importance, the breeder represents a very small segment of the dog
world, which in turn, creates the dog business. Furthermore, they
are the ones who seldom, if ever, make a profit, even in the most
popular breeds; and since they cannot take a livelihood from their
breeding activites, they must be able to rely on some other source
Why then, do
people ever become Breeders??
A breeder has,
in his mind, a perfect dog that he someday hopes to create. He presses
on to breed his ideal dog, unfettered by desires to be a conformist,
or to pander to the buying public. Like the artist or sculptor,
he is activated by a creative, inner drive which is totally unaffected
by considerations of what will sell or what won't. Unlike the sculptor
however, he is working with living flesh and is constantly fighting
time. He can never put his work away and come back to it later.
The raw material on which he labors is constantly changing - sometimes
for the better, sometimes for the worse; sometimes as a result of
his efforts and sometimes in spite of them. Nature and Time are
his greatest adversaries, yet when he least expects it, they may
prove to be his greatest allies. The sculptor can use the chisel
to chip away at his mistakes, but it may take years for the breeder
to see where he has made a mistake - a mistake which in some cases
may never be remedied.
speak the same language, whatever their breed. Without the slightest
previous communication, they discover that they think the same way,
they have the same ideals and goals and standards of behavior and
the same awareness of responsibility. Like the Beautiful People
in the social world, they immediately recognize each other - not
because they know each other's names or who they are, but because
as kindred spirits they realise what they are.
WHO and what IS a Breeder?
anyone who owns or leases a bitch and produces a litter out of her
is a breeder of dogs. It is of no matter what considerations were
involved in the choice of mate or what the puppies were like, or
how they were disposed of- perhaps to the nearest pet shop. This
person has bred a litter, the minimum requirement to becoming a
Breeder. He is now on the lowest rung of the breeding ladder. How
far upward he goes will depend on many factors, some of which are
under his control, and some of which are matters of luck. Some people
paint all their lives but never become real artists; some people
raise hundreds of litters of puppies, but never become true Breeders.
Let us consider
how people buy their first pure-bred dog. It usually comes about
in one or two ways. In the first case, the person passes a pet shop
with a litter of puppies, frolicking in the window, lingers to watch
and impulsively decides to buy one of them. Presto! he has now become
a dog-owner. In the second case, a person sees a dog in the street,
in the movies, or on television, likes it's looks and makes up his
mind to have one just like it. How does he go about it?
He picks up
the newspaper, sees a litter advertised, goes to look at it, and
comes home with a puppy. Few people in either group have ever seen
a dog magazine or been to a dog show. They want to buy a dog (and
I say this in quotes)"with papers" although they have only the foggiest
idea what they mean. The dogs that these people buy are like children
who grow up with no family.
A much smaller
portion of pure-bred dogs are bought as a result of advertising
in dog magazines and other trade publications. These are the dogs
which form the bulk of our dog shows. For the most part, they are
bought from Breeders. They are not usually the result of impulse
buying, but of considerable searching, looking and even waiting.
Many of these dogs are the second pure-bred dog for the owner, the
first having come from one of the two groups first mentioned.
How does a
dog-buyer move from the first or second group to the third? Some
never do. But if, by sheer luck - and it is often just that- the
buyer gets a reasonably good breed specimen, he may become interested
in the breed and want to find out more about it. He may attend a
dog show, read books and magazines, seek out training classes and
dog clubs and by his own efforts become what the cognoscenti regard
as a "Dog Person". But he has to do this all on his own.
Had he bought
his dog from a real Breeder, everything would have been much easier
for him. Just what does he get from the Breeder - or let us say,
what can he expect?
First and above
all, he gets a pride of ownership, not only in a breed but in a
family. The pedigree he gets with his dog will mean something to
him - the real Breeder will see to that. It will come alive to him
- if not immediately, certainly eventually! There is magic in a
name which stands for something, and it will rub off on all that
We see this
in the case of our great families in the social and political world,
the Rockefellers and Roosevelts, the Astors and the Kennedys. In
the dog world we find it in illustrious kennel names. These names
do not become illustrious overnight, nor are they illustrious merely
becuase they are familiar to people through aggressive advertising.
A name which is synonymous with quality in the mind of the public
is that of a great store, "Tiffany's". How long would it retain
it's aura if we began to hear television commercials shouting its'
prestige, or urging "Rush to Tiffany's this weekend for the greatest
sale of the year"? Thus, because a name is known to the public is
no assurance that it is a great name. Only years of high standards
and good taste will create a name that is an asset to a human being,
to a product, or to a dog.
Influence of the Real Breeder is Far Reaching
the people that buy his dogs with the desire to become breeders
themselves and an appreciation of all this entails. From him, they
learn a philosophy of showing, a code of ethics in sportsmanship.
