Post image for Is the Dog Fancy at a Tipping Point?

There are just a couple of days left to the year, and I’d love to end 2012 by figuring out why I felt such contrasting emotions at the AKC/Eukanuba National Dog Show. It was a fabulous experience with so much to offer a dog lover, and while I reveled in the sights and sounds around me, I couldn’t shake the sense of impending loss, an urgency that I should absorb every moment around me while I still could. There were times during breed judging when I almost felt as if I was watching the last carrier pigeon on earth fly towards extinction.


Or, as I put it in my own head: Woman, what is wrong with you?

I’ve had the feeling for a while now that as dog fanciers, we’ve been the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, the “ants” over which a magnifying glass could be held to see what happens when a part of society feels too much heat from the sun. 

My suspicions alarm me.

I no longer feel that we’re “at war” only with animal rights activists, or that we’re in a simple struggle to keep shelter and rescue folks from going down a similar path. I’ve come to decide that our problem is bigger. Much bigger, and I fear that we’re at a tipping point.

The experience of owning a dog in America is changing at a cultural level, the “rules” of ownership rewritten by groups with agendas that are either anti-breeder, anti-purebred, shelter-dog-or-nothing, or even tacitly anti-dog. The “drip drip drip” of their message has seeped into society’s subconscious in a way reminiscent of how feminism tinted our views of a working woman’s value: Back in the day, a woman with children was often asked, “Do you work, or are you just a mom?” I sometimes think the 21st century’s version is the stony silence leveled at a person who’s just said they bought their purebred dog from a breeder, the moment charged with disapproval because shelter dogs died as a result of their “shopping, not adopting.”

I wonder if we haven’t reached a tipping point because changing social mores have blended with economic uncertainties.

Might we be on the brink of revisiting a time when only the wealthy owned a well bred dog – but with a twist? A hundred years ago, the less affluent aspired to own a purebred dog to signal that they had “arrived” in society because they could afford to buy one. In the next go-round, however, the rich might be resented not because they own a purebred dog bought from a breeder, but because no one should.  When a political climate which benignly fosters resentment towards the rich merges with the sentiments of the shelter/rescue world, could the price be paid by the diminishment, if not the demise, of breeders and their purebred dogs?

Look very carefully. Do you see a disabled person with her disabled therapy dog? Me neither. We need them.

Certainly the path to such dire and extreme times would be paved with resentment, but would it start with indifference? Does it trouble anyone else that there’s been no collective outrage outside of the dog community at legislation resulting in the deaths or “dumpings” of countless innocent dogs?  Does it strike anyone else that if the same legislation impacting dogs and their owners were applied to human beings, most of them would be immoral, if not illegal?  If done to people what breed specific legislation has done to dogs, surely it would be called racism. Property seized from the homes of law abiding citizens is a violation of the fourth amendment, but when the “property” is, or resembles, a Pit Bull Terrier, it’s done under the cloak of  “dangerous dog ordinances” as it was recently in Sikeston, MIssouri. There, at least three dogs were seized within a week despite their owners’ insistence that they were in compliance with current laws. And why have bad owners gotten a pass while responsible hobby breeders have been lumped together with horrendous, for-profit mass producing breeding farms?

As I write, there’s an on-line petition asking Congress to make mandatory the spaying and neutering of all family pets unless their owners have a breeder’s license. So far, only 15,852 individuals have expressed their support in letters and e-mails, and if there’s language spelling out the requirements of a breeder’s license, I sure haven’t found it.  But think about this. Imagine if every citizen in a city the size of Corinth, Texas (population: 16,000) voted to force you to spay or neuter your show quality pet?

Is it me, or are we seeing more of the following occurrences happening in our communities?

When local law enforcement can’t be trusted to exhibit good judgment with a dog, how can it not impact society as a whole? Have too many among us drunk the animal rights Kool-

He fought them, beat them, hung them by the neck and then slammed them to the ground. Why yes, HSUS, Michael Vick would make a fine dog owner again. Not. One doesn’t cure his kind of sadism.

aid? Is the media negligent by sensationalizing dog attacks, perpetuating the myth of overpopulation and ignoring the erosion of liberty? Has money so corrupted us that scarcely an eye was blinked when the Humane Society of the United States endorsed convicted dog fighter, Michael Vicks’s efforts to own another dog?

What’s happened to us?

Dog fanciers are sometimes accused of being out of touch, snobbish and uncaring, their show dogs useless, overbred and ignored (if not abused) in pursuit of a ten cent ribbon. What

have we done to discourage this perception? Why do so many people choose to accept as fact the inaccuracies presented by animal rights groups or municipal shelters while ignoring more credible sources such as the Center for Disease Control or NAIA?

When did we start feeling more than thinking, and whatever happened to a balanced approach using both logic and emotion?

In one hundred years, the average “joe” went from wanting a purebred dog of his own to wondering what their point is. While we were busy defining breed standards, special interest groups were defining us, and much of the public bought it. Did we drop the ball in communicating what purebreds and dog fanciers are about?

Earlier, I alluded to the contrasting emotions I felt at Eukanuba. Up until now, I’ve mentioned only the negatives. Now I want to explain why Eukanuba also left me feeling cautiously hopeful.

They did everything right. The theme, “Celebrate Dogs” appeared on every piece of signage and literature, and at the risk of sounding contradictory, I felt wistful because I took those words to heart. As I looked at the various breeds around me, I marveled at their diversity and how much we stand to lose if even one of them is lost because of bad legislation, an indifferent or misinformed public, or rescue elitists who feel our time has past.

Imagine you’re in museum which has caught fire and you can only save one painting. Do you choose the Picasso, the Monet, the Da Vinci, Degas or the Whistler? Now imagine you’re in a dog museum where each of the breeds is a canine monument to its culture, equal in significance to that country’s art, language and music. Which breed is expendable?

We dog fanciers are a stubbornly independent and resourceful lot – and that’s the problem. While we were out “doing” our thing, others were “doing“ to us.”  While we were driving to a national specialty, running titers, re-homing a rescue dog, fighting bad legislation, researching pedigrees, scheduling a CERF exam, conducting a home check, swabbing cheeks for DNA, whelping litters, taking a conformation class, tube feeding, building an agility course, mailing OFA x-rays, setting up ring standards, scaling a dog’s teeth, volunteering, writing a check to an animal charity, road working, clicker training or delivering dog food to natural disaster victims, the culture changed. It elevated the importance of homeless dogs over well-bred ones and failed to recognize that one group need not be sacrificed to save the other. There are homes for both, and often it’s the same home.

This little groomer is the future. We need her.

These two “lugs” adored each other and had a love fest in the center of Meet the Breeds. The public saw them and smiled. We need that.

The public got to meet breeds they’d always been told were dangerous. We need more PR like these two

Eukanuba “celebrated” all dogs, mutts and purebreds, by showcasing their talents in agility, obedience and rally competition. After the public marveled over the athleticism of dock diving dogs, the cheers coming from the dog show near by enticed the curious to check it out. To get there, however, they had to walk by the Meet the Breeds venue showcasing over 160 breeds and their enthusiastic owners.


It seemed to me that what Eukanuba recognized – what we all have to recognize, is that if we’re to continue breeding quality dogs, let alone having dog shows, we need the support of the public in ways we’ve never needed it before. The public votes. They buy tickets. They influence the next generation of pet owners.  They turn on the TV to watch a dog show on Thanksgiving Day, and they watch the commercials. Maybe they’ll buy the dog food they saw advertised. They can write a check to PETA, or switch the channel when an HSUS commercial comes on. They talk with their neighbors. They get a family dog. Will it be a shelter and rescue dog, or a purebred bought from a responsible breeder?

She was a “Meet the Breeds” volunteer for her breed and we need her

We can influence their choice, but we have some decisions to make.  Now. Will we continue on as if nothing has changed in our world, or will we come to terms with our need for public support? Will we realize that we can no longer leave the dirty work of fighting bad legislation to someone else, or will each of us finally get involved? Will we cut back on breeding plans because there’s no one left to buy our purebred puppies, or will we mentor a junior, usher a scout troop around a dog show, or stop in at a dumb friends league and say, “I’m a responsible breeder and dog fancier, how can I help you?” Will we make Eukanuba’s “Breeders Stakes” the most popular event of the show by standing three deep as we support our fellow breeders in the ring, or will we go shopping at the vendors, instead?

Which way will society tilt?

We’re in trouble, big trouble. There are solutions, and at least one national dog show, Eukanuba, is doing something to address it, but can I trust my fellow fanciers to step up? Can I trust my community to support my civil rights as a dog owner?

Maybe the conflict that came home with me from Orlando is inevitable when one lives in conflicting times fraught with mixed messages; the public loves Meet the Breed venues but is told to hate breeders; purebred dog breeders are disparaged, but inventors of designer breeds make more money than ever before; the Department of Agriculture is entrusted to pass laws affecting responsible breeders, but hires as one of its attorneys a former animal rights litigator; dog ownership is declining, but dog-knapping is up 70%.

It’s easy to tip over when off balance.

Which way will we tilt?

{ 203 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary Hewitt December 30, 2012 at 7:37 am

Outstanding article. Best I have ever read.
Hope the AKC picks it up for their web site!
Purina Events center us also trying to
Put on other events for dog owners &
Fanciers between dog shows. An area
Dog club promoted a Wine & Cheese Festival
Featuring various countries. Meet the breed
S booths were set up grouped by country
Of origin & many volunteers had elaborate
Displays & wore Natuonal costumes.
A stage alternated with dog performances
And a musical & dance (cloggers) groups.
The AKC Dog Museum features a Breed of
the dog & attracts visitors.


Susi December 30, 2012 at 9:59 am

Thanks very much, Mary! I’m delighted to hear about all the various dog activities – and we need to keep it up. “We” have a good “product,” and the public WANTS to come on board, I think. Most remember having a purebred as a child, many are being guilted into adopting from shelters, instead. I don’t think we’re in competition with those dogs and I applaud the person who takes in a down-on-her-luck dog, but that family has to be prepared for contingencies or that dog will end up in a shelter AGAIN.


carol turner December 30, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Prepared for contingencies???


Susi December 30, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Such as?


Bonnie December 30, 2012 at 5:29 pm

I took “contingencies” to mean the dog that is really cute and appears outgoing when seen at the shelter, but then when you get it home yit is discovered to be dangerously fearful of, say, men, and snaps at them. That is a contingency. Or the dog that is very, very sweet- until the mailman comes. Or is a cat killer. Or just will not stop barking or chasing. Most people going to the shelter to get a family dog have not done their research. Not only do they have no idea what to do should behaviorial issues pop up, but they also haven’t a clue as to how to pick out the right dog for their household.

Also, what about hidden medical issues? Maybe that animal suddenly comes down with such severe allergies that nothing medically can be done. Is that family financially ready, or able, to take that animal to this vet and that vet, this specialist and that specialist, to try and find a cure? Most will not. Most will take the animal back. For instance- there is a family right now who is desperately seeking answers for their purebred Collie that has such severe skin issues they don’t know what to do. They have had the finances to take this Collie to everyone they could think of and still this poor dog is in misery. What is the answer? Euthenation? They love this Collie but are at their wits end and do not know what to do.

This is “contingencies”.


Susi December 30, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Oh that makes total sense, Bonnie, and you’re right, of course. I wrote about this in a response to “Megan,” at The shelter and rescue world seems to overlook its recidivism rate, and fails both the dogs in their care and potential adoptees in not acknowledging and encouraging “contingencies.” Well put, Bonnie.


Jerry Dunham January 2, 2013 at 6:51 am

My involvement with dogs started with the AKC show world (Great Danes), but has evolved into more involvement with rescue. I have lived on both sides of the fence, and continue to, as do quite a few others that I know. I’m new to your blog, and take issue with what appears to be an anti-rescue bias. Responsible rescue groups and responsible breeder organizations and clubs need to work together for the good of the dogs, and, among other things, this means working to marginalize irresponsible members of both groups so that they are less effective and have less impact on public perception.

As far as recidivism, it’s misleading to lump shelters and rescue together. All but the best shelters do not have the resources to properly match pets with adopters or to evaluate pets in anything like a home setting. Most rescue groups do these things routinely. Recidivism is much higher at the typical shelter than at the typical rescue group.

Merry January 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm

We need to be careful about how we characterize the “shelter and rescue world.” Just as there are good breeders and bad breeders, there are good and bad rescues. A responsible 501c3 breed rescue, such as the Golden Retriever Club of Greater Los Angeles Rescue, is as picky about finding forever homes as a responsible breeder is when looking for puppy buyers. Home visits, interviews, and contracts are all part of the process. And if, despite all of that, it turns out to be a bad match, the Rescue takes back the dog. You can’t put respectable breed rescue in the same category as shelters that will sell a dog to anyone off the street.

Gwen December 31, 2012 at 3:01 pm

You have contingencies with any dog, purebred or not


Susi December 31, 2012 at 4:05 pm

I suspect with a well bred dog, Gwen, whose breeder is responsible, ethical and caring, the contingency is the breeder, himself or herself. Done properly, a breeder matches a puppy to a new owner or family with a contract that stipulates that for the entire life of that dog, if for any reason the owners can’t him it, the breeder gets the dog back. Most, and I assume all, AKC breed clubs have this as part of their Code of Ethics. A shelter dog goes back to a shelter if things don’t work out, with the risk of that dog becoming a “frequent flier.”

carilee moran December 30, 2012 at 11:21 am

You think the dog show fancy is blamless? Everybody is a saint, but yet we all keep pumping out dogs that cannot be born without Caesarean, dogs with allergies, dogs with impractical hair, dogs that are scared of their own shadow or thathave a hard on for the world, dogs that are “beautiful” but are structurally so unsound that they break down after only light sport use- or worse, can’t hunt, have so little social interest in people that they can only be trained by techniques used for wild animals, are useless for much of anything…. I have no use for animal rights freaks, but the dog fancy needs to look in the mirror too. What have we done to many of the breeds we have “developed” since their arrival? Why do people keep importing newer and rarer breeds from other countries to escape the “ruined ” breeds? Every dog show enthusiast needs to get over blaming only external forces and make purebred dogs desirable because they truly are better….and oh yes…..every breed club itself pushes this rescue-first stuff. It is not external, it is embedded in every club and drummed into their customer base.


Susi December 30, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I appreciate your comments, Carilee, and while I don’t think the fancy is blameless (which is why my article asks so many questions), I do take issues with a few of your remarks. You ask why people keep importing newer and rarer breeds from other countries to escape the “ruined ” breeds, but I don’t think that’s the case. The AKC has been trying to fast track parity with the FCI which recognizes 343 breeds compared to the AKC’s approximately 188. I suspect fanciers are importing dogs which interest them knowing that their recognition here in America isn’t far off. You also ask what we’ve “done” to breeds since their arrival here, and while I would concur that one or two breed trends puzzle me as I imagine they do you, I maintain in an article I wrote on the very subject that it would be a mistake to paint that topic with a very broad brush —>

Define “impractical hair?” I have a corded breed; nature saw to it that such a coat is highly practical for a dog as agile as this one living and working where this breed does. Has it been exaggerated for the show ring? Sure (what girl doesn’t get her hair done for prom?) but once outside the ring, my dogs are yard apes: cavorting, being silly and living large. This is true of most show dogs. And finally, every breed club pushing rescue is bad why?


Carri December 30, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Carilee, I am just curious which breed(s) you are referring to that “have so little social interest in people that they can only be trained by techniques used for wild animals”?


