Ever call someone out for using a backyard (dog) breeder?

Recent incident–

I was in the park when my pup started playing with a gorgeous little dog. I’m crap with breed identification, but its coat was a beautiful silvery color and it looked like, uh, a hound of some sort. But maybe five pounds soaking wet. So the couple comes over, Louis Vuitton dog bag in tow.

Me: Wow, how old?
Couple: Four weeks.
Me: Oh, is she a rescue?
Couple: …no. (They exchange looks.)

I didn’t glare or anything but just sort of raised my eyebrows. It looked healthy enough, but I know (from reading and rescues) that taking it away from its mom too early can cause a ton of problems in training and later on. For all I know they’re breeders, or the puppy’s mom died suddenly and they had to take her, but something makes me doubt that… though again, how the hell do I know? I could have been silently judging good samaritans.

I guess it’s just that there isn’t a week that goes by where some local puppy mill isn’t raided, unearthing stomach-churning atrocities. And I know backyard breeders like to push out the old so they can bring in the new (for a while someone on Craigslist was posting regarding several batches of ‘tiny, 3-week old chiwahwahs.’ I flagged them a few times for selling, but my secret hope is that someone went to ‘buy’ one and brought the SPCA along.

At the same time, I know plenty of decent folk who have bought dogs straight from pet shops or from friends who have let their dogs reproduce (though this was in my childhood – when the idea of a local dog having puppies had absolutely no down side). I’m definitely not harping on them for their choice, though I do chant ‘Shelter! Shelter! Shelter!’ to anyone thinking of getting a dog.

Anyway… thoughts? Page views?

I thought dogs at dog parks were supposed to be completely current with all vaccines. Surely 4 weeks is too young. I would probably have mentioned that, since you don’t know under what circumstances the dog was acquired. And it’s not really any of your business where they got the dog. If they haven’t been influenced by the news reports, not much else is going to get to them.


I remember there was also a news story about a puppy getting flushed down the toilet. It was just one week old and described as being the pet of the four year old boy who flushed it. I don’t remember if there was any evidence of the mother dog being around but the boy was also allowed to hold the dog (badly) in the video and it was kind of cringe inducing. Couldn’t call them out because…well…I didn’t know them. But I wanted to.

That is too young to take a puppy away from it’s mother but I gotta tell you shelters are not all they are cracked up to be. We were recently looking for a dog and went to 4 shelters and found about 30 adult pit bulls and the rest were dogs that were 10 years old and had severe medical issues. There was not a single dog in all 4 shelters that would have been an acceptable pet for our household. We have now decided to wait a couple of years until we own a place and then we will end up paying $1500 or more to a legitimate breeder for a puppy. Some people who are looking for dogs are not willing to wait or pay incredibly high fees to adopt. To us it is worth it to wait and pay the money because a dog would be a family member to us but to many they just don’t think of their pets that way.

$1500 is incredibly high for a pup, unless you have a specific breed in mind.

Please don’t give up on shelters. You just have to find one that has the types of animals that you’re looking for.

I was fortunate enough to grow up a few blocks from the fabulous North Shore Animal League. When you’re ready to adopt, hop on a train to Port Washington. You won’t be sorry.

As the child of two responsible breeders, I have to call shenanigans.

Not on your assessment of this particular pup, you are right that it was taken away too young.

But there are so many myths out there about shelter dogs. My direct experience, and that of two friends shows that shelter dogs can be unhealthy, physically, emotionally and mentally. There is a reason that dogs wind up in the shelter and you will almost never find out what it is before you adopt.

I’m not saying it’s impossible to get a good dog that way - many people do. But what you are paying a responsible breeder for is worth the money in my opinion.

You should be getting a pup with a good pedigree (check, if you see any name twice don’t accept the pup.) A line whihc has shown no tendencies toward genetic problems like eye trouble or hip dysplasia. (Research your breed to find out what the high-risk problems are and question your breeder about the incidence within that line.) And excellent early training (A pup which is housebroken by it’s own Mother will almost never break training.)

There’s a certain reverse snobbery among shelter dog advocates which the couple may have experienced before, and feared from you. I think we’d all do the canines a great service by enouraging responsible breeders as sources instead of touting the shelter option as if it were something desireable. We can help the shelter dogs best by making the shelters unecessary.

pbbth, did you try rescues? There are breed-specific rescues for every breed, and general rescues as well, that are not very much like county shelters. I really doubt that a poodle or Great Dane or greyhound rescue will have “only pit bulls.”

Scope out Petfinder.com for starters – it’s an umbrella site used by lots of rescues as well as conventional shelters.

To the OP – the proportion of backyard breeders to any kind of breeder with the breed’s best interest at heart is so high that finding a really legitimate-in-all-respects breeder is akin to hitting the lottery. But everyone will tell you THEIR breeder is one of the rare “good ones.” It defies logic – clearly most people are dealing with breeders who act like they care, but still “move product” with industrial ruthlessness. What I’m saying is that generally commercial breeders are, for practical purposes, ALL either backyard breeders or puppy mills (the larger, morre industrialized version of BYBs).

