44 CommentsDogs, Opinion

Summer Re-run Series at The Doglady's Den

Originally published on May 3, 2016

Thoughts on Dog Breeding
I just finished writing a month-long series about dog breeds from A to Z, without voicing judgements. The X-Breed (crossbreed) chapter also talked about “Designer Dogs”, where two purebreds of different origins are mated to form a third one. Needless to say, the rescue community is down on that and dog breeding in general, since there are so many strays in the world. Here’s my take, as someone who looks after other people’s dogs for a living.

No question, dog breeding is big business, where appearance and profit are often the two most important concerns, with little regard for the dogs’ health and comfort. Also distasteful to me is the dog show ring, where the poor things are paraded around like circus animals, thin leashes wrapped around their necks and kept in cages between showings. Some even have their fur dyed or talcum powdered to make them look better. That’s the high end of the dog breeding scale and where most of my clients obtain their dogs. I keep my opinions to myself, otherwise, I’d be out of a job. The low end involves those dregs of society who operate “puppy mills”. You can read more about their horrendous activities here:

What is a Puppy Mill?

If you see puppies in a pet shop, chances are, this is where they came from. Please don’t ever buy a pet (there are kitten mills too) from such a place! Thankfully, more of them are getting away from this practice, due to the negative feedback. Thirty to forty years ago, there was no publicity about it and many people purchased pets from shops. We did too!

Our Cockapoo, Sheila and Terrier X, Lisa, bought from a local merchant in 1975, three months apart, cost $10.00 and $15.00 respectively. No purebreds, there. 🙂 We were told they were “accidental” births offered by local residents and had no reason to question this. Sadly, we lost Sheila to cancer in 1984, around the time of her ninth birthday, but Lisa lived to be almost 17.

Thoughts on Dog Breeding, The Doglady's Den
Lisa, 1975 to 1991 | Sheila, 1975 to 1984

Lisa died early in December of 1991 and as you can imagine, it was a sad holiday season that year. By then, the possible connection between pet shops and puppy mills had been mentioned, but it wasn’t at the forefront of our consciousness. Shortly after the New Year, and still grieving, I spotted (no pun intended) a gorgeous Dalmatian puppy through the window of a local store.

Since watching Disney’s “101 Dalmatians” cartoon as a child, this breed had intrigued me. My husband and I had also discussed the possibility of getting one after meeting a few around town. Unlike many people charmed by Disney, we did our research and concluded we could be good Dalmatian parents. Tasha went home with us at 8 weeks old and stayed for over 15 years.

Thoughts on Dog Breeding
Tasha, Nov. 5, 1991 to May 22, 2007

She came with AKC papers that said there were some champions in her ancestry and cost a whopping (at that time) $500.00. This was much too steep, but we were hopelessly in love by then and had to have her. She was stunning and healthy, but skittish about loud noises. It all seemed legit. Was Tasha the product of a puppy mill? I’d like to think not but what are the odds?

Why didn’t we go to a shelter, you may ask? Actually, we did. Here’s the thing: Shelters have major restrictions and won’t let just anybody adopt. I applaud that but think there is room for some flexibility. Our shelter was and still is particularly myopic in that regard. Despite our many years of dog experience (and mine went even further back, to childhood), we were flatly turned down. Why? Because we lived in an apartment and had full-time jobs. Explaining that we worked different hours and walked our previous dogs diligently 3 to 4 times a day fell on deaf ears. So, our only choices were pet shops and breeders. Nowadays, a mixed breed “designer” dog costs around $1400.00, never mind a purebred.

We’ve had no dog since Tasha died. She’s a hard act to follow, but we would pass muster with the shelter now. Our house has a fenced yard, plus I’m semi-retired and work from home, with dogs. This and other rescue organizations is where I would look. Canada has a stellar reputation for taking in the world’s homeless dogs and most shelters here are “no-kill”. More info:

How Canada became a haven for the world’s unwanted dogs

In summary, one has to be realistic. You can’t force people to get dogs from shelters rather than breeders and I do believe there is such a thing as a “good” breeder, although they may be few in number. Despite my personal negative feelings, I’m not going to hold that decision against someone. Pet mills, on the other hand, are a disgrace and must be eradicated. After all the horror stories in the media over the past decade, anyone who claims ignorance and buys an animal from such a source should be considered an accessory to a crime.

What’s your opinion?
Looking forward to your comments!



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Debbie D.
Canine Innkeeper in suburban Toronto, Canada, known as "The Doglady". Writer/website owner, photographer, animal lover, music fanatic, inveterate traveller. History, literature and cinema buff. Eternal "hippie/rockchick". Binational, German/Canadian and multilingual. Looking for the next adventure!

