Blowing Your Own Trumpet

9th May 2012 - in Breeding

Emma Judson explains how ethical breeders can promote their own good practices and set themselves apart from puppy farmers and backyard breeders

Breeders of pedigree dogs have been getting it in the neck a lot recently, with programs such as Pedigree Dogs Exposed seemingly tarring all breeders with the same brush, and in some cases, pushing people (if inadvertently) towards puppy farmers, backyard breeders and all that that entails.

Whilst those of us within the dog world can argue until the cows come home about the rights and wrongs portrayed in the media in recent months, and we can blame registry’s and breed clubs, and cast well warranted aspersions on the puppy farming mass producing dog industry – here's another little kick up the bottom for breeders…

But before you groan and walk away, this is something YOU as a breeder are FULLY in control of – this does not require massive financial outlay, or some nameless faceless (or all too well known!) bods within a Breed Club to have endless meetings and conferences on.

This is something YOU can do, and something you can advertise that you do, that will help to directly stem the tide of people falling into the trap of puppy farmers.

We know puppy farmers and superstore puppies and backyard bred puppies are bad, they suffer health problems, they suffer poor housing and are bred from sick parents who may not even be the breed they are purported to be. Most of all, they suffer from being, as Ian Dunbar so rightly puts it, 'livestock'. I'll make no bones about it, Ian is a man I greatly admire, and I am going to reiterate something he has been suggesting and advising for years.

Beating the Puppy Farmers

To beat the puppy farmers, good, responsible, ethical breeders need to up their game. You need to show people WHY they ought to buy a puppy from YOU. Why is your puppy price justified, what is the buyer getting for their money.

You may think that people should already know this, but believe me, they do not. As far as the majority of pet puppy buyers are concerned (and let's face it, being a pet is or should be any pups primary job – if the pups you produce cannot be a pet, then unless you are breeding specialist working dogs you probably have no business breeding at all!), show results are unimportant, they are an afterthought. Yes, it's nice to display your results on your website and I am not saying for a second that you shouldn’t…

But if you put the effort into outlining not just who you breed to whom, and which won what in the latest shows, but what you DO with those puppies in the first 8 to 10 weeks of their lives, you CAN steal the business from right under the puppy farmers noses.

As Ian Dunbar explained in his recent interview in Forbes people do not know they have a choice.

If they know they have a choice, then everyone wants a confident puppy, one who is socialised to enjoy being handled by men, women and children. Everyone wants a puppy that has begun the process of house training and is already seeking out turf/dirt to toilet on. No one would willingly choose a puppy that has never been crate/pen trained or chew toy trained over one that has. Who would say no to a puppy that has already begun the basics of sit, down, recall and bite inhibition?

This is the age of the internet, there is absolutely no reason why ANY breeder should not have a website, and there is absolutely no reason why that website should NOT be explaining to people that there are breeders out there socialising and training their tiny puppies.

Today I spent four hours going through breeders' websites – I looked at those who breed the breeds I own, and I looked at a variety of the popular breeds particularly those with a tendency towards wariness of people or aggression towards other dogs.

I did not find a SINGLE site explaining the work that goes into raising a litter, detailing how, as Ian Dunbar sets out in his Sirius Dog Training Initiative (which he has been talking about for YEARS) breeders do all this work.

Now either you are failing to advertise what you do – or, you are not doing it. Either way, there really is no excuse. People go to puppy farmers and pet stores and buy dogs out of the free ads because they know no better. You are the people in a position to TELL them there is better available, and provide that 'better product'.

The information is out there, it is free – if you are NOT doing this with your puppies then why not? The only real cost to you is time, the benefits are multiple for both you and the puppies you produce. If you look through the information here and think "I haven't the time for that" then frankly, you haven't the time to breed dogs in the first place.

Blow Your Own Trumpet

So come on, all you responsible, ethical breeders – I know you are out there. Let's see a page on your website detailing how you socialise and train your puppies. Let's see photos of them out and about in cars, being carried in a supermarket car park, being handled by adults and children. Let's see you blowing your own trumpet for a change !

  • 9th May 2012 13:57 - Posted by : Lucy

    Very good article

  • 9th May 2012 16:33 - Posted by : dogjunkie

    There is a reason behind that information not existing, it's just impossible, impractical and unsafe to do all that things to the extent proposed by Mr Dunbar.

  • 9th May 2012 19:55 - Posted by : Mary

    I have the time but I have not found a need to change how Ive brought up my pups for nearly 40 years.

    Im famous for the bomb-proof temperament I produce and seldom have to *convince* anyone that Im far removed from 'livestock producers'.
    If a breeder has to jump through hoops to look good so as to make sales...they are breeding too many puppies in my opinion.

  • 9th May 2012 21:54 - Posted by : Suejaw

    Loved the article and will give food for thought hopefully to those good breeders out there. I don't think the majority of what Ian Dunbar recommends is out of the question tbh, its what i'd expect and hope for from a good honest breeder!

  • 14th May 2012 15:19 - Posted by : Darren Naylor

    I personally prefer to buy homebred puppies and think generalising in this issue is bad for all. Perhaps one way of making dog breeding less attractive as a buisness for the unscrupulous is to stop kidding ourselves that it costs many hundreds of pounds to raise a puppy for 8 weeks and stop denying that profits are made, lower prices and give access to quality puppies and breeders to people of all incomes and drive the farmers etc on to new enterprises. Face up to reality and ring the changes, if your serious and not just griping about competition.

  • 19th July 2012 11:53 - Posted by : Jae Dawn

    I couldn't agree more. Being a person looking for a puppy I would SOOOO purchase from someone (even to the point of driving 2-3 hours away)who had explained what they do for that puppy and what training they have put into it prior to me taking it home! From a buyers perspective this article is right on!

  • 27th August 2012 21:17 - Posted by : Edward Hopkins

    You raise some interesting points and in an ideal world what you suggest would be great.

    However, in the real world I believe much of this basic training just isn't realistic. If you have a litter of 2 pups it may be possible to do some training but with a litter of 10 it is unrealistic.

    Besides, training from 8 weeks is hardly too late and if the buyer is not willing to train their own puppy then I don't think they should be purchasing one in the first place.

  • 6th October 2012 09:36 - Posted by : Violet

    I would echo Jae Dawn's posting on 19th July. I cannot see why if you are a caring, professional breeder, whether you have one pup or ten, you cannot give basic training. For example household noises, toilet expectations.