Alice December 30, 2012 at 3:59 pm

As an owner of a pure bred breed of dog, Carilee, I must say I am puzzled by your anger. My dog was bred for herding sheep, and has been well known in France for nearly a thousand years. This dog has, to be fair, exaggerated coat now that it is a “show dog” in nearly every country. But far from being riddled with allergies, health issues and fear, each breeding pair are health tested – if they have any level of hip problems, they are not bred. If there is a history of allergies, aggression, fearfulness, etc., they are not bred. It is a matter of integrity on the part of the breeder, who strives to produce sound dogs, in body and temperament. It is true that some dogs are not as sound as others, and it’s true that some breeds are problematic, but the responsible breeders (and there are many, many of them) want what is best for the breed. If you put up a dog that is not “sound” in the ring, you will be tossed out! Soundness is not something you can hide. A dog with a poor build cannot function properly. A dog that bites or refuses to let the judge handle it is not mentally able to be in the ring, and will be dismissed. A ribbon from a show judge is meaningless if the dog isn’t suitable for breeding. That ribbon then is just heartbreaking. The “dog fancy” is filled with caring, loving people, like me, who have a few dogs and they are family. Mine have my house and fenced yard to run, sleep on my bed if they like (and they are BIG dogs!), have an abundance of toys, are well socialized, have good manners, and are very happy. They travel with me, and I rarely go places to visit people if my dogs are not welcome. That’s my experience with most “in the fancy”. Despite what the public at large thinks, show dogs are not kept in sterile kennels and only trotted out for showing. They live in the lap of luxury, and a life enviable to many. I love dogs. I just happened to find that a herding breed best suits my personality, and so I decided to have dogs that compliment me and me them. Would I take a shelter dog? Sure! But I want the personality traits I KNOW I am getting with my dogs. I believe we all need to be better informed about the “other side” and why they are vilified or glorified. Educate yourself first hand before you judge.


Susi December 30, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Another thoughtful response, Alice, and the more I think about it, the more I wonder if Carilee has based her assessment of the dog fancy on the documentary, Pedigree Dogs Exposed.” There were some very, very troubling situations in that “shock-u-mentary” and if that’s the basis of her opinion, I see where she’s coming from. Sadly, the Kennel Club did nothing to defend responsible breeders and the lack of “going to bat” for them lead, I believe, to what we saw happen at Crufts.


Jeanne December 30, 2012 at 4:13 pm

While it is true that purebred dogs can have some issues that come from inbreeding and line-breeding, I do have an issue with saying that well bred dogs that are “structurally so unsound that they break down after only light sport use”. A show dog needs a lot of conditioning to show, often much more in a day than a pet dog gets in a whole week (or even month). Many show breeders even use their dogs or train them for what they were bred for, such as field work (retrieving in the field), lure coursing (for those that are bred for speed), and herding (handling sheep or other farm animals). These dogs are often doing exactly what they are bred for when they aren’t showing. Also, sound temperament is important in a show dog, as an unsound temperament would be nearly impossible to cover up when the dog is stressed out at the shows. Think of all those dogs that are out there, being petted by strangers, touched by judges in sensitive areas, and hanging out with other dogs, all intact (therefore dealing with females in season and males that want to get to them!) I’ve been to dog shows, many of them, and only once or twice saw a dog fight break out, only saw a couple of times of dogs getting away from their handlers when upset by their surroundings, and frankly there are far more dogs out there getting into fights in their own backyards than there are getting into fights at dog shows. As far as breed clubs pushing rescue first, who do you think even started breed rescues? Breed clubs do what they can to rescue their breeds, even the mixes sometimes, and get them into good homes. But we have to face it, most purebreds DON’T come from responsible breeders, and yet they do far more to try to get their chosen breeds out of bad situations and into good, forever homes. Look in your own newspaper sometime and see how many purebred dogs are advertised there for sale. Call them and ask them what they do to prove the quality of their dogs. Being AKC (or any other reputable kennel club) is no guarantee of a well bred dog, only that its parents are registered and therefore the pups can be. I can nearly always tell you that these “breeders” were only into the breeding for the money, not for the sake of the dogs! I have had 3 wonderful, well-bred dogs from responsible breeders that I had in my own home, and 1 poorly bred dog as well. The dogs from the responsible breeders kept in touch with me as much as possible over the years, the poorly bred dog only contacted my family when they were hoping to find a pup from one of their dogs pups, many years after we got our dog. The poorly bred dog we had had some temperament issues, and she died at the age of 9. Of my well-bred dogs, only the one died young, due to cancer, possibly because she had been intact for many years while showing. The one dog lived to see 13, the other dog is still going strong at nearly 8 years of age. And she is an active girl, still wanting to play ball and such (try that with a poorly bred, unsound dog of the same age bracket!) and living well with me in an apartment that allowed me to keep her because she was a well-bred dog who had no serious temperament issues. On the other hand, other people have been warned in my area about dogs acting up, being noisy, or even dangerous, about the chances of dogs being forced to leave their situations. And most of these dogs are from backyard breeders or pet stores (puppymill pups) and therefore are without any real knowledge of what their breeders dogs quality are. Few here are mixes, but those that are have been mostly rescues, and some of the purebreds are also rescues. Just goes to show you, there are people out there that are there for the good of the dog, not just into it for their own agenda.


Susi December 30, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Brilliantly said, Jeanne. I can’t, and wouldn’t, add as much as an apostrophe.


j harrison January 4, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Totally agree with you, Jeanne.


Peggy Richter December 31, 2012 at 8:06 am

One of the things AKC and purebred folk DON’T do is discuss the large % of breeds and purebred dogs that DON’T have to have C sections. That mixes can need them too. In other words, AKC has avoided a head to head comparison. OFA? what’s the % of greyhounds with HD vice the “average” mutt? While some shelter dogs can function as guide dogs, there’s a reason why breeding programs were established. The problem is that AKC has still focused on the conformation end rather than the whole dog. When the first dog ever earned every HX title AKC offered, a 1 paragraph announcement wasn’t put in the Gazette. Apparently this wasn’t of value to AKC — even though that dog happened to also be a Dual CHAMPION. How much political mileage could have been made by promoting that kind of thing? (and by the way, that dog is the sire of a search & rescue dog and two other dual champions).
We have lost “Lassie”. No, really — while a program with a purebred can result in a “everyone wants one” syndrome, isn’t that, in a more beneficial format WHAT WE WANT? We should WANT people to want a collie (like Lassie) or a GSD (like Rin tin tin or Bullet). AND we should be promoting the breeding of such dogs as well as making sure they end up in the right homes and people who get them have a good support system for management and training — and maybe even participating in AKC events. Instead, we see, day after day, the Animal Planet shows of bad dog owners, the daily ads by HSUS and ASPCA and the media blitz by PETA and we wonder why the American public has changed it’s views on purebreds? Purebred dog breeders aren’t perfect, but we need to point out what we do right and the value of a purebred — the WHOLE dog, not just those that happen to participate in a conformation beauty contest. Why not celebrate the gun dog trials for Springer Spaniels? push for a televised “best gun dog” competition among the spaniels (and yes, include the cockers) — and recognize that the field dogs have as much value as the conformation ones. Push for health and temperment — but also point out that the shelter dog has ZERO information on it’s health, temperment, etc and that the buyer who wants some guarentee would be best served by a purpose bred dog obtained from a breeder who provides information on health checks, can help them find an obedience club to help train and maybe point to a good vet for those health checks on THEIR dog.


Susi December 31, 2012 at 11:01 am

Great points, Peggy (wish I’d made them!!) It’s difficult to know if society influenced Hollywood, or the other way around. As far as I can tell, “Benji” was the first mixed breed to make it big. Until him, we had Asta, Toto, Lassie, Strongheart, Rin Tin Tin, and a few other dogs I’ve read about whose names escape me.

As for celebrating gun dog trials, I think our country is too sensitive to watch anything having to do with guns right now. Half the country wants them controlled as they are in England, the other half is digging in to keep their Second Amendment rights. I recently read a comment on someone else’s blog that felt the UK should change the name of that group, “gun dogs” into something else more relevant to what those breeds do now: therapy and service dogs. Evidently, the writer was unaware that many people still hunt….

I glad you wrote your comments are a great asset to this conversation.


Peggy Weigle December 31, 2012 at 11:56 am

I would like to weigh in as someone who grew up in the world of show dogs, had my AKC Professional Handler’s license in the 80s finishing many champions and obedience titles. Today, I run a private animal shelter. Several have made comments that when adopting a shelter animal, nothing is known about a dog’s health or temperment. No quite true. Many shelters, including mine, Animal Humane New Mexico, use the ASPCA “SAFER” testing protocol to assess a dog’s suitability for adoption. We also use the ASPCA’s “Meet Your Match” system which catagorizes a dog’s energy level and motivators (food, people, own drummer). Based on that system, dogs are color-coded. Potential adopters are required to fill out a life-style survey so that we can match their life style with the right dog. Our return rate is a low 5% of total adoptions – we adopt an average of 4,200 dogs and cats per year of which about 20% are purebreds. And while we may not have generations of health information, I can say that we see plenty of health issues with purebreds (entropian, heart murmurs, lymphomas, etc) and relatively few in the mixed breeds we take in. I think there is room in the world for purebreds and mixed breeds. I am currently competing successfully in agility with both my mixed breed and JRT. So please don’t disparage shelters and the quality of the pets we have to offer and the care with which we go about our work. We are helping to manage a humane solution to pet overpopulation, the majority of which are mixed breeds, but plenty of purebreds so to people who ultimately gave them up to a shelter to rehome. I own two such purebreds. My wish is for breeders to do a better job screening the people they sell to and to microchip their puppies so surrendered purebreds can be traced back to their breeders. And if the pet is not going to be shown, that they are sold with an agreement to spay/neuter them so we don’t have so many unwanted pets in the world. Come walk a day in our shoes.


Susi December 31, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Thanks for sharing your remarks,Peggy, and for the work you do in rescue. I hope my article didn’t suggest that I’m opposed to rescue work, I’m not. I believe – and wrote in the article – that there are places for both purebred and rescue, often in the same home. It’s the vilification of purebred dogs and their breeders which concerns me, the lack of balance I’m detecting in the culture in how we view the fancy, and certain breeds in it. I applaud your success rate, congratulate you on running two dogs successfully in agility, and appreciate your viewpoint.


Gwen December 31, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Thank you, Peggy. You can’t really separate dogs based on “purebred” or “rescue”- because some fall in both categories. Having worked with shelters that euthanize high numbers of animals… well, it breaks your heart. Dogs will be euthanized whether they are old, young, mixed, or purebred. Some even have microchips but were owner-surrender.

I am not against responsible breeders. I do sort of wish everyone would take a break from breeding until we can get the pet overpopulation sorted out.


Susi December 31, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Gwen, I agree, but where I disagree is on the issue of overpopulation which I now believe is largely regional. I talked about this in a piece I wrote a few months ago:

Peggy Richter January 1, 2013 at 1:57 pm

of course some purebreds end up in rescue. But when at least 80% of the shelter dogs are NOT purebred (using the “standard” arguement of 20% purebreds), the problem is NOT “purbred dog breeders”. I’m not “disparaging” shelter dogs. I wish those involved in rescue/shelter could say the same about purebreds. It’s simply plain genetics. Certain traits ARE genetic. You have better success with selection than you do with “grab bag chance” at a shelter. That is, after all, the original reason WHY there were “landraces” or types even before studbooks were utilized and conformation shows came into being.
As for gun dogs, I don’t think it’s necessary to appease those opposed to hunting (appeasement is how we got in this box in the first place). However, one could construct a “reality show” type test without using birds. The dogs could be tested using an alternative retrieval item (a shot bumper launched the same as for a clay pigeon for example). Ditto for herding (and I’ve yet to see any serious challenge by randomly selected mixes for the Border Collie on the USBCHA field or for tending dogs in HGH or French style tending events). — Again, PURPOSE breeding is what created dog breeds in the first place. Even “border jacks” are purpose bred and depend on the purebred parents/grandparents to be available for the genetics necessary.
If conformation remains the venue of the pro handler or the person with enough money to campaign a dog, it will never be the venue that wins the public’s support. Again, lots of people could see themselves owning “Lassie” or Roy Rodger’s “Bullet” — they were portrayed as the dogs of reasonably “ordinary” people, even if the portrayals were sometimes less than realistic. If those involved in purebreds want to persuade the American public that purebreds really do have some advantages over the random bred dogs, then we need to present them in a way that shows that the average person should want them and why.

Diane Amble December 31, 2012 at 11:07 am

Carilee— Why the attempt to bring negativity onto such a well written piece? Life is filled with imperfections and even the most careful breeding programs will produce “a mistake” but who is to say it is a mistake? God works in mysterious ways. Who are we to judge others? their efforts? and the animal themselves as being inferior? Rarely have I encountered any dog that is useless or with little interest in people. Even blind and crippled dogs make great companions giving their owners a reason to get up in the morning to care for another and share the day. Many breeds are aloof and are loyal to only their master and that is a desired trait in many a breed. As for useless hair? fur? Is the hair on top of your head useless? or just pretty? No, the expression of hair or fur is from the Creator and we should marvel rather than criticize. No club will be perfect whether a dog club or a garden club. That is how it is with people… we are IMPERFECT. Dogs on the other hand are far closer to perfect than any of us humans even a dog that has hereditary afflictions will outshine most humans every single day of his life and hopefully one of us will be graced with his presence in our life.


Tracy R. December 31, 2012 at 5:04 pm

This language of “we” that puts blame on the collective. I am tired of it.

Heavens….I am a breeder of purebred dogs with very long hair and the potential for attitude problems when improperly socialized. I am SICK and TIRED of the demonization of “we”. It is one thing when it comes from the ignorant, but when it comes from within and people who should know better, it is maddening. *I* am reasonable….*I* am responsible, as are the lion’s share of the “we”. People need to stop demonizing “we” and “us”, evaluating the lot based on the lowest denominator of infrequent abominations, or WE will lose it all….our dogs and our liberties.

Sorry to launch into a rant on your blog, Susi, but I share your angst. Any smidgeon of optimism that things will work out fades a little more every single day.


Carol January 3, 2013 at 1:16 am

Let’s see – more and more children are suffering with severe allergies. When I was a child, I was an anomaly because I was so ill. Now it’s common place. What you consider newer breeds may, in reality, be older than your own. Ever see a Canaan dog? One of the oldest breeds around – yet fairly new to AKC in the last 20 years or so. Maybe the dogs that have no interest in doing what they were bred to do is because they’re NOT ALLOWED!!!! The ARses have put so many restrictions on what anyone can do. What’s impractical hair? Maybe it’s what is liked or needed for the job? Dogs that are scared of their shadows are usually MADE that way by external forces, not genetics – just like kids. What breeds are ruined? There are several with problems – but, in case you’re not aware or your head is still in the sand, their parent clubs are working tirelessly to try and eradicate those problems.

No Carilee – you can NOT paint all breeders with your brush. In fact – you can’t paint MOST of them. Even commercial breeders are interested and aiming for healthy pets. Show people HAVE to – or their dogs won’t win in the long run. Get real. Purebred dogs ARE better – they’re predictable, dependable to do what they were bred to do, AND for people with allergies to animals – the ONLY way to go! So – take your anger where it belongs – the H$U$, PETA, Best Friends, ASPCA – they have an agenda – and that’s to separate you and me from our best friends, AND ALL OTHER ANIMALS!!!! Can you say veganism??? NO animals in your life? That’s their goal – that IS THEIR AGENDA!


Kate December 30, 2012 at 12:38 pm

We’re simply a footnote in a larger political agenda. Any time we indulge in or tolerate class warfare of any kind, we empower the people who are trying to bring our sport to an end. How many of us cry foul at the attacks on purebred dogs, but applaud when the target is “gas guzzlers” or “Wall Street”?


Susi December 30, 2012 at 1:32 pm

I’m so afraid you’re right, Kate. I do see parallels and it’s occurred to me that if “they” can get away violations with us, it’s a slippery slope to targeting anyone under the guise of “the greater good.” Thanks for writing this, truly!


Randie December 30, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Thank you for answering Carilee so eloquently–and I too would like to hear a reply to that last question.
I imagine you have seen a lot Carilee to become so cynical–and I am sure you have your reasons. I still hope that one day we can unite with each other and stop blaming each other for what we think has become of our dogs. We have enough issues with the AR agenda, don’t you think?


Susi December 30, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Well put, Randie. Thanks!


Yvonne December 30, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Impractical hair? Importing new dogs is important in rare breeds to diversify genetics and expand the gene pool to prevent issues. In purebreds dogs you have to breed responsibly or!! you end up loosening a breed .Extinction means you lost
that breed forever!


Susi December 30, 2012 at 1:30 pm

A great point I wish I’d thought of, Yvonne, and I’m glad you made it!!


