Social Question

KNOWITALL's avatar

Do you have an ethical issue with dog breeders?

Asked by KNOWITALL (26443points) February 14th, 2019

The pet industry earns more than $70 billion in the US, and $2.6 billion in China (just for comparison.)

With a decrease in the number of animals euthanized, some breeders feel that it’s back ‘in style’ to begin breeding again, due to the market demand.

Are you one of the people (like me) who feel like as long as dogs are still being put to death, it’s irresponsible to buy from a breeder (or to be a breeder, profiting off of animals)?

Or are you one of the people who thinks buying from a breeder is okay, as long as it’s a responsible breeder who takes care of the animals properly?

Where is your ethical boundary on this subject?

To read more:
Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats). The number of dogs and cats euthanized in U.S. shelters annually has declined from approximately 2.6 million in 2011. This decline can be partially explained by an increase in the percentage of animals adopted and an increase in the number of stray animals successfully returned to their owners.

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34 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

California forced pet shops to stop selling dogs and cats from breeders. They must sell only rescue animals.

Puppy mills are bad, I’ve bought AKC dogs directly from the breeder.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Tropical_Willie I actually did hear that, great job. But breeders are still able to sell, just not at pet shops, right?

So you are okay with buying from a breeder, as long as they are ethical, or do you really care if you get a good dog out of it? Just trying to understand that ethical line.

I mean I know it’s considered pretty aggressive to inspect breeding facilities for some breeders, to check on the mom/ dad health and see if it’s clean and safe.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I’ve bought different breeds at different times that t one of the parents was in the Westminster Kennel Club show show. One was best in Breed. Know your breeder.

I’ve sat in their living room with the puppies and my kids.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, I would never buy a pure bred dog. Dakota was an exception, and she was given to us. When I went looking for dogs, I just found them through “free puppies” ads. That’s how I got my amazing Snuffy and Dutchess. Snuffs was part cocker spaniel and part black dog, Dutchess was a whole lot border collie but not pure bred, I’m sure.

longgone's avatar

Puppy mills are a disgrace. Breeding dogs should be highly controlled. If that were the case, the problem of dogs suffering from congenital disorders, being abandoned for behavior issues, and leading neurotic lives because their owners don’t know anything about dogs would be pretty much solved within around fifteen years. Treat the cause, not the symptom. As long as breeding is not regulated, there will always be too many rescues.

That’s why I strongly support responsible breeders. However, very few meet my standards.

That said, I totally agree that it’s heartbreaking for all those rescues to be passed over for a cute puppy.

canidmajor's avatar

I have rescued dogs and I have bought pure bred dogs. I always buy from reputable breeders whom I have vetted, because sometimes I want very specific traits, physical and personality.
I have never abandoned a pet, those are the people who should be vilified, not the ones who acquire pets in a responsible fashion.

I only have an “ethical” issue with irresponsible dog breeders.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But isn’t the adoption of virtually any dog a rescue of sorts @longgone? I’m not talking about breeders, just mutts.

chyna's avatar

I have an issue with puppy mills. I don’t have an issue with reputable dog breeders. Going to the animal shelter to adopt a dog will not stop dog breeders. I like a specific type of dog for it’s size, disposition, short hair and many other reasons.
I have bought from a breeder, I have got two dogs from a boxer rescue group and a coworker has grabbed a boxer from her cousin due to mistreatment and brought it to me. I was thoroughly vetted by the dog rescue group to ensure I had a good safe home. It costs just as much to adopt the dog from the rescue group that it does to buy from a breeder. That’s another way they try to ensure they are letting the dogs go to a reliable person. I don’t understand this whole “shaming a dog owner that has a specific breed dog.” No one knows the story behind the way a dog gets to a specific home.

I am a very reliable, loving dog mom. No one that knows me will dispute that. I also owned a mutt for 16 years.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@chyna I think some people, myself included, don’t really understand the attraction to purebreds.

Just seeing body bags at shelters and hearing ‘I want this specific’ dog, rubs us wrong. But I’ve seen some really terrible purebreds with major issues, so I’ll always prefer mutts or pits, myself.

canidmajor's avatar

“Seeing the body bags” etc should anger and upset you at the people who abandon dogs to shelters instead of responsibly rehoming them, not the people who make responsible choices in pet ownership.
I don’t understand why people like certain foods that I detest, or who prefer to live or vacation in areas I don’t particularly like, but I certainly don’t object to their preferences.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@canidmajor Seems common sense to continue to lessen the entire population, since it seems to be working. I definately agree breeders should be regulated.

Unofficial_Member's avatar

No, where I live we don’t have a lot of animal shelter for domestic animals, the ones that exist are created exclusively for rare/protected animal species. So how do us, as regular citizen, obtain our own pets? From pets shops, home breeders, and (if you have the money) reputable breeders (this one comes with documentation paper for the dogs). You certainly wouldn’t find purebred dogs as strays on the streets here, they would’ve at least be given away to family members or sold to pet shops if their owner don’t want them anymore.

janbb's avatar

I had two experiences with rescue dogs; one was a love of a Cocker I adopted from a woman whose daughter was allergic and we had him for 14 years. The other was my naughty Frodo who came from the streets, was a biter and whom I couldn’t keep. If I get another dog, it would probably be from a breeder whom I vetted and a breed with qualities that I like.

