Animal breeding: Is it *really* responsible?

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Texas_Red, Jan 21, 2011.

  1. Texas_Red

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    I start this thread to avoid further derailment of this thread. In it, Loveit24/7 came forward as a breeder of a fairly expensive toy dog line. She made statements about being a "responsible" breeder, among other things, to which I countered that in the end a breeder is still irresponsible because they do nothing to help the out of control shelter pet situation. This resulted in some heated back and forth, of course. I suggest anyone wishing to weigh in on this thread that hasn't read all of the statements in the other thread do so.

    Before I begin my opening debate, I want it to be clear: This is not an attack on Loveit24/7 as a person. I am attacking the breeder mindset, and the (IMO) silly notion that breeding is responsible. Loveit24/7 has made many well thought out posts here on SF, I respect her as a person, and bear her no ill will at all.

    I will now open debate here by replying to Loveit24/7's last response to me in the other thread:

    You didn't provide a single "fact" in any of your arguments. Even when I pressed you for any factual information on the other issue. For all anyone knows, these facts you claim to know may simply be self justifications.

    My "opinion" is backed by factual statements, and shared by many. I'd say that hardly makes it "poorly formed", not to mention once again that I have made it very clear that I am interested in facts, which you have yet to produce.

    True, but these aren't just off the cuff opinions I am bringing. These are opinions with facts behind them which you have yet to acknowledge or respond to.

    I did a little searching on the subject, and I found 2 articles which do make some favorable arguments for breeders, but in the end point out exactly what I've been saying this whole time: this and this.

    This article first shows how a breeder is much better than a puppy mill. This is something I will not argue. If you must buy a animal, it's much better to go to a breeder. But in the end breeding still fails to stand up to the simple fact that breeding/buying does not help the shelter situation in the least. Every person who decides instead to buy a bred pet helps perpetuate shelter over crowding, and insures that another animal spends one more day in said shelter, or is condemned to euthanization despite likely being perfectly healthy and suitable as a pet. They also make a point of the fact that shelter animals are cheaper, and the price generally includes spay/neuter if needed, and basic shots and worming.

    I've heard some arguments that breeders pay for a lot of the veterinary research, and that organizations like the AKC have contributed a lot to veterinary advancement, but I see that and can't help but snicker a bit. Now granted, I'm sure they have donated money, but at the same time, how can I look on smiling at the organization who approves of breeds that are defective by nature, such as pugs, for example? Pugs are notorious for their poor respiratory health, and it's no wonder. They're bred with a completely screwed up face on purpose. I can't see expecting to be lauded for veterinary donations when the very organization doing the donating perpetuates the need for some of these issues. That would be like me expecting to be praised for taking my kid to the hospital promptly after I shoved him down a long flight of stairs in the sense of just how asinine that really is. A little simple searching will turn up all kinds of other issues created by the "official" breeding guidelines set forth by these clubs.

    As my point was all along, I find the notion of "responsible breeding" an oxymoron, because the simple plain fact that breeding does perpetuate the shelter problem. Nothing more, nothing less. It doesn't matter if there are only a few breeding Papillons in South Africa, or anywhere else. Nobody "needs" an overpriced "pure" breed toy dog, especially not for the ridiculous prices they go for. Purebreds are a frivolous purchase at best.

    Again I posit: you want to be 100% responsible? Stop breeding a dog which is in no danger of being lost, and start helping local shelters.
     
  2. Aspen

    Aspen New Member

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    It would only be responsible if every other dog, be it mixed breed or purebred, already had a home.
    Since that's not the case it's only adding to the problem with shelters
     
  3. Stefanie

    Stefanie New Member

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    I read the articles, and I agree with you - to a point. I just don't think you've actually thought your point of view through in a logical manner.

    Say all breeders stopped breeding until every single dog in every single shelter found a home. Every breeder - from the puppy mills to the backyard breeders to the good ones.

    First to go will be the puppies. The purebreds and the ridiculously cute ones will go first, because let's face facts - everyone has certain needs and wants in a dog, aesthetically or temperamentally, and that is what breeds were originally created for: to be similar in temperament, energy levels, looks, and natural drives (such as herding or protection) and to perform a function for their owners. Most people want puppies, because puppies are young and cute and you get to start from square one with them. Next will go the young adults, especially the ridiculously cute ones and the ones that are good with cats and kids. Last will go the dogs that are black, have health or behavioral problems, or are older. Not all will be adopted - it's a supply/demand thing, and there just isn't a demand for every single dog out there.