Sharon December 30, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Excellent article. I am on a committee whose purpose is to see if the regulations concerning breeders, both commercial and hobby are adequate. Some of the far left groups wants us to add more rules and regulations. It seems that some want to do away with breeders completely, but on our committee there are people who have and use common sense. We have found that our communities do not follow all the rules and regulations that are on the books now, The reason being is that it takes money to hire people and to do the investigations necessary to fulfill the rules that are on the books now. I assume that this is a problem in more than my state. Most communities have adequate laws already on the books, they do not have the manpower and money to administrate them. We as breeders must get involved on our local level. We need to help bring back common sense. If you do not get involved, then you can not point fingers to others as the cause. In this area inaction is action for the other side.


Susi December 30, 2012 at 1:44 pm

You’re spot on, Sharon. I’ve been “ruminating” for some time now that perhaps it’s time that dog fanciers start running for low level political positions (and as soon as the words form in my head, I realize that most of us lack the time). I’m not sure what the answer is, but we have no representation right now, and certainly not from the Dept. of Agriculture. Joining lobbying groups is all well and fine, but they don’t get to vote, and these days, such groups aren’t held in high regard, anyway. We quite literally need to be sitting at the table. And you are absolutely correct, as well, in your observation that more laws won’t help when the existing ones aren’t upheld. We who lived in Littleton at the time of Columbine saw this with regards to gun control. I’m really glad you wrote and shared such fine observations.


Alice December 30, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Unfortunately, we cannot legislate “common sense”. My fear is that once a law is on the books, it can be changed with little effort. For example…it seems reasonable to say that no breeder can have more than 10 breeding age dogs at one time. It does, right? Think about that. A breeder can have 3 intact bitches and 2 intact males of 2 years or older, and that is already up to half the maximum. Now one of the bitches has 5 puppies and another gives birth to 3. If the pups are not sold by age 6 months, then suddenly, the breeder is over the limit, and subject to having the animals confiscated? Suitability of breeding stock is not usually apparent until the dog or bitch reaches at least one year of age. Some breeders keep their retired dogs intact, though they would no longer breed that animal. So…now that breeder has kept to the “law” of 10 breedable animals. And now, the legislative body thinks ten is too many. Without much fuss, they can change that law to say a breeder may only have five breeding dogs. What do we do then?
I maintain that the laws on the books are enough. We need to educate the public, and enforce properly the laws already there.


Susi December 30, 2012 at 4:27 pm

And I agree!


Anna December 30, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Dogs trained with techniques used for wild animals? Of course! Big cats, elephants, bears and even goldfish are trained with clickers. Need I really say more?


Susi December 30, 2012 at 2:30 pm

My chuckle for the day, thanks, Anna! I remain curious about that part of her comments.


Susan M. Traynor December 30, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Susi, you don’t know me, but I faithfully read your blog and have decided to comment this time.
I am so spitting mad that I don’t know if this will come out intelligently. I am a dog and cat owner. Most of my cats have been pure bred starting with the Siamese cat my mother gave to me after I got straight “A” reportcards one year in elementary school. I was a bored student but sure worked for that cat who came from (gasp!) a pet shop. All my dogs over the years have been pure breeds as well from Weimaraners, to Rottweilers, to Toy Fox Terrier, to Border Collies, up to the present Presa Canario (don’t ask) and Jack Russell Terrier. Was always engaged in whatever Dog Sport the dogs showed interest in as well. My kids grew up with like minded children having an exclusively handled Fly Ball team as well.

With Tom Visack as head honcho at USDA, being a shill for H$U$ plus his wife Christie running for office (but loosing HOORAY!) , accepting a campaign donation from H$U$ it all seems to be a common theme of Govt. to legislate breeders out of business. Two days after Sarah Conant left H$U$ as a Litigation Lawyer, she was hired to be the head of enforcement of regulations by APHIS. Trust you are familiar with the latest pending Proposal from there.

This is getting tooooo long for a simple comment. Sorry bout that and I haven’t even begun where this is going.


Susi December 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm

I am utterly honored, Susan, to merit your faith in continuing to read “DogKnobit.” And I’m so pleased that you decided to write this time because EVERY word you wrote is true. As far as I can tell, there are no “checks and balances” to hold the Dept. of Agriculture accountable, and the conflict of interest in hiring Sarah Conant is so blatant that it’s such times I had a huge fortune of my own so I could challenge this hire. Like you, I’m hopping mad, and have only words to use. If I wrote what I REALLY felt, it would look like this: %$#@!$#@!!!


jan dykema December 30, 2012 at 4:22 pm

I sent this to Dog News.. I hope you don’t mind and I hope they contact you to publish it.. ( they should love the Skye!!!! Thank you for showcasing my breed The Bull Terrier. I am proud to say that we won the “best booth in show award and some money! This should be published in every publication that has anything to do with dogs..Brilliant Suzi..
and to those who say we breed ‘unhealthy dogs” poot on that.. dogs live better and longer lives than ever.. and part of that is thanks to the AKC Canine Health Foundation where research is done to benefit ALL dogs.
Glad to see Susan here .. she is a wealth of knowledge


Susi December 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Oh my goodness, Jan, I don’t mind, and I’m humbled that you liked “Tipping Point” enough to send it on to Dog News. Thank YOU!


chienblanc4csi January 1, 2013 at 10:19 am

Time to come clean . . . I sent this link to the AKC Facebook page, and to my parent club’s FB page as well, I hope you don’t mind, Susi. I would like very much to re-print this in my parent club’s magazine as well, in place of my regular legislative column. I’ll contact you privately. Your thoughts run parallel to mine almost entirely. I hope it isn’t too late to turn this around before we end up like the UK. Two key personal experiences popped into my head while reading this, and following the comments.

1) A colleague of mine was keeping the spouse of a client entertained while she waited for a business meeting to end. He knew this woman was an animal lover, a volunteer for a humane society, so he handed her a stack of photos of my dogs. “Oh, I love dogs!” she said. My colleague, being young and naive, made a terrible mistake by letting it be known that the photos were taken at a hunt test. (PBGVs, hunting rabbits, ‘the thrill of the chase, but never the kill’ at a beagle club.) This woman turned white as a ghost, and literally dropped the book of photos as if it were on fire, and said she couldn’t possibly look at another photo! She is the rabbit expert at the HS, devoting at least 4 hours a day to the care of nearly a dozen ‘unadoptable’ bunnies, and any of my colleague’s explanation of the pampered existence of beagle pen rabbits only dug him deeper into what she saw as a bunny torture chamber. She is a vegan, and my young colleague is a lifetime deer hunter – opposite poles of existence. The irony here is the fact that this woman’s husband (providing a comfortable living that allowed her enough free time to devote to the rabbits) was the marketing director for our state’s largest beef packing company.

2) Our local humane society calls itself a shelter, although it is really a retail pet store, no animal control services provided. Several years ago this humane society bought out a commercial breeder who wanted to retire, whose family didn’t want to continue (who would, these days?). Over a period of a year they bought almost 1,000 dogs, mostly puppies, and according to inside information, actually bred a few litters at the ‘shelter’. Accident? No one is saying. It was a highly publicized and controversial move, as you can imagine. I have met many, many people who adopted dogs from this buyout, with their purebred and ‘designer’ dogs. The new owners commonly announce that their dog is a “rescue” even before they tell you its name, a source of pride that they saved a dog from an imagined life of horror, although only a handful were brood bitches. One day I met a nice family with 3 dogs, one of which was an extremely shy beagle female, whose most distinctive feature, aside from her totally petrified attitude, was a thick stump of a tail. I figured it was a birth defect, or possibly a badly healed injury. But while this poor dog was huddled under my park bench, behind my ankles, trying to make herself as small as possible, the owner approached to tell me proudly that she was a ‘rescue’, and the breeder – that bastard – had cut her tail off to make it easier to ‘force breed’ her. They knew this to be true because the shelter told them so. They were socializing her at the dog park. Oh dear, this poor baby, she should NEVER have been there, I tried to explain that she would be much happier at home, but the owner wasn’t even listening. It didn’t take me long to figure out where this poor girl had come from. I think I know what happened – extremely shy dog continually plasters herself to the back corner of her run, and the shelter finds it hard to sell her. So, they make up a heartbreaking story to appeal to the softest heart, and it worked. The problem with this is that these very nice, well meaning people got so many ‘atta boys’ from the public that they kept on telling this sad story, while this poor baby just never got better, never socialized with anything but tree trunks and human ankles for months and months. I overheard this same story being told every time I was there, and figure that the story is now widely accepted by many hundreds of dog owners in a kind of twist on the telephone game.

There were so many important concepts about our changing dog culture pointed out by these incidents, so many indications of the ugly labels we are facing as experienced dog owners, trainers, breeders, experts in animal husbandry, and especially dog show exhibitors. When someone here, in this comment section, claims that breeders are creating dogs that “have so little social interest in people that they can only be trained by techniques used for wild animals,” I feel totally disheartened and entertain thoughts of becoming a survivalist or ‘doomsday prepper’ with my little pack of wonderful – super friendly, sociable, sound, and hard working – purebred dogs that have actually been trained with just such methods mentioned. Where does this kind of twisted logic, total nonsensical association, unbelievable ignorance come from? From the dog fancy itself? I think we do have to take some of that responsibility. We have been far too parochial, allowed this kind of nonsense to proliferate, kept up this kind of ivory tower existence.

Yes, Susi, we have been too busy, and also quite naive. I am not a breeder, but am contemplating a litter with my young SAR girl – this is a daunting task, and I don’t even need to research pedigrees or choose a sire – her breeder will do that. All I am looking at is the physical process for ONE litter. Every time I do a little more research into all that is involved, and consider what it takes to do this while still maintaining my necessary paying work, taking care of a home and attendant family responsibilities, keeping up with my social life, my volunteer training classes at the dog club, following the bombardment of animal legislation that requires a personal flak jacket – well, I really do understand how this came to be. The dog fancy of today is not the same as at the turn of the previous century, when Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge was a leading dog fancier, part of our foundation in dog showing and breeding. Staff? Kennel help? Oh yeah, not part of today’s reality. I just don’t know how long people can keep this up, especially when being vilified and harassed at every turn.


Susi January 1, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Your response, Char, SHOULD be a guest blog entry, it’s that good. Thanks for “coming clean,” by the way, I’m honored you liked the article enough to share. It IS daunting, overwhelming, really, what we have to overcome. I have to reel myself in and remember the advice I give my own kids: An apple isn’t eaten as a whole, it’s eaten by small bites, one at a time. If we each did something, anything (and I’m beginning to think it should include a run for public office, no matter how small) I have to think we can turn the tide over the next twenty years (and yes, I think it’ll take that long).


chienblanc4csi January 4, 2013 at 8:04 pm

I have thought along the same lines, Susi, about some of us running for office. There are a lot of strong and capable people in the dog fancy – with hard earned elephant hide like mine – who could do some good for so many animal lovers/constituents. I wish I were 20 years younger, when I had the physical energy to run for office. But I can get involved in politics – as legislative liaison for my breed club, I have learned an important fact – lawmakers everywhere are eager to listen to us, regardless of party. I wish I had kept count of the number of times lawmakers have said “where were YOU when we were writing this bill?” The thing we need to remember is this: HSUS is THERE in our place, speaking for us, against us, about us, telling a terrible story about us to lawmakers and the public. That’s what they do. We can do the same, don’t you think? Make ourselves available, share our expertise, many of us can take one little bite of the political apple, don’t worry about swallowing it whole.

Amanda December 30, 2012 at 4:53 pm

While I’m not an AKC exhibitor, it still hit home. This hits home for a lot of us who follow this path already and NEED help. It honestly brought tears to my eyes because it’s something I’ve been thinking long time and unable to put it into words.

Thank you SO much for putting it into words.


Susi December 30, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Oh gosh, Amanda, I didn’t mean to bring a tear to your eye, but if I’m honest, I’ll confess to having gotten choked up as I wandered from one breed ring to another at Eukanuba. At the moment, I have no magic bullet that will help us push back at those who would be delighted to see our purebreds become a memory, either through ignorance, malicious intent or misinformation. I can only keep writing, but have to write about a variety of topics to keep the important messages fresh (who notices a dripping faucet after awhile?) I appreciate your comment and we’ll just keep on “keeping on.”


Amanda December 30, 2012 at 6:01 pm

No, it’s a good thing. It’s what makes us all human. The malicious intent from “the other side” and their hateful remarks – they don’t realize those of us who are responsible fanciers, breeders and dog owners aren’t really that much different but they’re so close minded they don’t want to BELIEVE we can work together.

I would LOVE to see an end to BSL for ALL breeds. I would love to see responsible breeders, owners and fanciers recognized for what they do to help THEIR breed and a plethora of other animals and not be judged for what lives in their home. Maybe it’s just a dream but it’d be a far nicer reality.


Rod December 30, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Your worry about the slide into politically correct public responses to efforts designed to displace or eliminate the purebred dog fancy is not paranoia. It’s an ongoing assault and a real danger, but for most folks busy with their shows & husbandry, it’s kind of like watching the ocean recede, while unaware that it’s a sign of a tsunami. Something’s wrong, but what is it, where do you go to correct it, and how do you address it?
As an example, the issue of rehoming dogs from great distances created a splash on the west coast in Portland a week or so ago. Nice to find homes for about a hundred dogs that likely otherwise would be euthanized, but what would be nicer is addressing the problem that created excess dogs in the area from which they came. Virtually no one is paying attention to stopping the creation of mixed breed/strays that ultimately move north to areas that have already reached reasonable local control of any stray animal problems, and this rehoming phenomenon is in much higher gear on the east coast – and each episode of relocated adoption is another brick in the public perception foundation of a politically correct and accepted “solution.”
What’s the result? The animal rights outcry that “purebreds displace adoptable dogs” crazily has morphed into adoptable out of state dogs literally displacing purebred local animals…but there is little sympathy for breeders, because, like the tsunami tide watcher, we breed and show dogs rather than talk to legislators, the media, city and county officials; and we don’t take the time to do the kind of public outreach that captures the imagination and attention of the public – adults or children.
This issue is not simple, for a more in-depth view, go to
and watch Dr. Goldman’s account of what’s going on (scroll to Arnold Goldman’s presentation) – it’s fascinating, and a growing problem.
And know that this is just one example of the Hydra that is after the dog fancy. We need to pay attention and get out of our kennels and living rooms to take positive action that registers with federal, state, county and city authorities; we need to reach out to the public in our communities in ways that attract them to the value of interests in purebred dogs. In the absence of action, the dog fancy as we know it will indeed become a footnote of history.


Susi December 30, 2012 at 5:13 pm

A truly excellent comment, Rod, very well worded and I’m honored that you shared it here. I believe I saw Dr. Goldman’s account not very long ago and was astonished. I would agree that this is a phenomenon of which few are aware – and it’s time to shine the light on it. I have this crazy notion in my head that we need to take a page from such disparate groups such as the Christian Coalition, radical leftists from the 60’s, and others: Starting out small and at local levels, we run for office to ensure that our interests are represented. We can’t rely on lobbyists, we have to roll up our sleeves and do it ourselves. Hmmmmm, could be an article in this down the road….


Pat Beach December 30, 2012 at 5:03 pm

I too was at the show and my first time at a show that big. I loved it. I thought that the meet the breed was a terrific venue for any breed. Our dogs were the Miniature American Sheperds and the booth and presentation were terrific. Thanks for your overview, makes good sense!


Susi December 30, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Welcome to Eukanuba, Pat! I’m tickled that you liked it as much as I did, and btw, I really did stop at the Miniature America Shepherd booth (where I learned why they’re not called Miniature Australian Shepherds) and was thrilled to make a fool of myself over one of the dogs there. Thanks for reading the article, and for leaving a comment! Now, we need to get you to Westminster. A different experience, in my view, but a “must attend” event.