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  1. Hi Debbie,

    Aww ! Dogs Look cute ! Although I don’t lie to keep dogs at my home, but so many relatives has dogs and I think most are of pure breads, they never purchased from pet store I guess, but I am not into it as I do not like pets much.

    ~ Donna

    1. I think the pet store craze is finally dying out, thanks to the bad publicity. Even still, there are many unscrupulous breeders out there too. Thanks for dropping in, Donna. 🙂

  2. Not sure there’s such a a thing as a good breeder, but I suppose they must exist, somewhere. Our dog was picked out of a dustbin by my sister, and he was the best dog anyone could hope for. She has two more now, both with disabilities– and this makes me so proud of her.

    1. You have good reason to be proud of your sister, Damyanti. 🙂 What a wonderful thing it is to rescue animals. Thanks for dropping in today! Have a good weekend.

  3. Our cats are all unwanted kittens, on the verge of being suppressed. We live in the country, and so they have all the space they want. Our dog was bought from a private owner, so, no hardships there.
    I wholeheartedly do not agree with “genetically manipulated breeding!….seeing the miniature dogs or cats makes me feel terrible…
    Ditto for dog shows…I never liked the circus for that reason….

    1. Thanks, Bianca. 🙂 You are so good to have rescued those kittens. I agree about manipulated breeding. Miniature dogs usually have many health issues.

      1. LOL! We have been rescuing kittens for the past 20 yrs! I remember at one time we had something like ten cats (all black 😉 ), four dogs of our own (mother and three pups), one hound, a husky. Four birds and two turtles.
        The dogs were all “adopted” except the hound, which was stolen. The birds flew away, and the turtles went into hiding…probably still around somewhere around the place.
        The sad part was for the cats…they wandered away, and probably found a home they liked better, except for two. But we keep “rescuing”…that is the negative part about living in an open space…freedom to go and we miss them terribly after that! Now we have two very unusual kittens…they don’t like to go outside at all! Not even on the balcony! LOL

          1. Bet you anything, that that is a surprise to you, eh? 😉 I never thought of myself as a “pet person”, but I do confess that when I am in Bisceglie, I miss the presence of another living being with me. But there, I would be really inconsiderate to have a pet…there is space,but I’m never around.

  4. Not a dog person, but have family members/friends who are majorly into dogs/rescue. Obviously, I don’t really get the craze over pure breeds, or even any specific breed, but it is a big status thing where I am from. I see regular SOS clips of pure bred dogs being taken on as puppies and then abandoned when the breeds prove to be unsuitable for tropical climates and/or get sick and stop looking lovely and demand attention/resources. Cruelty to animals is a major issue and awareness/existence/enforcement of laws is low. It is horrifying what people will do for profit.

    I learnt a lot of things from your post. Had no idea that dogs were powdered for shows!!

    All your dogs are lovely.

    1. Plenty of people get dogs as status symbols here too, I’m sorry to say. So true; the laws aren’t nearly effective enough in regards to animal cruelty. Thanks for dropping in.

  5. Both my current dogs are rescues and are the sweetest natured dogs. Puppy farms (as they call them here in Oz) are definitely getting a lot of bad publicity, with the RSPCA becoming involved in shutting them down. They will find it increasingly difficult to have these open due to a case here called “Oscar’s Law”. I remember a pet shop years ago which had a puppy crate outside the front of their shop sitting in the sun on a hot summers day. The poor pup had no water. I asked the shopkeeper then if it could have some water. His reply shocked me to the bone. No, because I’m the one that will have to clean it up. Since then I have had no time at all for pet shops.

    1. I’m glad to know that puppy farms are getting shut down in Australia as well. It’s happening here in Canada too, plus we import thousands of shelter dogs who would otherwise be euthanized. That poor puppy, sitting in the hot sun! 🙁 Hope he was adopted quickly. Thanks for dropping in.

  6. Oh, Debbie, spot-on! Mills are the worst of the worst, and really do need to be eradicated… How, though, is another matter. (Education, maybe? I don’t know.) Although I’m no fan of breeding as such (… because a) the increase in an already overflowing dog population, and b) the genetic deficiencies that result from in-breeding), I do agree it’s impossible to turn people away from it. Which leaves us animal advocates with the task of ensuring responsible and humane breeding practices… Also not an easy feat, haha. But I do believe there are good breeders, people who actually care about the animals they raise and who care for them like family. As an aspiring pet owner, it must be our responsibility to research where, exactly, the animal we’re buying comes from—and not just in terms of pedigree or lineage, but especially in terms of how healthy the parents are, how well cared for, how they were raised… Breed or mutt, it’s really about animal well-being, and many people don’t realize they need to see past the puppy.

