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  #1  
Old 03-21-2008, 11:08 AM
Dinsdale Dinsdale is offline
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Puppies - enforceability of spay/neuter contract

We recently bought a purebred golden retriever pup, and encountered something we considered curious. If you are looking for a purebreed, you will meet a small number of breeders who all seem to know each other and appear to pretty effectively control the market of high quality dogs. (For this thread I don't think we need to debate "high quality." Nor am I interested in explaining why we did not go the "rescue" route.) To get one of these breeders' dogs can require interviewing, putting down deposits, and getting on waiting lists.

A breeder will sell a pup as either a pet, or as a show dog. If sold as a pet, they generally will require that it be spayed/neutered and never bred. The dog will also come with a limited registration, which means any offspring can not be registered.

This kind of struck me as an odd situation - almost a restraint of trade from a legal perspective. Do you think these spay/neuter clauses are enforceable? What would the damages be for breach?

What happened with us was we ended up going with a backyard breeder - a broad category in between puppy mills and professional breeders. This guy had bought high quality pets from some of the breeders we had spoken with, but had not fixed them. (He said he had fixed a previous dog, but felt it adversely affected her personality.) This litter was an accident when he failed to keep his dogs apart when the bitch went into heat.

So we bought a pup from him for far less (as much as 50%) what the breeders were asking. And although we cannot have our pup registered (and have no desire to), we have the papers for mom and pop, and know the bloodlines, health clearances, etc. If we changed our mind and wished to breed our dog, we would not be allowed to register the offspring.

It just struck me as a kind of kinky situation all around. I was wondering what you folks thought of it. Did anyone do anything wrong? Us? The guy we got the pup from? The breeders of his dogs?
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  #2  
Old 03-21-2008, 01:25 PM
KarlGrenze KarlGrenze is offline
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The reason some of the higher-end breeders sell either "show" or "pet" dogs is precisely because they know the bloodlines and conformations of the litter. They know if the coloring is just right or deviates from the breed standard. If they take the pups for a health check, they probably know which ones are predisposed to health problems in the future, or which ones have congenital problems. IOW, they give out "pet" animals is because they don't consider those animals fit enough, good enough, to maintain as a bloodline in the breed. Those animals have a "fault" (by breed-standards) that the other littermates do not show. The littermates that do pass (the "show" ones), are considered OK to breed, and the breeders are confident that their descendants will either improve the line or at least don't damage it (by bringing in congenital problems, for example).

Not that I'm in favor (generally) of breeders, but I think in this case, done right, it is a good thing.

Also, generally accident litters are considered "pet" category as a whole, and are sold at a much greater discount (or even given away for free) by many breeders, high-end or not. That is because it is an unwanted litter to begin with, the owners just want to get rid of the animals.

At least, that has been my experience.
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  #3  
Old 03-21-2008, 01:36 PM
Bridget Burke Bridget Burke is offline
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Some relatives bought a beautiful Golden Lab from a breeder. All his littermates were stillborn. Therefore, he was not considered good breeding stock.

I don't know whether he was fixed before or after he became a pet. (And he made a great pet.) But breeding him might have had unfortunate consequences. Like a bunch of dead puppies.

Going the rescue route might have been better than getting a pup from One-Step-Above-A-Puppy-Mill.

Do get it fixed!
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  #4  
Old 03-21-2008, 01:53 PM
Dinsdale Dinsdale is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KarlGrenze
The reason some of the higher-end breeders sell either "show" or "pet" dogs is precisely because they know the bloodlines and conformations of the litter. ...
Yeah, I know. These are the reasons they give. But I tend to be a cynical kinda guy, and the actual effect of their practices seems to reserve to them a large portion of the top of the market. Many times you will hear of a breeder keeping one of a litter, or selling for breed/show and pet from the same litter. And I've read/spoken with many people who say there is really very little a breeder can tell about how the pups will end up at 7-8 weeks age. For example, many conformation champs were intended to be sold as pets.

From a legal perspective I'm trying to come up with similar "products" where the seller is able to dictate the manner in which a buyer uses the product. Most of what I come up with involve products that are patented or licenses - such as seed grain or media. Trying to come up with a legal or public policy reason why the seller should be able to effectively retain control over the product after they sell it.

Bridget, I hope you intended your 3d paragraph to be as unpleasant as it came across.