Kara December 30, 2012 at 5:10 pm

As a lifelong dog owner/trainer but novice to conformation in 2010 let me give you my perspective. When the breeder said she thought I could get a CH on my pup, I took some classes and headed off to fulfill a dream I had carried through my life since I was 12 years old and saw my first dog show. Our second show we beat a professional handler and earned our first point. All of that joy was destroyed when the PH started screaming some lie at me and continued terrorizing me for the next 5 months until I walked away, just points away from that CH. The AKC was at first receptive until the AKC rep they assigned to help me ringside turned out to be a friend of the PH and set me up in front of a judge. The AKC acknowledged that I was correct but said they couldn’t “protect my safety”. My pup ultimately finished with a PH. Friends of mine had their 2 sons showing. Both boys have been verbally attacked by 2 adults in the ring for absolutely nothing. They attended the Nationals in our breed and found it like being in high school. If you didn’t have a dog from a certain breeder, no one was interested in giving you the time of day. And with my situation with the PH and the boys’ experiences in the ring, not one person stepped in to help. In fact, I was told no one would help me because they didn’t want that PH to target them. So now I have a dog with the abilities for agility. I go to agility lessons & all I hear is that he is a “hoity toity” show dog & can’t learn agility even tho he was the only one in the class who learned every piece of equipment quickly & without tugging or treats but for the love of working. I left agility after he was attacked at class & instead of fighting back, beautifully herded that biting little dog right to my feet. I tried herding lessons & again heard the “hoity toity” show dog remark even tho he did beautifully in the field despite my lack of natural abilities to match his. I’ve tried to talk to others in these fields but no one is interested in helping or mentoring. They all seemed concerned we may actually be competition to them. I am totally disgusted. I have always trained my dogs and they have been the best of companions who could be taken anywhere. And that’s what I am going back to in my life. I fully understand why “pet owners” have no interest in formal training or competition. Just go to any show – agility, conformation, obedience trials — and see how many people will answer your questions or have any interest in helping you. It will be few if any.


Susi December 30, 2012 at 5:26 pm

I hear you, Kara. I don’t doubt a word of what you’ve said and sadly, I’ve heard from a few others over the years who’ve had equally awful experiences. It’s difficult to defend the fancy in light of such anecdotes, but at the same time, I believe that such awful behavior on the part of professionals or competitors is a hazard in any competitive sport. Competition sometimes invites individuals whose entire self worth is tied up in the success of their dog, and it’s a bad situation for all concerned. I try to encourage “newbies” to gravitate to reasonable people, those who have their feet (and their heads) grounded, but when one is brand spanking new, it’s tough to know who those folks are. Oddly enough, I find that some breeds seem to attract this more than others. Go figure. What distresses me most about your story is that you didn’t find relief and now feel drummed out. I can’t say I blame you and I wish I knew your breed and area so that I could help find someone of integrity to shepherd you through shark infested waters – and if you’re game, contact me privately and we’ll go from there. You’ve given me a lot to think about, Kara. There’s an article in this.


Lotta D December 30, 2012 at 10:28 pm

I feel bad for this person too. But you know what has happened a lot? The good kind grounded people who *would* help a newbie are no longer in the show ring. I’m one of them who left because I realized after well over 30 years and producing some really nice and a couple of top dogs that I didn’t like the show people I was now surrounded by and I wasn’t having any fun, and neither were my dogs. I see no point in paying to enter a show where its known before entries are in who will take the points, where dirty tricks are the norm, where newbies have to learn to cheat to fit in, and where AKC will do zip and neither will the breed clubs offering the shows.
I mostly don’t attend shows anymore because seeing how the people act, what goes on and is done to the dogs as ‘normal’ and then what wins just leaves me feeling ill. And I say that based on knowing what is going on in grooming, and what many breeds should look like and no longer do if they are going to win.


KolTuv December 31, 2012 at 11:27 am

I am an owner/handler/breeder of a rare breed as well as the president of our breed specific rescue network. I show in the southwest. I feel for Kara and am so thankful I didn’t experience the same thing. In fact, my experience in my tiny breed is exactly the opposite. We have a dedicated group of people willing to travel to each other’s “home” shows. We all revel in each others wins. So much so that when going into the ring recently one of my best friends in the breed who was trying to get the last 2 points needed for a championship cheerfully said “try to lose”, I as cheerfully responded “I’ll do my best!”. And I did – lose that is- and was nearly as happy for her and her championship as I was when I had won BOS the day before.

The perspective from a tiny rare breed is even scarier. Just keeping the breed alive and healthy is such a tall mountain that adding in all of the other issues makes me sometimes wonder why…and then I glance at one of my dogs and know.

Thanks for this insightful blog Susi.


Susi December 31, 2012 at 11:30 am

You’re so right, KolTuv, perspective from a rare and/or uncommon breed is a bit different. I find myself wondering if certain breeds invite a particular kind of person – I’d like to not think this way. But sadly, Kara’s isn’t the first comment I’ve gotten like hers. We can do better.


chienblanc4csi January 1, 2013 at 12:43 pm

I totally agree with this observation. I came into the breed ring via obedience, and then agility, and after many years, have noticed that a particular breed’s typical temperament can often be tied closely to the people on the other end of the leash. I won’t go into detail, but will say that in my experience starting out with a ‘new’ AKC breed about 20 years ago, it became clear that there is a good reason why people choose the breeds they do – a certain agreeable-ness in temperament. My breed is a pack hound – even the people are ‘pack’ oriented, sociable, eager to share and cooperative. It’s not an accident, and it isn’t done by ‘looks’ alone.

But always remember, it takes two. It may sound trite, but a compliment is golden, a supportive statement, a question asked with humility goes a long way towards smoothing one’s own path. Admiration of another handler’s dog – even if the only thing you like is the color – will be very disarming, and the other person will not be defensive from the start. Yeah, there will always be intense competition and people who are poor losers – even in my own breed, the owners and handlers are not always so nice to each other. Hold your head up high and don’t let poor sportsmanship of others discourage you from pursuing your dreams, they all started somewhere.


Susi January 1, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Well put, Charlotte.

Competition, I’ve come to decide, brings out both the worst and the best in us. Our breeds have standards, but sadly, we exhibitors don’t when it comes to exemplary behavior. The Golden Rule is old school, but as far as I’m concerned, never went “out of style.” The difference a kindness can make – wow.

Charlee December 30, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Brilliant as always………..And the hubby called it insightful and true.


Susi December 30, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Husband approval. Now I HAVE arrived. Grin. Thanks, Charlee, and congratulations in your brilliant choice of a smart husband.


jan dykema December 30, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Brilliant article…I think I was migrating towards the “rescue snob” end of the spectrum, despite having purchased pure bred bull terriers in the past. The article opened my mind and made me shift position on that spectrum. I will continue my rescue work, but will now also consider getting that show-quality bull terrier I have wanted for so long, and without the guilt I was starting to feel for wanting a show dog. I sensed my position was emotional, not logical, but couldn’t articulate why. This article convinced me that my guts were right. One can rescue dogs and still own a show dog. Both have merit, and value, and both are necessary. And I am sick to death of one group of people (government employees) telling the rest of us what we can and can’t do. Thanks Jan Dykema.

posted on FB with link to your article.. this should make you feel GREAT.. I know it did me. We can bring people around..


Susi December 30, 2012 at 5:53 pm

My goodness, Jan, if I do nothing else ever, knowing that something I wrote gave someone a bit of perspective is be reason enough for me to leave this earth proud. Thank you for letting me know this!


jan dykema December 30, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Don’t leave yet!!! LOL there is work to be done and fun to be had!


Susi December 30, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Oh, no worries. I have two kids I have to torment into advanced decrepitude


puremayhem December 30, 2012 at 7:11 pm

I think the way conformation shows/breeders are affecting breeders, mainly fanciers of that breed stray away from. A majority of the dogs are overdone, have structural issues, can’t even do the job that they were originally bred to do. Some dogs that I’ve seen with ‘CH’ or even ‘GCH’ in front of their name, I cringe knowing that that dog will be bred and produce more dogs like it. I like purebred dogs, just not the type that you speak of.


Susi December 30, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Love your blog name, but let me throw a challenge your way: prove to me that the “majority” of dogs in the show ring today in America are overdone, have structural issues and can’t do the jobs for which they were bred. Is this your opinion? Someone else’s? Do you have statistical proof? Have you ever attended a herding dog’s national specialty where dogs that are in the show ring one day are herding sheep the next? Have you attended a Newfoundland national specialty where the dogs must exhibit water prowess?

Do you imagine that purebreds produced by mom & pop in the backyard are healthier? How about mixed breeds – you don’t think they get cancer, hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, cardiac issues, etc? Purebred health is monitored by each respective breed club. Who monitors and reports the health of a mutt? And which average mixed breed owner recognizes the signs of slipping patellas, a wonky hip or broken pasterns?

In your current blog, you wrote, “I like taking dog pictures, but I get extremely frustrated when the camera body I have isn’t capable of capturing what I want.” Welcome to the world of the responsible breeder. We love our breeds, love our dogs as individuals, and work toward capturing the very best, sound and healthy dogs we can. Do you throw out your camera, or strive to improve yourself? And yes, a camera has no feelings, but few dogs born to responsible breeders suffer from the BAER, OFA, CERF and other health tests, good nutrition, careful breeding plans,and loving socialization that they ALL get, not just the promising puppies. So PureMayhem, please tell me how you arrived at your assessment?


puremayhem January 1, 2013 at 3:20 pm

I’m not saying the case is true for all of the breeds in the show ring, but I’ve seen many in the showring that I’m less impressed by. I’d rather go to a ‘working’ breeder, which there are plenty of reputable working breeders producing impressive specimens of their breed that will never see a showring, or may not even do well in the ring. But maybe this is my performance perspective bias, which is the opposite extreme of confo bias. 🙂 This might be a forever battle between performance/working versus confo. Being that my breed I’ve had all my life are only produced ‘reputably’ (from a confo persons perspective) from confo breeders is the exact reason why I am getting out of my breed. Most of the dogs have such straight angles and all the breeders still act surprised when all their dogs have LP. Just one of the many, many, many problems I see.

To your comment about the camera, I would rather have a rugged camera body with a great performance, producing the result that I’m looking for. Rather than an exceptional looking camera but that fails are producing any product worthwhile.


Susi January 1, 2013 at 3:45 pm

You could be right, PureMayhem, the conformation and performance worlds often butt heads over proper breed type, i.e., field Labradors versus conformation Labs. In the end, I care most that people have the choice to select the dog, mutt or purebred, that suits them and their lifestyles so that the dog “sticks” with its forever home. What’s happening, however, is well intentioned laws are hurting the very people who’ve been getting it right. In their efforts to curb commercial for-profit breeders, legislators have crafted language that would be impossible for a dedicated breeder to meet. We live in homes, raise our puppies in that home environment, and “hosing down the walls” isn’t an option for the person who doesn’t raise their dogs on tile and stainless steel. Painting all breeders with a broad brush is as wrong as suggesting that all purebreds in shelters were put there by breeders.


puremayhem January 1, 2013 at 6:06 pm

I feel that that is an entirely different problem.

Norman Epstein January 4, 2013 at 9:42 am

There are in fact two standards, the official standard and the show standard i.e., what is popular at a given time. If that was not the case then how do you explain the aberrations we now see in the show ring? Such as the AKC German Shepherd Dog which is for all intent and purpose a mental and physical cripple barely able to support itself while walking on its hocks as if weights had tied to its testicles all the while earning championships. The ill-tempered AKC Cocker Spaniel with its now domed head. This once a happy go lucky breed now voted by vet techs and groomers as the breed most likely to bite them. The AKC Neapolitan Mastiff, gladiator dog, you got to be kidding. Hell it now can barely see and get out of its own way. Do you really think that that is the way they once looked? In fact they once looked nothing like that. The AKC Fox Terrier now so large it can’t follow a fox down its tunnel. The AKC Irish Setter whose has lost a great deal of substance with a coat that now drags the ground with nerves that are so shot that it is not much good for anything except trotting around a ring, the AKC Bulldog that now needs surgery to breathe and breed and give birth and can’t walk in the heat of summer because it may have a stroke. It is indeed difficult to think that this breed not very long ago had so much endurance and was so agile it was used for bull baiting. The Shar Pei now described as a breed of dog known for its distinctive wrinkles, talk about an understatement. This dog looks like a different breed than the Shar Pei of old and most of them need surgery to see properly and the Doberman now spindly of mind and body. I could go on but it’s too damn depressing. What happened? All of these breeds had a standard and by their titles were deemed preferred. Can you imagine anything more reprehensible? For the record a standard by itself i.e., without function, has never yet protected a breed or its type. Correct form follows function not the other way around. Try not knowing what a breed looks like, and then try to construct that breed just by using its standard, you can’t because the language in that standard is too vague. Dogs look they way they do because of what they once did. Have a dog do a certain thing and use that form as a template for its future. Please don’t assume because a dog looks a certain way it can do a certain thing. The only way to confirm function is have it do it,

From Dr. John Burchard “I would have no problem if a standard was fashioned by function rather than what is popular at a given time. History has showed us that this produces extremes. A correct standard would be molded around dog or dogs that actually perform a function rather than to artificially construct a standard around what a person or persons think a dog should look like if the performed that function. Aggressively breeding towards an artificial standard has never improved any working breed to date and if fact have been the major factor in the downward slide of working breeds both mentally and physically”

Constant change is not beneficial for any breed.


Jenn H January 4, 2013 at 9:28 pm

I say HOW DARE YOU! …you accuse and bag all in one big clump. I breed the German Shepherd Dog. I assure you my dogs and pups are NOT cripples specimens of their breed. My dogs are only born because it has a future job and they are created in health structure and temperament to do so. I follow this current AKC standard with much effort in preserving a breed I love. I think you should consider those like me before you jup on the GSD can’t walk band wagon.


norman epstein January 5, 2013 at 3:33 pm

“For all intent and purpose” means collectively not universally, bravo if your dogs are healthy and functional. That said the AKC German Shepherd Dog is seldom if ever selected for entities that require their dogs do hard work on a continuing time frame. According to the breeds founder, Max von Stephanitz “The breeding of a shepherd dogs is the breeding of working dogs; and this must always be the aim, or we shall cease to produce shepherd dogs.” Therefore according to Max’s precepts only 3% of the GSD’s of today are true GSD’s because that’s approximately the percentage that are bred and trained for work.

According to a survey done by Laura Sanborn “the certified SAR dogs in my SAR organization (which has about 80% of California’s SAR dogs). GSDs are by far the most common breed in K9 SAR here. Nearly all of these SAR GSDs are from protection dog sport (schutzhund) and to a lesser extent police K9 lines. Of the remainder, a few are “career change” dogs from a guide dog breeding program. Not a single one of these SAR GSDs is from AKC showlines or American pet lines. Not one.”
The reason for the above is simple the AKC GSD is first selected for for what you can see i.e., show not what you can’t see, i.e., the attributes that are necessary for work.

Marilyn Vinson January 4, 2013 at 9:40 pm

Norman, I can address only your comments on Shar-Pei. It has been many, many years since “most” needed surgery to see.. it still happens from time to time as it does in many breeds. Breeders who also show have been the ones to put the most work in having healthy dogs. For the most part those who never show, but breed,don’t have the vested interest in breeding dogs who do not require surgery for the eys (or knees, or whatever) If you go to the CSPCA website there is a photo of the cover of our breed magazine. The dog pictured is lovely with moderate wrinkles. Only puppies should have the abundance we so often think of .


norman epstein January 5, 2013 at 4:47 pm

I wrote to “see properly”. That said please refer to these links regarding the Shar-Pei of today as opposed to the original
I did go to the CSPCA link and that example was certainly better than most I have seen, but please tell me the purpose of all of the excess skin hanging form the dogs back hocks

Susi January 5, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Norman, I took a few days to consider your remarks and came to be of two minds about how to respond. Because you made references to breeds about which I didn’t feel qualified to respond because they’re not my breeds, I posed the question to a few acquaintances who own those breeds: Has their breed improved over the years? A few responses:
“OES are better. Stronger rears, great coats, excellent temperaments, dark eyes, etc. plus a number of excellent genetic tests to eliminate carriers. We are moving forward with great tools.”

“Pembroke Welsh Corgis, the movement has improved. Reach and drive are better and fewer short upper arms. It’s still a problem, but I think breeders are working in the right direction.”

“Basenjis. The problem in our breed was the teensy original gene pool. I am very proud of those BCOA members who went back to remote places in Africa and brought out native stock. These dogs were bred, observed, voted on, given AKC blessings, and introduced into American dogs.”