    Great, great post, Debbie. Loved it.

    1. Glad you liked the post, Guilie. 🙂 I think education goes a long way when it comes to puppy mills. Judging by some of the comments I received, many people are still unaware of the problem. I know you’re not a fan of breeders, but not everyone is eligible to adopt (I still can’t believe we were turned down!) and as mentioned, there’s no way to stop people from going that route. One can only hope that prospective pet owners do their research and choose a good one. Inbreeding is definitely an issue, especially among the most popular breeds. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  7. I’m a mixed bag when it comes to breeding. But I do have some opinions.

    People running puppy mills need to be penalized with stiff fines and condemnation of their property, etc to repay law enforcement or animal care.

    Backyard breeders should pay a fee for their litters, perhaps $100 a puppy. Our chihuahua mixes are the result of a young mother that was not quite six months that went into heat. As her pregnancy continued, she became agressive and the young couple were afraid she would bite their four year old in the face. She was returnable when I took her home. We kept the puppies. We see too many dumped dogs. I did think about we could have too many dogs. Older people are prone to hoarding animals because they think no one will love them as much as them.

    Money would eliminate many who try to profit on dogs when so many dogs go homeless.

    Purebreeds, I love them. The only one I own now is a pitbull that I got as a puppy. She had a broken leg and I did not know what she was. She is one of my favorite dogs. There is something special about purebloods in being bred for a purpose. Legitimate breeders should have no problem with a fee for each puppy produced. When they dump excess inventory in a pound, I do think there should be some sort of Department of Agriculture permit that should be pulled. Responsible breeders should not have excess inventory.

    For family friends and companions, the Heinz 57 is a dog I recommend. I have owned mostly mixed breeds.

    1. You have some great ideas there, Ann. Reputable breeders could easily pay a fee. As long as you have the resources to care for multiple pets properly and it makes you happy, I don’t see a problem. It’s the people who have so many they can’t take care of them that you read about in the paper. Very sad, these hoarding situations and the animals suffer. Mixed breeds are great and usually calmer and healthier. 🙂

  8. I had no idea that they painted and colored the dogs in shows. I always thought that were judged on breed perfection, not dressed up beauty. I’m so disappointed!
    We got out precious Patches from a local farm, they had bred their bitch, and were selling the puppies. $500 and she was ours. I’d researched dogs and I’ve always loved the Boston Terrier. But PA has a bad reputation for puppy mills, it’s sickening. I’ve been tempted by the pet shop, but have heard to many horror stories. My next pet will be from a shelter, if I can talk hubby into it. 🙂

    1. That’s nothing! Some even resort to plastic surgery. Isn’t that deplorable? 😮 You might be interested in this article, Yolanda:
      Getting a dog from a small local breeder is certainly one of the better options. I would go to a shelter next time as well, now that we’re considered “qualified”. (That still pisses me off!) Like you, I have to work on hubby – he doesn’t want another dog even though it’s been eight years now. Are you recovered from the A to Z Challenge? 🙂

  9. I’ve often wondered if people want to paint nails, play dress-up, obtain trophies, etc., why in the world wouldn’t they do it themselves, rather than torturing animals? I can’t hardly walk by a Pet Store without wanting to take the animals out of there – for their sake. Otherwise it’s shelters, rescues and friendly neighborhood ranch ‘extras’ that make their way into our hearts and home:-)

    1. I’m with you there, Diedre. This whole idea of dressing dogs up and showing them off like trained seals really disturbs me. Fortunately, there are no more pet shops around here that sell live animals.

  10. Puppy Mills should be outlawed and discontinued period. I don’t have a problem with a pet store selling puppies that came from ma and pa down the road, as long as it wasnt a puppy mill situation. Adoption from shelters are great, but as you pointed out, they are not easily obtained.
    I wanted to tell you that I enjoyed your A to Z posts this year. Congrats on the big finish. I know it wasnt easy for you as you had not been feeling well right up to the start of the challenge. I do hope that you are back on your feet now and feeling good as new.

    1. Hopefully, all the bad publicity surrounding puppy mills is helping to get rid of them altogether. Yes, not everyone qualifies for a shelter adoption, as we found out the hard way. Wouldn’t be a problem now, but I have to work on hubby. He’s still balking at the idea. Tasha is a tough act to follow.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the theme, Mary. My illness did set me back and I got stuck writing posts through most of April, which often made it difficult to visit and comment. Good as new, now. 🙂 Thanks for asking.