Last edited by Dinsdale; 03-21-2008 at 01:56 PM..
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  #5  
Old 03-21-2008, 02:02 PM
Anne Neville Anne Neville is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinsdale
Many times you will hear of a breeder keeping one of a litter, or selling for breed/show and pet from the same litter.
You do know that littermates aren't necessarily identical twins, right? In cats, at least, they don't even necessarily have the same father. It's not at all surprising that littermates' suitability for breeding should differ.
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Old 03-21-2008, 02:11 PM
Dinsdale Dinsdale is offline
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Originally Posted by Anne Neville
You do know that littermates aren't necessarily identical twins, right? In cats, at least, they don't even necessarily have the same father. It's not at all surprising that littermates' suitability for breeding should differ.
Duh. Of course I do. Heck. In my pup's litter they would have had to be identical sextuplets! The boys and girls both!

I posted that in response to what I now see was probably a misinterpretation of an aspect of KG's post. I mistakenly got the impression he was distinguishing between one particular litter that was bred for show and another litter that was bred to be pups.

In practice, I'm pretty sure that under certain conditions most breeders would agree to sell the identical puppy either as a pet or show dog/breeding stock - with the main difference being that they would charge a heck of a lot more for the latter. As I said, from everything I've read/heard, assessing the breeding quality of a pup at 8 weeks or less is - at best - a terribly imprecise science.
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  #7  
Old 03-21-2008, 02:33 PM
JustThinkin' JustThinkin' is offline
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A lot of what you mention is about ethical breeding. Here are a couple of sites:
http://dogplay.com/Breeding/ethics.html
http://www.shca.org/shcahp4b.htm
http://members.ncats.net/jdselby/10rules.html
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  #8  
Old 03-21-2008, 02:35 PM
hawksgirl hawksgirl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinsdale
In practice, I'm pretty sure that under certain conditions most breeders would agree to sell the identical puppy either as a pet or show dog/breeding stock - with the main difference being that they would charge a heck of a lot more for the latter. As I said, from everything I've read/heard, assessing the breeding quality of a pup at 8 weeks or less is - at best - a terribly imprecise science.
That's not necessarily true. My experience is in rabbits, but I could tell by the time they were old enough to sell that some of the litter did not conform to the breed standard. There are a lot of visual parts to the standard that be determined by then, like coloring, even toenails that can be disqualifications. Maybe they didn't feel it has the temperament to be a showdog. If it's breeding quality I doubt they would let it go for a lower price to be a pet if they could sell it to someone else who shows and will pay a show dog's price.
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  #9  
Old 03-21-2008, 02:58 PM
Dinsdale Dinsdale is offline
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Originally Posted by JustThinkin'
A lot of what you mention is about ethical breeding.
Yeah. Fine. But the title of my thread - and what I intended the tenor of my OP - inquired as to the legalities of various aspects of the practice. Perhaps I should have posted it in GQ instead.

Basically I have little or no complaint with breeders such as I describe. I readily acknowledge that it is not a way to get rich, and the price they charge for their dogs undoubtedly does not cover all the costs involved in creating the product. But am I alone in thinking that - viewed from a market perspective - it is a tad unusual?

Legally - for most purposes - a dog is a good/chattel/a personal possession. I'm sure this particular analogy will fall apart upon, but the local gas station doesn't go through a screening process before agreeing to sell me some gas, and attempt to restrict me from siphoning a gallon or two out of my car and using it in my lawnmower. Nor could they if they wished to.

Perhaps a breeder's position would make more sense if I considered it more like an artist, who reserves the right to sell or not to whom he wishes. But still, once an artist sells me a painting, I can burn it or resell it if I wish. There would be restrictions on my right to reproduce it, tho.

One other aspect in which breeding practices are distinct from legality - I have read/heard many times where a breeder says deposits are non-refundable. Well, fine. But under the law, if you do not refund one buyer's deposit, then you are not legally entitled to sell that pup to another buyer.
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  #10  
Old 03-21-2008, 03:13 PM
KarlGrenze KarlGrenze is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinsdale
Yeah, I know. These are the reasons they give. But I tend to be a cynical kinda guy, and the actual effect of their practices seems to reserve to them a large portion of the top of the market. Many times you will hear of a breeder keeping one of a litter, or selling for breed/show and pet from the same litter. And I've read/spoken with many people who say there is really very little a breeder can tell about how the pups will end up at 7-8 weeks age. For example, many conformation champs were intended to be sold as pets.
You are right, some things are not yet known at 7-8 weeks of age. Tests for predisposition to hip dysplasia, for example, are not accepted until the animal is at least 2 years old (OFA, although PennHIP is an earlier assessment). By that time, though, the animals may have already been bred.

