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Despite the fact that nearly 62 percent of Americans have a pet, there are still more than 70 million homeless dogs and cats living in the U.S. Of these 70 million needy animals, only around six to eight million enter shelters each year. Although they only take in a fraction of America’s homeless animals, these shelters are mostly packed to capacity and strapped trying to function with limited funds. Yet, regardless of this wealth of pets looking for loving homes, only around 20 percent of Americans adopt their dogs from shelters.

So where are the other 74 percent coming from? Well, breeders.

You can find virtually any breed of animal in your local shelter – purebred or mixed – but consumers continue to pay hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars for dogs from breeders.

Some believe that by purchasing their dogs from a special breeder they will somehow be getting a “superior” pet, however, not only is this false but there are a number of other reasons that breeding dogs is irresponsible and harmful no matter how good their reputation may be.

The Myth of Purebred Superiority

Consumers looking for a new family pet are willing to pay exorbitant amounts for a purebred dog because they’re told that the puppy has been raised in a loving environment and will grow up to have a friendly disposition with minimal health problems.

However, there is no way to really tell because in many cases, it’s dependent on the individual dog. While there may be breeders that take precaution to avoid inbreeding (which often leads to significant health issues), and are selective with the dogs they do breed, making sure to raise them in loving environments, there is no definitive “rule” that guarantees these animals won’t suffer from health or behavioral problems early or later on.

You can never forget that breeders are still trying to run a business at the end of the day, so it is only in their best interest to advertise the benefits to owning a purebred, and even perpetuating the myth that certain positive attributes cannot be found in shelter dogs. Ironically, the Humane Society estimates that 25 percent of dogs in shelters are purebred.

What Distinguishes a “Reputable” Breeder

Now, when we refer to “reputable” breeders, it’s merely to differentiate between those that breed their animals “responsibly,” and those that don’t. A lot of consumers don’t do research prior to purchasing their new four-legged family member, and as a result, end up buying their new best friend from cruel puppy mills. Others rely on the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) inspection certification to ensure that the dogs they purchase are both purebred and don’t come from an abusive background. However, an exposé into the AKC’s inspection program revealed that many of these certified breeders subject their dogs to puppy mill-like conditions as well.

Although the AKC is considered the highest authority on purebred dog standards, Ed Sayer’s, the President of the ASPCA, stated in the New York Times that a number of the raids his organization has carried out involved commercial breeding facilities that were registered with the AKC.

Many puppies who come from puppy mills suffer from serious health problems as a result of reckless breeding. For example, the New York Times highlighted the story of one woman who purchased a puppy from an AKC breeder only to find out the puppy suffered from a number of abnormalities as a result of reckless breeding practices; the breeder had passed AKC’s inspection only two weeks prior. Two months later the facility was raided and all of the dogs were removed from the breeding facility.

When a representative from the AKC was questioned as to just how many breeders have AKC registered dogs in the country, they admitted that they did not have those figures. While the AKC may not believe they’re responsible for all breeders, their approval of these substandard facilities is deceiving to consumers and frankly, they should be held accountable for the breeders they certify.

The Question of Overpopulation

Reputable breeders have a passion for breeding dogs and many do genuinely love the animals they care for, but that does not address the very real problem of what breeding pets does to the existing pet overpopulation problem.

According to the ASPCA, 1.2 million dogs are euthanized in shelters every year because of lack of space, resources, and people who are willing to adopt these animals. No matter how you look at the issue, the idea of producing more dogs to meet the “demands” of people who are willing to pay thousands of dollars for a purebred pup while there are hundreds of thousands of purebred dogs waiting in overcrowded shelters is incredibly irresponsible.

The fact is, all dogs deserve a loving home, but when these dogs become commodities who are bred for profit, it doesn’t matter how well-meaning or qualified the breeders are. If we wish to put an end to the gross pet overpopulation problem and provide loving forever homes for dogs who truly need it, there is no real justification for the perpetuation of dog breeding.

So please, be a Green Monster and always adopt, don’t shop!

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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226 comments on “Why Breeding Dogs is a Problem, Even if the Breeder is ‘Reputable’”

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Michael Lee
10 Days ago

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11 Days ago

I am currently writing a research essay and have chosen breeding as my topic. Can someone explain to me where they get the 74% from???? I want to make sure I\'m using accurate numbers but 20-74 still leaves 6% unmentioned...

13 Apr 2017

Just a guess, but maybe the remainder are strays, puppies adopted from a private person whose dog had puppies, etc.