    That would take a couple years at the very least, and in the meantime, what would we have on our hands? No more dogs. It would be "one generation and out," just like animal rights activist and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States likes to preach about.

    I don't fancy a world like that, even if it could be done, and with all the idiots who "don't have the money" to spay their pets but can magically find the money for a litter of puppies or kittens, it's never going to. Everyone has the mentality that their pet's babies will be fine. They'll find homes for them! Everyone wants kittens, don't you know? Rescues are just dying to have them to adopt out!

    Yeah, well, the stark, bitter truth is that most of those animals who "all found great homes" did. For 5-24 months. That's usually when animals get dumped at shelters, when they aren't cute and adorable anymore and you have to spay or neuter them, or they've gotten so big and ill-trained that no one can manage them. Do most of their breeders realize that? No. They think Fido and Fifi have happy forever-homes, and the people who adopted from them would call them to let them know if something ever happened, but they usually never do. Every time I volunteer at the local, no-kill rescue I've been going to for years now, I ask myself where the hell the asshole who bred all these animals is, and why they aren't taking responsibility for the hundreds upon hundreds of them that got dumped at a kill shelter for us to pick up and give a second chance to. My answer is that the people who bred them don't know the problem they created, and they don't care. We almost never get dogs with excellent conformation in at the shelter, because most of those dogs have good breeders that did background checks and checked up on their dog's owners on a regular basis after they were sold.

    Anyway, I've gone off on a little bit of a tangent, and the gist of the problem is this - if everyone stops breeding, you lose all of the best dogs. You lose healthy, stable, beautiful dogs who are in demand. You lose dogs who suit a purpose.

    What about police dogs? Where would police forces get their GSDs from if there were none, or if there weren't very many and most of them were not well-bred? Your average backyard-bred dog, while she might make a great family pet, is not going to have what it takes to be a police dog. What about Search and Rescue dogs? Where would SAR teams get their Catahoulas and Bloodhounds, which posses the traits needed in spades for a SAR dog? Do you expect them to go to a shelter and cross their fingers the dogs they adopt will be suited for such hard jobs? How about farmers? They need herding breeds to take care of their stock, Livestock Guardians to be a deterrent to coyotes and protect their herds, etc. I don't think they will find what they need at the local shelter. Last on my list would be guide dogs - there are special breeding programs for them, and even then it's very rigorous. Most of the dogs bred specifically for it don't measure up and are re-homed (they have a waiting list a mile long. . . supply/demand again).

    The breeders who breed for certain traits and have a waiting list of people who have sought them out and want a dog from them because of their dog's traits are not a part of the problem, they are a part of the solution. The people who breed "oops" litters or breed for any of the silly reasons listed on the "To Breed or Not to Breed" link below are a part of the problem. So are puppy mills and "designer" dogs and pet stores. Rescues and shelters are apart of the solution, as are the good breeders.

    As far as the AKC contributing to veterinary research, I don't know, but I'm betting it's a load of crap, personally. They are a money-hungry organization that I am really not a fan of. However, for the rest, you've been misinformed. - breeders do not pay for veterinary research, except perhaps through donations out of their own pockets. Most of that is paid for by universities and businesses through grants.

    What reputable breeders pay for is health testing. Health testing is completely different than research. Health testing is what tells you that your dog is healthy and worthy of breeding or not. If a breeder just goes to a vet and gets a check-up, they are not a reputable breeder - they are a backyard breeder. They are not breeding responsibly or for the betterment of the breed. This is an excellent website full of information on health testing: Orthopedic Foundation for Animals: Purpose The OFA is one of two reputable organizations that I know of in the U.S. that does health-testing and compiles the records for public use. I hope you'll read the link, as it not only provides a lot of information on how the OFA helps dogs, but what inheritable genetic diseases they seek to eliminate or reduce through health-testing. Reputable breeders test their bitches and studs for the diseases that are common in their breed (such as thyroid disorders, heart disease, hip or elbow dysplaysia, luxating patellas, von willebrands, etc) and only breed dogs with excellent health, temperaments, and conformation. Essentially, the truly good breeders breed the elite of the dog world. Most really don't make money at it. This website provides a lot of information on how hard it is to breed a litter of puppies and how expensive it is to do it properly: TO BREED OR NOT TO BREED – THAT IS THE QUESTION If you're using firefox, use CTRL+F and search "charts" for a link to the expenses. Expenses vary depending upon how large your breed is, what complications your dog may have, and the area in which you live. I know a small handful of good breeders, and they've gone over how much they spend at it with me, and it seems to be a money pit. If you add in all the costs of health testing, stud fees (because chances are you do not happen to own a dog that will compliment your bitch), dog show entry and travel fees, and the costs of other titles you may put on your dog to prove that it's worthy to breed, it's pretty hard to make a profit.