And if you have a purebreed that ends up having some congenital problem down the line, the responsible thing to do is also contact the breeder. They may not help you then to pay any expenses, but giving them a heads up may make them (should make them) do some changes as to their breeding lines.

Other variations and congenital anomalies (coloration, eye abnormalities) can vary within a litter. Those things can be assessed early and can determine whether a particular animal or litter is sold as "pet" or as "show".

And no, I was not making a distinction between litters (although that can happen), but among littermates. Certainly, for many breeders, they keep the ones they think are the finest and will be the finest (as much as they may know by 7-8 weeks) as show dogs, and the ones that fail to do so as "pets". They're being selective in that, since they want to safeguard the breed standard.

And accidental litters being what they are, those animals end up in the "pet" category, since they were not bred intentionally to make a good genetic match (in the breeders' mind).

"Show", "pet", rescued, mutt, all of those of course can make excellent pets.

I do not see any fines or any really problem to you not spaying/neutering the pet, other than you won't be able to give "papers" to the offspring (and you don't care about that). I'm guessing the extra hassle is a way to deter/make it more difficult for indiscriminate breeders from getting a lot of hold in the pedigreed group. Only show dogs can breed and their offspring recognized. If others breed, their offspring won't be recognized (or if it is, only after extra paperwork).

There are also restrictions in many shelters about adopting out unfixed animals. Their reasoning, though, is different from the breeders. They want to curb population growth, so many shelters either give out already fixed animals (no unfixed pet may get out of the building) or require animals to be fixed ASAP.
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  #11  
Old 03-21-2008, 03:15 PM
Eureka Eureka is offline
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I guess, to me, having a pedigreed puppy is not unlike having a degree accredited by a particular organization. One can have a puppy who appears to be a lab, for example, just like one can have practical business knowledge based on experience. One can also have a puppy who has paperwork that promises you that this is a genuine pedigreed lab, and even though you know darn well that their is little difference as far as the value of the pet to your family, some people will pay a heck of a lot more for that puppy. And thus someone asking about which grad school she should go to was recently advised to pick the high-prestige one, it'll open more doors for her.

I see absolutely nothing wrong with the organized breeders trying to corner the market on the highest priced puppies by trying to convince people that their puppies are the highest quality puppies. At least in principle.

In practice, there are sometimes interesting quirks--I know just enough to be dangerous about thoroughbred racing, and so find it amusing the degree to which the value of the sire of the latest Kentucky Derby winner increases in value after that race is run.

But I'm not seeing why breeders shouldn't be able to put limits on your ability to take a dog they view as not worthy of their elite club and make money selling its puppies.

I'm not sure I'm making sense, either, but I am running away from the internet until tomorrow, at minimum, and probably later.
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Old 03-21-2008, 03:16 PM
Girl From Mars Girl From Mars is offline
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This may not be an exactly right analogy, but it sounds like a similar product is music, such as itunes - where you are sold the product for your own specific personal use, but restricted from 'breeding' it for others to get from you.

I imagine if you did want to breed the dog and sell the pups with the potential to be showdogs, you would have to negotiate a higher price for the animal up front (as you are in it for commercial purposes), and your selection criteria would be different. I imagine you would need to be much more selective for example about any congenital illnesses, which may not show up in your gen 1 dog, but could evident themselves further down the track.
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Old 03-21-2008, 03:20 PM
hawksgirl hawksgirl is offline
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I bet the breeders just don't like "backyard breeders" any more than I do. Or does pet overpopulation only matter when it comes to mutts?
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Old 03-21-2008, 03:42 PM
NajaNivea NajaNivea is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hawksgirl
I bet the breeders just don't like "backyard breeders" any more than I do. Or does pet overpopulation only matter when it comes to mutts?
You would win that bet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinsdale
Yeah, I know. These are the reasons they give. But I tend to be a cynical kinda guy, and the actual effect of their practices seems to reserve to them a large portion of the top of the market. Many times you will hear of a breeder keeping one of a litter, or selling for breed/show and pet from the same litter. And I've read/spoken with many people who say there is really very little a breeder can tell about how the pups will end up at 7-8 weeks age. For example, many conformation champs were intended to be sold as pets.
You can be as cynical as you want, but the intent is not to keep their "corner" on the market--if for no other reason than it's not simply the dogs and their genetalia that make them the elite kennels. It's the name, it's their campaigning and showing and titling, their tremendous knowledge of their dogs' bloodlines and pedigrees, faults and strengths, and how all of those things combine in individual breedings to produce the quality of dogs they produce... so on and so forth.
The reasons they give are legitimate and ethical. Were you to not spay your dog, you would not receive a complete registration, and any puppies resulting would not be registrable. You could still backyard breed your dog, but you wouldn't be able to command the same prices or find the same homes for the pups that the big name breeder would, and your name would be mud amongst the "in crowd".