19 Apr 2017

I don\'t believe the statistic is correct at all. I work in an animal shelter and, unfortunately, except for pit bulls, only about 10% to 15% of the dogs brought in are purebred. The vast majority are maybe half of one breed and who knows what the other half or both halves might be. The reason for dog overpopulation is people not spaying and neutering their dogs, mostly half breeds that then mate with other half breeds. Pit bulls are another story but we get in tons of pits mixed with who knows what as well as purebreds pits but not many purebred anything elses. If we do, it\'s usually due to an owner\'s death or the dog is lost. No doubt there are purebred dogs that shouldn\'t be born just because they\'re purebred but writing off reputable breeders because of potential problems down the road is like criticizing people for having children because some children are abused.

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12 Days ago

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Deborah Brandes
16 Days ago

Being an AKC registered breeder does NOT make one reputable by any stretch of the imagination. AKC is simply a registry. An ethical and reputable breeder follows ethical standards set by its breed club, carries on health testing of all breeding dogs he/she is using in his/her program and does NOT breed back to back, siblings or incompatible animals. They manage their line closely to assure that the pups are good quality animals. If the breeding has a poor result, they will not repeat it. If your pup has issues, you may return it to the breeder. A reputable breeder will have in his/her contract that the pup is to be returned to them and not placed for adoption without the breeders consent or knowledge. They care about the quality of their line and limiting any potential health concerns that could impact the dog\'s quality of life as well as their reputation. An AKC register amish mill dog does not have those advantages. Back yard breeders and high volume commercial breeders similarly do not provide such advantages. This article is missing that point.

16 Days ago

I have always wanted to do the "right" thing and adopt a dog. My first dog, who shelter workers passionately assured my parents was a perfect happy, healthy lab, ended up being an unhealthy, aggressive pit/chow. A little less than a month after bringing her home and getting attached, she developed severe aggression which was discovered to be due to parvovirus and a neurological disorder. After hundreds of dollars of vet bills she was able to (barely) conquer parvo, but the aggression became worse and she ended up breaking through our fence to attack our neighbor and we were forced to give her up. Traumatic for us all to say the least. We were first time dog owners and didn\'t know better, but it was a lesson. Still, when I was old enough to get my own dog I wanted to adopt again. I knew that there were many wonderful dogs at shelters. I volunteered at a shelter for about a year, and tried to ignore the fact that the way some dogs were adopted seemed irresponsible/dangerous to me. Dogs that would lunge at the volunteers were advertised as "just in need of some TLC" and - in some disturbing cases - adopted out to families with children. Once, while getting a dog ready for a walk he lunged at my side, snarling, grabbing, and tearing at my (thankfully thick) down jacket. Even through my coat I had a nasty bruise. This dog was adopted out to a family. I was met with nothing short of outright nastiness (as a volunteer) when I voiced what I believed to be responsible concern on behalf of the dog and the adopters. "He was only stressed out from the kennel" I was told. OK. Still, I wanted to do the right thing and adopt so I spoke to the people at a rescue that worked with a high kill shelter down south. I explained to them that I was planning on starting a family within the next few years and live an active and fairly social lifestyle (lots of camping trips/hiking etc) and wanted a dog who could be a friendly companion. They said they had the perfect match, and I spent just shy of $500 to adopt and transport my "bernese mountain dog/lab" mix. When the dog arrived, I was met with a German Shepard/pit mix - but this lie didn\'t bother me, I was in love. We bonded instantly, but it also became instantly clear that he had fear aggression/guarding issues. He lunged at nearly every man we came across. Bit family and friends, once breaking skin quite badly... yet for 2 years, I persisted...spending hundreds in trainers and behaviorists to help him get past this aggression. It had a very detrimental affect on my life and health looking back at that time. I was completely isolated. Moved to a new place and was unable to have people over. Worried constantly about someone getting hurt and consequentially someone coming to take my dog away and put him to sleep. Finally, I reached my last straw after he - with absolutely no warning - lunged at a child waiting at a bus stop on our morning walk. I decided he was simply too much for me to handle and made the incredibly difficult decision to return him to the shelter. I cried non stop for about 2 weeks. When I had adopted him, they made it a point to say they would support their adopters and always accept a dog back if there were issues. I explained my circumstance and was made out to be lucifer by this staff. They fabricated a story about me that the dog was fine, but my laziness and my choosing my boyfriend over my dog was to blame for his surrender. I have never been so sad, depressed, and angry in my entire life. They agreed to take him back, and still loving this dog - I wrote up a very detailed description of all his quirks so he can find the RIGHT, responsible home (NO KIDS) A few days later, I see his adoption posting - "Perfect dog surrendered because owners boyfriend didn\'t like him." My heart dropped but I knew there was nothing I could do any more - these people were crazy and putting others in danger. What did I do when I was finally ready? I adopted a lab from a REPUTABLE breeder who allowed me to visit her home, meet the dogs parents, and offered a guarantee on temperament and health and so far, it has been everything I was told it would be. Until the people who work for shelters and rescues take the PEOPLE whose lives they are affecting into consideration, I will never adopt from them again. They claim to be compassionate, empathetic individuals, but unfortunately this seems to only apply to the animals and successful rescue takes special consideration towards the animals, families who adopt, and community.