They learn how to train their dogs, or where they can be trained,
how to handle their dogs and where and when or whether to show them.
The breeder encourages them to go to training and handling classes,
read books and dog magazines, advise them how to breed their bitches,
raise their litters, take care of their old dogs. He answers innumerable
questions and gives out emergency advise when they can't get a veterinarian.
All this, a good Breeder attempts to do. Unfortunately, as the years
go on, he realises he has created a Frankenstein, which grows constantly
bigger and threatens to devour him. For this reason, all Breeders
eventually reach a point where the more conscientious they are in
recognizing the demands on them, the more difficult they find it
is to take care of all of them.
Breeder is Like the Head of the Family
He gives those
who buy his dogs a sense of "belonging". This is of the utmost to
people with their first or second dogs. They develop an interest
in the dog's ancestors, about which the breeder can give them a
wealth of information, and in the dog's relatives. Thus is built
up a great family pride-- in their own dogs and in all the other
dogs that carry the same kennel name. They learn from the breeder
more about their breed and what constitutes a good specimen of it
than they could ever find out from any book. The breeder, in a good
many cases, is also a specialist. This is to say, he is an authority
on his own breed and can be expected to know more about it than
any judge who is not a specialist. He teaches those to whom he sells
his dogs to evaluate their own dogs, many times encouraging and
training these people so that some day they may be able to become
The real breeder
disciplines himself not to expect gratitude or appreciation for
his services-- which is well, because those who benefit most will
rarely give public recognition to the fact. The real breeder does
what he does because of what he is. he can not do otherwise.
a great deal to say about their Breed Standard. They give generously
of their time to the national Breed organization and it is through
a consensus of the breeders that the Standard is arrived at, or
Breeders are the Aristocracy of the Dog World
If there is
a caste system, they are at the very top. Each breeder has a great
sense of his own worth. Individually, that is. He is proud to be
what he is and what he stands for. However, he rarely thinks of
his worth collectively with other breeders. That is because Breeders
are independent and individualistic. Therein lies their strength
- and also their weakness. It is why their importance as a group
is constantly overlooked in the hierarchy of the dog world. There
are many more women Breeders than men Breeders, yet the American
Kennel Club , which could not exist without breeders, allows no
women to be a part of it's governing body. (**NOTE:Remember, this
was written in 1969) Even an all woman club which is a member of
the AKC must be represented by a man. Obviously, this discrimination
on the basis of sex is a matter which advocates of equal rights
for women have not as yet taken notice of!
The great advances
made by any breed - and I am not here referring to registration
increases - have all been brought about by the Breeders.
between the Breeders in the best sense of the word and those who
fall short of it, I shall refer to these people as The "Breeders"
and the "Puppy Raisers" The primary difference between the Breeder
and the puppy-raiser is the awareness of responsibility; responsibility
to his breed, to his goals, to the dogs he has bred and to the dogs
he hopes to breed. He also has a never-ending responsibility to
the people who have bought his dogs, to the people who are about
to buy his dogs and to the public image--not only of the dogs he
has been producing but of the breed itself.
are essentially givers. They give to their chosen breed much more
than they will ever receive. Their rewards are intangible rather
than financial. Here again is the great difference between the Breeder
and the puppy-raiser. The latter produces puppies in order to sell
them, getting them off his hands as quickly as possible before their
cost has eaten up his hoped-for profit. The breeder, on the other
hand, has an entirely different motivation. He breeds a litter only
when he can devote the necessary time, money and work to it. he
never breeds when he knows he will be up against a deadline; that
is to say, a time when he knows all his puppies must be sold.
does he breed a litter unless he plans to keep something from it,
which hopefully will bring him one step closer to producing his
ideal dog. If the litter is disappointing, he may sell the whole
litter; but the better the breeder, the less often he will find
it necessary to do this. The Breeder is constantly selecting and
pruning his stock, sometimes because he no longer needs it, and
sometimes because he has discovered a reason why he does not want
it. The two reasons are very different. In the case of a dog he
no longer needs, the reason may be that he has gotten from that
dog what he wanted in order to further his breeding plans. In the
case of the dog he no longer wants as breeding stock, he may have
uncovered a reason why this dog would be detrimental to his breeding
Breeder is Constantly Faced with Difficult Decisions
latter are his breeding cast-offs. Yet they may be delightful as
individuals. They are not so faulty that they should never be bred,
yet they fall far short of the Breeder's standards. They are like
the so-called "seconds of sheets and towels by Famous Makers" that
stores advertise as "slightly irregular"
does his best to put these dogs in the homes of people who are not
primarily interested in breeding, but all too often they turn up
later with litters advertised in newspapers and magazines, trading
on his name and reputation to help sell the puppies. Though the
dam and/or sire may carry his kennel name, the puppies are not of
his breeding, a distinction that the dog buying public seldom realizes.
