The AKC, Puppy Breeders, and Quality Control

I drive about 15 miles to and from work every day, and right now, just from the signs by the sides of the road, I could buy myself an AKC Chihuahua, an AKC Golden Retriever, and AKC Chocolate Lab, an AKC Boxer, or an AKC Bernese Mountain Dog. All of them are farm-bred. Puppy farming is a huge problem in Central Pennsylvania, and it’s not just the Amish who are cashing in. I can’t tell you how many clients we see with their new puppies who assure us that, even though the pup came off a farm, raised in a barn and completely unsocialized, sold the moment they reach seven weeks if at all possible, it’s okay because the breeders weren’t Amish. And, see, he’s got papers! Papers mean quality!

Or not.

AKC papers mean nothing. They are not an assurance of health, of good temperament, of quality stock, of quality breeding practices. We have even had clients assure us that their pups don’t need vaccines because they have AKC papers. Uh huh. Papers will protect them from an ugly death from parvo. I’m sure.

But still the myth persists, and it’s frustrating.

I have a friend, somebody who really should have known better, who just this weekend purchased a Rottweiler puppy out of the newspaper. It’s ok, she assured me. He didn’t come from a farm. He didn’t come from a petstore. He didn’t come from a mill. Oh yes, of course, he has AKC papers. His mother was kept as a pet, one of two intact bitches. She was assured mom had her hips checked, but there is no record of her AKC number anywhere on the OFA’s website. No mention of elbow ratings, despite Rotties being second only to Chows in elbow dysplasia statistics. The Sire’s hips were rated “Fair”. At least he had them done. No elbows on him, though. (Why on earth would you do hips but not elbows?) Neither dog was ever shown, worked, or in any way evaluated beyond “he’s a good pet” and “she has a working uterus”. But, well, I guess when you have to have a puppy now, you have to have a puppy now. There was no mention (and I suspect no questioning) of the cancer in the lines of these dogs (if, in fact, their lines are actually known), despite osteosarcoma being a tragic and rampant killer of Rottweilers.

But she’s got those papers in hand. What could possibly happen?

I’m so jaded, so frustrated. People won’t get shelter dogs because they don’t want dogs with baggage and health problems, so they buy puppies of basically unknown background, puppies who are no better bred than my shelter hounds, and line the pockets of those who are breeding to make a few bucks. I don’t understand why, if you’re going to spend the money, you don’t do your homework and hook up with a breeder who does it right, a breeder who does something with their dogs beyond just encouraging them to reproduce, a breeder who does at least the very basic health testing appropriate for the breed, a breeder with a goal that goes beyond making money or nice pets.

There are lots and lots of perfectly nice pets sitting in the shelter right now, dying in the shelter right now, because their owners didn’t want them anymore. Those dogs, purebreds and mutts alike, didn’t come from good breeders. Because if they had, they wouldn’t be in the shelter. They’d be back with their breeders. That’s part of the responsibility of being a good breeder.

But hey, this is America, and if I want to breed my dysplastic, weak-tempered bitch, there’s nobody who is going to stop me! She’s got papers!

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4 Responses to The AKC, Puppy Breeders, and Quality Control

  1. Luisa says:

    Great post — should be read by anyone thinking of getting a dog.

  2. Caveat says:

    Nice one. Makes some great points.

  3. Pai says:

    More people need to know these basic facts! It’s scary how many folks have no idea what ‘AKC Registered’ means. They think it’s the doggie equivalent of a ‘USDA Approved’ ‘superior meat quality’ sticker or something. And the crooks take advantage of that ignorance.

    In this day and age of the Internet and Google, people have no excuse to be so clueless.

  4. Pingback: Pet Connection Blog » ‘Ugly is ugly, even if it’s family’

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