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Back Yard Breeders

  • Saturday, August 21 2010 @ 09:54 pm UTC
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Backyard breeders really annoy me no end. We see a large amount of supposedly pure bred German Shepherd dogs coming through here and the shelters we draw from. Many are predisposed with aggression issues, many have serious health and skin issues and some just do not meet any part of the breed standard. Most are given up because the backyard breeder that sold them as a puppy did not vet the owners desire to have a life long commitment to the animal.   Many of these folks have no intention of keeping the dog for life but rather after 1 year or so, and the ‘cute’ is off the dog, they wind up in shelters, many to be euthanized based on the area they are dumped. One shelter manager wrote; “The most common excuses I hear are; “We are moving and we can’t take our dog (or cat).” Really? Where are you moving too that does not allow pets? Or they say “The dog got bigger than we thought it would”. How big did you think a German Shepherd would get? “We don’t have time for her”. Really? I work a 10-12 hour day and still have time for my 6 dogs! “She’s tearing up our yard”. How about making her a part of your family? They always tell me “We just don’t want to have to stress about finding a place for her we know she’ll get adopted, she’s a good dog”.
By the way, if you are not willing to train your puppy, spend the time loving him, house breaking him, socializing him and integrating him into your family.. don’t get a dog of any kind, much less a German Shepherd.
All puppies are cute… there is no one who loves animals that can look at a puppy and say that they do not just melt when they hold them. For the backyard breeder having a litter of puppies with their dog and the neighbors dog always just seems to be the right decision at the time. “My dog is cute, well mannered, likes kids and so is my friend’s or neighbors dog”. “We will get some really great puppies and we can sell them”. That is typically the criteria these folks use to make a decision to have a litter. No one considers breeding, health, lineage, hips, costs of any kind, homes or risks.
From day one the decision is typically bad. You will get 8-10 puppies that will have to be placed. You have no clue what diseases will be exacerbated by the union of 2 unknowns. We see many of these dogs at about 1 year old. No one vets the potential adopters but rather the breeder generally looks for a cash turn around and fast placement. 
The costs begin to accumulate immediately in that these dogs will have to be checked medically and receive all of their shots, vaccines and immunizations, not to mention the risk to the mother’s health. Few backyard breeders ever look into the background of the dogs bred. Many of the dogs to be bred came from quality breeders who had the owner sign or agree to not breed the dog for any reason. Once bred, many breeders register the puppies with AKC and attempt to show that they are legitimate breeders to avoid issues with the puppies later on. Because none can show medical histories outside of the parents, buyers are at risk of many inherent problems. Some breeders even state; ““they don't have papers but I know their parents, and I know they come from a good line. Anyone who believes that a backyard operation is going to put out prize dogs needs to have their heads examined. By buying backyard bred dogs you create problems for the breed, the dogs themselves and the shelters and rescues throughout the world who will eventually have to care for them or put them down.   
One shelter manager wrote;  “That puppy you just sold will most likely end up in my shelter when it’s not a cute little puppy anymore. So how would you feel if you knew that there’s about a 90% chance that dog will never walk out of the shelter it is going to be dumped at? Purebred or not! About 50% of all of the dogs that are “owner surrenders” or “strays”, that come into my shelter are purebred dogs.”
Disposition and many of the animal traits develop from the whelping pen on and socialization is key to the mental stability of the pup you get. Dogs raised in a ‘shed;’ type environment with no human interaction can be cute as a button but aloof and fearful. Many puppies who are not medically treated correctly can develop issues that can lead to life long conditions or premature death. The person purchasing the cute little puppy has no clue that the annual costs of his medical care can be $4000-$6000, which is always a cause justification to have the dog put down.
Buying a ‘pure bred’ German Shepherd dog is not a matter of appearance alone, temperament, health and disposition make or break the pet. Because so many of these backyard breeders exist in South West Florida, we at GSD Rescue strongly advise anyone looking to get a deal on Craig’s list, a free to good home newspaper ad or buying a dog from your neighbor should think twice before making this decision. An animal is a life long commitment. They are not disposable. They are, or should be, treated as family members, albeit they are dogs or cats, but they are living breathing and loving companions. By creating more of them for the pleasure of having some puppies is unnecessary as we have way too many now, just check rescues and shelters.  
If you come across a breeder in your area and you want to purchase a dog, feel free to ask these questions of the breeder and then evaluate his answers. If the answers are vague or worse, then you know you have a backyard breeder and you should not make the purchase.
1. What is the price of your dogs? A pure bred GSD will sell for about $1200+/- and a show quality at $2500+. The $400 dog you are buying is simply a result of greed and not breed.
2. Please provide me with the health certificates, vets name and lineage of both parents? Since the backyard breeder only knows his dog and his friends dog, he will be at a loss to prove any detail. This is the key to identifying bad breeding. No one can predictably know the physical characteristics of a backyard bred dog when there is no history available.
3. Show me where they were whelped and what temperament testing or socialization was done with them? If puppies were born and raised without human interaction, then they were never exposed to people, vacuum cleaner noise, thunder, children, yelling, chaos and other real life situations. Many will be fearful, possibly aggressive or at minimum not socially balanced.
4. Why are you breeding? If he tells you because he loves his dog, run the other way. If he tells you it is to pay the rent, run the other way or if he tells you he loves puppies….you know what to do.
5. Ask him about the breed? If he knows only what his dog does, his breeding expertise is limited!
6. Ask about the sire and dam and find out their respective background, titles etc. He will not know.
7. Guaranties. Most breeders will guaranty their pups and if a medical condition arises or other situation needing his attention, you have to know that they will be there for you. Most will tell you once you buy the dog.. he is yours.
8. Medical history, shot records, vets name etc are vital.
9. Reference on other pups sold by the breeder and references on the breeder himself from some recognized organization.
10. Can I have my vet examine him before the sale? If he says no, which he will, do not make the purchase.
We at South West Florida GSD Rescue hope you will consider rescues when looking for a canine companion.