Is dog breeding ethical? Dog breeding is a business practice that profits from the reproductive systems of dogs. Our personal preferences for specific breeds cause health problems to the dogs as a result.
Furthermore, orphaned dogs are massively overpopulated, and each time we support a newly bred pup, we compromise the lives of canines without a family. Based on these three factors, dog breeding is anything but ethical.
And this isn’t unique to dogs. The same goes for any pet.
However, as I make such a claim, I’m a hypocritical parent to my dog Chewy, which my wife and I bought from a family that couldn’t keep him when he was 11 months old.
Even though we didn’t purchase him directly from a breeder, I’m playing a role in exacerbating the overpopulation issue of dogs around the world by not adopting him.
After compiling this article, if I consider getting a pet in the future, I’ll never, I repeat, will NEVER buy—but instead adopt. And I hope that you’ll do the same.
Okay, I know I’m coming in a little intense, and you’re probably already uncomfortable, but stick with me.
In this post, we explore the domestic dog industry, the process of breeding dogs, ethical considerations and finish with some options if you’re seeking to adopt a furry friend.
The domestic dog industry
Dogs, descendants of wolves, were among the first animals domesticated by humans.
Wolves would often hang around human camps, attracted to their food. Humans shared food with wolves in exchange for hunting assistance and protection.
After some time, the relationship between wolves and humans evolved into a domestic companionship living up to the famous phrase, “a dog is a man’s best friend.”
With different breeds of wolves and wild dogs across continents, they were cross-bred to create new species. And then those dogs were cross-bred to formulate unique breeds again. This process has been repeated until today, which we’ll touch on later.
Dogs now serve as companions, hunting dogs, offer protection services and aid with accessibility needs.
As it stands, as a global society, we’re obsessed with dogs. There are approximately 470 million pet dogs worldwide, with France leading the way with the highest dog per person ratio of 17 to 100.
The market size of the U.S. dog and pet breeder’s industry is valued at 2 billion dollars.
Additionally, folks spend thousands of dollars each year on pet dogs.
Canines are the biggest influence for driving first home purchases for millennials. Not babies. Dogs.
Our love for dogs has created a multi-billion dollar industry. But at what cost?
Let’s look at the dog breeding process to understand the morality of this situation.
Dog breeding: puppy farms vs backyard breeders
Dog breeding is straightforward. Mate a male dog, a.k.a. sire or stud with a female dog a.k.a. dam or bitch, so they can birth a litter of pups for sale. Do this repeatedly, and you have yourself a dog breeding business.
However, like most industries where animals are the commodity, there are two vastly different approaches to breeding dogs.
One is large-scale operations, including puppy farms. The other is indie practices that often occur in suburban homes. Let’s look at both in more detail.
Related article: Is It Okay For Vegans To Eat Eggs From Backyard Chickens?
Commercial dog breeders
A puppy farm, a.k.a. puppy mill or puppy factory—is a breeding operation for domestic puppies. Anywhere between hundreds up to thousands of dogs are distributed to resellers and pet stores.
Like battery farmed chickens, the more human resources spent on breeding, the less profitable. So dog farmers industrialise the process to the point of horrendous exploitation.
Puppies are kept in small cages living in their filth, with no play, no exercise, little light and virtually no human contact.
Some mills funnel dog food through pipes into the pens to further limit any contact.
To reduce disease, puppy farmers are known to pump dog food with antibiotics. And if the dogs become sick, they’re drowned or shot with a gun.
If this wasn’t bad enough, resellers smuggle puppies across borders from these puppy factories and post them online under different names to sell dogs that are so sick that they sometimes die within days of being re-homed.
The goal of these dodgy online sellers is to rely on the emotional connection the buyer forms with the puppy upon inspection to bypass any veterinary paperwork. These deals are done in cash, making the transaction impossible to trace.
It’s a lucrative business to be a reseller. In the U.K., for example, sellers buy pups from mills between £30 to £40 and then on-sell the dogs for prices in the range of £500 to £1000.
Like any extreme example, I’m sure there are puppy mills that aren’t as horrifying as the ones described above, but then tracing suppliers’ ethics is difficult for buyers.
Backyard dog breeders
As the name suggests, backyard dog breeders breed puppies from private real estate, whether in a rural or suburban home.
Due to property size, these indie breeders are tiny scale when compared to puppy mills. Indie breeders are often passionate and take great care when raising puppies.
In contrast to industrialised breeding, backyard breeders make efforts to keep puppy environments clean, try to give the dogs quality food, socialise, play, and do all the things you’d expect from a caring dog parent.
Sometimes indie breeders will keep a stud to mate with females routinely. However, they’ll often pay for a stud to help reproduce.
