Have you asked your breeder?

This started as a FB discussion recently...

There are a lot of Facebook sites these days devoted to breed communities.

Everyday I see posts on these sites asking for help and advice:

  • "My dog is showing this behaviour, how do I cope?"

  • "My dog has an illness or injury, what do I do?"

  • "My circumstances have changed and I need to rehome my dog, can anyone help?"

It's great that we have these sites for discussion and help, but I want to ask everyone who posts "what does your dog's breeder say?"

Isn't the person who researched the bloodlines, who health tested the parents, who raised the puppies and chose you as an owner, the best resource you can have? Don't they need to know about any issues your dog is having, so they can assess their breeding program and tweak it as necessary?

responsible, ethical breeder is committed to each puppy they breed for the duration of that dog's life. A breeder friend said recently

Dogs that are born into my hands, are a part of me and mine forever xxx

We need someone to make a meme or a bumper sticker or a t shirt of that. Because that is the attitude that makes a breeder a good person to me. It doesn't mean that they want to hang on to or micromanage the destiny of every puppy. It means that they want to know that every puppy has a happy, healthy, fulfilled life. That's why they put all of those hours into planning every litter, analysing pedigrees and testing parents. They stay up all night with whelping females and nursing new puppies, watching every breath that tiny little body takes. They hand pick new owners and they ask those new owners to measure up to their standards. They don't make money off their dogs. They don't have litters so the female can "have the experience" or so their kids can "see the miracle of birth".  

I can understand that sometimes, its hard to ask for help. Its embarrassing to say to someone that you need assistance, or that you made a mistake. But I also think that if we love our dogs, and we're committed to giving them the best lives we can, we should be prepared to ask a simple question. A breeder might not be thrilled to hear about the problem and maybe they won't have all the answers, but a good breeder will want to be part of the discussion. They will want to help the dog, and they will have information and resources that will assist. So why wouldn't you ask your breeder for help?

Of course, on these Facebook posts, when I suggest asking the breeder, the answer is "oh they weren't really breeders, they just had a litter" or the dog came from a pet shop or an online ad. I have to restrain myself from making "I told you so" comments, but I feel like jumping up and down, yelling "this is why we shouldn't buy dogs without doing breed research, without finding a good breeder, why we shouldn't buy dogs from effing pet shops or backyard profiteers!!!"

The Facebook post becomes a jumble of comments from people with a wide variety of experience and expertise. People offer contradictory advice and arguments break out. Insults fly. Sometimes the poster might be able to choose a suggestion that suits them, but often, offense is caused and people delete the discussion to get away from the abuse. Their dog will probably end up in the hands of a vet or trainer or rescue coordinator who has no breed-specific knowledge. Fingers crossed everyone muddles through the best they can, but the number of huskies and malamutes who end up in rescue before the age of two suggests a lot of these problems end up in the too-hard basket.

We need to stop buying puppies on impulse from irresponsible people and start demanding that breeders are going to do the right thing by their dogs. And we need to respect the expertise of those that do - breeding dogs with great temperaments & great structures is an art. Because prevention is the best cure.