Welcome to the wonderful diverse world of dog breeding! It’s important to recognize and attempt to answer three basic questions surrounding the breeding industry: “How breeding began”, “How breeding has evolved”, “Where is breeding headed”. Reflecting on the history of dog breeding is an important first step in analyzing one’s purpose for participating in breeding today. Breeding has evolved with time as many other industries have; however, it has taken a new path with the development of technology. If you have been called to breeding, we are here to guide you along the way as you define your purpose, what your dogs will be known for, creating your legacy, and optimizing your knowledge growth with education resources, ethical breeding practices, identify myths, and hopefully advance standard practices. As the breeding industry evolves, you must answer the question of “What is my purpose” for the litters you create, develop a best-fit blueprint to follow, embark on a journey that is not only rewarding and taxing, but at times highly criticised.
Take a brief look at how breeding began. Many records indicate domestication of dogs developed for dogs to fulfill the purpose of working, guarding, hunting, and protecting families. Intentional breeding became the standard practice to continue reliable bloodlines that met the needs and goals of humanity. Over-production and breeding closely related offspring, known as the practice of inbreeding, weakened the desired strong bloodlines and litters. In the mid 19th century, Kennel clubs and official registries of purebred lines were established to record bloodlines, heritage, and build a reputation for a reliable breeder. As time passed, more breeds were added to the registry with a definition of breed standards and included a breed’s specific purpose, structure, registering rules and defined standards for height, coat color, eye color, conformation, and structure. This meant that dogs were held to a higher standard than ever before. In this time period, breeding became popular and careers were created purely around breeding and selling. The ability to register a purebred dog influenced selling prices, advertising, and reputation. Fast forward to the era and development of the show dog ring, dog’s had a new purpose and winners were rewarded with the recognition of Champion bloodlines. A new purpose for breeding dogs was born as a result. New value to a dog’s lineage was created and financially rewarded. Despite great controversy, hybrid/designer breeds entered a new variable in the breeding equation notably creating an uproar amongst purebred enthusiasts. Whether it is a supported practice or not, hybrids have become popular deviating from the purebred lineage created over a century ago. These unrecognized breeds are pioneering a new blood line and defining new breed standards with the hopes to be recognized by established kennel clubs in the future. Until such recognition is given by established kennel clubs, new registries to record hybrid lineage have been developed.
Secondly, consider how breeding has evolved. Breeding is best defined as an industry consistently full of change. Just a few generations ago, litters were deemed valuable by the kennel club registry papers. The dog needed to have authentic paperwork, be up to date on vaccinations and to be checked by a veterinarian before heading to a new family. All of which is still important; however, this no longer entails all that is needed to be defined as an ethical breeder by today’s standards. The bar defining an ethical breeder has now been raised even higher. The to-do list continuously adds items including health testing parents, submitting x-rays to OFA or PennHIP, complete required testing for CHIC number, and have a permanent ID in the form of microchip or tattoo. The blueprint and “how to” be a breeder is also changing. Breeders, now more than ever, need education on “how to” and could spend countless hours and hundreds of dollars on curriculums for whelping, raising litters, dog training, nutrition research, artificial insemination techniques, having parent dogs evaluated by repo-vets, supplies, licenses, raising puppies indoors vs outdoor kennels, and the list continues to grow daily. So where is the stamp of authenticity now that shows the world one breeder is a reputable breeder, a conscientious breeder, an ethical breeder or a quality breeder? This is where the industry currently resides, it is at the crossroads of yesterday’s definition vs today’s technology advanced generation’s demands. With that said, “where is breeding headed?”
Great question! Unfortunately, there is no quick easy answer. This world is full of dogs bred intentionally and unintentionally. There are champions and masters of show/class in every country and state. There is a growing abundance of hybrids and cross breeds and not all of which are poodle mixes. Most importantly, whether purebred or hybrid, there is an immeasurable amount of “pet quality” dogs saturating the market. There are new breeders daily. There are new intermediate breeders advancing their skill levels of breeding. There are expert breeders setting the bar at new levels. There are breeders, regardless of experience level, set in yesterday’s standards and practices. There is a sandwich generation of breeders open to new ideas but lacking in foundation building leadership. At any given point, we could all be on the brink of burnout and exhaustion. What makes one more right than the other? I think it is more fitting to recognize we are all here for a reason. All need support, direction, guidance, reassurance, tough love, enlightenment, a stamp of approval, a blueprint, and authenticity. Methods to marketing are changing. Whelping practices, supplies, and equipment are changing. Dog training is changing. Expectations from buyers are changing. The generation of who we are selling pups to is changing. There is no one size fits all to these questions, to this journey, and to this uniquely common experience. Breeders of yesterday did not abide by today’s standards and practices; therefore, we cannot expect breeders of tomorrow to adhere solely to today’s methods. Tomorrow’s breeders face challenges that don’t exist today. Given the questions asked above, how will you aspire to meet your breeding goals? What blue print will you use to develop a legacy pedigree line? For now let’s focus on today, by utilizing the standards of practice backed by current research available. Support one another, offer mentorship, learn together, grow one another.
In summary, breeding methods, techniques, programs, and kennels are uniquely bound by the common thread of one’s love for K9’s. There is no one size fits all program. Each breeder needs to enhance breeding skills with education, support, and guidance. Every litter should be made with purpose, intent, and responsibly. A breeder’s legacy is built on a solid foundation of education, experience, and accountability.