While some backyard dog breeders make a full-time business from breeding puppies, most breeders do it casually to create a supplemental income source.
Generally, backyard dog breeders have relatively responsible practices; however, not all operate with a high level of care.
Assessing the ethics of dog breeding
There are three key issues when looking at the ethics of dog breeding:
- Conditions of puppy farming
- Artificial selection of breeds
- Overpopulation of dogs
Let’s look at each point in more detail.
Note: These examples don’t include the shady business practices that con artist salespeople use to trick consumers into buying sick dogs.
1. Conditions of puppy farming
The living environment for puppies in factories draw similarities to that of commercial animal agriculture.
Dog breeding is a slave trade that gives no consideration to the health and well-being of the pups, despite merely staying alive until appropriately monetised.
Puppy mills are cruel, immoral, and unethical in every sense. It’s why California became the first state in America to ban the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for my home country of Australia, as puppy farms without caps are still legal in all states. However, dogs are no longer sold in pet stores.
Every time we buy from a puppy factory, we further exacerbate the issue.
2. Artificial selection of dog breeds
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that we bought our dog Chewy from another family just before his 1st birthday.
Chewy is a Cavoodle, a.k.a. Cavapoo; a King Charles Cavalier crossed with a Poodle. However, he is more poodle as his parents were a Cavoodle and a Poodle. Making him ¾ Poodle. This was because the family wanted to make sure that he didn’t shed at all as their daughter had allergies.
I never thought we’d end up with a Cavoodle. It wasn’t until we were dog sitting our friends’ Cavoodle, Coco, that we fell in love with the breed. These dogs are super affectionate, playful, cute and don’t shed.
I’m confident if you’ve bought a specific breed or cross-breed of dog, you have your version of my story. You have your reasons for getting the dog you purchased, whether it’s temperament, size, cuddliness, aesthetic, hyper-allergic etc.
But don’t you find it interesting how we’ve specked out dogs like we would a car or a new iPhone?
Domesticated wolves travelled with their human counterparts across seas and naturally mated with other wolves to create variations of dog breeds.
However, somewhere along the line, we decided to play god and manipulate the genetics of dogs to our preferences.
Buying dogs can often be more about a materialistic, impulsive purchase as opposed to a well-considered family adoption.
For instance, the mythical creature dire wolf on the widely popular TV series Game of Thrones sparked a massive demand for the smilier looking Siberian Huskies.
However, owners didn’t realise the work involved to care for a Husky, and the annual abandonment rate for the breed increased by 710%.
Then there’s Paris Hilton, the famous media personality who popularised carrying her tiny Chihuahua, Tinkerbell, in her handbag in the early 2000s. Animal rescue shelters in San Francisco couldn’t keep up with the volume of abandoned Chihuahuas, referring to the situation as the Paris Hilton Syndrome.
Nowadays, dogs have social media accounts, and we dream about acquiring our favourite breed one day and will stop at nothing to get them.
Meanwhile, all of these mutants we’re breeding are suffering because of our preferences.
For instance, originally, German Shepherds had relatively flat spines. But there was a demand to make them bigger and more imposing. As a result, German Shepherds backs started to slant down, resulting in hip dysplasia.
Then take the adored pug, selectively bred to have an extremely flat face and a curly tail.
The pugs pushed-in face makes them vulnerable to breathing difficulties, overheating, dental problems and low oxygen levels.
And a pug’s curly tail is actually a deformity that causes these poor dogs back problems and leg paralysis.
Look at the video below for more examples of how artificial breeding has led to physical defects in the dog breeds we adore.
The most pressing issue with dog breeding is overpopulation.
Let’s look at the United States as an example.
According to the ASPCA, approximately 3.3 million dogs enter shelters every year. 1.6 million are adopted, and 670,000 are euthanised. Around 620,000 dogs who enter shelters as strayed are returned to their owners.
While a third of the dog population in shelters gets overlooked (including 20% that are put down), 34% of dogs are purchased from breeders each year, which is the most popular method for acquiring a dog.
Interestingly enough, only 3% of cats are purchased from breeders.
So, not accounting for stray dogs, we’re talking about millions of dogs in desperate need of a family, yet we still opt to buy from breeders.
It’s a supply and demand problem. Every time we choose to support a breeder, we not only signal to the market to produce more puppies, but we also contribute to the death of dogs in shelters.
Thousands of years of domestication and selective breeding has led to a pet population issue that has gotten way out of hand.
Unlike the animal agriculture industry, where governments willingly subsidise farming for food, the same governments struggle to monitor commercial dog breeders.
The dog breeding business is more like a hybrid between farming and drug dealing in its shady underground practices.