I don’t have a problem with people who choose rescue dogs or people who buy from a reputable breeder just as I don’t have a problem with people who decide to reproduce rather than adopt. An animal is getting a loving home in either case.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Thanks for the replies!

Zaku's avatar

It’s a challenging question.

I’m for whatever results in the least suffering… without also killing off animals just to reduce human inconvenience, but the realities are hard enough to understand in detail, let alone choose what the best course is.

If I had the power to say what should be done, I’d want some very smart, non-corrupt, compassionate animal lovers to be in charge of overseeing all animal breeding, assessing the condition of the animals and minimizing abusive cases. I’d want them to have the authority to take severe corrective actions – specifically, breeders who are causing awful conditions for animals should not be allowed to breed animals, and animal abusers should be monitored and kept from messing with other animals in the future. It seems to me that the money involved in the trade could do a lot of good for animal welfare if the industry were structured for good rather than all for profit.

longgone's avatar

I agree that animal lives are more important than someone getting just the type of dog they want. However, it’s important to realize that dogs have a better chance at a happy life when they’re matched to a person who’s able to keep up with them – and without breeders, that would be nothing but a guessing game. There are breeds that need 5+ hours of exercise to relax. Some breeds tend to be so mellow they are great for beginners, but others have a very low reactivity threshhold and are prone to temper tantrums. There are breeds that are too sensitive to handle groups of people, and others that become so bored they start obsessing over shadows or a dripping faucet unless they get their mental exercise.

If nobody bought any puppies from responsible breeders, only the very rich and the very irresponsible would let their dogs mate – responsible breeding is hard and extremely expensive. Within a short amount of time, the gene pool of many breeds would be dangerously diminished or damaged, basically eradicating those breeds.

So, to argue against breeders is to argue against breeds. Arguing against breeds means that the lovely old lady who would have been great for a pug will end up with a high-energy terrier type. And that – mismatching dogs to the wrong people – is why there are so many rescues in the first place.

@Dutchess_III I guess you could say that, but I’m not really sure what your point is. Would you clarify?

canidmajor's avatar

@KNOWITALL, again, where is your outrage at the people who abandon these animals?
Reserve your judgement for them, please.

anniereborn's avatar

I would never buy from a breeder, I am a stray/rescue pet adopter only. However I would not judge anyone that buys from a reputable breeder. My sister has and made sure everything was copacetic. I do love the new CA law. If one wants a purebred dog, I think they should go to a responsible breeder, not a pet shop.
Because you never know where those dogs have come from. I got a purebred (not with papers) Jack Russell from a shelter many years ago. She was wonderful and I couldn’t have loved her more.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@canidmajor Do you have a guilty conscience? Of course I have outrage at people who abuse or abandon or take advantage of animals for personal gain or wealth.

Since I don’t know anyone here on this site who does that, that was not the point of the Q.

canidmajor's avatar

Where did that come from? What a silly question.

My point was that you seem to call into question the ethical nature of people who don’t do what you do, without mentioning the real villains at all.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@canidmajor Then start your own Q about animal abusers. I’m specifically talking about breeders and how less breeding translates statistically to less full rescues per my link above.

If someone here admits they abuse or abandon animals, obviously that would be an issue for many of us.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@longgone, sure. You said, “That said, I totally agree that it’s heartbreaking for all those rescues to be passed over for a cute puppy.” Well, I got Dutchess out of an add in our local paper for free puppies. She, and her sibs, were born on a farm. Their dog house was away from the main house, kind of off in the woods. They had protection from the elements, more or less, and food and water, but that’s the extent of it. There was no “breeding,” nothing like that.
We picked Dutchess out of a litter of 6.
Now, if we hadn’t taken Dutchess, what would have happened to her? What happened to her unclaimed sibs? Off the humane society, I imagine, eventually to be euthanized. So, was my Dutchess mutt more or less of a rescue than a full grown, pure bred dog that has been removed from an abusive environment?

chyna's avatar

Many dogs are bred for hunting reasons, pointers, coon hounds, beagles to name a few. Some are bred specifically to be search dogs such as blood hounds. Some are bred to partner with police such as German Shepherds. There is nothing wrong with purebred dogs.

tinyfaery's avatar

I absolutely have a problem with dog breeders. I think there should be oversight of breeders, only allowing for those facilities that can prove they do no harm and can produce viable, healthy, strong dogs, which would allow for very few, I imagine. I also think that some dogs just shouldn’t exist. All those dogs with respiratory problems because of their flat faces, and dogs so inbred that they have major health issues their entire lives. That’s just pure greed and selfishness. I’ve also heard it thrown around that breeders should have to pay a tax that would go to local shelters, and I think I might be for that.

I would pay a rescue for a pure breed, but I would never buy from a breeder. I think shelter dogs make better pets anyway. And mixed breeds tend to be healthier.

