bring a different perspective to the forum. I'm not saying I agree or disagree with what I've said above. The point I'm trying to make is if you want to solve the problem, your solution has to address the issue. If the issue is price, then your reasoning about quality or bettering the breed doesn't apply. People who are purchasing a pet care about these as much as they want a pet. If you give them a choice of "purchase a lower quality dog you can afford" or "purchase a breed you don't want b/c you can't afford mind" they are going to go with option one almost every time.
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