When you think of a dog breeder, what do you think of? Lately we have been considering starting to breed a few high-quality dogs, and I have been surprised by the amount of hate people have for breeders.
To be honest, I am a little daunted.
Apparently anyone who does not rescue mutts or who breeds for any sort of a profit is a monster.
We are not monsters, so the question is, why would we want to do this?
When we bought our property, we bought with the intention that we would do something to partially help pay for it. We could see potential to use this place to do some good in this world. Over the last 1 ½ years we have considered dozens of ideas of how to make money and discarded them all after some consideration. We have come back over and over to the idea of raising some dogs. I love babies and birth, and Josh loves the idea that we could provide healthy happy dogs to families. We also have tossed around raising dogs to sell as service animals and possibly training dogs for bird retrieval. We live in a perfect place for any of these possibilities.
Here are our most important rationale. We love dogs and have a beautiful space for them to run and play. We have children who love dogs and will give them plenty of attention. We have enough resources to take good care of the breeding stock. We also have good mentorship from a couple of other hobby breeders in the area to make sure we don’t mess anything up too badly.
Additionally, I have a great interest in genetics, avoiding disease and feeding healthfully, so I feel we can successfully breed animals that are healthy and a huge asset to their future owners. I feel I could bring my customers a very good value.
But seriously, the hate!!
Much of what I have read about the hate for breeders stems around the idea of puppy mills, places where the emotional and physical needs of the dogs are not met and no one cares about genetic defects. I totally understand this! Although we have had a couple totally legit dog breeders advise us on how we could convert our barn into a kennel, I am still completely uncomfortable with keeping dogs that are kenneled for years for breeding. Partially because I wouldn’t in good faith be able to tell my customers what a good dog it was if I kept it in a cage and only had limited interaction with it, and partially because dogs have emotional needs too! If I am taking responsibility for an animal, I want to make sure I am giving it a good life.
But despite all these considerations, there are still people who believe that dog breeders are automatically bad if they make any profit. To me that shows a serious lack of understanding about economics. If you are one of these folks, I challenge you to open a business because it is something you love, structure it so you do not make a profit, and see how long you can sustain it! Let me know how that works for you!
So the dilemma, how to avoid the bad while getting the good?
My sister told me about a breeder she knew of, who only had one dog living with her, and had all her other dogs living in families. Curious, I looked into this more.
I found out that this breeder conditionally sells her breeding stock at a discounted rate to qualified homes, kind of a “co-ownership” situation. The condition being, that she keeps breeding rights, takes them for "visits" so they know and trust her, reproductive related appointments, and when the dogs go into heat, as long as they have passed all their health testing, they get bred by the sire of her choice. Then they get to go back to their families and keep right on living their happy life until just before whelping when they come back to the breeder to have their babies. After they are done nursing, the mommy dog gets to go back again to her home, and continues living her happy dog life, and the babies stay with the breeder to get sold to well vetted homes. She usually gets 2-4 litters per momma this way and her well socialized and friendly puppies are in high demand.
WOW! Game changer.
You guys probably already knew about this type of system and are snickering at me now.
So I contacted this breeder and asked her how she makes her system work.
She was open and excited to share about her success structuring her business this way. She was willing to provide some mentorship for us and was super patient in answering our questions.
Josh and I have been seriously considering this option. To me, those pups living with families instead of in a kennel makes the whole idea worth it. It would mean that we had a little less flexibility for our schedules when we had new born pups in order to keep someone here all the time to watch them. It would mean additional chaos and smell in our house. But it would also give us a constant stream of babies to love and nurture. It could also give us some financial opportunities, while learning for the future.
I have been researching kennels, breeding, and retriever type dogs for at least 6 months, reading about breed standards, popularity, health concerns, genetic testing and championships.
We have started working on the infrastructure we will need to make this dream a reality. A lot of it we needed to do any way, we just have bumped up the priority on a few things. We are about ½ way through reinforcing fencing around our property to make it as secure as possible for dogs. We are working on getting Panda better socialized to other dogs…he is used to being an only dog. We are continuing research into the specific interests we have in dogs. We are making lists of what things are needed, what they would cost and a timeline. And much to the girl’s dismay, we are seriously questioning whether or not chickens have a future on our farm. We are having trouble making their presence pencil by the time we factor in the cost of building them a secure run and coop. Their current lifestyle of being locked into a coop at night, and wreaking havoc on our grounds during the day will not work for visiting dogs and people. Plus, I would love to not constantly have my flower beds and herb beds wrecked.
So this all may be a really huge but fun change for us! We will keep you all posted on what we decide!