It’s a messy situation that requires a huge cultural shift to overcome. Below are some steps we can take to reduce the suffering of domestic dogs.
What are the most ethical options for bringing a dog into your life?
It’s overwhelming to acknowledge what’s happening with domesticated dogs.
Due to the overpopulation issue caused by our preferences, we need to do our best to reverse the damage. Here are some ethical options if you’re considering a pet dog.
1. Adopt from an animal shelter
Adopting a dog from an animal shelter is by far the most ethical option. These organisations work tirelessly to bring in stray and abandoned dogs and find new homes for them.
There’s usually an adoption fee which generally covers spay/neuter, worming, vaccinations and microchipping.
Adopting means letting go of our expectations of breed and preference and instead make decisions from our hearts and compassion.
With that said, despite the misconceptions, there are dog breeds available for adoption beyond Staffordshire Bull Terrier (no offence Staffy’s), including younger dogs as well. You may just need to be a little patient.
2. Buy or adopt privately
After adopting from a shelter, the next best option is to buy or adopt a dog privately. For various reasons, pet owners decide to re-home their dogs and usually post their pooches online either for a price or free.
The benefit here is you prevent the dog from ending up at the pound or being neglected with their current family.
Conversely, the risk with acquiring a dog privately is trusting sellers.
There’s no public accountability for getting a dog from people you don’t know. So be sure to check for birth certificates, veterinary documents and most importantly, visit the dog in its current home environment.
NEVER pick up the dog without seeing how it lives first. Otherwise, you could get scammed into adopting a sick dog.
For example, before buying Chewy, we drove 2.5 hours to meet his family and could see that he’d been living in a safe environment. When we committed to Chewy the following week, his previous family made an effort to drive to our home and do a proper handover with toys, bed, food and final words of advice. There were tears, both sad tears for them and happy tears for us.
Yet, even then, we later discovered that Chewy had a heart murmur that wasn’t captured in his medical history. This could be a coincidence and a condition that the family genuinely missed, or it could’ve been information that was intentionally kept from us.
We didn’t bother to follow up, as it wasn’t going to change our relationship with Chewy. We love him and are in it for the long haul. But it just goes to show that you need to be diligent when buying a dog privately.
3. Buy from a pet store…with one condition
You can still buy a dog from a pet store, but only if the dog is from a shelter, not from a breeder.
In Australia, the legislation bans pet stores from selling puppies from breeders, so they’re from animal shelters if they do have dogs or cats.
If, however, you’re in a different jurisdiction and can’t prove if the dogs available aren’t from a breeder, walk away.
4. Friends and family
Another option for getting a dog is to put out some feelers for your friends and family. You just never know if someone you know has been considering re-homing their pooch.
Moreover, having an existing relationship with the previous family gives you peace of mind for adoption.
Is there such a thing as responsible dog breeding?
Responsible dog breeding is about being diligent and considerate with each step of the breeding process. The goal is to become a reputable breeder with the best quality puppies available.
According to the American Kennel Club, responsible dog breeders have an acute knowledge of the lineage of their litters. They’re selective with which families their pups go to—in addition to other “ethical” checks along the way.
Despite these efforts, supporting responsible dog breeders over the options listed previously still contributes to the overpopulation issue. This begs the question, can we really call any form of dog breeding responsible when lives of abandoned dogs are being lost as a result?
Furthermore, responsible breeders are still trying to maximise their profits by having their bitch reproduce back to back as much as possible—exploiting the reproductive system of their dogs.
If we need to use labels, then sure, there are particular dog breeding practices that are responsible when compared to the atrocities of dog farming. And if you were going to buy a dog from a breeder, be sure to source responsible operators.
But don’t let the terminology blind you from the impact of supporting any type of dog breeding over adopting.
What do you think? Is it cruel to breed dogs?
This is a challenging subject as many of us consider our dogs part of our families, and it’s not easy to face the realities of our choices. I’d love to hear from you now. Do you think there’s such thing as responsible breeding? Why? Why not?