  11. I remember working in a mall back in the early 80s. They had a pet store there and I used to go in and see the dogs. I had no idea about puppy mills back then. Nobody did really…at least not the general public at large. How horrific these puppy mills are. It breaks my heart to see and hear about the conditions these poor dogs live in. I feel especially bad for the mama dogs who are bred and bred and bred over and over again. Her whole life she does nothing but have puppies with no real breaks. It’s just so sad.
    I always tell people to get their dogs from the shelters or rescue groups. I don’t remember where my parents got the two dogs that I grew up with but as far as my own dogs go, they were all rescues from a greyhound rescue and adoption group. Some of them were abused and forced to a life in the underground racing world, which is horrible, until the racing ring was either busted and the dogs rescued or the dogs escaped on their own and were found wandering around; one was a brood mama, and one came from a “good” breeder (he went back to the breeder after his racing career and the breeder contacted our rescue/adoption group to take him). There are good and bad in the breeder community so I don’t want to paint a picture that all breeders are bad. They’re not. Some really do love the dogs and care for them. One of my greyhounds came from such a breeder.

    Some people want specific breeds and are looking for purebreds. I always direct them to the breed-specific rescue group. Almost every breed has their own rescue groups and one might have to get a dog from out of state or country, but almost all breeds have rescue groups associated with them. There is always a way to avoid puppy mills and illegitimate breeders.

    I also encourage people to go to their local shelters. There are so many wonderful dogs needing loving homes there in the shelters. And I do think that shelter dogs have grateful hearts. I know that can be disputed but it’s just my opinion. I think they know and are very grateful to be adopted.

    Great article on this topic Debbie!
    Thanks for sharing the photos of your adorable dogs. They all are beautiful. I hope your husband breaks down soon so you can get your dog! 🙂

    Michele at Angels Bark

    1. Nobody knew about puppy mills back then and getting a dog from a pet shop was a normal thing to do. Shelters and rescues would be the ideal places to go, but as I mentioned, not everyone qualifies. It still pisses me off that we were summarily turned down despite having so much dog experience. Apartment dwellers have to walk their dogs (and we did, three to four times a day). Some people with yards confine theirs, yet, shelters welcome them with open arms. I think pet adoptions should be judged case by case, instead of making blanket generalities. Your story about underground greyhound racing was horrific and I can only hope something is done to stop that. 🙁 I’m sure rescue dogs are grateful to be saved, especially if they had a terrible life before. As with anything, there are good and bad breeders in the world and people should do some research before purchasing a dog.

      I’m glad you liked the photos. I miss my babies and hope to wear hubby down one of these days! 🙂

  12. I have had half a dozen pure bred dogs, but never bothered to register any of them. They were brought on as permanent members of the family, with no intent of breeding for profit. I have never bought a dog from a pet store. We just never traveled in that circle.

  13. Great informative article. Never bought a dog from a pet store and often have gone to shelters, but my current little pal; Olaf a white schnauzer came from a breeder, because he was considered a ‘throw away’. They said he couldn’t be registered. Pish, who cares. He is the most loving and smartest dog I have ever owned. If I knew how I would post a picture of the cute little guy. Maybe I’ll get one up on my blog soon.

    Miss you at BOTB and hope you’ll return soon.

    1. I’ve never seen a white schnauzer – how unique! I bet he’s a real cutie. 🙂 Of course, he’d be considered a “throw away” because he’s the wrong colour. Racism at its finest. 😛 I’d love to see a photo of him.

      Blogging on weekends is always difficult for me and this BOTB fell on a Sunday. I’d already done the last A-Z post on Sat. and didn’t have any energy left. I’ll be back for the next one. It’s nice to be missed. Thanks for that! 🙂

  14. Deb,
    I didn’t know people who breed dogs are so greedy and careless with the animals. I do remember some years ago walking around the malls in Augusta, Georgia and seeing the Pet stores with the animals in cages. That broke my heart and I was totally against such practices.

    I don’t have a dog at the moment. However, the breeders here in Germany for what I hear are pretty humane with their animals. The most are good breeders. Sherlock, my first Beagle, came from a breeder and I had a wonderful experience with him.

    I am not sure what I will do but whatever I want to get a beagle pup that feels the love and care from the breeder that I get him from.
    Thanks. I’m learning a lot.

