No wonder no one wants to be a dog breeder: a stud dog owner's experiences with Australian Dog Breeders
Experiences of a stud dog owner with breeders in Australia
Negative dog breeder stories in the news
Dog breeders are generally talked about negatively in the media; PETA suggests that dog breeders are bad and should not be supported. Many in society associate the term dog breeding with puppy farming, pet shop, overbreeding, backyard breeder, intensive puppy mills, dog breeder ban, rescue, unethical breeding for extreme features, illegal breeding practices, filthy breeding facilities and the list goes on.
A stud dog owner’s perceptions of dog breeders in Australia
Having interacted with dog breeders my whole life, I’ve experienced my fair share of negative experiences with fellow ‘dog lovers’. And maybe they do love their dogs, but today I’m sharing my perceptions of breeder behaviour in my interactions with them as a stud dog owner.
My clients are a group of people which I’ve found to be largely courteous and respectful, particularly those breeders who are not breeding for profit. I aim to support small, ethical breeders who have one to three healthy dogs as family pets that they occasionally breed in order to keep a puppy or provide puppies for their family and friends.
Are dog breeders as bad as some people think they are?
I’ve been offering my fully health tested poodles at stud for a number of years now and have given so much of myself in helping people; both new and experienced breeders in fulfilling their breeding goals. I’ve worked tirelessly offering advice at all hours and dropping everything to help people with their last minute stud service requests.
Dog breeders get a negative wrap in the news, many are too embarrassed to openly admit that they breed puppies and others refuse to call themselves a ‘dog breeder’. I’ve witnessed unscrupulous breeding practices; ranging from an experienced breeder who recommended doing a father daughter mating (it’s against state legislation) to another otherwise lovely family of breeders who lived in putrid conditions inside a tiny house overcrowded with dogs.
Dog breeders and Caregiver Burnout
Dog breeding can certainly take its toll on a breeder’s mental health. Many breeders are unable to recognise that the life they’ve created for themselves is not a healthy one. Dog breeders are caregivers to their dogs; caregiving requires constantly prioritising someone else’s health and wellbeing over your own. This can lead to caregiver burnout which is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion.
Meeting a single dog’s needs for mental, physical and emotional stimulation and enrichment while also keeping up with weekly tasks like grooming, feeding, cleaning up after, training, socialising, shopping for, vet visits etc can put a strain on resources. Dog breeding requires many resources but without proper support, skills, tools, living set up and money; breeders can quickly find themselves in a highly demanding and stressful situation that doesn’t afford them the time and money for their own self-care.
We have some insight as to why the general public looks down on dog breeders but it’s important to understand the perspective of dog breeders and why some of them might be struggling.
Symptoms of caregiver burnout include –
- Social isolation
- Lack of motivation
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Feelings of overwhelm and hopelessness
- Anger and resentment
Recently a mother and daughter who bred German Shepherds in New Zealand were found to have more than 60 dogs and puppies in their care. Some of the dogs were tied up on check chains, without water, kept in an isolated shed, under weight, in filthy conditions and some had injuries.
SPCA chief Andrew Midgen claimed “Nobody in their right mind would treat their animals the way these animals were treated.”
Dog breeders, many of which breed in isolation or as part of a family can be caring for lots of dogs and that doesn’t include any litters that they’re raising. I personally feel that it’s often a struggle to care well for 3-4 dogs.
Each dog requires their daily work, a brush and comb 3 times a week, trimming nails, a bath, blow dry and trim every 3-4 weeks, daily environmental enrichment in the form of stuffed Kongs, food puzzles, meal prep etc. And perhaps most importantly, a whole lot of love!
Some of my negative experiences as the male dog owner dealing with breeders
Disrespect of terms and conditions
On one occasion a breeder thought it was reasonable to request that I service her dog indefinitely until she falls pregnant after having paid a $500 stud fee. Stating, “I paid for a service and haven’t received anything”. Shocked at her audacity, I reminded her that she had received two stud services (four visits for breeding, in two separate cycles), the first one and a return service when she didn’t fall.
How do you think a vet would respond if when your bitch doesn’t fall pregnant as a result of a TCI or AI, you claim that you’ve paid for a service and not received anything and expect them to keep offering their service for free until your bitch falls pregnant.
My return service policy, states that you receive one return service on your bitch’s next cycle upon providing a vet letter stating that she’s not pregnant within 8 weeks of the mating or insemination.
Thankfully, most of my clients respect my fair return service policy and appreciate that I offer one. Furthermore my poodle stud dogs have regular fertility checks by a reproduction specialist vet; when a bitch doesn’t fall pregnant, it’s likely not because my stud was infertile or produced sperm that had poor motility.
Breeders behaving like scammers
Another breeder thought it was reasonable to expect me to send semen to them before payment for the semen had cleared into my bank account. This is despite me communicating, from the outset, that payment must clear into my bank account before the semen is collected and shipped.
Concerningly, this breeder was acting like the scammers we are all trying to avoid in the industry. This particular client wrote a negative review, stating that I let them down at the last minute.
Should a stud dog owner be expected to release a potential litter of their stud’s progeny before full payment of the stud service is received?
FAQ about Dog Breeders:
‘Why are dog breeders so weird?’