As far as your thoughts about some pups from a litter being sold as show quality and some as pets, as others have mentioned, that's precisely the point of the limited registration. Only a few puppies out of even the most spectacular breeding will be considered show and breeding quality,* and no ethical breeder breeds a litter with the intention of producing more pets--especially in such a breed as the golden retriever, of which there are thousands of people producing fine goldens and no shortage of pet quality pups. There are plenty of pets. Whoever you talked to that said there is "very little" a breeder can tell about the quality of a dog at 8 weeks doesn't know jack about breeding quality dogs.
You may not be able to tell, and pups certainly do sometimes grow into their conformation better than expected, and sometimes a spectacular pup will turn out to be a dud when they finish growing--breeding after all is more an art than an exact science--but there certainly is a lot to be seen in an 8 week old pup.

So you bought a dog from an unintended breeding, produced with zero forethought by someone who couldn't handle the responsibility of keeping his intact dogs separate, and by someone who lied to the people from whom he purchased the dog in the first place. A puppy from pedigrees that may or may not be compatible but was certainly produced out of at least one dog with serious enough faults to be considered unworthy of contributing to the gene pool, purchased from a "breeder" that won't give you your money back if your dog turns out severely dysplastic or with some other congenital defomity. A "breeder" that doesn't have room in his kennel to take responsibility for any puppies from the litter that may need to be rehomed in the future. Your dog is probably a wonderful pet and the purchase may very well turn out to be a fine one for your needs, but please don't make the mistake of thinking you got the same deal you would have purchasing the dog from the reputable breeder, and please don't make the mistake of thinking that breeding your dog is ever a good idea ethically, or financially, or good for the breed as a whole. Like I said, there are plenty of pet golden retrievers being produced by ethical breeders, there's nothing your dog could contribute to the gene pool that would benefit anyone.

You talk like you believe any dogs out of that particular elite kennel are going to be worthy of breeding, and any pups produced from dogs out of those kennels will be the same quality as pups contentiously and purposely bred by the experts. You're wrong about that.

I'm sorry if any of that sounds harsh or snarky, but it's all true, and none of it is meant personally.

*case in point: my dog is out of one of the best breedings of his birth year in the entire breed, in the whole world. His brothers and sisters are tearing up the show ring in Europe, Japan, the US, and South America. Others are great hunters and a few are pets. My dog was bought as a pet, because I wasn't interested in showing or breeding. He's intact because his European breeder doesn't have the same fixation on spay/neuter that US breeders have, and I don't want you to think I'm against keeping your dog intact, as a matter of fact I'm generally against spaying and neutering for those who can handle the keeping of intact animals--as the person from whom you bought your dog clearly cannot.
Point being, though his litter is uber-elite in the world of his breed, he's not only "pet quality" but is actively disqualified from show due to an extra spot on his coat. His brother was the world champion one year and another brother the US champion the year after, yet he's disqualified.

Last edited by NajaNivea; 03-21-2008 at 03:47 PM..
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  #15  
Old 03-21-2008, 03:52 PM
NajaNivea NajaNivea is offline
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Oh, and about the legality of enforcing the contract, which is as you point out the point of the OP, there's really not much they can do about it. You are welcome to keep your dog intact and pump out puppies, you just won't be able to register the dog or their offspring and you'll lose out on any ability to participate in the ethical breeding community; a serious loss if you have ethical intentions, no real loss if you're just trying to be a backyard breeder making some extra bucks and contributing to the problems of genetic health and overpopulation.
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Old 03-21-2008, 03:57 PM
Dinsdale Dinsdale is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NajaNivea
Oh, and about the legality of enforcing the contract, which is as you point out the point of the OP, there's really not much they can do about it.
If nothing else, this thread has reaffirmed my perception that lawyers are hampered by an ability to discuss the "legality" of matters without being overburdened by their personal preferences.

And I guess I have a personal bias against "contracts" or contractual language that is in no way enforceable.
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Old 03-21-2008, 04:03 PM
NajaNivea NajaNivea is offline
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Originally Posted by Dinsdale
If nothing else, this thread has reaffirmed my perception that lawyers are hampered by an ability to discuss the "legality" of matters without being overburdened by their personal preferences.

