Friday, May 18, 2012

Why should anyone spend a little more money to buy a puppy from a show dog breeder?

What? You don't want a show-quality puppy? Of course you don't. But show dog breeders don't produce show-quality puppies in every litter. Often, they are lucky to have a few show prospects in a litter. Those are the ones they keep for later evaluation. There are many reasons a puppy is not a show-potential puppy, but NONE of those reasons make him a bad pet! Quite the opposite; they will be very handsome pets because they have been bred well, and the vast majority will have excellent attitudes. So, just because you buy from a show dog breeder does NOT mean the breeder expects you to show if you have no interest in it.

Now, in order to further understand why buying from a show breeder is in your best interests, you must understand that showing dogs (for serious show breeders) is not just a contest. There is rarely any prize money involved in AKC shows. So why would a breeder spend the money (now about $30 per day) to enter a show, money for gas to go there, money for the hotel room and money for food (very expensive at the shows)? What is the reward?

Essentially, AKC judges are trained to evaluate "conformation", that is, not only the exterior appearance of the dogs, but the interior bone structure, development of muscles, ear and tail placement, teeth, movement from front, back and side, and attitude. The breeder who consistently places in the different classes with her dogs, and of course the one who wins, receives the affirmation from the judges that he or she is "doing something right" in choosing the dogs they are breeding. Those who do not win a lot are not necessarily poor breeders; they may just need more experience in handling methods and once that is accomplished, or once a professional handler is hired, the dogs from their lines will win (theoretically) more. If they don't, the breeder needs to re-evaluate breeding stock.

And so - the first reason you should buy from a breeder is to get the CORRECT appearance and structure that your preferred breed should have.

Back yard breeders rarely have enough knowledge of pedigrees to know how to accomplish improving bone structure or the correctness of ears or a tail. They breed poor specimens and perpetuate poor quality in the breed....for example, straight stifles (rear legs) or a sagging topline (back). A dog with a poorly structured rear end can develop knee, hip or back problems that can lead to very costly vet bills when the dog begins to age. Bad shoulders or bad knees are also sometimes genetically perpetuated by individuals who don't realize that these things can be avoided by careful pedigree combinations. They continue to breed animals that produce animals with health problems which will cause future puppy buyers expensive veterinary bills and possibly pain or illness for the puppies.

Another common thing I hear among unaware potential Mastiff owners is all about weight.  They want the biggest wrinkliest Mastiff they can find.  If a breeder is advertising on height / weight alone, my advice is to RUN.  When you start finding Mastiffs that are over about 220lbs you really need to look at that dogs structure.  It takes one heck of a built frame to support that much weight.  While there are some very nice conformationally correct dogs out there that are 240lbs, 250lbs, whatever.  Many of these dogs have compromised something else physically to gain that size.  You start running into sagging toplines, weak rears, knees that go out alot easier, etc.  Also, while the Mastiff is supposed to be massive,  generally the more weight that dog carriers for its whole life the shorter it's life span is going to be.  Reputable breeders will tote health testing, show wins, therapy titles over a dogs weight.

Good looking dogs are not the only reason to buy from a show dog breeder. A breeder who participates in official breed clubs will certainly have some knowledge of the genetic health issues in the breed. Show dog breeders know when DNA tests are developed and can test their breeding stock for propensity to reproduce serious issues such as blindness, kidney failure, chronic skin problems, liver issues, and so much more. Back yard breeders are generally not aware of these health issues because they do not participate in breed clubs and have no way to learn about the DNA tests. Their breeding stock is never tested - leaving puppy buyers open to potential health issues popping up suddenly down the road in the life of the dog.

Reason #2 to buy from a show dog breeder: risk of genetic diseases is decreased because show dog breeders know of and have more access to genetic testing.

Beyond potential for healthier puppies and the long-term lifespan of the dog, another reason to buy from a show dog breeder is the support you are likely to receive. Good breeders - responsible breeders - (show breeders or not) SHOULD be there to give advice and as backup through the life of the dog you obtained from them. New puppy owners very often have questions about training, health, behavior, feeding - especially during the first year of dog ownership. A good breeder will be there to answer the phone or call you back, to e-mail, to provide information or get it for you when needed. The vast majority of show dog breeders I know today feel absolutely responsible for their puppies and make great effort to find good homes and follow up on the puppy's progress through the first few weeks.

Additionally, show dog breeders usually will ask that you contact them FIRST if you cannot keep the puppy/dog at any point in its life. They will keep the dog or find it another suitable home. They have the backing of their breed club's rescue people as well, so you can nearly always rest assured that if your breeder is a breed club member and you must return the dog, it WILL have a good home eventually. Giving up a dog is heartbreaking for most people, and this is an important point to note about show breeders.

Reason #3 to buy from a show breeder: Advice and support of the breeder (and their breed club) throughout the life of the dog you bought.

Reason #4 to buy from a show breeder: Open arms for the dog should anything happen that you cannot keep it.

Yes, it is often true that back yard breeders do not ask prices as high as those of show dog breeders. But it is important to realize that the money you pay to a show dog breeder buys so much more than just the puppy. It also buys the experience, knowledge, and support of the breeder, and the reassurance that your dog will always have a "foster home" if you cannot keep it.

These reasons are priceless.