    Here's a good checklist for anyone who thinks they got their dog from a responsible breeder or is looking into getting a puppy in the future: Responsible Breeder Checklist!

    In the end, I may not have convinced anyone, but I hope you can still see my point. I see a distinction between types of breeders, and I really hope you can, too.
     
  4. Stefanie

    Stefanie New Member

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    Also, my post was too long. . . so:

    That's not a fact, that's an opinion. I'll give you the point that no one "needs" a Pap, but they are fabulously beautiful little dogs with a completely unique temperament for a toy breed - they are extremely energetic, active, and clever. Most toy breeds are lower-energy lap dogs that aren't extremely athletic and drivey. Having a Papillion is like having a small Border Collie that has the famed "butterfly ears" that the breed is named for. They are for people who wants a friendly, outgoing small dog with a Border Collie-like drive and energy. They are also a very healthy small breed, which I think is more than worth preserving.

    Besides, how can you look at a picture of them and not understand why someone would want one? ;) Picture grabbed from a friend's flickr account.

    [​IMG]
    group2 by Summer_Papillon, on Flickr

    Also, Loveit, in case you haven't guessed already, this is Nolu from our dog forum. I can't believe you've been holding out on me about this forum 'til now. :p Woo! Sex forums. Where I can talk about dogs. Now I have it all.
     
  5. Texas_Red

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    That's a whole lot of hyperbole there. The world wouldn't end, and dogs would not die out. There are still plenty of strays, as well as people who aren't purposely breeding who still end up with puppies.

    This is about the only part of my argument that I might agree with you that I didn't think out, but I would also say it's very clearly a special case. GSD's and the like are work dogs with a very specific purpose that isn't to please the owner with its looks. That is a very different purpose and intention to those breeds, one which simply does not apply to pugs and schnauzers and what have you. A very apples and oranges argument, if you will.

    Um, Papillons and all those other "breeds" are just as "designer" as the crap know as cock-a-poos and labradoodles and all that nonsense. They are not naturally occurring, they were created by man. Just because they are recognized by a club doesn't make them less "designer."

    As do I, as I clearly have pointed out. It still sidesteps the issue of the frivolity and overall irresponsibility of breeding specialty breeds when shelter dogs go homeless or lose their lives because someone just had to have a little papillon (or other "purebred") puppy instead of a perfectly lovable mutt from the shelter.

    Erm, you start by saying I state an opinion not a fact, and then go on to only prove my fact: Nobody needs a toy breed dog. Nobody is going to die if they don't get a precious little Papillon. Therefore it is indeed a frivolous purchase. Pretty straightforward and factual if you ask me.
     
    #5 Texas_Red, Jan 21, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2011
  6. Stefanie

    Stefanie New Member

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    No response for my other post? LOL.

    No one needs a dog to begin with. I wouldn't consider dogs a frivolous purchase, would you? (And believe it or not, when you adopt a dog from a rescue, you are making a purchase. Put whatever name on it you like, it's still a transaction of money for an animal - however near and dear to our hearts they may be, that's how it is seen by the law.) I think they're great. They bring joy, fun, and plenty of extra messes to our lives. If someone has specific needs in a dog (size: small, energy level: high, dog-friendly, drivey, etc) then a Papillion would be a better fit than 99% of the dogs in a shelter. If I want a Pap, I am not going to go to the shelter to get a Chihuahua. I'm going to try to get myself what I want and need in a dog.