And I guess I have a personal bias against "contracts" or contractual language that is in no way enforceable.
I agree, in general, except that they can enforce it in ways that make it less profitable for you to break the contract, and the intent of the contract is to negotiate ethical behavior from their puppy buyers, as well as to help safeguard the breed against someone like your backyard breeder producing potential genetic time-bombs in ignorance and making them a part of the breed's genetic future.
Like I said, I'm not generally all het up about spay/neuter, and if I were to buy a US bred dog under such a contract, I wouldn't fix the dog--on the other hand I wouldn't, under any circumstances, breed such a dog either.
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Old 03-21-2008, 04:06 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is online now
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I can't see any reason to single out one arbitrary rule in dog breeding. Isn't the whole system based on arbitrary rules? If you accept the premise that a group of people have set an arbitrary high value on a certain set of dog genes, then it makes sense that they try to limit the number of dogs with those genes. Even to the point of turning a blind eye towards dogs that "unofficially" have the same genes.
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Old 03-21-2008, 04:07 PM
Litoris Litoris is offline
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Really, everyone has covered your questions, but let me weigh in with the question of -- if you didn't buy the dog for breeding or showing, what do you care if you can have it registered?

I, like many others, loathe backyard breeders as a whole, but my long-haired Chihuahua (who is registered and not neutered, though still a virgin!) was bought from a woman that I would classify as a backyard breeder. Although her dogs were well-kept and treated as pets, she didn't know an awful lot about the breed. My dog's health checked and he has been a joy -- he could have been a showdog, had I had the patience for the grooming and actually going to those things. Just as you can find an amazing pet at the shelter, even backyard breeders can get it right once in a while. Oh, and of course, just for argument's sake -- we once had a pomeranian bought with the whole spay/neuter contract from a "reputable breeder" for way more than anyone else because he supposedly had amazing showlines -- I gave that dog away for free. It was untrainable -- the only dog I have ever met that I could label that way.
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Old 03-21-2008, 04:14 PM
Dinsdale Dinsdale is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo
I can't see any reason to single out one arbitrary rule in dog breeding. Isn't the whole system based on arbitrary rules?
I view nothing "arbitrary" about the terms of contracts I enter into.
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Old 03-21-2008, 07:26 PM
Grits and Hard Toast Grits and Hard Toast is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinsdale
Trying to come up with a legal or public policy reason why the seller should be able to effectively retain control over the product after they sell it.
Why would this be any different than when animal shelters insist a new adopter spay or neuter their new pet?

The animal shelters exist because there are so many unwanted dogs that are in need of homes. Most of those dogs exist because the parents weren't spayed and neutered, and "accidents" happen, leading to more unwanted dogs.

So the animal shelters, in a position to do something which will prevent more unwanted dogs, insist that you fix your new pet. Do you think they are wrong to have that policy?

I would think most good breeders also realize there are too many dogs in need of homes as it is. So with the the dogs they don't feel are good enough to show or breed, they want to make sure those dogs find good homes, but won't be adding to the problem of dog overpopulation.

They are in a position to pick and choose who gets to have the dogs they breed. So I think they are being responsible by only selling to people who agree to spay and neuter their dogs. In the long run, that policy does reduce the number of unwanted dogs. And that is a good policy considering how many unwanted dogs there are.

I might agree with you if there was a dog shortage. But that isn't a problem. So I see nothing wrong with them doing what animal shelters do, and wanting to be sure they aren't adding to the problem.

Going another direction, take your artist example. It sounds like you feel the artist is justified in selling you something, on the condition that you don't reproduce it. I think it is well understood that the artist could suffer financially if he was not able to retain the reproduction rights. So the breeders of dogs could make a similar case. They have invested time and energy to produce what they hope will be the perfect dog. If someone else was to take the sibling of a champion and breed them, advertising the great bloodlines and success of the sibling, trying to capitalize on all that went into to produce that champion, I can understand why the breeder would not feel that was fair. I think they have a right to not let that happen.

I work with a charity that takes retired race horses off the track, and transitions them into new careers. When an owner or trainer donates a horse to our program, they want us to promise that we won't resell the horse to someone that will race the horse. Well technically, once they give us the papers on the horse, we could turn around and sell the horse to race. Nothing stops us from doing that. Nothing except that it would be unethical to agree to something, then not follow through, just because the other side has no recourse if we break our word.