“GSD: In the mid to late eighties ‘angles’ became over developed, (much as the ‘banana backs” of the European fad during the early 2000’s and still is in lots of pedigrees today) and we have not yet rid ourselves of all of that over-angulation. A GSD’s leg is angled, no matter if Rin Tin Tin, or Dallas or Cappy (from Eukanuba to use a more recent example). The way the back “looks” depends on the degree of the angle from the hip to the knee, then the back angle to the “knee” / then to the hock \. Most other breeds have very little angles in their back legs, |, and therefore the “look” of the back is almost straight or even (as I recently learned), butt high.

If you remember the pictures of Rin Tin Tin, standing on the hill, that one back leg is back… It’s a natural stance for a GSD, and they’ve been shown that way forever. The best handlers do not exaggerate that, but there are handlers that stretch the dog out so far, by pulling the near leg too far forward and the far leg so far back that it looks as if the butt is on the ground. Not correct and looks awful.

One of the problems that we have with the GSD, is that we love the gait, the impressive ground covering, feet low to the ground, smooth gait. THAT encourages those who show in the conformation ring to try to alter the conformation (hence my long, long bitches from one breeding , to attain the smoothest,most impressive, ground covering… and many go way too fast… some to hide faults of gait (a major fault in the AKC/GSDCA standard) and others because everybody else is doing it.

Finally, nobody has mentioned the toe draggers. All of these conformation faults come about because breeders want to keep those angles, and that gait, and go overboard in the breeding… then as the pendulum swings, the faults are corrected and they go on. Very seldom do we see a snipey head any more, or a toe dragger, or a scissor legs (Maybe they go to the pet buyers/???), but we find too much coat, too bulky in the shoulders (looking for that perfect front), lifting fronts, etc. ”

“Labs: The huge division in type in Labs is because they were originally retrievers used from a skiff or low boat to fetch waterfowl. Shorter legs and a thick tail helped the hunter haul them back in the boat. They have evolved to work in the field- longer legs and a rangy body to cover more ground. The breed standard was written for the historic Lab….the type which is what is seen in the show ring.”

“Bostons: What’s an improvement to some is ruining the breed to others. Few can argue though that we have better data now & more opportunities to improve health & quality of life with health clearances. Juvenile Cataracts were devastating in Bostons causing blindness by age 2 and although the breed still has issues with cataracts the early blindness numbers are dwindling away thanks to the genetic test.

Norman, allow me to condense the general consensus of those I asked about what you wrote. A few people knew of Dr. Burchard and feel that while he is regarded as a wonderful man, knowledgeable in many fields and well versed with Salukis,many felt that his experience doesn’t translate into knowledge of THEIR breed. They also felt that you may be guilty of zeroing in on the most reprehensible examples of a breed instead of looking at it as a whole. Nearly everyone feels that their breeds have made huge gains in two areas especially: temperaments, and health, the latter made possible by advances in genetic testing. And I would agree with those who pointed out that as fond as you are of breeding and “field testing” dogs to do the jobs for which they were originally bred, there is very little call today for, say, a Borzoi to follow falcon and then take down a wolf – so Borzoi fanciers to the next best thing: they course, they lure, they test for instinct, stamina and gameness. Today’s responsible, caring breeder is probably most concerned about soundness, breed type, and perhaps most important, the ability of their puppy to be a family companion which is job one since, let’s face it, a wolf hunt, isn’t on the schedule for most of them.

You offer criticisms, some of which are warranted – but no remedies. Norman is king of the world. What does Norman do?


Cindy Cooke December 30, 2012 at 7:34 pm


Every human endeavor produces a bell curve of results. In the hobby of breeding and showing purebred dogs, we really have two curves, one for ethical practices and one for the long-term production of quality dogs. You can be the most ethical breeder in the world, and never breed a good representative of your breed. Likewise, karma is rarely speedy enough to punish the unethical who still manage to produce outstanding dogs.

What we do is incredibly complex–manipulating genetic material over many generations with incomplete data. What is important about our community is not whether everyone succeeds in ethically producing outstanding dogs, but rather that our community has established standards of ethical behavior and that we use the limited power we have over the behavior of others to encourage adherence to those high standards.

I have, on occasion produced some of the dogs you decry: dogs with allergies, dogs that required c-sections, a dog that had to be put down because of bad temperament. There’s no data to help me prevent these problems, so, like the rest of the breeding community, I apply the remedies that make sense to me–generally don’t keep daughters of mothers who required c-sections (unless they are fabulous), never breed a dog with allergies, etc. Most of the time, my system works very well–our dogs are generally healthy, sound Scotties who meet our breed standard. I honestly believe that most breeders are like me—doing their best in an imperfect system.

Do I know breeders who deny their health problems? I do, and most of them are working in the dark just like I am. These people will either change their ways as a result of peer pressure and new information, or their problems will overwhelm their breeding program. The internet has been invaluable in increasing the speed with which these problems come to light and are addressed.

To be truthful, I believe that most dog breeders are heroes, people who make incredible sacrifices to preserve and protect a breed they love. The expense and the emotional toll of this hobby can be staggering and, quite frankly, I’ve had a bellyful of people like you telling us what a bad job we’re doing. I’m tired of being judged by the small number of breeders at the bottom of the bell curve.


Susi December 30, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Well said, Cindy, well said. Our work never ends. See the comment by pure mayhem.


Beca January 4, 2013 at 10:00 pm

“To be truthful, I believe that most dog breeders are heroes, people who make incredible sacrifices to preserve and protect a breed they love. The expense and the emotional toll of this hobby can be staggering and, quite frankly, I’ve had a bellyful of people like you telling us what a bad job we’re doing.”

That’s an awesome statement Cindy. I agree completely. And I, too, have about had it with those who wish to judge me. It’s a shame. Because breeders like you and I are the ones who preserve and safeguard our chosen breeds. And WE are a dying breed along with the dogs we love.


Susi January 4, 2013 at 10:04 pm

I agree with you, Beca, and I could weep.


Jinnie December 30, 2012 at 7:36 pm

I always find it interesting that folks with mixed breed dogs are always describing their dogs by what purebred they are mixed from. There are even DNA kits to tell them what combo makes up their dog. I have always found it hypocritical. You have purebred or a mix breed love what ya got!


Susi December 30, 2012 at 7:42 pm

A really interesting point (that I wish I’D thought of, Jinnie, lol). Thanks for sharing it here. And you’re so right!


puremayhem January 1, 2013 at 3:24 pm

I think it’s because they wanted to save a shelter dogs life and don’t care what breed the dog is mixed up/or that the dog is a mix breed but only that their dog is a great companion and just do DNA tests like that for fun?


chienblanc4csi January 1, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Good point, Jinnie! I wonder what this type of person will do when there are so few purebreds left that this effort is meaningless, as no one will care, will have no recollection of any of these pure breeds that used to predominate as family pets. It will become a dead end, a complete non-issue, don’t you think? I grew up in the 50s, when my family was out of the ordinary with our purebred standard doxies and a rough collie, then came of age in the 60s and 70s, when purebreds (of widely differing quality) made up about 80% of the family dogs in my community, and now the percentage seems to be close to 80% mutts (the ubiquitous “rescue” dog is the new status symbol), at least in my dog-loving neighborhood, where I have lived for the past 30 years. Susi’s description of the evolution of the dog fancy is a perfect match to my experience. Now a lot of wealthy people, particularly celebrities, will have nothing to do with any old ordinary sheltie or dachshund, they must have a shelter mutt or a doodle or a puggle or such.


Kiel December 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Here’s a thing…..rescue is now “in vogue” but the trouble I have found is there is very little information about how to find a responsible rescue. Public mentality at the moment seems to be that all rescues and shelters are wonderful and all shelter dogs would be so grateful for a home they’d be perfect. That isn’t so much the case…..there’s so much information about the dangers and risks of buying from a BYB and buying a purebred, yet essentially nothing about the risks of adopting a shelter dog or discerning a good rescue/shelter from a bad one. I work in a shelter, yet when I decided to get a new dog for myself I purchased one from a reputable breeder because I wanted the right dog for my household and my goals.

An additional contributing factor might be how we are making dog shows inaccessible to young people. I am only 25, yet when I was in my JR handling days there were very few training facilities that would let a 10 year old handle a dog. And now that I’ve graduated from school and have student loans to pay off, a $45 entry fee is just out of the realm of affordability. Its very much becoming a sport for the middle aged and retirees.

Another thing breeders do that is damaging to the image of reputable breeders is the practice of culling (euthanasia) of dogs born with out-of-standard traits (white faced aussies, mismark pups, ridgebacks without ridges, etc) all for “the sake of the standard”. And then in merle breeds there are breeders intentionally breeding merle to merle and culling and double merle puppies….it doesn’t take much Animal Rights spin to outrage the public on that. Perhaps breeders need to be a bit more aware how the public perceives their actions.


Susi December 30, 2012 at 7:50 pm

A really well thought out reply, Kiel (and boy do I hear you about the student loans! One of my kids is working on her PhD and wakes up monthly in a cold sweat over her loans). I touched upon the pitfalls of rescuing a rescue in an earlier article ——> – and like you, I came to decide that unless one is really prepared with Plan B, Plan C and maybe a Plan D incase the dog isn’t compatible with the family or has “issues,” that dog will find itself right back in rescue.

Happily, in 30 years, I’ve never known a fellow breeder who “culled” a healthy dog because of a phenotype – and to be honest with you, if I did, I’d read them the riot act. Such puppies are (and should be) placed as pets under limited registrations which is a win/win for everyone.

Harder to address is your observation about dog shows and young people. As a sport, we ARE aging, and we need to stem the bleeding of youth from our ranks. Also, I think very soon I need to write something asking that as a sport, how friendly are we to newbies?

A thought provoking response, Kiel, many thanks for writing it.


chienblanc4csi January 1, 2013 at 4:40 pm

I remember a discussion with a few breeders some years ago, when the word “cull” came up, and all those in the conversation said that they “culled” – I was totally shocked! Until someone – who must have seen a certain look on my face – explained to me that “culling” in the context of dog breeding does NOT automatically equal killing. It is one of those arcane words that means one thing to average people, but to dog breeders, culling means simply pulling an animal out of the breeding program, usually by spaying or neutering and selling as a pet. I hope that killing isn’t common as a method of culling – if it is, I take back my words!


Susi January 1, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Good point, Charlotte, and I confess that part of my growth as a dog person was learning this important distinction. Culling at its worst was practiced, I’m afraid, by shepherds, ranchers, hunters, farmers, etc. waaayyyyy back in the day. We have better options now and I doubt I’ve ever known a person to put down a puppy for any reason other than a medical issue in which it was the humane thing to do. Mixed breeds are not immune from nature’s mistake, I point out, and as you know. There’s one dog right now – in fact, s/he may live in Colorado, who was born without front legs. The family took her in, taught her to walk upright, and s/he’s an inspiration to everyone and a joy to her family.


Lotta D December 30, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Recidivism rate – that is something no one talks much about in the rescue world. Oh the real rescues take dogs back (mostly now those seem to be breed rescues run by breeders/show folk) but the rest of them have to my mind have become pet stores.
I live in a state where many of those ‘transported’ dogs end up. Lots of them get killed here.
Yep killed. Feral and semi-feral dogs, dogs the shelter lied about being good with pick any – kids, cats, dogs, men, women, birds, rabbits etc,. Dogs that are not only not housebroken but have slim chance of ever getting the idea (its really hard to housebreak a dog that potties in a crate for an owner who is away from home for the workday), dogs that have seperation anxiety – possibly caused by being moved from location to location to its ‘forever home’ where it may not stay and dogs that turn out to be temporary as its a bad fit and on and on. Day after day I see dogs ‘up for adoption’ on locations like craigslist or ‘lost’ because they got away from new owners and can’t be caught without a live trap and sometimes not even then.
And you know what – for the places that sent them here these dogs are a ‘win’ and ‘in good new homes’ and no on realizes our shelters have no qualms about refusing to take in dogs that they don’t feel they can sell well (age, breed, color, sex, behavior issue) leaving people few to no options about what they can do. Dogs die in the street or are left abandoned in apartments as there is no shelter for them, and when the owners lie about behavior and the dogs do get into a shelter and fail the shelter test they get euthanized there. Some responsible owners even have their vet euthanize the dogs instead of wishing a new owner better luck.
But no one talks about any of that.
Purebred or mix, shelter or carefully raised and homed the important thing is the right dog in the right home for life – and neither the shelters, nor the rescuers, nor the animal rights people, nor the pups for bucks folks, or the buyers who adopt or buy dog after dog seeking ‘a good one’ seem to have anything resembling a clue about that the way a good breeder does.
I got a Christmas card from the owner of a dog I sold 16 years ago with a picture of the dog who is still going strong. That owner has moved 4 times with the dog and they are now retired in FL together. That to me is what breeding is about – lifetime homes for dogs because they suit the people who get them to a T.
But lately the general rescues/shelters (and I support breed rescue and having a mutt or rescue as well as show or purebred pet dogs) seems to be playing a numbers game only and shutting their collective eyes as neatly to what happens after adoption as a pet store does to what happens after a sale… There eyes are also neatly shut to the fact that most dogs in shelters 75-85% (based on shelter numbers) are not purebreds and yet that is what people want to adopt – a predictable purebred – and breeders of purebreds are exactly the breeders who are in danger while the carelessly bred dogs continue to end up in shelters.
Sorry for rambling on but I do think people should understand that those ‘northern homes’ are not permanent ones in far too many cases. I just don’t see why killing the dogs here is better than killing them there.


Susi December 30, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Wow, a powerful comment, Lotta. And you’re right, this is dirty little secret about transporting dogs and the recidivism rate, but I think it’s slowly leaking out. Like you, I’m still in touch with owners to whom I sold a puppy to, and the most recent contact was with the owner of one of the very first puppies I bred in the early 1980’s. I don’t know what the magic bullet is to open the public’s eyes – or even some in the fancy. I’m beginning to think fanciers need to start running for elected offices to get a seat at the political table to get actual representation and set the story straight, but as I said in my article, we’re “do-ers,” and rarely have time. I fear that if we don’t make time, we’ll have no one else to blame – or to help us. Thanks for writing, Lotta.


Loretta January 1, 2013 at 11:29 am

I have been involved in the sport of purebred dogs since 1969. It started out as a family hobby for weekends. We did obedience, conformation and Jr. handling Our best memories are of those early days with the kids learning about dogshows, going to classes and the travel. It evolved into breeding, Therapy dogs and Lure Coursing.
Things have certainly changed. I used to be proud to say I was a Breeder, now I do not admit to that stage of my life.
I am retired from the active part of the sport but have remained active in helping oppose the HSUS and others with the same agenda.
Susy is so right about getting involved. We have to work from the ground up. For those of you that have not attended your local town board meetings, when dog problems are on the slate, should make it your goal to do so. Maybe a New Years resolution?
You will get a look at people that know nothing about dogs, let alone our world of purebreds. Most do not even own a dog, yet they make the rules and regulations for your dogs.
I feel that one of the most important subjects that needs to be addressed is the importation
of thousands of dogs from foreign countries. Our shelters need dogs to adopt out to bolster their incomes. The Rescue groups, purebred and independant have done such a good job that the shelters actually need healthy medium to small sized dogs for adoptions.
A good example of this is: I took an obviously pregnant mixed Lab to the cities Humane Society. She had been dropped off in our driveway. A few days later the owner changed her mind and came to find the dog. I took her to the shelter and when we identified the dog they refused to give her back. Her puppies would be a good source of income when the time came. I do know for certain she was still there!
This is part of the reason for the hype to adopt dogs and to avoid breeders. We are too silent and not involved enough where necessary.
If it is at all possible, go to a meeting. When you have attended a few run for the Board. If you cannot get onto the Board you can educate them.
Organize a group of breeders in and around your area. Put your efforts there instead of giving it all to the Breed Club. You will not need Breed Clubs in the future if the anti-breeder thinking keeps advancing.


Susi January 1, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Wonderful comments, Loretta. I’ve been thinking, like you, of the importance of dog fanciers becoming engaged at the political level. As you say, the people making laws that impact dedicated and responsible breeders know nothing about the dog world, and I saw this first hand when I was a delegate and met with a woman running for office. When I asked her about her views of dog legislations, she got a “deer in headlights” look in her eye. I explained to her what was happening on the dog ownership scene and she knew nothing of it. Last year, she won her election and is now a state legislator. I feel that I would have her ear if something came up regarding dog laws, but not everyone gets to be a delegate or has the time to meet candidates. I’m thinking that has to change.