I’m looking to adopt A Yorkie a
Small one a boy around 8lbs or 9lbs
I look 3very day r the Shelters there’s no Yorkie’s at all I would like at least a puppy or no more than a 5 months so I bond with him
I’m alone my Yorkie Family has all passed had a wonderful life then m Mother just passed away from brain cancer 6 months after removing the tumari really need a companion if you have anyone that will donate or charge a small fee he will have a forever home
Pls contact me
Above is my email
I appreciate this subject being discussed in this manner but I think there is a lot of , glossing over facts and emotional conclusions. You went from how different breeds were created incidentally as wolves traveled with humans and started acquiring varied traits and then went into the later tenancy of creating certain breeds for the aesthetic or character traits. You completely glossed over the working dog! Most dog breeds are working dogs. The shiatsu legend, is an ancient breed created to warm the Chinese emperor’s hands but this was an exception not the rule. Bird dogs, retriever, hounds, pointer, terriers, collies,… they all were breed for there character traits first and their appearance seemed to be connected to these behavior traits, which happens to be actually true. The industrial revolution changed our relationship to dogs and all kinds of things that served a purpose in our lives but then no longer did. Now we have dogs as companions and these residual traits become useful in other ways, a birding dog as a “soft mouth” and are very active. They could be great still as a hunting dog or just an active family and safe around the kids. In the end your and other’s accusation that puppy mills and the market of selling and buying dogs and other pets is reminiscent or almost exactly like the slave trade becomes even more relevant. This is why I do not understand why you would skip over this point that dogs served a practical purpose and now they are mostly companions unless they are hunting, therapy or security/law enforcement/military dogs, there job is to be bored in our homes until we want to pay attention to them. You wrote this article. I did not and commend you speaking your mind and making people think about how dogs/pets fit in out lives and why.
Backyard breeders are not breeders who do health checks to assure the dogs are healthy before breeding and will not pass on serious health issues. Backyard breeders breed only due to cash. A reputable breeder spends so much money on their dogs that whatever is made from sales goes right back into the quality of life for the dogs.
yes I think this article needed to be written but it could have been better. It seemed more emotional than factual to me, even though the underlying point is important.
I’m curious if you think people should stop reproducing and instead adopt children from orphanages. If the real issue is that breeders contribute to dog overpopulation, then what should we do about the human overpopulation and parents who opt to still give birth? I hope you don’t have kids of your own and instead got your child from an orphanage to help the human population.
You bring up an interesting point but you forget whom you are addressing. Let me remind you, theminimalistvegan.com. Vegans don’t eat honey and they hey do not wear leather because it is produced by an animal. Veganism is misunderstood as a dietary choice. It’s an entire re-framing of our relationship to other animals including insects. Certainly, there are vegan environmentalists who would hold that as an ideal to adopt a needy child vs creating others (selfishly) but there are none vegan animal activists who are probably on the carnivore diet who would be against puppy mills and dog breeding. I know some. Clearly you are not familiar enough with this issue to realize that conflating parental choices with buying a dog from a dog breeder is only superficially a theoretically good argument. I get the knee jerk reaction, to pose such an argument, if this is all a new concept to you.
That’s not the same thing. It would be if you forced people to have babies (think Handmaid’s Tale). The animal doesn’t get a choice, humans do.
Great article, I read from start to end.
While I absolutely agree that adopting dogs is ethical, and I truly respect people who adopt those poor unwanted dogs, I also believe in buying puppies from reputable and established dog breeders who do rigorous tracking of the puppies’ lineage, and who do DNA testing and health checks for the potential bitch and stud before even considering to breed puppies.
Coming from someone who adopted a dog who died of congestive heart failure, I must say that my heart is still broken by how this genetic disease killed my dog. There’s a huge risk that the dogs we adopt might have genetic issues that would manifest as they get older. I was with mine through and through, and I underwent depression blaming myself for not doing better, when in fact heart diseases are likely passed down and are a ticking bomb.
What’s wrong with going to an indie breeder who loves all their dogs and puppies? For someone who has gone through a devastating (and financially draining) time as I accompanied my dog to the end of her journey, I am going the extra mile to find an ethical breeder for my next dog. An ethical breeder would take pride in being able to produce healthy dogs with great temperament. An ethical breeder would try his best to screen potential pet owners by meeting them personally. An ethical breeder would not breed a bitch more than twice a year, and she should only breed a maximum for 4 litters in her lifetime. And as a potential owner, go down to the breeder’s place and observe the environment, the bitch and stud and puppies. Ask for photos of previous litters. Ask to connect with previous customers. A breeder who actively builds a community is proud of his job and his babies.
We can and should adopt, but at the end of the day, we need to look at the water source and not the end of the stream. Education, knowledge, proper screening, tighter laws.
A lot of people misunderstand the breeder business. Just like how people say we need to desex our dogs very early but neglect the importance of sex hormones for our puppies development. Responsible pet owners-just DON’T let your dogs out when they in heat. Watch them with both eyes and don’t play with your phone.
I think the that the point is that for every dog which is bought from a breeder there are, something like 10 in a shelter or a pound and even though you don’t realize it we are compounding the issue each time a breeder has a new litter to sell. how many people end up loosing, mistreating or giving up on the dog. My triplet brother got a dog shortly before getting a divorce. They both agreed to give the dog to a shelter. too many people a to fickle and uncaring about these animals we have bred to be there for us and all to often we aren’t there for them!
