Professional Breeders vs. Private Breeders

An excerpt from Your Dream Dog: A Guide to Choosing the Right Breed for Yo

Today's professional breeders work diligently to improve their breeds. Thanks to their dedication and careful breeding techniques, many potential genetic problems such as hip dysplasia (common in larger breeds such as Akitas and German Shepherds are being bred out of the dogs. Good breeders are dedicated to producing the best possible dogs, grooming them into champions, and placing them in good homes with responsible owners. Understandably, before they even think of selling you one of their future champion pups, they'll want to know as much about you as you want to know about them. Don't forget, they only want the best for their loved ones - and once they accept you as the new owner of one of their cherished pups, you'll find yourself embraced in a warmly supportive extended family. Your breeder will be a trusted friend, mentor, and "nanny" to you and your dog.

Most people have pleasant experiences with breeders. Here's an example that illustrates how a professional breeder, cognizant of the specific needs of a family, directed them to a dog that was right for them. The family initially went to a professional breeder they had found through the American Kennel Club. The breeder's Portuguese Water Dogs had garnered numerous championship titles and degrees. The breeder was very nice to the family. She patiently explained that she takes her breeding program very seriously, and that she sells a dog only to people who are committed to showing the dog and hopefully adding to the championship line. The family explained to the breeder that they just wanted a family pet, and were not interested in lineage and ribbons. They effectively closed the door with this breeder. Nevertheless, she recommended they go to a private breeder she knew. The professional breeder's champion (stud) had been bred with the private breeder's female, making champion-sired puppies. This private breeder's business is to sell puppies as pets to wonderful families. The family met with the private breeder and came away with the puppy of their dreams.

A reliable breeder can do many things for the prospective owner. She will provide a litter of healthy, temperamentally sound puppies for the prospective owner to choose from, and will also help him to make the right choice. Most breeders believe it's their duty to educate new dog owners to the fine points of their breeds, and how that can impact the unwitting owner. I had a client, for example, who was at her wits' end. Her children had fallen in love with a Golden Retriever they had seen in a pet shop, and, knowing how good the breed is with children, she gave in and purchased the pup. "Goldie is great with the children," explained the exasperated mom, "but she's so badly behaved! No matter how much time we spend with her, when she's outside she gets into all our neighbors' yards and brings home their newspapers. I've tried everything to break her out of this, but she doesn't seem to know how bad she is." I explained to my client that Goldie didn't know her behavior was bad, because in truth, it wasn't. As a retriever, Goldie was simply doing what came naturally -? retrieving. I explained to her that a canine trait you might think is a behavior problem is in fact an instinct of a specific breed of dog. Over the centuries, dogs have been selectively bred to perform particular tasks and to behave in specific ways to meet their masters' needs (hunting, herding, retrieving, and so on). So it shouldn't be surprising when they still behave in these ways. Depending on the particular dog you choose, you may have to learn to control or modify some of your dog's inbred characteristics. This can often be quite easy and enjoyable. All Goldie really needed to learn, for example, was that newspapers were off-limits, but she could retrieve to her heart's content by playing fetch with her own toys with the children.

A breeder perceiving that the breed is not the right one for the prospective owner will caution him, explaining why it is the wrong breed for that person. Most breeders will be happy to guide the novice to a breed that is a more realistic fit for his household.

How to Choose the Perfect Dog
Adopting from a Rescue Group
Adopting from a Shelter
More Ways to Find Your Dream Dog

Bash Dibra, author of Your Dream Dog: A Guide to Choosing the Right Breed for You, is an internationally acclaimed animal behaviorist and trainer. His celebrity clients include Martin Scorsese, Jennifer Lopez, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mariah Carey, Kim Basinger, Alec Baldwin and Naomi Campbell, among others. He is a member of the Bronx County Kennel Club, as well as the Animal Behavior Society, the ASPCA and the Humane Society of New York, and is on the board of directors of New York SAVE, a nonprofit organization devoted to saving animals in veterinary emergency. Bash is a recipient of the New York State Humane Association Award and the New York City Veterinary Medical Association Unsung Hero Award. He resides in Riverdale, New York, with six dogs, four cats and a bird.

Reprinted from Your Dream Dog: A Guide to Choosing the Right Breed for You by Bash Dibra © 2003 Permission granted by New American Library

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