Vicki December 31, 2012 at 12:09 am

You seem just as jaded as those you think you’re talking about. And why are you so against rescue? Just because some of us prefer to rescue & think it is an ethical thing to do, does not mean that we don’t believe that others might wish topurchase purebred from a breeder. BTW, I own a purebred rescue & personally would not have it any other way. I don’t know why that makes me against breeders.


Susi December 31, 2012 at 11:07 am

Vicki, I appreciate your comments, but I think you’re barking up the wrong tree, if you’ll pardon the pun. I’m not against rescue. My family HAS a rescue dog, I’ve helped place rescue dogs, I’ve rescued many dogs off the street myself, and I just donated the proceeds of my work to my breed rescue. My observation, however, is that rather than embrace free choice and options, our culture is tacitly sacrificing and vilifying the breeding and ownership of purebreds in favor of rescue – and most concerning to me is that it’s built upon false premises of overpopulation and painting rescue “great family dogs” when there may be serious issues with these dogs and the ultimate heartbreak is when many of them are re-dumped at a shelter because they’re unsuitable for a family. I’m not jaded, I’m realistic.


eileen woodside December 31, 2012 at 8:02 am
Susi December 31, 2012 at 11:02 am

Thanks for sharing that link, Eileen. I hope everyone takes a look at it.


amy December 31, 2012 at 8:51 am

I appreciate this powerful, thought-provoking article. I, too, believe we are at a tipping point and that more people need to become actively involved in what is happening to our fancy.


Susi December 31, 2012 at 10:51 am

I appreciate that, Amy, thanks!


Rebecca December 31, 2012 at 9:34 am

Alice said, “If you put up a dog that is not “sound” in the ring, you will be tossed out! Soundness is not something you can hide. A dog with a poor build cannot function properly.”

I disagree. I love my breed and have a great deal of respect for those who put a lot of effort and knowledge into their breeding programs. There was a time when we purchased from a working line breeder, dogs of amazing physicality that would never place in an American show ring because they did not possess the current style of weak hocks and excessive roaching.

I have owned German Shepherd dogs for 30 years. I can’t even watch them stagger around the ring anymore with their weak hocks and horribly sloping backs (ask my friends, I absolutely refuse to go see what new fresh hell they are pinning ribbons on). I do not see anything there but a physical trainwreck unsuited for any actual work. The dog that won Group in Crufts had an actual kink in it’s back, easily visible in photos. The fancy needs to stop pretending this is okay.

We still own GSDs. I hunt through shelters and view hundreds of rescue dogs looking for a diamond in the ruff, I pour over the websites of folks who are breeding for correct temperament and the actual correct physical type, because among all the chaff of bad breeding, and temperament nightmares, it is possible to find a great dog that doesn’t look like it will collapse into a heap in the first brisk breeze.

As for the “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” video, at least for my breed, the German Shepherds, no one could offer any explanation that would make any sense as to how we got to that point. Dog in front, frog in back. “Soundness is not something you can hide.” You’re right it isn’t, for some breeds we prefer to pin a ribbon to it.

Bitter, not really. More sad at what the show ring has done to this once magnificent breed.


Stormy December 31, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Rebecca, re: the German Shepherd Dog, perhaps you didn’t attend the GSDCA National held this year in Colorado. There was never a roach in the back of those GSDs in any venue, whether Conformation, Obedience, Tracking, Rally, Herding, Agility. While watching the hundreds of GSDs in the Conformation rings, you would have seen soundness of temperament, fluidity, grace and elegance and power in movement. You would not have seen any dog “staggering around the ring, with weak hocks and horribly sloping backs.” Many GSDs went from the Conformation ring right into a performance ring. The Breeders with whom I have become acquainted are as concerned with the working ability as they are with the beauty of the American GSD . The GSD “roach” was a European development and still is seen by some lines in Europe, and unfortunately, some of those lines still are prevalent today.

The German Shepherd is usually the 2nd most popular AKC registered dogs. As with any very popular breed, the dogs the that you see in the shelters aren’t the progeny of the caring breeders…. those dogs would not have ended up in shelters..

Please plan to attend the GSDCA Centennial in Philadelphia this year to refresh your views on the American lines of the GSD, and while you are there, stay an extra week, go over the bridge to watch the World Championships. Spend some time visiting again the GSD show rings and renew your acquaintance with them – there are two excellent Regional clubs in Colorado that hold several shows a year. They will welcome your questions. And please visit the GSDCA website and enjoy.


Susi December 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Many thanks,Stormy!


Rebecca December 31, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Stormy with all due respect I just googled the 2012 GSDCA Nationals and looked at some of the pictures. Gack. Perhaps it’s the exaggerated pose that they show them in. The videos were worse showing unbalanced dogs lacking power and trying to make up for poorly designed rear drive. Granted this was not all the dogs, but I was not impressed with anything I saw.

This dog for example.

I don’t even know where to begin. Awful head, too much stop. Roach back. “On the move” in a crouch. No evidence of strength. An exaggerated front end that looks like the dog is paddling up stream. Awful. The only thing I like about this dog is his color. I would pass on this dog without a second of thought.

These bitches:

Electra: Gorgeous head, very feminine. Beautiful shoulder. Ghastly back with a kink in it – that part where the back stops being level and shoots for the ground. Weak hind end. Nice color.

Same with Albata with the exception of what looks like strong hind legs from a different dog pasted on this dog’s body. Would pass on these bitches as well.

This is exactly why I just have no desire to watch showline GSDs. If you have some different links, or some different pictures I would love to see them, what I see here saddens me deeply and does nothing to change my opinion or give me any desire to see the GSD Nationals.

I’m looking for a “A” dog, not a “C” dog:
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a great “A” dog.


Stormy December 31, 2012 at 6:56 pm

You are not showing images of the American show dogs, of course. There was not a GSDCA National in May of 2012, so perhaps Australia? Australia continues breeding dogs of European types and lines. Here are a couple dogs that are more representative of the American Conformation Show Dog…. and many of the progeny of this dog went on to herding trials and other performance dogs.
For the dog
for the bitch
However, individual preferences will always be individual preferences, whether in Dachshunds or Poodles.


Karla December 31, 2012 at 9:56 am

You had me until you said “write a check to PETA”. PETA, who is just as bad, if not worse than the HSUS. I’m hoping that was a typo because the rest of the article was great.


Susi December 31, 2012 at 10:46 am

No, it wasn’t a typo, Karla. In its context, I meant that we as a society (and dog fanciers) can effect change in our communities, be it influencing our neighbors to chang the channel away from an HSUS ad, or doing nothing and let them remain gullible enough to write a check out to PETA.


Denise December 31, 2012 at 10:26 am

As always, brilliant and thought provoking. We have been fighting anti-breeder legislation in California for what seems years. We had to bring in Lassie a few years ago to stop a bill. I have been doing Newf Rescue for over 25 years. Personally, I think people do not check facts and data. You cannot just go to a shelter and get any breed of dog you want. Most of the shelter dogs are mixes. Not all shelter dogs are healthy, sweet and kind. Some are there because their owners did not have the courage to euthanize them. If you want a dog from a reputable breeder be prepared to wait and answer a very long list of questions. However, you can ask just as many questions. I FAXED OFA and other health clearances to a prospective puppy buyer. Was I insulted? NO! I thought, “Good for him”. NAIA has a very good repository of information that everyone should read. For example, I wasn’t crazy about elephants in the circus. After attending the NAIA conference and learning the facts about how well the animals are cared for, and the elephant research facility the circus set up, I changed my mind. People are anti-breeder because it is easy. You don’t have to check your facts or talk to the good breeders out there.
Are breeders in Europe facing such animosity? There are some absolutely wonderful dogs coming out of Europe. I know the UK has had some problems, but what about Europe?


Ellen December 31, 2012 at 11:57 am

this is a great article. I do what I can in my area to promote pure breds and also tell people to give to LOCAL shelters rather than HSUS, PETA and the others. there are many homes with purebred AND shelter dogs living within (ours is one). I wish I had the money to lease/buy a billboard to shout to the public about the ar agenda!


Susi December 31, 2012 at 12:25 pm

If you ever decide to erect that billboard, holler at me, I’ll help shout. Thanks for sharing your remarks and for being proactive about the hypocrisy of HSUS and PETA. Well done.


Sheryl December 31, 2012 at 2:43 pm

The ugly reality is that we all, breeders, shelter managers, rescue group, need to stop bickering and present a solid front, united for the love of the dogs. There is room for everyone and their opinion as long as the opinion is an informed one. Dogs have been our animal friends and helpers for thousands of years. Lets not lose that because we can’t hang together against ignorance that causes our relationships with our dogs to be misjudged by the fanatic and uneducated.


Kathy Graves December 31, 2012 at 2:59 pm

I think the AKC fancy may be at a tipping point. But purebreds in general, maybe not. The UKC conformation program is holding its own and the conformation juniors classes are generally large and well supported. Many clubs don’t even run other classes during juniors judging. The juniors participation in performance and hunting events are also well supported. UKC is the largest working gun dog and hound registry in the US and they hold events for those venues nearly every week.
UKC is all about the owner/handler and family involvement. No pro handlers unless they are showing dogs they own. Many of the programs that AKC has started in recent years have existed in UKC for a long time, like mixed breeds participating in performance events and the Grand Champion title. UKC recently added a conformation program for altered dogs. There is life outside of AKC . I dual register all my dogs but generally only play in UKC’s back yard.
One of the things that we need to do to make people wake up about the whole “rescue” push is to refuse to buy into the rescue/shelter industry buzz words. The vast majority of dogs in shelters were not rescued from life threatening circumstances, so stop using that word. Take a stand and become purebred re-homing, be upfront that these animals are not being adopted, they are being sold/bought. Replace emotion with truth.
The main reason that the NE is experiencing a dog shortage is that they voluntarily spayed/neutered their own dog population into virtual non-existance. As more communities in the south start and support low cost spay/neuter programs, people will use them. It’s been proven through research that most people who don’t spay/neuter would if they could afford to. So eventually the southern source for northern shelters will dry up.
I will leave this post with one more point for debate. Annually there is a demand in this country for 3.5 million replacement or new dogs. There is no way we hobby breeders could or would want to provide that many dogs. If every purebred dog not intended to go into a show/breeding home is spayed/neuterd and manditory spay/neuter of shelter re-homes becomes the norm where will our dogs come from in,say, 20 years from now?


Susi December 31, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Good points, Kathy, and you’ve not been the first to sing the praises of the UKC. I like the idea of options, though I am puzzled (and perhaps dated) in the conformation program for altered dogs. Back in the day when dog shows cut their teeth, the idea was to assess the dog most pleasing to the eye and capable of performing its job with an eye for breeding to perpetuate those qualities. Obviously, this is out of the picture when evaluating an altered dog. Do they compete with intact dogs?


Kathy Graves January 1, 2013 at 10:00 am

In UKC the altered dogs only compete with other altered dogs and the classes go as far as Altered Reserve Best in Multi Breed Show and Altered Best in Multi Breed Show.
Why did UKC decide to offer altered conformation titles? Because their customers wanted them. UKC is a for pofit business and is totally customer driven.
Potential participants include show prospects that had to have emergency spay/neuters, those nice puppies placed into pet homes that turned out really nice and whose owners have no desire to breed but want to try out the show ring, and retired spayed/neutered veterans who are in no way ready to hang up their show leads.
As for the whole assessing future breeding stock reason for dog shows, in this day and age, not so much. With AKC it’s a dog SHOW now a days. The emphasis is on group and BIS wins and ranking, rankings, rankings. We all know that many champions/top dogs, especially bitches, are either never bred or only produce one litter.
UKC’s philosophy is the “Total Dog”. Dogs are judged both on the breed standard and that the dog is fit and gives the impression it can do a full day’s work. UKC does have a ranking program but dogs are only ranked at the breed level, group and BIMBS wins are icing on the cake but count zip toward Top Ten.
Here is another reason why I am totally in support of UKC:

United Kennel Club, Inc. Announces Major Revisions To Its Breed Standards

KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN. March 28, 2012 – The United Kennel Club, Inc., is first and foremost a worldwide registry of purebred dogs, but we feel our moral duty to the canine world goes beyond maintaining data. We are alarmed by the paths of exaggeration that many breeds have taken, all of which directly affect the health, function and performance of those breeds. It is an elemental fact that these breed changes have developed unchecked as a result of fads and fancies, as well as a lack of accountability on the part of breeders, owners and judges.

UKC feels something must be done to address this problem, and we are willing to do our part, hoping the canine world will follow suit. Toward that end, we have decided to revise all of our breed standards to reflect that goal. Breed standards are viewed as a blueprint to which dogs are to be bred. UKC believes that breed standards are more than that, and we will be including directives to breeders, judges and owners.

All of our breed standards will now include the following introductory statement: “The goals and purposes of this breed standard include: to furnish guidelines for breeders who wish to maintain the quality of their breed and to improve it; to advance this breed to a state of similarity throughout the world; and to act as a guide for judges. Breeders and judges have the responsibility to avoid any conditions or exaggerations that are detrimental to the health, welfare and soundness of this breed, and must take the responsibility to see that these are not perpetuated. Any departure from the following should be considered a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.”

In addition, each breed standard will be updated to include problems specific to that breed in order to clarify the direction to be taken when they are encountered.

All of these breed standard revisions reflect the foundation of the “UKC Total Dog” philosophy. The exponential growth in “UKC Total Dog” events is living proof that dogs can have the health, temperament and conformation to be excellent representatives of their breed. We understand that breed standards are left to subjective interpretation and are not a panacea on their own; however, combined with UKC Total Dog events and our UKC Judges Education program, they are a natural extension and essential continuation of our commitment to the future of purebred dogs.

The United Kennel Club, Inc., is very serious about this project and encourages all dog breeders, judges and owners to follow suit. As each standard is updated, it will be posted on the UKC website,, with its effective date.

Established in 1898, the United Kennel Club is the largest all-breed performance-dog registry in the world, registering dogs from all 50 states and 25 foreign countries. More than 60 percent of its 15,000 annually licensed events are tests of hunting ability, training, and instinct. UNITED KENNEL CLUB prides itself on its family-oriented, friendly, educational events. To find out more about registration and events, call or visit our website. Phone: (269) 343-9020; Fax: (269) 343-7037;


Peggy Lange December 31, 2012 at 3:54 pm

This really moved me. I have had a few litters of Newfoundlands. I concider myself as a dog enthusiast only breeding to carry on a line.
Thank you for this article that makes us think beyond our breed and small group of people we talk too.


Susi December 31, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Thank YOU, Peggy, for reading the article, and letting know that it made you think. Mission accomplished! – I’m thrilled!


Hunter December 31, 2012 at 4:42 pm

I am one of those people who has no respect for the AKC, and only respect for a few breeders… the actual few who really are reputable. I have three dogs, all herding breeds, two mixes and I got all three in kill shelters. Why do I have no respect for the AKC? because they happily register puppy mill pups. Why do they do that? because they are a registry, their income comes from registering dogs. Its a business plain and simple. As for dog breeders, I have no respect for breeders who breed extremes… for example dogs that can barely breathe because their faces are so mashed and dogs that need plastic surgery to see. Don’t even get me started on my ex favorite breed, the German Shepherd. I can’t watch them anymore, they look so crippled in the back end. Growing up, thanks to Rin Tin Tin and Bullet, they were my favorite. Look how many breeds no longer do what they were originally bred to do? I feel sad when the AKC admits a new breed, its like the kiss of death. My breed of choice is the Border Collie, sadly the AKC got their hands on them and thanks to many of the herding people who refuse to have anything to do with the AKC, there will still be actual working dogs… and the AKC will have their Barbie Collies who prance around and look pretty. Six to eight *million* dogs are put to sleep in shelters every year. What does that say to me? 1. There are too many dogs. 2. Too many people are breeding dogs, many in their back yards to make a quick buck on craigslist. 3. People are not being educated on the different characteristics of each breed. I wish I had a nickel for every Border Collie puppy who winds up in a shelter before its a year old because the people had no clue. 4. People are simply idiots….they have no feeling of responsibility thinking that dogs are disposable and when they are “moving” or whatever and don’t keep the dog they are teaching their children that dogs are disposable so the next generation thinks so too. “Breeder” is a term that covers many different situations. From reputable to backyard to puppy mills… they are all breeders and they can all register their pups with the AKC. People also need to stop making impulse purchases at pet stores. Pet store dogs come from puppy mills. Websites, with pretty pictures can also simply be a front for horrid conditions but people are stupid…. as far as I’m concerned all the dogs I have in the future will come from shelters, it not only saves a life but if makes me feel good about myself. My heart dog, who is sleeping by my feet, woke up on what was the be his last day on earth when I adopted him. Less than a year later he returned the favor and saved my life….. granted there are some dogs in shelters who should be put down, but many are lovely dogs who are scared and confused and need rescuing. Last year Westminster refused to have any commercials during their dog show that was for rescue because they decided it was depressing…… Just another reason not to like the whole AKC thing as far as I’m concerned.