    The rest of your post was an opinion, however, and not one I agree with. (overpriced, frivolous, that it doesn't matter to you how many there are, etc.) Do you see what I meant?
     
  7. Texas_Red

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    Yes, I replied, it just needed more time.

    Very true.

    Anything someone doesn't absolutely need is frivolous. The computer I am using is technically frivolous. My gaming consoles are frivolous. Sports cars are frivolous. Big flat panel TVs are frivolous.

    Actually a good portion of that money pays for the dogs care by the workers, the food and water, the shots and treatment, etc. A small part of it may just be for the dog, but it's not hundreds or thousands, which makes a huge difference.

    Agreed.

    Then they (and you) are part of the problem, and not the solution. I guarantee if you really gave a damn about shelter dogs you could very well find one with the energy and temperament you seek. You absolutely do not need a specialty breed just for that.

    What I see is that you're going to argue for what you want regardless of the reality behind it. At least that's what I am getting.
     
  8. Stefanie

    Stefanie New Member

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    My answers in blue.
     
  9. Texas_Red

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    See, the problem here is that you go from fact (which is that frivolous is frivolous, and not subject to individual opinion) to making it a subject of opinion. What is frivolous in the end is not a matter of opinion. You either need something or you don't. If you need it, it isn't frivolous, if you don't, it is. There really is nothing more to that when it comes down to it.

    Not being a breeder I wouldn't know for sure, but considering some breeds puppies can got for over $2K, I can see it being profitable quite easily.

    Well, you did state this: "If someone has specific needs in a dog (size: small, energy level: high, dog-friendly, drivey, etc) then a Papillion would be a better fit than 99% of the dogs in a shelter. If I want a Pap, I am not going to go to the shelter to get a Chihuahua. I'm going to try to get myself what I want and need in a dog." (emphasis mine)

    You very clearly state that if you have wants and are unwilling to bend, then damn it all, you'll get what you want, regardless of anything else.

    It's not a matter of rude, it's calling out what I see if what you yourself said, and it applies to anyone, not just you. I understand that you were likely making an example, I was just running with it and answering it in the same vein. My intention is not offend, but to make a point through debate.

    That said, that your dog is a rescue mutt is admirable. :)
     
  10. Stefanie

    Stefanie New Member

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    To the below: I see - we had a misunderstanding in communication (my fault). I was using myself as a general example. A huge portion of the general public has specific wants and needs regarding looks, coat types, temperaments, energy levels, and drives and typical breed behaviors that are and are not acceptable for them. Some people who live in apartments have size restrictions and can't get large dogs, for instance, or breeds that are typically very barky.

    For them, getting a dog of a certain breed just makes sense.

    For that matter, there are perfectly normal people who are just dead set on getting a dog of a certain type for no really definable reason. You're not going to change them. If that's what they want, it's what they want. Wouldn't it be better to educate them about responsible breeders than to alienating them by telling them they are part of the problem and implying they don't care about shelter dogs at all? Think of it as a second best, I guess. There are some people you just wont be able to change the minds of, and in those cases I really do think that directing them to more ethical breeders is a good solution. You can make your point. . . or you can put a little extra effort into it and change an opinion, or at least educate.

    As to my dog, his situation sucked so much that anyone with a heart and the means to get him out of it could hardly say no. That's not to say that I wont get a dog from a breeder some day if that's what I need, or that I wont be adopting dogs from rescue in the future. I like both for different reasons.

    To the above: I see a difference between something frivolous and something unnecessary. I believe that dogs have value and importance, and that viewing them as frivolous is a matter of opinion, whereas viewing them as unnecessary is fact. By frivolous things I was referring to things that we love or consider an important thing in our lives, but other people might have very different opinions of.

    In regards to one of your posts above, I don't see any hyperbole in that section of my post except possibly the bit about Wayne Pacelle, but if you google him you'll definitely see what I mean there.

    I wasn't suggesting that would ever actually happen, just that IF it did, that's pretty close to how I see it happening, which is why I don't agree. If all the good breeders with excellent dogs stop breeding as well as all the crappy breeders, puppy mills, and people with "oops" litters (who still fall under the crappy breeder category), what are you going to end up with? No dogs in the future except strays. No awesome dogs, either, with variety and such. I think it's important for the dogs who are excellent representatives of their breed to go on breeding so we'll have them in the future, because the pet overpopulation problem will never end if all the people who breed for stupid reasons keep breeding. There just aren't that many of those dogs out there - if I had to guess, I would say less than 1% of the total dog population.
     