Hi Michael, interesting article but there is an important point you and most who write on this subject forget about. People may want dogs of a specific breed or shortlist of breeds for a purpose, whether as a family pet, a police dog, an assistance dog, etc. I have always had adopted dogs and have had many breeds over the years, mainly small terriers and a Kelpie x, however when I had my daughter and she wanted a dog, and we already had two cats, I wanted a bit more certainty as to the temperament and all I could find at shelters were dogs that the shelters themselves said were not suitable with young children and cats – I looked for months on and off before I was lucky enough to find and adopt a 4 year old Labrador from a shelter. He was found wandering at a school they said and the owners on the microchip couldn’t be contacted. I hoped for the best (and got lucky again) that he was trainable & not aggressive to cats. We called him Lucky, naturally. But now that I can’t take him to doggy daycare anymore as it is too far from home and work, and he is getting lonely as I am working from the office more often, I want to get him a playmate to give him company. But we still have the issue of our cat, who, as much as Lucky tries, will not play with him. And I have not been lucky this time in finding a dog that’s big enough to play safely with Lucky, and is also cat friendly. My daughter is now old enough that she is not restricting the type of dog we choose, but the cat is. You see that as much as we may see that gorgeous greyhound or spritely husky x or whatever at a shelter, I would be very irresponsible bringing them into my home after the shelter and my own research warns me they are not good with cats and will likely kill her. The issue of the previous homes the animals have come from is also a problem – many have been neglected, abused, or simply not trained or socialised properly, so they aren’t usually suitable for homes with children under 5 or sometimes even 12, or with cats or pocket pets, and they aren’t always good with other dogs either. So do we put or other pets or our children in jeopardy as well as the new adoptee and hope for the best? We need responsible breeders who breed for temperament, who properly socialise their animals to be good with other animals and with kids, and carefully select the adopters to make sure they are suitable as much as is possible anyway. This will reduce the number of animals ending up at the shelters in the first place. What we don’t need are all the other breeders, and the abusers and irresponsible owners having access to animals they can hurt. Breeders should need a license, background check and regular inspections, and I think that those who want to have animals in their care should as well.
Further, whilst I enjoy the company of all of my beautiful fur babies there is one thing about the idea of breeding animals for pets that makes me as a mum and a compassionate person very uncomfortable. For every animal sold or adopted as a pet, it had a mum and possibly both parents who grieved when they were taken away from them. Yet no one really mentions that.
Totally ignoring the problem of overpopulation. Dogs are not here to serve our every need, they are individuals deserving of life and love. That’s why it’s tragic for good animals to have to die so you can buy the “perfect” dog. I’m sorry it will be hard to find the perfect dog for you but that’s better than buying from a breeder and contributing to the overpopulation problem, which leads for perfectly healthy dogs to be killed. Think about that.
We need to stop making dogs an industry. 19 out of 20 people who own dogs have no business doing so. They do not honor needs as animals and canines.
The problem is not responsible breeders. The overpopulation problem is solely from not spaying and neutering puppies! Very few pre breds are in shelters. Only 10% of dogs in shelters are spayed or neutered! All puppy mills must be shut down and the owners put in Federal prison for lifetime sentence.
What about responsible buyers? The issue isn’t responsible breeders, it is people buying for the sake of ‘cute’ or just copying celebrities. Because it is a new trend. One excuse a person gave when surrendering their puppy to a shelter was “it doesn’t match my kitchen colours”. And a puppy bought as a secret santa gift to someone that couldn’t care for this surprise puppy. I understand the issues you mention about puppy farming, they need to be stopped, it breaks my heart……but instead of shaming responsible breeders, that provide the best start and lifetime of support/advise…..we need to educate people to buy responsibly and be aware of red flags with puppy farms. Alongside mentioning adoption is a rewarding choice, if this suites their lifestyle. I’m not a breeder, but see so many people irresponsibly buying puppies and months down the line they realise the puppy isn’t tiny and cute anymore, is hard work etc. Education is key!
Yes there are very Responsible dog Breeders that specialise in a breed of dog that they deeply care for & love. Most of them do the right thing. They breed to better their specialised breed. And some only breed when they want another for themselves and sell to other Breeders for the show ring. As for consumers they should be able to choose the type of pup they want and who they get it from and their choices should be available.
Yes all those dogs that are in pounds and shelters is devastating and often makes me extremely upset. Puppy farms should be banned and should never have been allowed to operate in the first place.
