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24 Comments

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. Hello,

    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.

  7. 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

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

    1. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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!

  13. Dear Michael,

    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!

    Regards,
    Marnie

    1. 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.

  14. 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)

    1. 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 🙂

  15. Hello Michael,
    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.’
    Kindest regards,
    Frank

    1. 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.

      1. 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.