Dutchess_III's avatar

My Snuffy, whose mom was a Cocker Spaniel, father unknown, used to go on point over my cat when the cat was hanging out in the driveway, flirting with all the toms. Snuff stood over her, on guard, tail out stiff, foot up. She wasn’t going to let anything happen to her cat, much to the cat’s disgust. Poor cat just wanted to get laid.
That’s what I love about mixed breed dogs…seeing what comes out of them. I agree with @tinyfaery. They’re healthier too. We had to watch Dakota deal with the pain of her hips for 5 years. It was sad, but we did all we could.

longgone's avatar

Just as an aside: Mixed breeds tend to be healthier because bad breeders are the rule, not the exception. There is no better safeguard against hereditary diseases than breeders who screen for them and work hard to mate only dogs of great health and temperament. Sadly, too many do not care at all or are too busy focusing on their dogs’ appearance.

@Dutchess_III Thanks for clarifying! To me, that’s almost as much of a rescue. Adult dogs have a lower chance of finding homes, so it could be said that puppies maybe don’t need to be rescued to an equal extent.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, yes, bad breeding, but also there is, by its very nature, quite a bit of inbreeding too, and that can perpetual congenital ailments.

longgone's avatar

^ With really good breeding, there is not. We have amazing computer programmes telling us how much distance there is between any two individual dogs. Of course, no puppy mill does that, so a pet shop or backyard puppy will likely be in poor health.

That’s sort of my point. It’s really frustrating how everyone just wants a cheap Golden Retriever, not understanding how much work goes into actual breeding. And then, when the dog starts biting or running up vet bills, he gets abandoned.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That is a horrific consequence of going cheap. It’s just about as bad as people demanding “designer dogs,” cross breeding the oddest breeds for….. what? I have no interest in having a dog now, and I don’t think I ever will again much less a wolf, Rick!! but if I do I’ll determine my requirements and start searching the free ads.

longgone's avatar

But @Dutchess_III…“free” is pretty much the superlative of “cheap”.

Of course, those people giving away their puppies for free aren’t making money. But neither are you likely to get a healthy and happy puppy.

I know you’ve had some great dogs, just talking about probabilities.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But I’m not looking for a specific breed that is cheap. I just can’t see spending money for an animal who is just meant to be my friend, part of the family, not some show piece to brag about, or to scare people with.

Why would you not think a regular old dog wouldn’t have healthy, happy puppies? Sure, there are a lot of homeless dogs out there having puppies that don’t have much of a chance, but when you have humans taking out ads, that means they do have a home.

longgone's avatar

The way I see it, I’m responsible for ensuring the dog I get lives as happy a life as possible. Why would I pick a puppy who has a higher chance of a painful or fearful life?

My current dog, Wilson, cost 1500€. Over the course of his life, that is about thirty cents a day. For that money, I’m getting the knowledge that I did everything I could to have a healthy dog.

His parents are free of the painful conditions so many dogs live with. Wilson won’t get hip dysplasia, leaving him unable to walk without operations or expensive pain meds. His mum was kept safe and happy during her pregnancy. Wilson was handled every day, building up a lifelong love of being touched – when he’s chewing on a bone, people approaching are greeted with a happy grin and wagging tail. He was kept inside his breeders’ home, making him bomb-proof with sounds like doorbells or fireworks. He was never given a reason to be scared of people. He was basically housetrained when I got him, asking to be let out at nine weeks old. He will not go blind at six years of age because some breeder didn’t care that their dog is a carrier of PRA.

There are lots of dogs out there who got a bad start in life and still turned out great, but why did they need the bad start? Why can’t we respect this species, and make sure we pay attention when we are a part of creating new lives?

No, I don’t think just any dog should breed – because in some cases, that’s creating a whole litter that’s fearful, or aggressive, or goes blind at age 6. And most of those dogs will end up in a shelter.

mightym's avatar

Most breeders treat their dogs like things and commodities. They keep them in cages and often interbreed family members. Some people seem to think that breeders are reputable, but many of the bastards are no different to puppy mills.

Just recently I read about a supposedly respected breeder who was nothing but a puppy mill keeping her pure bread dogs in terrible conditions.


There are rescue sites on the internet that take in unwanted pure bred dogs. Please adopt from these sites before buying a dog. Go to shelters. There is NOTHING wrong with shelter dogs and they make the best pets. I have a shelter dog that I adopted and she is the sweetest little girl ever.

RabidWolf's avatar

I know a lady who breeds and trains her dogs to be show dogs. Yes, she sells them as well. I was asked to take in a puppy of hers. I was allowed to name it. (Temp name) I worked with the puppy to do the basics we humans teach our pets. I leash trained him, heel, stop, sit. Yeah, I taught him to shake hands. To take a treat gently. She finally had a buyer and came and got him. He went on to win Championships and he was also bred to females that were also Champions. I have no issues with this lady, and those dogs are beautiful. She treats them better than just well. She knew going in that I’d probably spoil the puppy, and she had no problem with that.

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