What is responsible breeding? Depending on who you ask you will get a wide range of different answers. On one side of the spectrum you will have animal extremists that will say there is no such thing and on the other side you will have holier than though breeders (most often puppy millers) who espouse for some reason only they or ones they approve of can meet such a criteria and label everyone else as a "backyard breeder" with negative connotation.
The truth is if you are listening to either of these sides then you are hearing it from someone who is typically selfishly motivated in one way or the other and thus you are receiving bias information, often times that really has nothing to do with responsible breeding.
In this section we are going to try to lay out the criteria in some order of importance as to what makes someone responsible in a breeding program.
First and foremost - a responsible breeder will have in mind the best interest of the offspring they produce.
This means not just breeding for the sake of breeding but doing so in a manner to meet demand within the community. Breeding unwanted pets is by far the greatest reason why pets end up in shelters, pounds and rescues and are regularly euthanized without even an opportunity for placement.
Breed for a purpose. Many will say breed to improve the breed but we think that this is a subjective call as everyone has a different measure of what they think improvement actually is. Breeding for a purpose means understanding why you are breeding and how the breeding process brings a breed to that point. Such examples may be to insure the legacy of a line continues, better temperament, better health, improved genealogy, etc. Understanding the destination of where you want the breed to be will help you be on the right path to get there.
Second - consider the health of the parents.
Many people are unaware that dogs too can have venereal disease. If you have a female and you wish to breed to a well known male simply because of it's show titles or pedigree you should realize that like humans the more partners a dog has the greater the risk it will also have venereal disease. Many people think that the show breeder only has the best in mind but in many cases this is the farthest thing from their mind. In a large percentage of cases it is the show breeder that has the most selfish motives of simply pimping their dog out to the greatest number of people for the highest possible dollar without regard the quality of offspring or breeder.
Like humans dogs also suffer from genetic illness. There are over 500 genetic related illnesses known to exist. When breeding a responsible breeder will not only take into consideration the genetic health of their breeding stock but also the subsequent potential genetic outcome of the offspring they produce. To many breeders breed based on folklore and bad practices that have been condoned by generations of breeders before them and unfortunately dog registries themselves. One such example is in prolific inbreeding. Simply limiting inbreeding alone would have the single greatest positive impact on the improvement of any breeds health. Those who promote inbreeding are either doing so out of ignorance or selfish motivation. The general community at its core level realizes the negative implications of inbreeeding. Many breeders have also recognized this but instead of better managing the practice they have instead chose to redefine and soften the terminology by calling it line breeding. These are one in the same. Any time you breed one relative to another it is in fact inbreeding. As a responsible breeder simply ask yourself would you yourself breed with your brother or sister or mother or father? If not why not? Since biblical times the negative impact of inbreeding has been known. Since genetic studies have been developed this has further scientifically proven intellectually what we really already knew in our own hearts.
Never breed a female on the first heat. At first heat a dog is still not often fully matured. This means that if bred during this time there is a much greater risk of producing underdeveloped and sickly pups. Remember a still growing mother is using a lot of her energy to develop herself. If a female becomes pregnant during the first heat this means energy that needs to be going to her development will now have to be divided out to the offspring. Pregnancy is a very demanding process both physically and hormonally. Breeding a female during this time is robbing both the mother and offspring of vital energy they need to develop in a healthy manner
Third - a responsible breeder will take the proper steps to insure the health of their offspring.
Shots and wormings should be provided according to environmental conditions and age appropriate schedules. In addition to this a responsible breeder should look to reducing health risk where possible. This means keeping a clean environment, stringent sterilization and limiting access to other pets, especially during their first 5 weeks of age where they are at greatest risk of communicable disease.
Healthy feeding should be done to give consideration of proper nutritional needs.
When offspring are able to drink water fresh water should be provided at regular intervals.
Maintaining a safe growing environment takes into consideration both heat and cold as well as potential for other predatory animals who may consider offspring a food source.
Fourth - a responsible breeder will be concerned about their offspring's long-term living environment.
Being responsible as a breeder goes beyond simply being successful until the handoff to a new owner. A responsible breeder will screen their buyers to try and come to a rational conclusion that the new owners will be able to give their new pup a lifetime home.
In the screening process a breeder should ask the prospect owners: have they ever had experience with the breed, will the dog be kept inside or outside, how will it be properly confined, is the new owner considering breeding themself, does the new owner rent or own and if they rent has it been approved by their landlord, do the new owners have other pets or children and if so what are their types and ages? Given the answer to these questions will determine if the new prospect owner is a good candidate and if so which of the offspring best matches their needs and lifestyle.
Once the decision has been made to place a pup a responsible breeder will let the new owner know that they are there for them if they have any questions and that if the new owner cannot take care of the pup for some reason down the road that they should be the first ones contacted to see if they can take the pup back or assist with proper placement elsewhere.
Fifth - a responsible breeder will be concerned about registration status.
When a litter is born one of the first things a responsible breeder will consider is their appropriate registration.
Once a commitment is made from a new owner a responsible breeder will either complete the registration transfer process to place the pups in the new owners name or will work with the new owner to do their best to insure the process is properly completed by them.
While these are traits that help define a responsible breeder this is merely the tip of the iceberg. Responsible breeding in its entirety can literally take up an entire book. This is why we offer the official "Breeding By The Book", as a comprehensive MUST HAVE resource to breeders and prospect breeders. Through this resource one will learn everything necessary in running a successful and responsible breeding program. For as little as a bag of puppy food you can learn how to produce high quality, high demand offspring in the most responsible and ethical manner while at the same time maximizing your efforts and positive outcomes.