So I see what the guy you bought your dog from as doing doing something similar. Just because the contract couldn't be enforced, doesn't mean he is not wrong to not abide by it. The breeders had their reasons for only intending to sell their dogs to someone who would agree to the conditions. The breeders might feel that by insisting the dog be fixed, that they are not contributing to the problem of too many unwanted dogs. They may feel that by insisting the dog be fixed that they are protecting their own investment, not wanting others to have "copies" of their champions, that could be reproduced for a profit.

So to me it doesn't matter why a breeder will only sell to people who are willing to meet certain conditions. And it doesn't matter whether those conditions can technically be enforced. What matters is what the two parties agree to, and whether or not both parties live up to their agreement.
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Old 03-21-2008, 07:41 PM
FourPaws FourPaws is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Girl From Mars
This may not be an exactly right analogy, but it sounds like a similar product is music, such as itunes - where you are sold the product for your own specific personal use, but restricted from 'breeding' it for others to get from you.

I imagine if you did want to breed the dog and sell the pups with the potential to be showdogs, you would have to negotiate a higher price for the animal up front (as you are in it for commercial purposes), and your selection criteria would be different. I imagine you would need to be much more selective for example about any congenital illnesses, which may not show up in your gen 1 dog, but could evident themselves further down the track.
That's not a good analogy for a pet owner.

I have five retrievers. to say any one is less of an animal construed by it's breeding is laughable. My dogs are not itunes. to wit, they are all fixed, and cannot be replicated. Oops, I guess they are Itunes, bred or shelter obtained.

Feh.
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Old 03-21-2008, 08:23 PM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
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Doesn't this sort of contract further reduce the gene pool for purebreds and therefore isn't it actually a negative for the genetic stability of the stock?
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  #24  
Old 03-21-2008, 08:47 PM
KarlGrenze KarlGrenze is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dangerosa
Doesn't this sort of contract further reduce the gene pool for purebreds and therefore isn't it actually a negative for the genetic stability of the stock?
First, I don't think for many breeds there is a lot of problem (yet) with serious inbreeding, they still have plenty of stock.

Second, by some of those things, they're trying to breed out (by not letting offspring be registered) some abnormalities (at least those that are noted early on). Another thing is that many breeds require OFA radiographs for establishing good breeding lines. That occurs when the animal is 2 years, and is trying to prevent animals that already show signs for hip dysplasia from passing that trait on. Like I mentioned before, it is the owner's responsability of passing on information about any genetic problem the animal has down the line to the breeder, so that he/she can make adjustments to the breeding lines. If the breeding stock that remains is relatively free of problems, that helps the line, not affect it.

Third, like I said above, it may be the case that good animals originally sold as "pet-quality" and therefore shouldn't be bred, but end up being good at shows (and unfixed) may end up with their own offspring recognized. It may just take slightly more paperwork.
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Old 03-21-2008, 08:48 PM
JR Brown JR Brown is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinsdale
We recently bought a purebred golden retriever pup, and encountered something we considered curious. If you are looking for a purebreed, you will meet a small number of breeders who all seem to know each other and appear to pretty effectively control the market of high quality dogs. (For this thread I don't think we need to debate "high quality." Nor am I interested in explaining why we did not go the "rescue" route.) To get one of these breeders' dogs can require interviewing, putting down deposits, and getting on waiting lists.

A breeder will sell a pup as either a pet, or as a show dog. If sold as a pet, they generally will require that it be spayed/neutered and never bred. The dog will also come with a limited registration, which means any offspring can not be registered.

This kind of struck me as an odd situation - almost a restraint of trade from a legal perspective. Do you think these spay/neuter clauses are enforceable? What would the damages be for breach?

[snip]

It just struck me as a kind of kinky situation all around. I was wondering what you folks thought of it. Did anyone do anything wrong? Us? The guy we got the pup from? The breeders of his dogs?
I am not a breeder, but I do pay a fair amount of attention to the dog world. It's not at all "curious" that breeders in a given breed know each other; you bump into them regularly at shows, you read about them in breed magazines, you may have bought breeding stock from each other or used each other's males at stud, you may be on the same committees or regulatory boards, and for most breeds (not Goldens) there aren't all that many professional breeders anyway (I am casually acquainted with maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of the owners of the major US Saluki kennels despite never showing or breeding, and not attending that many shows).

Officially, and, as far as I've seen, in the minds of most breeders (if not necessarily all), neuter requirements and limited registration (a relatively recent development) are not intended to be a "restraint of trade" or a deterrent to people who wish to become (respectable) breeders, but to curb two types of behavior:

1. The pet owner who doesn't intend to breed the dog at the time of purchase but later decides (or, as in your puppy's daddy, randomly happens) to have a litter or two. These people usually don't educate themselves about breeding, screen for diseases, know how to select a mate whose genes will combine well with their dog, or have any plans for placing the puppies beyond putting an ad in the paper. Result, as often as not: unhealthy, non-conforming, temperamentally unsound dogs that clog the nation's animal shelters.