  11. Texas_Red

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    I can understand that, and quite frankly I hate breed restrictions, though I do understand the genesis of them. Apartments are not generally dog friendly, and nobody wants to hear a dog with separation anxiety howl and bark all day, etc.

    I understand an agree that there will always be people who simply cannot be swayed or reasoned with. It might get maddening at times, but I understand it. The issue is still calling breeders responsible. In talking with Grozny, I can see a breeder as being responsible to the animals they have, giving them the best care possible. In that sense, yes, a breeder can be responsible, and I would definitely rather someone who absolutely had to buy a purebred go to one of these instead of a mill or a less responsible breeder.

    I see what you are getting at here, though I have to admit in my mind frivolous things are by nature unnecessary. The dictionary definition seems to bear that out.

    I guess I am coming from the POV that completely eradicating mills and "oops" breeders and such would be impossible, and so we'd always have dogs no matter what. I wouldn't want the healthy breeds lost either, especially not the ones bred for service like GSDs and bloodhounds and the like. So in that sense we would not ever just lose dogs like that.

    One last go round with the term responsible breeders. I don't see how breeds like Pugs, for example, is responsible. The breed is technically defective as part of the breed. I have yet to meet a pug that doesn't sound all stuffed up, and they are known to have respiratory issues. Same goes for breeds prone to spinal issues and hip dysplasia. None of that is responsible in my mind, because you're perpetuating known problems in the name of a look or something. So in that sense, that's not a responsible breeder I think, because breeding an animal you know has a high or even guaranteed chance of issue cannot be, by definition, responsible. The next part is to hopefully finally clarify what I mean by breeders not being responsible in general, as I have been meaning. I was talking to Grozny in the chat and said this: If there are already way too many shelter animals, then creating more animals is not responsible. That is the absolute simplest way I can state what I am trying to say. I'm not trying to say that breeders are the sole evil, because they aren't. I'd say those who just have to have a purebred or specifically a puppy (from mill or otherwise), as well as those who mill or allow "oops" litters to happen are also just as irresponsible. Overpopulation is a problem, people who help add to that population do not help, and therefore are not responsible.
     
    #11 Texas_Red, Jan 22, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2011
  12. loveit247

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    Ok. I am going to bite. Yes, if you dissect it right down, breeding is irresponsible while there are dogs and cats in shelters. But then again so is having kids. No one should be having children while there are perfectly nice, cute, adoptable kids needing homes. Am I right?

    Plastic is causing a massive problem to our planet, no one should be producing plastic goods. Carbon is causing global warming and destroying our environment, no one should be driving cars. So, everyone is being horribly irresponsible by eating, sleeping and breathing every day. Correct? These things are done, no stopping that, so shouldn't we TRY to do these things in the most responsible way we can?

    This is how I go about trying to produce my pups in the most responsible way I can.

    I am breeding to preserve Papillons in South Africa. My bitch is a year old on Sunday and will not be bred until she is at least two years old. She will have all her health tests and be a titled CH. She is starting her agility training on 14 Feb so that I can prove her in drive and working ability. Yes, Paps are great working dogs.

    My male has had his elbows, knees and eyes done. Let me tell you, that cost me a fortune. He has come back clear. He is also a therapy dog who goes to visit elderly people in a local home here. He brings the great joy. He is a kind, sensitive and caring little dog that is small enough and light enough to cuddle with frail, elderly people without hurting them. Trust me, thin skin and a large dog with hard nails do not go together. So he is fulfilling a purpose. There is a woman there with dementia and the only time she is responsive is when she has Travis in her lap. She smiles and pats him and actually interacts with the nurses when she has him with her. He is like her link to the world. It is great to see and I think he will produce some wonderful pups for therapy work. Pups that will be healthy, to standard and correct in temperament.

    I have a waiting list for people for PET quality puppies that are produced. I already have 4 people on that list. I am telling you now that not all of them are going to get one because Paps have such small litters and the show quality puppies are either staying here with me or going to other show homes. I have a LONG list of show homes available.