Susi December 31, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Hunter, I appreciate your comments, and you’ve given a few to which I’d like to add a few thoughts; I agree with you, the AKC IS a registry, pure and simply, and has never been a promise of quality in a dog. Responsible, dedicated and serious breeders have been been saying this for years but judging by classified ads, the general public still puts stock in an AKC registration.

I also agree with you that the word, “breeder” covers the gamut from mom & pop putting two of the same breed together and calling it good, to horrendous, for-profit puppy farms as well as serious, dedicated, responsible breeders who research their breed, its pedigrees, run DNA tests as well as CERF, BAER, OFA, and anything else appropriate for their breed. The devil lies in the details of differences, and sadly, too many don’t take the time to know what those are.

Do I love that the AKC registers any purebred? No. I’d love to see tougher standards, but I understand their thinking, the way I came to understand why a purebred dog registry would allow mixed breeds in its sanctioned performance events: they saw the writing on the wall. They likely felt (in addition to the revenue realized) that their greatest chance at “reaching” for-profit breeders was to bring them into the fold where they’d receive the same literature that more serious breeders do. It would be lovely to learn if any of these breeders were “turned.”

You mention that “Six to eight *million* dogs are put to sleep in shelters every year,” and that tells you that there are too many dogs. There, I would challenge you. Overpopulation is largely overstated and is certainly a regional issue. I would ask that you read something I wrote a few months ago that explains more about this: Importing dogs from Europe, Mexico and Puerto Rico is, perhaps, the dirty little secret of the shelter world and it’s time this gets more light shined on it.

The “kiss of death,” to which you refer when the AKC admits a new breed, is influenced by a breed’s popularity and the scummy, irresponsible breeders who capitalize on it. Trust me, no one shudder more than a breed club when a new commercial, movie or musical features a breed. As the former secretary of my breed club, I was prepared for the worst when Mark Zuckerburg bought a Puli, and not, I might add, from a national club sanctioned breeder. He never contacted the club, never once reached out to a breeder who read and agreed to abide by our code of ethics. I cringed when a Budweiser commercial featuring a Puli came onto – but I’m happy to say that we dodged a bullet in both cases.

And finally, I agree that people are not being educated about breeds, but that’s not the fault of the responsible breeder whose AKC member breed club rescues about 33% of their breed out of shelters. Good breeders are very careful to screen their buyers because they DON’T want that puppy back, they want it in its forever home.


Belle January 5, 2013 at 6:34 am

I have to correct s misconception. The Westminster didn’t refuse to have shelter dog commercials because they were too sad, they refused to let them run the sad commercials, which are IMO, ASPCA/HSUS pity bait.
They even said if you come up with different commercials, we’d be happy to run them.

Now I don’t know how old you are, but I remember 20-30 years ago, when they ran shelter commercials, while they may have started with the dog or cat in a sad situation, they ended it saying hey, look a happy ending! This pet now has a home where it’s loved and cherished. Look at the good you can do. And people were happy to help, because they knew that they COULD make a difference, they could SEE the difference right there in the commercials.
Now the commercials are all about how horrible things are and how never ending and hopeless it is. Why would I donate when I don’t see that things are going to change, that anything I do is going to be a drop in the bucket. Where are the happy endings?
Instead they smack us in the face over and over again with the sad pictures of animals in hopeless dreadful situations, all the while singing about being in the arms of an angel, and leaving the viewer to know that the only angel coming for these poor creatures is the angel of death.
Don’t forget that the HSUS is a revolving door for PETA alumni, and PETA believes better dead than dead. Look at PETAs kill rates, and don’t believe the hype about them taking in all these hopeless dying dogs for which death is a mercy. The numbers they are required to give to the state of Virginia are the number of ADOPTABLE animals, not parvo puppies and bait dog survivors.

That is not to say I believe that the AKC is some great thing. I had an argument with a few people on a forum, and when I said that all dog shows were about was who had the prettiest dog according to the lastest fad, I was snidely told I must not know anything about dog showing. To which I replied I have shown and won with dogs in my chosen breed for over 20 years. I do indeed know what dog showing is about and the simple proof that all showing is about is who has the prettiest dog can be answered with one question. What health checks or screenings does the AKC require before a dog can be issued it’s championship certificate.
The answer is NONE.
I went on to say that tomorrow the AKC can require that dogs require that any HD susceptible breed MUST be OFA fair or better (or equivalent PennHip) before issuing a championship certificate, or a dog must be CERFed clear, particularly if it’s a retriever (PRA) or collie (CEA) breed or any number of health checks, in general or breed specific. But the AKC will NOT, because all they do is register dogs, and issue championship certificates to what dog is the prettiest.
Of course there was no come back to that, because I was right. But when you are dealing with a hide bound elitist mentality, that is what you’re going to get. People will feed back to you the pablum they themselves have been spoon fed and should you reject it, they will loathe and fear you for not joining their collective and interfering with their status quo.
Fortunately I have a thick skin and I’m not here to make friends and influence people, only speak the things I have learned and if some should listen and learn, it’s all to the good. My ego doesn’t depend on others agreeing with me..

The problem is that even breeders who are “ethical” within the framework of their breed can be what I consider unethical from a breeder and fog lover stand point. The Border Wars blog has a few posts up about collie and dane breeders breeding together double merles which while NOT against the CoE of those breeds, is indeed completely wrong and unethical. What kind of ethical breeder will make a choice to deliberately produce a litter in which each puppy has a 25% chance of being blind, deaf or both?
A breed club that was truly about the health and well being of the breed would make that against it’s code of ethics.
Boxer breeders are the same, producing their flashy dogs with a lot of chrome for the show ring, with a similar chance (25%) of producing white boxers that have a higher chance of being deaf. But it’s harder for solid boxers to win, so to the flashy chrome they go, and instead of having the guts to euthanize the white puppies from the litter should they be deaf, they send them on to boxer rescue, dumping the problem they caused onto someone else.

While I do laugh at the AKC outdated mindset of blood purity (just about every other domesticated species except the dog and the Arabian horse off the top of my head has an “upgrade” program for increasing genetic diversity), there is a reason that registries like APRI, ACA and NKC exist, and that is because the AKC did crack down on false paperwork, and a number of these puppy mill breeders could not past the basic “who’s your daddy (or mommy) test” and were kicked out of the AKC or suspended so long they may as well have been kicked out for fraud.

I’m not anti-breeding. I’m not anti-rescue. But I will not have someone telling me that I am killing a dog by not adopting. I have my own issues with adopting, first and foremost is not being able to own my own dog. Yes it’s nice that a reputable rescue will take back dogs they adopt about (like a reputable breeder). However, if you read the fine print, most of them actually retain legal ownership of the dog and they can, after you have put hundreds of dollars out adopting the dog, taking it to the vet, feeding it, buying it toys, loving it, making it a part of your family, actually repossess your dog.
Example. if I live in a house when I adopt a border collie, and the situation changes, and I move into an apartment. Oops, you don’t have a yard for the dog, we’re taking it back. Or I get a toy breed and a couple years later have a baby, oops, no small children in the house. Thank you but no. And I’m not willing to jump through hoops to find a rescue that would not, or does not have that kind of language in it, and frankly, I don;t trust the dogs coming right out of a shelter. There is a reason that shelter dogs bite more than other dogs and that shelter dogs are returned to the shelter more often.

And I don’t think any one should breed anything that has not had the required health checks for it’s breed and PASSED. I couldn’t care about conformation showing, since fads come and go and no one judges by anything more than fad and breeder/handler popularity now a days anyway insofar as I can see.
I don’t care how many BIS a dog has, if it can’t pass ALL of it’s health checks, it should never be bred. Improve the dog, you improve the breed and breeding for arbitrary things like a certain ear set, specific colors, and coat type doesn’t improve anything in the long run. That is why so many breeds are so messed up.

Not that performance breeders are immune to criticism I fully believe that form follows function.. But inbreeding to preserve working type only sets down a genetic bottleneck that will hurt the breed in the future. We see it now in the show stock, it WILL happen in the working stock. One of the reasons it’s not as prevalent now is because of ruthless culling. If a dog can’t work, it’s culled, but if a dog can work, and can reproduce that work ethic is it’s puppies, by gosh, everyone will want to breed to it, or have pups off it, and any deleterious recessives will increase and later double up in the gene pool.

Breeder must be ethical and responsible and truly educate themselves, or they WILL lose the right to breed their dogs. That’s what two of the biggest animal rights organizations are working for right now. One generation and gone as they like to say.


Hunter January 5, 2013 at 10:48 am

You bring up an excellent point and its the reason I pull dogs out of shelters. I think many rescues have become money making operations under the guise of “Rescue” There’s one in Florida, that pulls purebreds out of pounds in places like Alabama, has them shuttled by volunteers and puts them on the website for $450.00. That’s not rescuing, that’s greed. For less than a 50.00 investment…. Plus, rescues, as you say, retain ownership. I know a woman who got a Golden Retriever from the rescue in Orlando. She had the dog for a length of time, loved the dog and was an excellent owner. One day she was gardening, the dog by her side, when a rescue person came to check on her. Since the dog wasn’t in a fenced yard they took the dog!

My living situation would probably preclude a rescue from adopting to me, even though I love my dogs with a passion and take excellent care of them. I’m with them 24/7, and my mission in life as an empty nester is to see to their happiness. I spare no expense for them, and know when they are old and infirm when its time to say goodbye. So, I adopt from shelters…. I save a life, I get a wonderful friend and I don’t have to worry about some rescue looking over my shoulder.


Tricia December 31, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Nice food for thought. I think many rescue groups don’t seem to understand that they are jeopardizing the future of dogs in general. When they put dogs up for adoption that have poor temperaments, dogs that bite, they are creating a society that is less and less tolerant of dogs. They are going to be placing the nail in the coffin if they think they can save them all. It is also unfair to saddle adopters with known projects, adopters that will no longer want a dog, and will certainly at least tell friends and family to avoid rescues and shelters. Losing sight of the big picture hurts dogs and dog lovers.

As to breeders, I also see sadness there: Dogs that can’t breathe, can’t move on hot days, dogs that almost inevitably need soft palate surgery, dogs that have a high occurrence of seizures, dogs that rarely make it to double digits due to cancer, dogs that walk on their hocks. I think some are shirking their responsibilities, prioritizing incorrectly. This is not unique to dogs: Horses so caricatured that they can’t move due to so much dense muscle, fancy pigeons that can’t fly, cats that can’t walk because they have cute short legs, cats that can’t breathe or see because of squashed faces, exotic chicken breeds. We are an arrogant species with all the genetic play in which we indulge – not taking into account the extreme discomfort we create.

I know of responsible breeders that are providing wonderful, balanced companions at great expense, doing it because they love dogs, doing the best they can with the gamble that is genetics.

As to those from all corners, AKC included, why are we tolerating puppy mills? Why can’t we put a stop to them? This is the saddest part of dogs that I see. How do we allow it?


Susi December 31, 2012 at 6:08 pm

If what I offered was food for thought, Tricia, you’d added some spice to it. Great comments which I’m glad you’ve shared here. As for why we tolerate puppy mills, well, I could hazard a guess that money, freedom and politics enter into it. Maybe all three.


Susi January 1, 2013 at 1:48 pm

I don’t know how we allow it, Tricia, but I’m guessing that the AKC’s philosophy is to keep your friends close, but your “enemies” closer, and by tolerating the commercial for-profit puppy farms, they may reason that this will give these “breeders” exposure to literature, articles on ethics and good practices, and so on. I’d be interested to know if it worked.

There are many people who feel we no longer have the luxury of disparaging commercial breeders in our fight against animal rights proponents. They feel that as long as the puppies and parents are in clean, sanitary environments, and the dogs treated humanely, we need to join forces with these breeders because their numbers and their revenue carries clout. It’s a difficult subject with the obvious arguments pointing out how the responsible hobby breeder seeks to improve their breed and their lines, and the effort they put into health testing, socialization, etc. The phrase, “strange bedfellows” keep popping into my head.


chienblanc4csi January 9, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Hunter and Tricia and a few others seem to misunderstand the function of the AKC – yes, it is “only” a registry, and we cannot forget that. As a registry, that slip of paper is their main bargaining chip, the thing that is of value to hold up as something that breeders and sellers want. As a “club of clubs”, the AKC cannot determine breeding practices in the way that people seem to expect. That role belongs to breed clubs. Individuals don’t belong to the AKC. The Kennel Club in England is structured very differently – and not working very well, witnessed at Crufts. There are a lot of things that could be improved upon, yes. Think of the AKC as you would your state’s motor vehicle department. They register cars and drivers, but we can’t blame the DMV for causing drunken driving. Create consequences, tracking systems, yes, discipline all kinds of bad behavior, but they can’t refuse to register a car because they don’t like the color, or a driver because they don’t like she just might break the law next week. There are many people very critical of Dennis Sprung for his words to the effect that the Crufts debacle can never happen here, but he was stating a fact. It can’t. And Susi, I think you are correct, the AKC would rather more people become invested in the organization, shutting people out only pushes them to those “paper factory” registries with no inspections, no discipline and – key – no educational opportunities. I don’t have statistics at hand, but I have no reason to doubt that the statement that all the show and hobby breeders combined, regardless of quality, cannot possibly breed enough puppies to meet the demand for affordable purebred dogs. The commercial kennels, particularly the good ones, have the economies afforded by large scale, and for many average families, a commercially bred puppy from an inspected and accountable large kennel is just fine. Especially for the most popular breeds – by pushing home-based hobby breeders to breed more puppies to shut out the commercial kennels would be foolhardy, create just what we say we don’t want, if not impossible in the first place. My vet is a repro specialist, and she knows for sure that there are many excellent commercial kennels with quality breeding stock, clean and well run facilities, who socialize dogs – maybe not the way we you or I might do, but aren’t bad at all – and do many pertinent health tests, just to make sure they have healthy puppies. Most people in the dog fancy don’t believe this, but my vet teaches people how to do these things, so take that for what it’s worth. My rare breed finally showed up at a commercial kennel, a breed club member found puppies in a Manhattan pet store. The parent club knows all about it, and we find ourselves in a conundrum. The breeding stock is from eastern Europe, not bred by members of the club, excellent quality, the puppies in question were healthy and well tempered, so what do you think the club should talk about now? Think about it.


Ginger Corley December 31, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Susi, what these proponants of the “mutt from the shelter” are in love with is the romance of rescuing some poor abused dog. Notice how every dog is “horribly abused” even though most were probably at worst neglected and not trained as puppies. Very few were actually abused though the new owners all create the scenarios in their heads to cover the reasons that Fluffy now pees on the floor, eats the furniture, and so on.

What they need to remember is that without us, their mutts wouldn’t exist at all. They are so fond of tracing down the DNA of their dog to identify its breed, and most of the DNA services are junk (for example, only one DNA service came to us and asked for samples of our breed though several purport to have DNA profiles of Chinooks; gee, I wonder how that is? magic maybe?). But unless two purebreds of different breeds actually have a romantic get-away and pups ensue, their mutt wouldn’t be here today. They bash the purebreds on the one hand but spend money to find out which purebreds are in Fido’s DNA on the other. This seems to be a clash of ideologies coming from the same person. Daily I receive emails from people who swear that they have a Chinook or part Chinook and I get to tell them that no, there is no such thing as a breeder who lost track of a whole litter or even a single pup on the northwest tip of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. And in fact, you would be asked to fill in a six-page application for even a half Chinook pup from an accidental litter.