I’m sure some folks will come into the thread and argue that their breeder was great. But no one needs a breeder – you can get purebred pups of any breed through rescues – and while I am prepared to accept that there are intensely devoted artisan breeders preserving specific breeds, I am not buying it that every person I talk to just happens to know one of these rare folks.

The “reliability” of breeder stock is waaaaaaay overblown, if it exists at all. My own sister bought miniature poodles from a breeder, over my objections, specifically because this line of dogs had “steady, reliable” traits. One of these two "steady, reliable"miniature poodles is now registered as a Dangerous Dog with animal control after an “incident.”

I’m not saying that bred dogs are man-eaters – I am saying that
[li]Most breeders aren’t really breeding for temperament like they claim[/li][li]How you raise the dog outweighs genetics (to a point)[/li][li]Many responsible rescues will evaluate dogs and re-home only the good ones, so you might get better temperament from a good rscue[/li][li]Certainly there are wonderful homeless mutts and evil purebred breeder dogs – it’s a crapshoot to some extent, but people wo insist on believing in breeding operations view the crapshoot selectively to reinforce what they want to believe.[/li][/ul]

Yes, I have more-or-less called people out for using BYBs, in-person and on message boards. It’s VERY difficult – they get very defensive and nasty very early in the conversation. It’s always unpleasant, and I have also been deterred from it on occasion (especially when it’s a superior at work, heh.)

Keep trying to spread the good word, though.

PS: Yes, a four-week-old puppy at the dog park is reckless and stupid and selfish. Don’t these people do ANY reading when they get a dog? It’s flat-out against the rules in our local dog park, but we catch people doing it pretty often. (It’s also against the rules to have a human child under 8 in there, but that didn’t deter a nursing mother, who looked on in horror as 30 dogs crowded around her trying to see what she was doing with that squeaky toy in her blouse.) People think the rules don’t apply to them.


The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America will only list breeders who adhere to the JRTCA Code of Ethics. No backyard breeders allowed. You can feel fairly confident that a dog purchased from one of them has been bred to the breed standard.

I would bet that the people got the age wrong. I have had numerous people tell me their puppy or kitten was 3 or 4 weeks old when it didn’t look that young and on further questioning or checking actual papers it turned out that it was over 8 weeks old. Some people have no concept of age or how to determine an animal’s age.

I’m a “shelter dog advocate” and I have no problems at all with responsible breeders. I love mutts, and I also love all the variations of purebred dogs. I’m always fascinated by the history of why each breed was developed. Responsible breeders keep the individual breeds going strong.

What I do have a problem with is the backyard breeders and puppy mills.

I have called people out for buying from irresponsible breeders. I have no problem doing it either.

I don’t have a problem with people who breed dogs responsibly. I go to reputable breeders all the time for advice on situations. All my breeder contacts also rescue (another sign of a good breeder is one who is involved in breed rescue). My trainer breeds English Bull Terriers, she also donates a lot of time to rescue and she helped me place a bit of a pain in the ass Staffy with separation anxiety. I do have a problem with puppy mills, backyard breeders and oops! breedings.

Yes, I do rescue. I have done both shelter and private rescue. You can get good dogs through rescue and shelters. They are out there.

I had a single woman whose husband passed away suddenly. They owned a pure bred Bearded Collie. The woman worked full-time and found it hard to take care of the dog by herself. She had mobility issues. This was a well mannered, beautiful, well taken care of dog. No behavior issues, no medical issues. We placed the dog in a foster home and it was adopted to a family shortly thereafter. I see them at the dog park regularly.

We had a woman call us whose mother passed away. Mom had a blue doberman that daughter couldn’t take care of. The daughter lived in an apartment and no other family was available to take the dog. Go and meet the dog, the dog is the most beautifully trained dog I have seen in a long time. The dog was not eating a great diet and had some skin issues, but once put on a better diet, the dog was perfect. I called my friend in dobie rescue just to gloat over the find. She sent me a pile of applicants for the dog and I found a great home for her.

I can’t tell you how many strays turn up that I’ve fostered and adopted out that I can’t believe someone isn’t heartbroken over the loss of such a great dog. Last year I pulled a huge GSD from the county shelter. He passes my temp test, I take him home and find that he knows lots of commands, could care less about my kitten jumping all over him, likes kids, and is an all around great dog. He passed the Canine Good Citizen test without batting an eye. I adopted him out to a woman who works in a skilled nursing facility, he is the therapy dog for the facility. He loves going to work. I love that I was able to find him a place that his talents are put to good use and he is happy, healthy and loved.

I haven’t even gone in to the dogs who just needed a different environment to thrive. The beagle who lived in an apartment, the border collie in a row home who only had a 10X40 yard to exercise in. When these dogs got into a foster or adoptive home that could meet their needs, they were no longer problem dogs, they were happy and the new owners are happy.

I was called to evaluate a dog whose owners didn’t realize that their dog’s skin and weight problems were caused by a thyroid issue that necessitates a $10/month pill to clear up (but that would mean taking the dog to the vet). I could tell just by looking at it (buggy eyes, bad skin) what was wrong with it. I took it to the vet, fostered it for two months until the dog looked better and adopted it out.

