Getting Started As a Responsible Breeder
REPRINTED FROM THE AMERICAN KENNEL CLUB WEB SITE
AKC Customer Service (919) 233-9767
Fax (919) 233-3627 Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
The AKC welcomes responsible breeders to the world
of purebred dogs. Breeding involves art, science and total devotion.
It will show you the best in the human-canine bond ... and the result
of absolute commitment by responsible breeders. What are the hallmarks
of a truly responsible breeder?
A Responsible Breeder Is Always A Student.
Responsible breeders seek to improve their breeds with every litter.
To reach this goal, they must devote hours to continually learning
as much as they can about their breeds, including health and genetic
concerns, temperament, appearance and type. They also need to know
about general dog behavior, training and health care. In short,
they become canine experts. How can you acquire this expertise?
Become involved with dog clubs.
Each breed has a national club (or "parent" club), and
there are about 2,500 local clubs devoted to individual breeds (local
clubs are also called "specialty" clubs). There are thousands
of other clubs across the country, including all-breed clubs and
clubs devoted to obedience, tracking or performance events. Most
clubs sponsor educational programs and events that will help you
increase your knowledge. For lists of parent clubs and specialty
clubs in your area, call AKC Customer Service.
Study your breed standard.
The breed standard is the official guide by which dogs are judged
at dog shows. Each breed of dog recognized by the AKC has its own
standard (written by the parent club). The standard may specify
everything from the curvature of a dog's tail to the color of its
eyes. You can obtain a copy of your dog's breed standard and order
breed-specific educational videos from the AKC. Many parent clubs
offer more detailed information on the standard, such as amplifications
and illustrated standards.
Attend dog events.
Dog shows, obedience trials and performance events provide the opportunity
to observe purebreds in action. You can learn about different lines
by viewing real dogs and studying the pedigrees of those you like.
Many people competing at dog shows are experienced breeders. Attending
shows can give you the chance to meet and learn from these experts.
Read, read, read!
There are many books and magazines available about every aspect
of the dog experience. There are books devoted to individual breeds,
groups of breeds, breeding and whelping, genetics, behavior and
training and many more topics. The AKC publishes books such as the
Complete Dog Book and Dog Care and Training, along with numerous
The AKC Gazette, published monthly, features breed-specific
columns and articles on topics ranging from developmental orthopedic
disease to how to establish a club website. The AKC also publishes
AKC Afield, a magazine devoted to performance events. Most parent
clubs produce periodic publications, as do many local clubs.
Responsible breeders are familiar with AKC rules
and regulations concerning the sale and registration of AKC-registrable
dogs. Before you breed your dog, you should contact the AKC to verify
that you have all the correct paperwork, understand how to register
a litter, and are able to provide proper documentation to your buyers.
To request AKC rules and regulations or order AKC publications,
contact AKC Customer Service.
A responsible breeder is objective.
Virtually every dog is the best in the world in the eyes of its
owner. Responsible breeders have the ability to separate their love
for their dog from an honest evaluation of its good and bad points.
Why is a detached point of view necessary? Breeding is hard work.
Every breeding is a carefully planned endeavor to produce a better
dog. A good breeder recognizes a dog's flaws and finds a mate with
characteristics that will help reduce or eliminate those flaws.
So how can you honestly evaluate your dog as potential breeding
Seek assistance from some of the best informational
resources available - longtime breeders and the breeder of your
dog. This person should have extensive knowledge of your dog's line
and, like you, should want to see it continually improved. You may
also want to consult with a professional handler who has worked
with your breed.
An excellent way to develop an impartial eye is
to test your dog against others. To see how well your dog conforms
to the breed standard, get an assessment from an experienced breeder
or dog fancier, and enter dog shows. Entering obedience and field
tests and trials will allow you to measure your dog's abilities
against star performers. If your dog is a success in these events,
you'll be more confident that breeding your dog will contribute
to the betterment of its breed.