Now as far as irresponsibility goes it’s not the Breeders fault that all these dogs are in shelters. Infact u rarely see designer dogs or purebred dogs in these shelters. Well not in Australia anyway. The irresponsibility is infact the people that get these dogs and dump them and mistreat & abuse them. Most reputable Breeders love their dogs and treat them better than their own children, they are part of their family and are treated as such.
I appreciate what u are trying to say but it is not entirely correct to blame responsible Breeders for the orphaned dogs that they do not breed as responsible Breeders only breed pure bred dogs. Breeders rehome dogs to the best home they can find not dump them in shelters because they decide they just don’t want the dog anymore.
I’m just sick of people bad mouthing the good Breeders who do the right thing. Yes there are good Breeders.
I absolutely 100% agree.
Yes!!! Most shelters near me have lab/pitbull mixes. I adore dachshunds. Always have. My mother bred a few litters (responsibly) when I was a child and my parents and I have a breeder friend who is 100% doing the best for her resulting puppies, including background checks, checking for hereditary issues, etc. You have to form a contract with her. If you don’t take the puppy to the vet within the first 48 hours, she can legally come and take the puppy back. If any genetic anomalies arise, she no longer breeds those dogs. Each mom has a maximum of two litters a year. I have a small home with a small yard and some physical difficulties. I have no business with a lab/pit mix. It would be miserable here and I would be stressed. I did adopt a dachshund/Yorkie mix and have had him for 10 years so far.Its sad to think that we could lose our favorite breeds over the attitude that when we choose a responsibly bred dog, that we adore and care for extensively, we are killing a shelter dog. I’ve lost friends over my lifelong love of dachshunds, even though I only have one, and had one that passed early this year.. which broke my heart. Dogs are bred to herd cattle, to be police dogs, seeing eye dogs etc and some breeds are just better suited than others. I have one purebred dachshund (and the Doxie/Yorkie mix I mentioned) and they get the best food, heartworm and parasite prevention, one is neutered and the pure dachshund will be spayed as soon as she’s old enough. I am not contributing to dogs landing in shelters. My heart breaks for them, but I had nothing to do with it. I hate that it’s such an issue. I know people who won’t post their well-bred, pure-bred puppies on their own social media accounts and I get it, as I mentioned, I’ve lost friends over my dog preference, which I’m sure others are afraid of.
I have bred my Golden Retriever once in my time. I have wanted to become an animal breeder since I was a child. When I have done this I have made sure that the buyers know that if for any reason they find they are struggling with caring for their pup to bring it back to me, no matter the age or conditions. Also I do agree about some breeders to certain extent, but an honorable breeder will be educated and will not breed their dam back to back. They love their animal and babies as family and want a good home for them. Anyway I’m writing because I am confused as your stating to not buy from breeders, even if they sell them in a store, if that’s the case wouldn’t that just send those pups to the shelter too because no one is buying them? The pups wouldn’t disappear because you didn’t buy them. Also It’s not all the breeders fault for the dogs going to the pound or shelter. I have been to animals sheltered and I have yet to find pure bred dogs or the new breeds. Also if it’s anyone’s fault it’s the person who bought the animals. They decided they wanted the animal and they made the decision letting what ever happens to it. Either way you buy your animal you are responsible for it.
You must be joking. The only reliable place to buy pets from IS,
A Registered Breeder ,this applies to anything. Purchasers can view perants grandparents & sibblings to what they are buying.
Also most registered breeders give garentee on their stock
There is a huge issue with people obtaining intact females and then breeding them with any available look alike male dog with the idea of making money. These are not back yard breeders, these are criminals that need to be arrested. The puppies that result from this type of breeding end up sold to other unsavory characters, dead or dropped off (the lucky ones) at the SPCA. That is a huge issue that no one, including yourself, seem to want to address. Puppy Mills will eventually die out if stores refuse to buy their puppies, meanwhile these criminal breeders are free to pick up their slack and continue this horrendous behavior.
When will this be addressed?
As someone who’s been working with and training dogs for a number of years I would like to make a few Corrections here. To start with the foundation’s dogs are not descended from wolves nor were they domesticated by man. Numerous Studies have shown dogs and wolves actually diverge from a similar ancestor, and since then both have taken different evolutionary paths. Numerous recent Studies have also supported the findings that dogs, based on their interactions with humans from very young ages without influence, are actually self domesticated. Basically as much as we found a benefit to having them around, they also founded benefit to being around us.
Another thing I would like to mention is that you also, probably intentionally, neglected to mention something extremely important with all of your shelter facts. That being the majority of dogs in shelters are actually returns from other shelters. These are facts you should, and everyone who reads should, look up for yourselves. The truth is most people like to blame breeders because thats the easiest scapegoat. The truth is much more depressing: that a very small minority of dogs in shelters (12% when I checked last) actually come from breeders to begin with and in most cases they are the result of people who adopted from a different shelter, or people who had accident puppies because they could not properly manage their unfixed dog, or people who got their dog cuz Joe down the road thinks his dog is the best and wants another just like him.