Some dog breeders are just outright rude and don’t treat people with respect. Many breeders ask me for advice on dog breeding, selecting a stud, how to breed dogs, stud fees etc. I take time out of my day to research vets in their area for progesterone testing or advise on the best stud match after reviewing their female’s DNA report and I don’t even receive a simple ‘thank you’.
I assess the suitability of potential stud clients using similar criteria as I would in the search for good homes for my puppies. If a breeder doesn’t show a stud dog owner kindness and respect, should they entrust the breeder with the raising and finding of suitable homes for their stud dog’s puppies?
‘Why are dog breeders so rude?’
Most breeders say they’ll send photos of the puppies when they arrive and that they’ll stay in touch. Most clients and I thank all those that do, send a photo of the puppies when they’re born and stay in touch with how their puppies are developing. After all, they are raising my stud dog’s puppies, surely they think I’d be interested in following their progress?
Sadly, some don’t update me at all and a rare few don’t reply when I ask how it all went.
I find this sad because I’ve entrusted these breeders with my hard work (homemade meals for my dogs, daily grooming, walks, DNA analysis, health screening – hip scores), passion (dogs are my thing – I was born into it), my dogs’ genetics and most importantly, my trust.
I trust these breeders to do the right thing by my studs progeny and by me. Over and again, I’m left feeling like many breeders cannot be trusted and that they are lacking in integrity.
‘Are breeders over breeding their dogs for profit?’
People who breed their bitches every cycle (it’s illegal in NSW without a vet signing off on it). How many litters should a female dog have? I personally think 3-4 litters is plenty and I have turned down some clients because I know their breeding back to back and in excess of 3-4 litters.
Scarily, a breeder has even used a fake name and disguised themselves when visiting to access my stud services. We now require that all clients bring their drivers licence to verify their identity.
‘As a stud dog owner do you approve all applications for service?’
If at any point in the process I feel uncomfortable with you using my stud services – to the point of turning you back at my gate or refusing a fresh collection at the vet. I reserve the right to refuse service, just as I do with the rehoming of puppies in my care, to stop at any point in the process (you also have that right).
We’re working with living things, I’m not offering a service on your car. If I don’t think you’ve got the best interest of me, my dogs or your own dog/s at heart, I will refuse service. I’ve had dog breeders turn up with flea ridden, terrified, clearly un-healthy and aggressive dogs.
Others are outright rude and think just because we had a discussion about stud services and that their bitch is ready to mate, that they’re entitled to a stud service regardless.
‘How do dog breeders work?’
Good dog breeders don’t work full time outside of breeding. It’s not possible to raise a litter of puppies and work full time without the support of others. Raising puppies is a full time commitment.
Most of us know how exhausting having one or two dogs and meeting their mental and physical needs can be, particularly during adolescence. Imagine having 2 adult dogs, 1 adolescent and a litter of puppies! For many small breeders this is their reality and they are at risk of caregiver burnout.
Many responsible modern breeders are using guardian homes for this reason, they ensure all of their breeding dogs are having their needs met by a loving family. Breeders can then focus on the mammoth task of raising a litter of puppies and finding them suitable homes.
‘Why do breeders breed their dogs?’
People breed dogs for many reasons and Covid saw an influx of breeders enter the industry in 2021. Many families approached me wanting to use my stud services for their healthy family pets; conveying how they couldn’t afford to buy an oodle puppy for $7000 + (pandemic prices).
So they decided once their dog had passed her health checks, that they’d have a litter from her and keep one of her puppies and family and friends would take the other puppies in the litter. Some of those breeders have continued to breed, having enjoyed the experience and the joy their puppies have brought to family and friends.
Other breeders started breeding during Covid because they thought dog breeding was an easy way to make some money. Many of those breeders have now stopped breeding because prices have dropped with the over supply of puppies on the market.
Sadly, with the dropping of prices, many ethical breeders have also stopped breeding. It’s simply not feasible for them to take 8 weeks off work to raise a litter and to cover all the expenses that go with raising a litter of puppies and doing it well.
‘Are there any Good Dog Breeders?’
Yes, indeed good dog breeders do exist but they are not in the majority in online marketplaces like Gumtree, Craigslist, Trading Post etc. Many backyard breeders, scammers and puppy farmers advertise their puppies in online directories and do not allow visitors to their properties. Instead they offer to meet you somewhere to deliver the puppy and will often use the excuse of not allowing visitors because they believe this protects their dogs from infectious diseases and from being stolen.
The best ethical breeders will vaccinate their dogs, thereby protecting them and their puppies from infectious diseases. They will also have a security system and secure housing (ideally in their home) to ensure their dogs are safe. You should be able to visit the breeder’s home, their dogs and the puppies once they are vaccinated at 6 weeks of age.
Some people think dog breeders are rude when they don’t respond to every enquiry they receive. Unfortunately many good breeders get overlooked because they’re not as focussed on their marketing as someone who is breeding puppies purely for profit.
Many responsible breeders have lives outside of their dogs and their puppies are in high demand. To answer every puppy enquiry would mean they’d be on the phone all day, taking them away from their dogs, work and family commitments.
I have some lovely clients who are small ethical breeders. They send warm messages of thanks, take pride in their beautiful puppies, are keen to learn and show kindness – this does not go unnoticed.
To those breeders – thank you. You provide me with the hope that good dog breeders do exist and that dog breeding when done well is a great privilege and something to be proud of.
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