Sometimes this causes the Breeder embarrassment. Much more often,
it fills him with annoyance. Many years ago, this situation occurred
in one of the dog magazines with a Collie Breeder, who proceeded
to feature the following stement in all her advertising: "The purest
water is at the well".
Breeder's Greatest Problem is to Hold Down His Dog Population
the breeder, the difficult this becomes and each time he breeds
a litter, he increases it. For this reason, the breeder does not,
and cannot, breed often. He keeps more dogs than he should, not
because he wants to but because he will not part with a dog unless
he is sure it will be for the dog's best interests. As a result,
many of these dogs live in his house to the day they die, as treasuered
pets, even though they are no longer used in the breeding program,
either because they have already contributed or because they can
not make the contribution he wants. Occasionally, in the case of
the one who has already contributed, he may either sell or give
this dog to someone else, who will indeed be fortunate and can thus
benefit from the Breeder's handiwork. This person may be another
breeder, or he may be a novice. In the case of the dog he does not
wish to use in his breeding prgram, it may be sold or given to someone
who is not interested in breeding and who wants just one dog as
a lifetime companion.
The one dog
owner who gives a dog his individual attention for the duration
of its' life, loving it, training it, perhaps showing it, can do
for the dog what no Breeder ever can. Because the breeder is so
well aware of this he sometimes parts with his very best dogs, often
to the surprise of others. If this dog happens to be a male, there
will be no loss to his breeding program unless the dog goes to a
distance place, but in the case of a bitch, he usually reserves
some breeding rights. Where a sizable sum is involved, this usually
is a right to select the stud and chose a puppy from the first litter.
In this case, the Breeder is taking a calculated risk, and one which
he frequently finds disastrous; namely, the gamble that there will
be a bitch in that litter that he can select to carry on with. If
there is not, he has lost far more than the one fine dog he has
sold, and there is really no way of estimating the full extent of
is always thinking in terms of the past and the future, while the
single dog owner is concerned with the present.
Puppy-Raiser does not Care to Whom he Sells His Dogs
objective for him is to get them sold, and as quickly as possible.
He is like the gardener who scatters his seed all over the ground
with little regard for it's subsequent growth and cultivation.
on the other hand, has deep concern for the ultimate destination
of what he has produced. To him, a dog is not an over-the-counter
commodity to be sold to anyone who wants it and has the money to
pay for it. This matter of attitude is another one of the great
differences between the breeder and the puppy-raiser.
When the Breeder
sells or disposes of a dog, whether very young or grown, he is parting
with something that is much more than what it looks to be in the
eyes of the prospective buyer. The buyer sees a beautiful specimen
of the breed- healthy, sound and a look of quality. The breeder
sees all these things, but a great deal more. To him, the dog represents
years of hard work-- often menial work-- years full of excitement,
exultation and disappointments. He does not merely see the beauty
in the individual dog before him, but a long line of ancestors,
dogs that he knew and loved and that went into the making of this
particular individual. When the Breeder looks at an animal he has
bred, his view has an extra dimension-- he sees that dog in DEPTH.
Breeder Carefully Screens Prospective Buyers
He knows that
changes of ownership can have a traumatic effect on a dog, especially
if there are several of them. The dog becomes confused and loses
his sense of security, an absolute necessity if he is to have confidence.
This situation is as disastrous to a dog as it is to a child, in
fact more so because there is no way to explain to a dog what is
From the standpoint
of the breeder, the ideal one-dog owner is a pearl beyond price.
The more such people he can enable to possess his dogs, the more
successful he will become as a Breeder, and the more successful
he is as a Breeder the more likely he is to have more good dogs
than it is practical for him to keep. Unlike the puppy-raiser who
breeds his bitches every season and often has several litters at
a time, the breeder rarely breeds his bitches more than three or
four times in a lifetime, and some times not even that many. The
expenses of maintaining his dogs year after year are exorbitant,
and coupled with this never-ceasing drain on his resources is the
gnawing awareness that even though they get the best of food, veterinarian
care, and love, he cannot possibly give them the advantages which
would be theirs in the case of the ideal one-dog ownership. For
this reason, he is usually reluctant to sell to other breeders,
feeling that the dog would not be bettered by the change of homes
where it would still be one of many.He can give each dog he owns
everything that money can by and his limitations of his can allow
- he can literally give the dogs his entire house, and all his furniture
- piece by piece! But the only thing he cannot give is the important
feeling of being # 1 dog in the household, and the chance for constant
exposure to the outside world.
Puppy-Raiser Rarely Asks Questions
If the buyer
wants a dog and has the money to pay for it, he has met the only
requirements necessary to take possession of the dog.