2. The person who wants a dog with a well-known kennel name or an impressive pedigree so they can sell the puppies for a good price, but is either too ignorant to understand, or sufficiently dishonest not to care, about that individual dog's qualities and how they will affect the offspring's health, temperament or conformation. Result: see above.

Limited registration was intended to help breeders enforce "no breeding" contracts, since most pups are sold at an age when vets are reluctant to neuter them.

The problem, in part, is that most non-breeders fail to understand that when you pay $1200 for an Examplehound puppy, you are not paying $1200 for any random Examplehound puppy, but for that specific breeder's knowledge and experience, the (considerable) expenditures they have made to raise, train and show (or course, trial, whatever) the puppy's parents and ancestors, the health testing and certification (having your dog certified clear of hip dysplasia costs around $2000), and (not least) the time, energy and work required to become known to and accepted by other breeders, judges and club officials as a respected peer who produces sound, healthy and successful dogs. A backyard breeder has none of this, and a person who is trying to trade on the kennel name or pedigree of a dog that they bought at a discount because it wasn't breeding quality is actively undermining the market value of the "real" breeder from whom that dog was purchased by associating their name with an inferior product.

Anyway, Dinsdale, if you do decide you want to breed a litter (not, I hope, from your current puppy), do the dogs of the world a favor and ask a professional breeder (in your breed) for advice. If you don't want to buy and raise a breeding-quality dog, you may be able to set up a lease agreement where you "rent" a dam, pick out the sire (within limits), and take responsibility for the puppies (the owner(s) of the parent dogs may want one or more puppies as part of the deal - that should be specified in the contract); this won't be cheap but it's still a lot cheaper than raising a breeding-quality bitch from puppyhood and getting her certified and titled.

Incidentally, the way to make money off of dog breeding (nearly the only way, if you are a responsible breeder), is to breed or buy a really outstanding male, show him to death, get as many titles as possible, make him famous, and then charge big bucks for stud fees. For all but the best-known kennels, puppies are mainly a loss leader.

JRB
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  #26  
Old 03-21-2008, 08:55 PM
Renee Renee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dangerosa
Doesn't this sort of contract further reduce the gene pool for purebreds and therefore isn't it actually a negative for the genetic stability of the stock?
I was thinking that, too. If someone wants to be a backyard breeder, it isn't hard to get a fully pedigreed puppy mill dog and do just that, only with inferior breeding. I do see where the reputable breeders are coming from, but I'm not sure it really improves the overall quality of the breed in the long run.

My friend was looking at getting a great dane puppy from a breeder who was considered very good. In addition to the limited registration and spay/neuter contracts, she also would only sell certain males to people who would keep them intact but allow only her the breeding rights. Interesting, I thought.
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Old 03-21-2008, 10:09 PM
JR Brown JR Brown is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dangerosa
Doesn't this sort of contract further reduce the gene pool for purebreds and therefore isn't it actually a negative for the genetic stability of the stock?
If some of the pet puppy's siblings or half-siblings are used for breeding, then no, or at least not necessarily. Inbreeding and the Popular Sires Syndrome are much bigger problems. Also, many dog breeds already have a pretty much irreducibly small gene pool to start with (Dobermanns, for example, are all descended from one female and her two sons, IIRC).

In any case, remember that the puppies are being sold as pet quality because they have one or more defects, which range from trivial (coat too thin, a white spot where there shouldn't be one), to the catastrophic (epilepsy, hip dysplasia, severe timidity). Maybe for some rare breeds every individual is needed even if you have to have a tortuous breeding program to avoid transmitting the defects along with the diversity, but there are plenty enough Golden Retrievers so that you don't need to breed the rejects.

JRB
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  #28  
Old 03-21-2008, 10:21 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is online now
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Quote:
I view nothing "arbitrary" about the terms of contracts I enter into.
Now I'm confused. I thought the point of your OP was that you regarded the professional breeders' terms as arbitrary.
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  #29  
Old 03-21-2008, 10:23 PM
JR Brown JR Brown is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renee
My friend was looking at getting a great dane puppy from a breeder who was considered very good. In addition to the limited registration and spay/neuter contracts, she also would only sell certain males to people who would keep them intact but allow only her the breeding rights. Interesting, I thought.
Without knowing the breeder or her customers, I'd say that this is a method to keep non-show-eligible animals available for breeding without letting a possibly uneducated or careless pet owner litter the place with poorly-planned puppies.