A responsible breeder conditions the sire and
Good puppies start long before their parents are bred. Both the
sire and dam need constant care, or conditioning, to produce the
best offspring. This means regular veterinary care, screening for
genetic problems, pre-breeding health tests, regular exercise and
good nutrition. It means consulting with a veterinarian or experienced
breeder to ensure that you know how to meet the dam's (mother's)
special nutritional needs while she is in whelp (pregnant).
It also means maintaining your dog's mental health.
Stressed animals can experience fertility problems. Many breeders
swear by the belief that the dam's temperament affects the puppies
- good puppies come from good mothers. Consequently, they avoid
breeding shy or unstable dogs.
A responsible breeder nurtures the puppies.
Preparing for puppies means building a proper nursery. A whelping
box must be dry, very warm and draft-free. It should be big enough
for the dam to be able to move about freely with sides that will
safely contain the puppies.
The dam normally takes care of the puppies' needs
the first few weeks of their lives. Of course, you should be prepared
for unusual situations, such as a dam with no milk or an orphaned
litter. You will also need to provide additional food and water
for the dam while she is nursing the puppies.
Once the puppies are weaned, they become much more
active and require lots more work. You will need to oversee feeding
to ensure each puppy gets adequate food. You will need to keep the
towels, wood shavings or shredded newspaper lining the whelping
box clean. The puppies will need their first round of shots, they
may need grooming and they will definitely need plenty of playtime
and opportunities for getting used to being around people. You may
even want to start working with them on basic obedience commands
to ease their transition to their new homes.
A responsible breeder places puppies wisely.
As you can probably imagine, once it's time for the puppies to go
to new homes, you've invested a lot of yourself in them. A difficult
and important aspect of breeding is making sure your puppies go
to owners who will provide loving and permanent homes.
The complete picture is important to responsible
breeders. They make sure new puppy owners know what to expect, both
the pros and the cons, from the furry little bundles they're taking
home. If their particular breed requires extensive grooming, drools
profusely, or can be difficult to train, responsible breeders will
point that out.
Responsible breeders also know the right questions
to ask prospective owners in order to get a feel for the type of
home they'll provide. Some of these questions include:
* Why does the person or family want a dog?
* Who will be primarily responsible for the dog's care?
* Are there any children? If so, how old are they?
* Does anyone in the household have allergies?
* What is the potential owner's attitude toward training and obedience?
* How often is someone at home?
* Will they have time to walk and play with the dog?
If feasible, it's not unreasonable for a breeder
to make a house call after the puppy has had time to settle in with
its new family. Some breeders require dog buyers to sign contracts
indicating that if specified conditions of care are not met, the
breeders are within their rights to reclaim the puppy.
Important qualities to look for in potential puppy
owners are interest and inquisitiveness about you and the dogs you
breed. A person or family truly committed to responsible dog ownership
will want to learn about the breed and how to care for it.
A responsible breeder is responsible for life.
Now comes the best part of being a breeder (no, it's not putting
away the newspapers and puppy food). It's having those great families
you selected call you with news of puppy's first tooth, first vet
visit, first dog event, first win! It's getting letters. It's getting
holiday cards. It's getting family portraits with your puppy (yes,
it'll always be yours) smack in the middle. What's not to love about
being a breeder at these times?
But now can come the worst part, too. It's the nice
young couple who is divorcing and neither person can keep the dog.
It's the distraught owner calling from the vet with news of an unforeseen
illness. It's the devastated parent telling you that the dog (that
you encouraged her to train) bit their child's friend.
Responsible breeders are there for all situations
- both good and bad. They know they were responsible for this puppy
being born, so they are responsible for it until the day it dies.
They are willing to provide guidance and answer as many questions
as they are asked. They are always concerned about their puppies.
One breeder once said the most satisfying phone
call she received came 14 years after her first litter. The caller
said one of 'her' (the breeder's) dogs had died of old age. At that
moment the breeder knew she was responsible for bringing years of
the same kind of love and joy she experienced from her dogs into
someone else's home. Ultimately, isn't that exactly why you want
to breed your dog?
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