Lisa Clark-Kahn
07 Apr 2017


Lisa Clark-Kahn
07 Apr 2017


11 Apr 2017

^ unhinged much?

bill buell
17 Days ago

the author is repugnantly ignorant and biased toward an in correct and specific political ideology,

Ted C
18 Days ago

Articles like this create and perpetuate hatred towards reputable responsible breeders. There is absolutely nothing wrong with reputable breeders maintaining the purity of a particular breed. Yes, overpopulation is a terrible problem. One we must find a solution for. Lumping reputable breeders into the same group as backyard breeders or irresponsible people who simply don\'t get their pets fixed is damaging and unfair. It also creates a bunch of clueless "warriors" who go out and attack and demonize reputable breeders because they have falsely lumped them into all these other negative groups.

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30 Days ago

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1 Months Ago

I used to buy into all that "adopt don\'t shop" nonsense up to about a year or so ago. I actually find that mantra rather offensive. What happened was that my rescued collie mix passed on. We had him for 14 of his 17 years, and when we were ready for another dog I began scouring shelters and rescues in my immediate area.

I applied for every dog that I thought might be a good match only to be either ignored or turned down. Usually the turn downs were for really odd reasons that had nothing to do with the info on my app. After being disappointed locally, I expanded my search to the nearest large city and got more of the same. The reasons for being turned down became even more bizarre. I got everything from "we don\'t place in your town because one of our volunteers was mugged there." "You don\'t have enough general dog exp, long hair exp, large dog, high energy, herding etc.... when I used to be a Vet Tech, had a large, long haired high energy collie mix. " "Your acre 6 ft wood privacy fenced yard isn\'t adequate." "you have too many or too few other pets, when I had one dog and one cat and I live out in the county." "no kids under 6 even though my youngest is 12." It was becoming apparent to me that no matter how wonderful the app I turned in was, I had been blacklisted somewhere by all the rescues for reasons I don\'t know or understand.

Needless to say after trying and failing to adopt my next dog for nearly 9 months, I gave up. I started talking to breeders, hoping to get a dog that might have been returned, or the ugly puppy no one wanted. Guess what, a week later I found someone that still had the runt of the litter. He was at an age where the cute puppy charm was wearing off and his breeder wasn\'t sure what to do with him. I worked out a deal with her and I now have a wonderful dog. He\'s nearly full grown now and about 20% smaller than his breed standard, but that\'s just fine with me. I don\'t need the perfect dog, I just wanted a friend. I wish that I could have adopted, but after how I got treated, I doubt that I\'ll consider rescue again.

06 Apr 2017

I can relate. All of these rescue groups make it incredibly difficult and force many of us to go to breeders just so we don\'t have to give five pints of blood, our first and second born children, and ten references. It\'s a painful process and I understand that these rescue groups want to be selective but they are turning away a lot of great, potential candidates. And, when you do go to a breeder most of them want to force you to get your dog spayed or neutered quickly and science is finally showing that dogs need about two years for their growth plate to close up before sterilization. Some breeders understand this but a lot of them are brainwashed by all the rescue groups. We do have options. Ovary sparing surgery for girl dogs and vasectomy for boy dogs. Either surgery will sterilize the dogs but allow them to continue to create the proper balance of hormones so that they may grow naturally. However, just to avoid all of the red tape that many breeders want me to get caught up in, I find myself going to Europe to import a dog. And this is frustrating and costly but it allows me to get a quality dog that has been screened for all of the genetic diseases inherent to that breed and I don\'t have to sign away my life because they want me to spay or neuter. They never ask. But, like I said, I will go with ovary sparing surgery or a vasectomy for boy dogs any day over spay or neuter and, in many cases I don\'t have this option with dogs I get from breeders in the states. So yes, there are some reputable breeders and I don\'t agree with this article at all.

Muriel Servaege
1 Months Ago

My father in-law had a female Malinois shepherd. He could buy it because she was too tall. I must say it was extraordinariily clever.
I have always wondered how the breeder managed to have the right amount of dogs.


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