This is particularly likely if the breeder specializes in Harlequin Great Danes, which require a significant number of breeding animals which cannot be sold as show dogs because they have disqualified colors (merle, mantled blacks) that nonetheless need to be kept around in order to perpetuate the Harlequin color, which has very complicated genetics. I personally think it is the height of stupidity, now that we understand what goes into a Harlequin (well, mostly, anyway), that merle, which is a necessary component thereof, is still disqualified by the Great Dane standard, but it's the breed club's decision to make and they have shown no sign of rectifying the situation.

JRB

Last edited by JR Brown; 03-21-2008 at 10:24 PM.. Reason: spelling...
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  #30  
Old 03-21-2008, 11:15 PM
NajaNivea NajaNivea is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renee
My friend was looking at getting a great dane puppy from a breeder who was considered very good. In addition to the limited registration and spay/neuter contracts, she also would only sell certain males to people who would keep them intact but allow only her the breeding rights. Interesting, I thought.
This makes perfect sense to me. Say I was breeding Examplehounds () and had a kennel full. I have my eye on three promising male pups out of my new litter, but keeping them all around on the potential that they will turn out to be spectacular isn't the best option--any of the three may turn out to be the best, but by the time you decide #1 is a little too light of bone and #2's bite is slightly off after his skull finishes developing, they're a year or more old and won't make such good pets as if they'd been placed as puppies.
Meanwhile, she wants to keep his genetics in her breeding program for specific reasons, and doesn't want you to go studding the dog around to anything that'll stand still for a little extra spending cash, or for a competing kennel to cash in on her hard work by offering you a substantial stud fee.
Also, what JR Brown said re: Harlequin danes and the associated disqualified colors.
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  #31  
Old 03-21-2008, 11:42 PM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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The way I'm interpreting the OP is that this is not really about breeding at all. This is about acquiring papers that will theoretically increase the market value of your dog.

Did I miss something? Does the contract flat out state you will NOT breed the dog at all, or that SHOULD you breed the dog the offspring cannot be AKC registered?

Last edited by Boyo Jim; 03-21-2008 at 11:43 PM..
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  #32  
Old 03-22-2008, 12:31 AM
Renee Renee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NajaNivea
This makes perfect sense to me. Say I was breeding Examplehounds () and had a kennel full. I have my eye on three promising male pups out of my new litter, but keeping them all around on the potential that they will turn out to be spectacular isn't the best option--any of the three may turn out to be the best, but by the time you decide #1 is a little too light of bone and #2's bite is slightly off after his skull finishes developing, they're a year or more old and won't make such good pets as if they'd been placed as puppies.
Meanwhile, she wants to keep his genetics in her breeding program for specific reasons, and doesn't want you to go studding the dog around to anything that'll stand still for a little extra spending cash, or for a competing kennel to cash in on her hard work by offering you a substantial stud fee.
Also, what JR Brown said re: Harlequin danes and the associated disqualified colors.
Yeah, it makes sense from the breeders perspective, but for some reason it would annoy me as the owner of the dog. Of course, it's easy enough to just not buy the puppy, but I thought it was an interesting data point for the thread.
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  #33  
Old 03-22-2008, 01:21 PM
Dinsdale Dinsdale is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grits and Hard Toast
Just because the contract couldn't be enforced, doesn't mean he is not wrong to not abide by it.
This kinda gets at one basic aspect of how lawyers are able to view things differently that many other people. Whether or not you, I, or any other individual considers a particular action right or wrong has no bearing on whether or not it is legally binding. I'm not saying that such a legal analysis is the only way to view all situations and relationships, but it is distinct from a simple value judgment.

Quote:
Now I'm confused. I thought the point of your OP was that you regarded the professional breeders' terms as arbitrary.
Not "arbitrary" - unenforceable. If I enter into a contract, there are certain legal ramifications. As every sentient being ought, I carefully read every contract I enter into, and attempt to assess the implications should any number of foreseeable events occur.

I am free to break any and all terms of the contract. However, I should expect to be held liable for my breach to the extent the terms of the contract and the law provide. As a practical manner, I may choose to agree to a contract with terms I have no intention of keeping if I have good reason to believe there are no meaningful penalties for breach.

Not that it matters, but I have fixed all of the several dogs I have had, have never bred a dog, and have no intention to change my practices.
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