    1. Hi, Pat; There are some good breeders around, but you know what happens when there’s big money involved. 😛 I was born in Germany and can attest to the fact that it is one of the dog-friendliest countries on the planet. Germans have always treated their dogs well and I’m sure the breeders do also. My miniature poodle came from a German breeder – a gift from my grandmother. 🙂

  15. I have a friend who loves pugs and money is no object. now she does do her homework and checks out the place, reads as much as she can and has gone to the home and have seen the dogs before adopting. It is small and they are all well taken care of…but I still feel sad for the animals because of all the health issues. My friend loves her dog to the point that she breaks down and can’t function well when the dog is ill. It is …weird. I understand being upset and crying…don’t get me wrong but she really shuts down because she places all her love to the pug. Her pug she has now, has many…many outfits, 5 or 6 beds, a whole huge trunk full of toys, she has several collars-one with pearls (not real) and one with crystals. She does dog sit all other dogs and spoils them which is wonderful but I wish she could place her love to the rescues. I know that part of having her pug is image even though she loves the little dog to death. I read what carol wrote and I think that is a perfect ending to this deplorable human being. I don’t think I would cheer but I do think he was given his comeuppance.

    1. Flat-faced dogs like pugs and bulldogs all have health issues. It’s alarming how much they’re growing in popularity! You should show your friend this article, Birgit:
      It sounds like she’s using her dog to fill a major void in her life. Dressing dogs in silly costumes that make them uncomfortable is bordering on abuse, in my opinion (Yes, my little dogs had sweaters, but that was to ward off the cold.) Pearls, rhinestones, painted nails, dyed fur is all unnatural and abhorrent. 😛 Re. Carol’s story: Karma was definitely working in the courtroom that day. No sympathy, here.

  16. Hi, Debbie the Doglady!

    Your post brings to mind the old Patti page hit “How Much is That Doggie in the Window”:

    When I was a boy, buying a dog from a pet shop was considered the right thing to do. I never dreamed that the local pet store was stocked with animals that were bred and housed in deplorable conditions in mills. It makes me sad to think that there are unscrupulous people making money – big money – breeding and selling dogs, greedy people who have no genuine love of dogs, only profit. The price tags on dogs these days give potential buyers sticker shock.

    We got our Yorkie, Muffin, from a woman we knew and trusted. We got our Cocker Spaniel, Toto, from a farm boy in rural Alabama who was carrying her around, door to door, asking people if they wanted her, telling them that his family was too poor to keep her. Fortunately for Toto, Mrs. Shady was in Alabama at the time visiting family, and she agreed to take the puppy. Toto was full of worms, the vet told us, so many that she would not have lived very much longer without treatment. We gave Toto 14 happy years as a member of our family. Toto was a hard act to follow and we have no current plans to adopt another dog. If we ever do, we will surely rescue a mutt from a shelter. A Heinz 57 might not be as beautiful as a designer mix or pure bred, but they will give you just as much love and affection, if not more, and that, to me, is the most important aspect of pet ownership, the amount of love given and received.

    Thank you for showing us Sheila, Lisa and Tasha, your beloved pets. They were very lucky to have found you. Have a wonderful week, dear friend Debbie!

    1. Hi, Shady; I remember that song. 🙂 Yes, it was a normal thing to buy a pet in a shop. Who knew about puppy mills back then? It makes me sick to think of such cruelty. 🙁

      How fortuitous that Mrs. Shady was able to bring Toto home. I feel sorry for that poor little boy, having to give up his beloved pet, but it was the best thing for the dog. She was saved and you had a wonderful life with her. There’s a happy ending! 🙂 We would also go the rescue route, now that we’re deemed “acceptable”. 😛 (That still pisses me off!)

      Thanks for sharing your story. Cheers!

  17. Before I share my thoughts I want to tell you a story about one of those mills. In our community, we had a puppy mill breeding Labradoodles. Most people knew that the dogs were abused and if they did not sell, were starved to death. The conditions were deplorable and locals would not buy from them. They had over 100 dogs at any given time. The SPCA tried to shut them down but it did not happen. I knew a few young girls who worked there who had to quit after a few days. They could not handle it. Finally, they were caught, charged and went to court. The courthouse was full and during cross-examination, the creepy defendant had a heart attack and died while he was on the stand. The courtroom stood up and cheered. It was spontaneous; however, sad.

    We have been rescuing dogs for a long time and have had over 30 so far. We rarely go looking for them, they find us and we have a hard time saying “No.”

    1. Sounds like that lowlife got what he deserved. I cannot fathom how anyone can be so cruel to animals; makes me sick!

      Dogs are smart and know a dog lover when they see one, Carol. Saying “no” to such a dog would be impossible. There aren’t any strays in our area, but I wish dogs would come and find me too. I really miss having one of my own, but hubby is still being stubborn about it. Sigh….I’ll wear him down one of these days! ?