By Brazen Edwards
Dog breeding is a business practice that profits from the reproductive systems of dogs when there’s already an overpopulation of abandoned and unwanted animals in our society. Additionally, some breeding standards also exacerbate health problems purely for aesthetics, which is just cruel when it results in a poor quality of life.
I’ve owned and rescued many dogs in my lifetime. When I was 8, my first dog was a Bichon Frise/Poodle cross and was named after my favourite singer at the time, Chaka Khan (oh, the 80s were a wonderful era!). She was a brilliant and lively little pup. I dressed her up in baby onesies and confided my secrets to her. As an only child, Chaka Khan was like a sibling.
I think everyone should experience the joy of raising an animal and the absolute devotion pets bring into our lives. But looking back, I now realise my Mother probably bought her from a backyard breeder or a pet store. That’s what you did in those days.
Breaking The Breeder Cycle
I wanted my own children to grow up with a faithful companion and a sense of responsibility, so I did a deep dive into what breed would fit well with our personalities and busy household, settling on a Weimaraner. They’re known to be loyal, energetic animals, not to mention absolutely beautiful. As I was raising twins as a single mother, I knew I didn’t have time for a puppy, so the next best option was a dog rescue I found 1600kms away.
When I saw her profile on the website and learned about her being abused and living on the end of a chain her whole life in a puppy mill, I felt she deserved a family to truly love her. So we rented a van and made a vacation out of it. It was one of the most fulfilling moments of my life.
She was timid, unhousebroken and had never even played with toys before. But with time and patience, she came out of her shell. About a year later, she saved my children from being attacked at our local playground by another canine. She really was the best dog a family could ask for.
Are Dog Breeders Really That Bad?
Reputable breeders have a passion for breeding dogs; many genuinely love the animals they care for, but that does not address the real problem of overpopulation. Millions of dogs worldwide are euthanized yearly because of a lack of space, resources, and adoptive parents. Adding more dogs into this equation to meet consumer demands is a bad idea, no matter which side of the fence you’re on.
To make matters worse, many breeders don’t enforce contracts demanding owners spay or neuter their pets leading to more breeding and accidental pregnancies. Despite myths to the contrary, many shelter dogs ARE purebreds. The Paris Hilton syndrome is one contributor. Or the uptick of surrendered Huskies who resembled Direwolves in Game of Thrones, which saw an increase in abandonment by 700%!!!
Some breeds are prone to serious health issues too. They may be adorable or specifically bred as a designer mix, but it’s irresponsible and impacts their quality of life. One example, the English Bulldog, is a breed with a charming, loveable temperament and looks good but doesn’t function well. They have extensive health issues with breathing and auto-immune disorders and typically need to be delivered via caesarean section.
This notion that some breeds are superior because they can track their lineage is hogwash because genetics does not guarantee a dog’s temperament. Although purebreds may have a specific trait, mixed breeds actually have a lower chance of inheriting congenital diseases because they have a less restricted gene pool and thus fewer genetic defects.
Unfortunately, well-intentioned people purchase dogs from what they believe to be reputable breeders, even researching their certification with the National Kennel Club. However, a 2013 exposé into the AKC’s inspection program revealed even some certified breeders subject their dogs to puppy mill-like conditions.
The AKC disputes the allegations, saying it is not a law enforcement agency and can’t be responsible for all breeders. It does claim to be “proactive in ferreting out animal abuse,” according to communications director Lisa Peterson. The New York Times story listed breeders who were shut down after the raids, with one owner sentenced to prison, despite repeated inspections by A.K.C. field agents in previous years finding the kennels “in compliance.”
The fact is, all dogs deserve a loving, forever home. But when these dogs become commodities, bred for profit, it doesn’t matter how qualified or well-meaning these breeders are. If we want to end the overpopulation problems, health and genetic issues and the devastating abandonment of trendy dogs, we can. Adopt, don’t buy and have your pet spayed or neutered. There is no moral or ethical justification for perpetuating the dog breeding industry.