    Now for a fact. Not everyone WANTS a dog from a shelter. Some people want to do that is going to have a predictable set of traits. Coat, size, temperament and health. I am trying to do that. I am doing an "irresponsible" thing in the most responsible way I can.

    I do agree that no one NEEDS a dog. But people want them. I want to produce them so that they are healthy, to standard and fulfill a purpose.
    I have a spay/neuter contract and I will also take back any dog that the owner can no longer keep. That is my guarantee. That is how I am going to ensure MY pups don't end up in shelters. Every pup will be chipped before it leaves me and my breeder details will be on there with a note to call me if that dog end up in a shelter.

    So yes, breeding is, at a base level, irresponsible. I am trying to do it as correctly as I can.

    BTW, I also have a shelter mutt. :)

    Please excuse if I have rambled, I am hung over to hell.
     
  13. loveit247

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    Oh, and Hi Steph! :D
     
  14. Texas_Red

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    Yes you are.

    Eating sleeping, and breathing are necessities we cannot do without. The rest is irresponsible, yes. As to whether there is any stopping that stuff, who is to say? We've been working on it for some time, maybe we will reach the goal of moving on to much greener things, maybe we won't. That we're working on alternatives is the responsible part I think.

    That right there is basically what I have been driving at. I can concede that all of the things you are doing for the dogs sounds quite responsible from an owner standpoint.

    No, you're fine. Your post pretty much concedes the point I have been trying to make all along, while pointing out some things I didn't think of until yesterday when talking to some people in chat, and then also points out something I wouldn't try to argue, which is that if the same level of "responsibility" is held across the board, well, as humans we're one sorry lot. :D As is, as long as we're truly doing the best we can, then really I guess that is all anyone can ask.
     
  15. Stefanie

    Stefanie New Member

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    Not just giving them the best care possible - but giving their offspring the chance to succeed, unlike the vast majority of breeders out there. I fully agree with you that most breeders are irresponsible, but I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on the "all breeders are irresponsible" part. I definitely still see your point, though.

    Oh, it would be completely impossible. It would be prohibitively expensive and would require governmental interference and loads of public education to ensure that there was a nasty stigma against anyone who breeds a dog. I was just speaking hypothetically, in a "what if" scenario. I don't ever see that happening. There are too many people who shamelessly use animals for their own financial gain regardless of the consequences, and too many people who are just too irresponsible to spay or neuter their pets. It's a sad fact of the world. I don't think people like that should be owning pets, but. . . I don't rule the world, either, haha.

    We could probably go round and round there for ages. I don't agree that every breed out there should be bred just because if has AKC registration and health testing, and I don't think that all the great breeds out there that the AKC has not recognized are unworthy, either. Pugs, English Bulldogs, show-bred Bull Terriers, show-bred German Shepherds - all of those are great examples of dogs that actually have conformation defects because of selective breeding for a certain "look" that won in the show ring. If you search for pictures of working-bred GSDs versus show GSDs, take a look at the difference in their backs. It's horrifying. I think people breeding dogs that look like that and have actual health issues because of it (and most of them do) really have their heads up their asses and are doing a disservice to dogs everywhere. I would not count them as "ethical breeders" by any means.

    The whole point of health testing is to reduce or eradicate incidences of genetic diseases like hip dysplaysia in dog breeds. You test them, and if their hips are good they can be bred. You test their siblings and parents - even if none of them are going to bred, just so you have the records of what their family history is like. Then you look at the family histories when you consider breeding their progeny. That's the way it's done, and breeding that way IS reducing health problems in some breeds. It just takes time, money, and effort - but a good breeder should be willing to do that.

    Again, I see your point completely about pet overpopulation. I don't fully agree with it, because, the way I see it, the good breeders are the most responsible people out there because they are improving some breeds of dogs and preserving healthy lines so that we'll have them in the future. I fully agree with your point that it's the people who don't care where they get their dog from that are a part of the problem, though. I'd even say they are most of the problem. There's a demand for puppies, and people try to fulfill it by breeding more dogs, and if everyone actually cared where their dog came from and went to rescues or responsible breeders and bypassed the crappy ones altogether, they would be forced to stop breeding. There would be nothing for them to gain from it. They would have to give away their puppies or keep them all, and you can only keep so many dogs before you have too many.