For anyone who truly wants to reduce the pet population what needs to be done is much more complex than simply refusing to purchase dogs from ethical breeders (those who do not see dogs as a business, who spend hours and hours of time researching genetics pedigrees health and wellness, and providing their dogs with the ultimate Foundation of a good long life.) What it involves is rigorously scrutinizing people who want to own dogs and in many cases excluding unfit owners from having them. In all honesty anyone who wishes to own a dog should go through the exact same type of preparation it takes to own a car. You should have to go to classes involving basic understanding of canine body language and behaviors and training. you should have to pass a basic test of your knowledge, and only then can you get a license to own a dog.
We do not have a breeder issue in this country. We have a pet owner ignorance, and straight up negligence issue. As a case in point most pet owners don’t realize that its actually physically detrimental to spay or neuter dogs before 2 years of age. Yet the reason veterinarians suggests puppies be fixed is because they know full well the average pet owner is not mentally or emotionally prepared, or even willing, to make the necessary adjustments for owning a dog that has natural urges to breed and procreate.
Unfortunately we live in a country and a world where people feel obligated to literally everything, and telling somebody that they are not equipped to own something is basically the equivalent to taking away their constitutional rights. We will never, not even if we eliminate every single ethical dog breeder in the world, never ever be rid of the pet overpopulation issue, simply because the issue has to do with pet owners not breeders.
Hi Ren, thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge. These are all interesting (and alarming) points. I’ll be sure to look into them when I get around to updating this post.
Hi, I’d like to say, most people who are against breeders think that they make all this money and only breed to make money.
This is false. Responsible, ethical breeders hardly make any money after all is said and done at the end of a litter. They take the time to care, raise, socialize, train, and love their dogs. And it costs them, they actually Don’t make much money.
And even then, they don’t do it for the money. They do it to better the breed.
I know I’ll be purchasing my next dog from an amazing breeder.
I agree. It is time consuming. No one takes in how expensive it really is and the efforts you put in making sure your mama is healthy and strong along with her babies too. Or what it’s like to losing a puppy. The vaccines and wellness checks for mama and each puppy. Mamas Ultrasounds or emergency surgery. The right food for mama and when it’s time for pups to eat solids, etc. There is more, but no one sees that this is not a business you can make money off of, you rarely can even call it a hobby. This is something you have to really love doing knowing that you won’t get much in return. Those that do make money, you know they are not doing it because of love for their dog/cat or what ever animal they are breeding. Serious breeders seriously care about their animal above money.
This whining is so so yesterday. There are 8.3 million dogs required in America every year. There is a huge shortage on dogs right now. Why? Because of the sissy/neuter campaign snd the shelter guilting ad campaigns. Stop it already. You’ve done your work and overdone it. Things have changed. Find another cause!
This is one of the few articles I have read that didn’t demonize dogs as “meat heavy and horrible for the environment” and humans as “ignorant of the impact”. I have a dog that was purchased from a world class, independent and private breeder. I love her, but she’s my last dog purchase. I will be adopting another dog in approximately 1 year, as her human parent has advancing dementia. This dog was also privately bred. This is for the sake of the dog- not me. I purchased the other dog as a friend and guardian, because I live in the middle of nowhere by myself and that can be frightening sometimes. She comforts me.
I appreciate this article in that it’s realistic and considerate to both dogs and humans- their history with one another. Most people have no idea of how puppy mills work, that there are better ways, and how to decide whether or not you actually need a dog. It’s refreshing to see this agreement in print!
Hi Brenda, thanks for taking the time to share your experience with us. It seems that we share similar perspectives on the pet dog industry.
Thank you so much for sharing your toughts on Dogs. It is a really difficult and often emotional subject.
In the past we adopted and bought. But now we decided not to “have” pets anymore (there were some cats in our lives as well).
It is becoming (or already is for a while) an “industry” we do not want to support any longer. The food, all the chemicals produced to keep your pets flea/tick free etc. And it clashes more and more with our views on veganism.
So no pets anymore. But I’m so grafeful for the ones that were our companions and traveled and lived with us for some time .
I’m looking forward to your next article, I really enjoy them. I’m not sure if I ever thanked you. I love the journey you two are on and really admire the way you share it, very respectful.
Good luck with Chewy, he looks adorable!
Hi Marnie, thank you for your kinds words. That means a lot.