Yes, there are bad dogs in shelters and rescues. But getting a pure bred golden retriever from a reputable breeder doesn’t make you a good dog owner (especially when you call me a year later and want to give up your wonderful dog because you didn’t bother to train it when it was little and bad behavior is now the norm). Part of being a good and an educated dog owner involves making sure your dog doesn’t perpetuate and reward bad breeders and their practices.

You are right, I should have said some shelter dog advocates . . or maybe certain very forceful


The breeder may very well have told them the pup was current on vaccines, that it needed another couple boosters at 2-week intervals and then would be good till it was old enough for the rabies shot. At work, we see a lot of 8-week pups with shot records from the breeder–a distemper/parvo shot from the farm store at 4 weeks, and again at 6 weeks, due for another booster at 8 weeks. Then it’s supposed to be all done till it gets vaccinated for rabies in a couple of months. People can get fairly shirty about it when you tell them that you recommend a rather different protocol, like using vaccines you know have been shipped and stored properly to prevent denaturing, waiting till pups are old enough to mount a good immune response to start vaccinating, waiting AVMA-recommended periods between vaccines, that sort of thing.

That doesn’t, however, mean that all shelter dogs are in shelters for good reasons, or for reasons that are the fault of the dog. This list has a few of the other kind. Sometimes the reason might be “the dog’s previous owner was a dumbass who had no business owning pets”. And sometimes the reason is something that is nobody’s fault, human or canine, like if a dog owner dies and the survivors aren’t able to take care of the dog.

Responsible breeders and rescuers try to screen out the dumbasses when looking for homes for their animals. Irresponsible breeders will often let their animals go to anyone who can pay for them.

We did look at several rescues and on petfinder as well, and what we found was a lot of dogs that weren’t able to live with cats, a lot of dogs with serious medical issues, and a lot of dogs that were given up because of aggression towards children. We found one shelter that seemed okay but they wouldn’t let us play with the dog because “it takes a few days for her to get used to you” and then when we came to pick her up there was a different person there who told us that she was badly abused and bites pretty regularly no matter how well she knows you so we ended up not taking her home. It just soured us on the whole experience to look for weeks and find nothing but giant dogs, violent dogs, and really ill dogs.

Just out of curiosity, where would you find a non-shelter, non-backyard breeder puppy that isn’t a specific breed? Are there groups that run doggie no-tell motels and just collect their mutts for sale later? I have never seen anyplace other than people with cardboard boxes outside of wal-mart where people have young puppies available that aren’t breed specific.

Sounds like you just have crappy local shelters! The shelter where we got Captain was private, since the city shelter is AWFUL for dogs - they might be good dogs but you can’t tell because they’re in this concrete kennel room and they start barking their heads off when you get close to it and it’s just awful. Their cat room is great, though. Anyway, Pets Inc., where we went, had people who knew all about the dogs. Our criteria were: cat safe, housebroken, low key, friendly - cat safe above all. They immediately brought out Captain, nee Sky, and we took him home for a trial that night. They gave us up to a week with him with a $50 deposit. He’s our snudgy-umpkins. They obviously knew their dogs very well and would not have given us a dog that would not have worked out for us - the book with the dog descriptions made some of the dogs with behavioral issues very clear.

“We are allergic to them (five year old cat, only owner since birth)”

I don’t know why this one is on that list. They’ve never heard of someone developing allergies?
What do you mean by “calling someone out?”

I haven’t and probably wouldn’t. The people have the dog, so what good is it going to do? Ten years from now, when they get another one, they’re probably not going to think about a random conversation a decade ago, and use that to make a different decision.

I may have purchased my boxador from a backyard breeder. The people claimed they’d bought her and didn’t realize how much time a puppy took, but that could have been a scam to get past craigslist’s policy that doesn’t allow breeders. Or not, who knows?

I felt that the fees at the majority of shelters were too much for a mixed breed dog with unknown genetics, and their policies were too out there for my liking. The pound didn’t have any suitable dogs, so I turned to craigslist.

I don’t even know (which is why I chose MPSIMS). I was just thinking about it after the encounter, on the heels of some pretty nasty puppy mill exposés. In many ways it would be hypocritical of me to judge other people’s pet choices. It’s not like I’m volunteering at the pet shelter every day. I have heard of ridiculously strict shelter policies, on the SDMB and other sites, and while I kind of get it, especially with the horror these people have to deal with – I imagine when you see the worst of humanity (starved, flea-infested dogs cannibalizing one another and the like), you stay paranoid – but it does seem a shame that there aren’t easier ways for people to get the ‘right’ dog for them without having to bring more puppies into the world. Petfinder and breed-specific rescues do pretty great work, and while some of the local shelters in my (current) city are borderline corrupt, plenty are full of hardworking, honest people. I recently inquired about a dog and the owner filled me in on his health problems. I decided I couldn’t take him and made a donation instead.

I interpreted this as ‘unless you have a specific (expensive) breed in mind (that you know costs that much).’ I could be wrong.


Whoops, should have read the entire thread first!