But the Breeder's
attitude is very different. The Breeder not only asks many questions
to which he must get the right answers or he will not sell the dog--he
must also know something of the buyer's background. What dogs did
he have before? How old were they when he got them, and what eventually
happened to them? What were the things that he liked about each
one and what were the things that annoyed him? From these answers,
the Breeder will have to determine what kind of dog-owner this buyer
has been, and what kind he is likely to be. Did he have only one
dog who lived to be 13 or 14 or more, or did he have several dogs,
each of which he disposed of for a variety of reasons. Obviously,
the latter buyer is going to be a bad risk. He is like the car driver
who has many accidents, none of which he believes to be his fault.
a buyer, the breeder must project his thinking into the future.
He must decide whether the germs of future trouble are lurking in
the buyer's present situation and thinking. If a young man, is the
buyer likely to go into the Army, or to college? If an older man,
does his wife want this dog? If a bachelor, who will care for the
dog if anything happens to him? What attitude does the buyer have
toward his past disappointments? Does he blame everyone except himself?
Is he the type of person who is always trying to get as much as
possible for as little as posible? Would a really good dog be wasted
To the extent
that the breeder can make these evaluations successfully, he will
save himself many future complications. No matter how many dogs
he has, as long as his money and his health hold out, his dogs are
a problem to him, but only a problem. The problems of keeping them
well fed and comfortalby housed may seem difficult at times, but
they are not serious. In the hands of the wrong buyer, however,
the dog becomes a hostage. Why?? Because the breeder cares. It could
not matter to the puppy-raiser because he would not concern himself
about such matters.
of how carefully he screens the buyers, the Breeder will still have
occasional disappointments. Human nature being what it is, this
is inevitable. Dogs will be returned to him-- and he will accept
them-- not because of any fault in the dog, but because the buyer
himself, or the conditions of his life, have changed.
happens to These Dogs?
realize the number of older dogs that live to the age of 13 or 14
in the homes of Breeders. In the business world, these dogs would
be considered obsolete equipment and destroyed. But the Breeder's
world is different. He recognizes a responsibility toward anything
that he has brought into the world and takes care of it it until
the dog is dead-- or he is. If he can find the right person to sell
or give it to, he does; but if he can not, he continues to keep
it himself. The drain on the breeder's strength and finances is
merciless. Occasionally, when faced with severe illness or drastically
reduced income, he may have to decree that some or all of his dogs
be put to sleep. And even this costs money. When a breeder makes
this decision, few people understand it.
public and those who have never known the responsibility which goes
with more than one or two dogs will probably regard this as cruelty.
But, as previously stressed, the Breeder has a responsibility for
whatever he brings into the world until it goes out of it. If the
dog is in the wrong hands, he must try to get it back, and then
either keep it or see that it is put into the right hands. If the
Breeder is no longer able to do this, there is only one way he can
be sure his dogs will never know hunger or abuse. That is euthanasia.
To the breeder who loves his dogs, there is no more tragic decision
he will ever have to make. when he himself is faced with incapacitiating
ill health, or even death, he must recognize the cold hard facts
regarding the future of his dogs. Without his guiding hand and sense
of responsibilty, the dogs are much better off dead. A breeder will
make any sacrifice to avoid this situation, but when it arises,
he will do what he knows is necessary. Why? because he is a Breeder
and feels responsibiltiy towards his animals
what of the Breeder's Responsibility to His Breed?
breeder usually becomes something of a public figure. He may be
requested to write about his breed, to speak about it, to judge
to his breed is something very different. As a judge and as a writer,
he must be completely objective. Indeed, he must bend over backwards
to achieve this impartiality.
responsibilty to his breed does not permit him to use opportunities
either in judging or writing to exploit his own stock. He is abrogating
this resposibility to the breed, not to mention considerations of
good taste, if he uses a magazine's breed column to promote his
own breeding, or in judging to favor the same. He can make known
his bloodlines and his winning through the paid advertisements,
providing they are honest and factual, but never uses the public
space to get free publicity. When the breeder writes for the public,
he is representing his breed, not himself or his stock, and it is
this broader perspective that sets apart the true Breeder with a
sense of responsibility from the commercial one whose only consideration
is to promote his wares.
Breeder has Great Care for the Public Image of His Breed
He tries to
inoculate these values in the people to whom he sells his dogs,
and in everyone with whom he comes in contact. He is reluctant to
critcize what he considers the shortcomings of other Breeders, or
to fault the products of their handiwork. He scorns high pressure
salesmanship and the advertising techniques of Madison Avenue. Giving
straightforward answers to the people who have bought, or are about
to buy, his own stock, he neither glosses over the faults nore makes
exaggerated claims or predictions. He is forthright in his thinking,
his talking, his actions. People instinctively trust him, not because
he asks for their trust,(which he does not) but because of what
The real Breeders
are the heart and soul of the dog world. They stand proud and often
alone, resisting commercialism, undeviated in their search for perfection
and idealistic in their code of ethics.