Dog shows are a form of entertainment enjoyed by countless dog enthusiasts. People love watching different breeds strut across the show ring and choosing their favorite one, hoping they will win. National dogs shows are marketed as promoting “the best of the best” of purebred dogs. But some believe they also help promote overbreeding and puppy mills by encouraging people to purchase purebred dogs based solely on popularity instead of whether the breed is the right fit for them.
When a beagle named Miss P won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2015, beagle breeders reported a sudden influx of people looking for beagles. And an increase in beagle requests was also noticed after a spunky little beagle named Uno made crowds swoon after trotting across the stage and letting out a classic beagle bay after winning the Best in Show title in 2008. But it’s not just beagles that are a popular pet choice.
Breeds such as French bulldogs are also adored by the masses and as a result, have been subjected to overbreeding. Often referred to as “Frenchies,” these expressive, perky-eared dogs are known for having breathing problems, spinal issues and other medical conditions that can require costly care. But not everyone is aware of the potential problems and purchases a Frenchie puppy based on looks and popularity. And any time there’s an increase in demand for a specific breed, it opens the door for puppy mills and problematic breeders to turn a quick profit by mass breeding dogs to supply the demand.
Puppy Mills and Backyard Breeders Take Advantage of ‘Popular’ Dog Breeds
It’s hard not to fall in love with these adorable breeds and want one of our own, but the sudden popularity of winning dog breeds not only increases demand from breeders deemed as reputable but from those who indiscriminately breed dogs without any regard for animal health or making sure the puppies make their way into a good home.
The puppies who come from puppy mills and backyard breeders are then shipped to pet stores or sold online, often without the purchaser knowing the conditions the puppy was raised in or whether the parents are healthy. And all too often, the decision to purchase these dogs is made on a whim instead of doing enough research to see where the puppy really came from.
The issue with an increased demand for purebred dogs or “trendy” breeds is that profit can take priority over animal care. In puppy mills, adult dogs are bred repeatedly and often denied proper veterinary care, clean food and water, and physical exercise and emotional enrichment. Their goal is profit, not animal well-being. In addition to puppy mills taking advantage of popular dog breeds to increase their profits, there is concern that the organizations working to promote purebred dogs are also known to be against legislation that would help eliminate puppy mills and bad breeders.
Fighting Legislation Aimed at Protecting Animals
The dogs who compete in professional dog shows are registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC), and while dog shows and the AKC don’t outright promote puppy mills, the AKC has been known to fight pieces of legislation focused on regulating the commercial breeding industry and protecting animals. According to the Humane Society of the United States, the AKC has opposed over 150 proposed laws throughout the U.S. that were introduced to help protect animals from inhumane conditions in breeding facilities and require that problem breeders face tougher consequences for abuse and neglect.
Its breeder inspection program has also been known to have issues, as was demonstrated when an AKC “Breeder of Merit” was arrested and charged with two counts of animal cruelty after 70 dogs were rescued from their breeding facility. The dogs were found living in a shed that was so filthy, they were forced to stand and lie in their own excrement.
Both reputable breeders and puppy mills use the AKC and other registries. And while registration papers may notate a puppy’s breed and lineage, they don’t guarantee that the puppy came from a place where animals are treated well and raised in humane conditions.
Choosing Your Next Pet
The decision to bring a dog into your home isn’t one that should be taken lightly. There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a pet including the time commitment involved and whether the dog is a right fit for your home and lifestyle. You need to think about typical breed characteristics including grooming requirements, personality, and the amount of exercise they need. Some breeds are also more prone to medical issues, some of which require expensive surgery.
If you have your heart set on a particular breed, do your research and then find a breed-specific rescue organization. You can also find purebred dogs through shelters and other animal rescue organizations. They’ll be able to help you understand the dog’s personality and match you do a dog that is right for you. Also consider adopting a mixed breed dog or a dog that is a different breed than what you were considering. It’s okay to love a specific breed, but keep your options open and focus on finding your perfect match.
Lead image source: M Glasgow / wikimedia