You make a valid point, as we’ve also struggled with the operations of the pet industry. Something to consider in the future. In saying that, it’s hard to imagine life without Chewy in our lives.
Take care, and I hope you continue enjoying the content.
Thanks for a great informative post. I wondered if you would consider adding a piece about Amish breeders for your US readers. They are in some ways backyard/private breeders but are big suppliers of puppy mills and treat their animals as livestock. (I currently have the pleasure of being the caretaker for a former Amish stud dog.) It really is horrible what they do yet people often assume that because the Amish are involved that everything is well and good.
I also wanted to ask what your opinion was with regards to rescue groups and adopting from them. While not a shelter, I would think they might be considered to be similar even if they are breed based.
Finally, with regards to if breeding can be done ethically, I do question if it possible even under “good conditions” for the profit reason you mentioned but also due to what artificial selection and breed standards/trends has done to the dogs themselves. i.e. hip dysplasia in shepherds along w/ fear aggression issues and pugs needing to be born by C-section etc. I would think those issues might be problematic even under “ethical” breeding situations.
Sorry for writing so much but this is obviously something i feel strongly about.
Again thanks for a great post about an important topic.
yours in choosing adoption,
Jacquie (and pup Tee)
Thanks for reading and taking the time to add value to this article, Jacquie. I wasn’t aware of some of these Amish breeders. But, wow—I’ll be sure to look into it.
As for rescue groups, you’re spot on. I’ll this as another adoption option in my next update.
Regarding ethical/responsible breeding, I agree. Just trying to make the distinction between commercial and indie practices.
Thanks for your passion, and I love that you refer to yourself as a caretaker. I’ll have to steal that 🙂
Interesting article you have penned in relation to buying a dog from a dog breeder. The subject matter has little relevance to food and cooking per se, yet you use the popularity of “Minimalist Vegan” to write about the pitfalls, (in your mind) of purchasing dogs from sellers other than from those you recommend in your albeit well researched article. I cannot overlook that you have chosen to write an article which does not in itself embrace all things good about veganism. ‘Happy cooking only.’
Hi Frank, thanks for taking the time to read the post and leave a comment. While our site appears primarily focused on food on the surface, since day one, our message has encapsulated much more than that, as evidenced through our articles, podcast, and book. We hope whichever medium you find The Minimalist Vegan; readers are open to a range of topics that go beyond cooking and vice versa.
This is pervasive PETA nonsense. Ethical breeders do not contribute to the dog overpopulation problem. Backyard breeders do, and the two are NOT the same. Backyard breeders are the reason for dog health problems, not ethical breeders who both health test and genetically test their dogs prior to a breeding. AND work with their puppies to give them the best head start before entering a home. It is irresponsible of you to push this misinformation about breeding, a topic you CLEARLY have not looked into, out of some perverted sense of justice.
Dogs are bred for a purpose, not always to simply fill the role of a pet in a home.
Furthermore, it is additionally irresponsible of you to push the “adopt don’t shop” mind on people. People have no reason to feel guilty for an inability to dedicate time, energy, and money to a dog that will likely require a LOT of the three. But they will, because ” internet animal activists” spread this toxic, dismissive mindset.
A mindset that needlessly villainizes responsible breeders, and ignores how BROKEN the adoption system can be. And I’m saying this as someone with both a responsibly bred dog, and an adopted dog.
At the end of the day, whether responsible or not, a breeder is forcing an animal to get pregnant. Pregnancy, for humans and non-humans alike, always has some risks. I would think the more you breed the more risk. If breeders love animals so much why not adopt and care for an already born animal?
What Kathryn said!
I am an ethical, preservation dog breeder. My bitch has produced 18 healthy puppies in 3.1 litters (one litter resulted in a singleton) after genetic testing, and intense searches for just the right sire that resulted in puppies that improved up
on their parents.
Each person who purchases a puppy from me is also intensively researched. They are required to sign a contract that forbids them from surrendering their pet to a shelter or rescue group. Instead, I insist they return the dog to me, no questions asked, no matter the dog’s age, and no matter the reason.
The contract also requires that the puppy be no less than 18 months old before neutering if a dog, or 12 months old before spaying if a bitch. Sex hormones have been proven to be vital for canine growth, and development; it’s iniquitous to keep a puppy from reaching its full potential.
Very few of my breed-choice end up in shelters. Our national club’s network acts swiftly if one does show up. Usually, the dog is rescued within hours, then either returned to its breeder, or placed in foster care for future placement depending upon temperament analysis.
Please stop vilifying those of us who believe dogs bred for a specific task, be it herding sheep, rodent control, law enforcement, finding a lost soul, or simply providing comfort and unconditional love to someone should be saved from extinction.