I think there is hope though. One young friend of mine who works at the shelter up the road from me swears that he will always own a purebred dog, that it is his right, that he wants to know what his dog will turn out to be and that it was well raised. Just because he deals with screwed up dogs all day as a dog trainer doesn’t mean he wants to deal with it at home.

I understand that. I’d had purebreds while growing up then post college, in my 20s I got a couple pound puppies. One was the most awesome dog ever and the other was a mental and physical mess. When she was hit by a truck and killed, I made up my mind that I was going back to purebreds and that I was going to raise my own future pets. I never thought I was going to end up where I am now, nearly 25 years into this breeding thing and easily 25 years of owning Chinooks. I just wanted to not have mental messes for my pets. I don’t. I have this really cool dog that came out of his mom’s uterus and into my hands and he’s been with me ever since. And I have a bunch of evil rocket scientist bitches. But I know, after raising eight generations, that my pups will turn out very predictably, something I’ll never have with a shelter pet.

I don’t agree with all of the stats though. This dog person like George Harrison, is a liberal, has a graduate degree, and likes ironic humor. Happy New Year.


Susi December 31, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Great comments, Ginger, and you’ve nailed the irony of mixed breed ownership that many people have observed but haven’t expressed. Thanks for doing that here. Happy New Year, my friend!


kelli December 31, 2012 at 7:33 pm

after having read through the article and this entire discussion, the only recurring topic that i take offense to, is the one of, “why do mixed breed owners always identify their dogs based upon which breeds they are mixed with?” i am a fervent mixed breed person, always have been, always will be. nothing anyone has said in this discussion or anywhere else will change that. however, i grew up watching dog shows on tv, and when i was 10, my grandmother (who only ever had mixed breeds, by the way) gave me her copy of the akc breed book from the 1950’s… from which i studied each and every standard and made elaborate pencil drawings of every breed in the book. to say i was obsessed would be putting it mildly.

but anyway, back to the comment that offended me. both of my “mutts from a shelter” are incredibly unique looking dogs, with outgoing personalities and amazing athleticism and work ethic. everywhere i go with them (agility classes, dockdogs, street fairs, pet stores, etc.) people stop me to ask, “what breed of dog is that?” when i tell them, “mixed breed” they say, but what breeds is she mixed with? it’s not just us as “mutt owners” that have an ironic need to identify with a “real breed.” it’s people like the breeders and other purebred owners i associate with at the kennel club where i train. it’s the uneducated but well-meaning people on the street who see a pretty dog and want one just like it. it’s helpful to know what breed a dog might be mixed with to help place them in the correct home. for example, my older dog was orphaned at two weeks of age. she is a lab/chow mix. i had the enormous task of socializing this puppy who was not only handicapped by being raised by humans, but was also partially made up of a breed that is known to be aloof with strangers at best. knowing her breed mix, i put in the extra effort to make sure she turned out well. my puppy is half chesapeake, as well as part doberman and part aussie. i chose her on the assumption that she would be a decent retriever. she turned out to be very much a herding dog, with no retriever tendencies whatsoever but much natural ability on sheep. surprisingly, it turns out i enjoy working with the herding type. but if i were the average owner who went into a shelter and adopted a “retriever mix” i would have been sorely disappointed when i ended up with a barking, stalking, chasing, butt nipping dog. i don’t see what’s wrong or ironic about wanting to know what breeds a mutt is mixed with. it doesn’t mean we wish we had a purebred. it doesn’t mean we are spewing mixed ideologies. sometimes it means that society wants to place a label on them. i am perfectly happy with the label of “mutt” for my own.

all that rambling aside, i appreciate this well-written article… and also the fact that many different viewpoints are being presented here without too much in the way of bashing. it is my opinion that there is room in the world for both mutts and purebreds, and while i will most likely never have a purebred dog, i don’t care what anybody else wants to do or who they choose to love for the too-brief time we get to love them.


Nancy Daniels December 31, 2012 at 7:01 pm

As President of the Federation of Maine Dog Clubs,DBA NAIA Trust, Our group has less difficulty getting the average pet owner to understand the threats to responsible ownership than our fellow AKC members & breeders.It’s almost as if they feel keeping their mouths shut & their heads down will spare them. I don’t know how to reach them.As a group. we wil continue to fight for everyone’s rights—-mixed-breed, pure-bred, pet store buyer, rescue or shelter buyer, & breeder. This situation is an on-going threat to us, our rights & freedoms, & our way of life. Dogs continue to give much to the human race. All they ask in return is to be loved & cared for.


Susi January 1, 2013 at 12:45 pm

I agree with you, Nancy. I, too, see parallels between our civil rights and dog ownership. In part, I believe that the litigious society in which we live inspires fear among individuals who would otherwise call out unethical behavior, poor sportsmanship and immoral practices harmful to our dogs and our sport. At the end of the day, it’s about the dogs and we owe them.


Cindy Williams December 31, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Fantastic observations, questions, ideas and overall writing!! Wish I had penned it 😉


Susi January 1, 2013 at 12:40 pm

What a nice thing to say, thanks, Cindy!!


sp January 1, 2013 at 5:42 am

Maybe the dog community should remember who they voted into office. Seems you like the idea of the government controlling other peoples lives (that’s what legislation/laws do)and telling them how to live (as long as it agrees with your ideology), but have a fit when the same people you voted in step on your toes. Starts with the voter.


Susi January 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Elections have consequences, and the tone set by elected officials permeates all of society. I’ve seen the parallels for some time now. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone.


Sara January 1, 2013 at 9:21 am

As a member of the Veterinary and Rescue industries I would like to say. Our issue is not with the responsible breeder. The breeder who cares about the breed, does it for love of the breed. The breeder who tests their dogs and the dogs they breed with to ensure to congenital diseases make into the next generation. The breeder who only breeds after they have homes for the entire expected litter size. That breeder I don’t have a problem with. I have a problem with the “breeder” who gets a puppy and thinks she’s cute and has a litter calling them AKC because the jackass who thinks its immoral to neuter to his dog also purchased from a responsible breeder. I have a problem with individuals who have multiple breeds on their grounds and won’t let you meet the parents. I have problem with designer mutt “breeders”. Because all of these people are only out to make a buck. If someone really wants a specific breed I direct them to websites to help them find a responsible breeder. But because of the lack of control over who breeds and who doesn’t nearly 1 million dogs die every day just because they don’t have a home. So if yes, if someone just wants a dog, I direct them to Humane Socities and shelters. We do need some control over who breeds and who doesn’t. It’s the only way to stop the mass murder this country sees every day.


Belle January 5, 2013 at 6:48 am

But who gets to decide? PETA says no animals should be bred. HSUS believes one generation and done.
Who gets to decide who has a right to breed their dogs?
This is where education comes in and there are always going to be the ignorant.
If you say well. a breeder shouldn’t have more then 3 intact females.. are you saying that if I have 10 intact females, I am going to breed them all? Because that is what most of these mandatory spay and neuter laws says. That because I have 10 intact females, I am going to be producing 10 litters a year. I don’t think that is a valid assumption.
Perhaps I have a breed that has anesthesia sensitivities. Perhaps I have a few females that I am showing a couple breeders and a few older pets that are bleeders that could die under the knife.
I don;t need the government making any health choices for my pets any more than I need them making health choices for me and my family. I am responsible and educated enough, thank you. And when I was a breeder, I NEVER had an oops litter. EVER. Even when I did have 10 intact females, and guess what, I wasn’t producing 10 litters a year either.


Amanda Kelly January 1, 2013 at 9:30 am

What a wonderful article — absolutely encompasses everything I feel on the subject as well. The tides of change turned because animal rights groups, etc. used the power advertising and marketing offer. The only way the purebred dog community is going to combat that is to do the same and at this point it really is a matter of re-branding. The term “purebred”, whether we like it or not, carries with it inherent negative social connotations that have nothing to do with dogs (eugenics, Nazi deals, equal rights, etc., etc.). Just as our society has increasingly assigned human qualities to our pets we have also begun to apply human ideals to their creation and breeding.

To change that, we need to approach the problem in the same way any company marketing a product would.

1) Identify a need. Figure out what people want in a dog. They want, by and large, happy and healthy family pets. They are interested in activities they can do as a family and/or dog sports, not conformation (in fact, they don’t even understand conformation — human beauty pageants went out of fashion two decades ago in most of North America and dog shows are no different). They also want convenience and predictability. If I live in an apartment, I want to know my dog is going to be small and quiet. If I want a cutesy dog to carry in my bag, I want to know it isn’t going to grow to the size of a Lab. If I have allergies, I want to know the coat will be hypoallergenic, etc.

2) Identify the advantages your product offers (i.e., the existence of breeds allow us as breeders to offer the public things like choice, convenience and predictability — we can tell you how large a dog will be, what kind of hair it will have, whether it will be generally active or lazy, etc., etc.).

3) Find a way to differentiate your product from the competitors (i.e., in the past it was enough to say AKC registered, but the public is more demanding now and less interested in purity, so programs like Breeder of Merit become more valuable because you can point to them and say this person has actively demonstrated a committment by fulfilling requirements over and above just paying a registration fee. If we can say “buy from a breeder of merit” we’re making a clear difference between us and the competition because anyone can hang a shingle out and call themselves a breeder, it is a catch-all term).

4) Develop clear, concise key messages. We all have to sing from the same song book so we will be consistent and get our message out via all available channels.

5) Create an identifiable brand… and that takes money. Effective advertising is not inexpensive and must be broad-based. Animal rights groups were able to diffuse their message as sub-text to advertising in support of a cause — we don’t have that luxury. That means print, television and internet advertising just like Johnson & Johnson. it doesn’t mean articles in dog magazines, even those aimed at the pet market. Those people are already engaged and likely have an entrenched opinion for or against purebreds — and they likely already have a dog. We need to reach a broader audience. People who aren’t even thinking about getting a dog at the moment and have never really thought about breeder versus shelter. And it’s not a quick hit proposition, a sustained, multi-year effort is required.

Fighting legislation or changing minds is about more than lobbying politicians — politicians respond to public opinion, end of story… their jobs depend on it. Having real influence requires influencing society and having that means we have to reach them first.

It all has to start, though, with an organization like the American Kennel Club taking the lead. Thus far they have been successful in putting a lot of the building blocks in place but it’s time to be more aggressive marketing-wise. We need to make purebreds sexy again.


Susi January 1, 2013 at 12:40 pm

You’re hired! I wish I could appoint you the fancy’s PR person, but I think we’re at the point where each of us has to fill that roll. You have great ideas that, as you said, will take money. I think about the marketing signs I included in the “Guilt” piece decrying breeders. Who paid for them? When we the last time any of us saw a sign touting the benefits of buying from a responsible breeder? Wait, does the public even know the DIFFERENCE between “a” breeder, and one who runs DNA tests, will take their dog back for the life of the dogs, spends time researching, socializing, etc. Perhaps we add that to your list under #5: create an identifiable brand.

I think, too, we start “policing” our own, an unfortunate word to describe exerting pressure among our peers if they’re doing something unethical. The problem is that in our litigious world, I suspect the fear of lawsuit compels many people to turn a blind eye.

It’s daunting, it really is.


judith fester January 1, 2013 at 3:56 pm

I am not a dog breeder, I WAS a CFA-registered show/hobby persian cat breeder for 15 years…until, this fall. I am a proud member of MoFed. I now own one AKC Cocker Spaniel produced by, yes, a responsible breeder. Living in Missouri we breeders have been under the gun for years, singled out as one of the bigger (if not biggest) dog breeding states. Under and through the efforts of MoFed the legislation sponsored by HSUS was defeated in the Missouri legislature in May; they literally were trying to stamp out dog breeding in Missouri. However, the animals rights’ agenda continues; it continues under the guise of the local city and state ordinances and laws, who, of course, have animal rights’ monies poured into their coffers and they have a new tactic. Local kill shelters are owned by the local Police Departments. Anyone, anywhere can file a complaint about a breeder, to the city shelter, the State Department of Agriculture, or the Attorney General. The complaint may be false, filed by a disgruntled person or breeder. I see this as the beginning …….letting them onto your property, into your home, gives them the right to seize your personal property, your precious animals, if they see fit, and it continues……….unabated.


Susi January 1, 2013 at 5:08 pm

I’m delighted to hear from my cat fancier brethren, Judith, and I can’t fathom what it must be like to be a dedicated, responsible breeder in Missouri. I applaud your involvement in the federation that has defeated the AR agenda, but as you say, their coffers are deep, their ranks, at least “boots on the ground” volunteers, are largely misinformed, and the beat goes on. As you say, as Missouri goes, so goes the rest of us in time. Very scary. I wonder if you’d mind my sharing part of your comment on Facebook? (the part about the new tactics of tying kill shelters in with local police?)


judith fester January 1, 2013 at 5:28 pm

I have one cocker spaniel, so nothing to hide


Ed haliday January 1, 2013 at 4:40 pm

All that you describe is simply a symptom of a dying culture. Some call it “transforming culture”, but history is filled with the corpses of cultures that went down the path we are headed.
Progressivism kills all it touches, because it is based on feelings, and emotion. Reality, and facts have no place in progressive thinking


Susi January 1, 2013 at 5:14 pm

I can’t disagree, Ed. I see many parallels between our current political climate and what ails the dog fancy, but it’s not a popular view among readers of a different tilt, and so I point out what I can without alienating EVERYONE all at once. Thanks for writing this.


Meghan January 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Not sure why you think progressivism is necessarily bad. It was once considered progressive for blacks and women to have the vote but the world did not end as a result of expanding suffrage. And I definitely disagree that “reality and facts have no place in progressive thinking”. That doesn’t even make sense. That has nothing to do with the price of tea in China, as they say. It would be progressive to eliminate puppy mills but I’m sure you wouldn’t object to that… I’m just confused as to how you are equating the word ‘progressive’ to this topic. Progressive is neither bad nor good, it is simply a word that means (according to

1) favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are, especially in political matters: a progressive mayor.
2) making progress toward better conditions; employing or advocating more enlightened or liberal ideas, new or experimental methods, etc.: a progressive community.
3) characterized by such progress, or by continuous improvement.
4) of or pertaining to any of the Progressive parties in politics.
5) going forward or onward; passing successively from one member of a series to the next; proceeding step by step.

None of those things is inherently bad. I guess if someone had “progressive” ideas that you did not agree with then you could identify those IDEAS as bad but that would still be your opinion and no reflection on the relative progressiveness of the idea.

On a different note, I enjoyed the article. I agree, as an owner of both rescue dogs AND a purebred dog from a responsible breeder I think that the demonization of ALL breeders has become a very dangerous trend. It has gone so far that when I got my new puppy I was dreading telling certain friends that I had bought a dog as opposed to adopting. I felt guilty for doing something that had been a dream of mine since I fell in love with the Rottweiler breed at the age of 14. I no longer feel guilty about purchasing my boy. He has been the joy of my life for the last nine months and I can’t wait to get into the agility and obedience rings with him. His breeder has been supportive and we remain in constant contact via facebook. I continue to visit her and see her at dog shows. Having Cinna has allowed me to truly experience the dog world in a way that I had not before. I have enjoyed every minute of it and I fully intend to add another Rottie to my family in the future.


Ginny White January 1, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Thank you for the thoughtful and well written article, Susi!
Dog fanciers in my town of Santa Barbara, CA, recently fought a two-year battle regarding a proposed all-inclusive mandatory spay-neuter ordinance. The result was the proposed ordinance was rewritten, with input and consensus from both sides, and passed into law. Spay/neuter is encouraged but not required if the owner obtains the City Certificate from their veterinarian that notes they have discussed responsible pet ownership. The idea is to target irresponsible pet owners/backyard breeders and not all breeders/purebred dog owners. There is no fee for the certificate and it can be obtained at the same time as the visit for the rabies shot. The meetings with the animal rightists/shelter people got very emotional at times during the two years, but I think we ended up building some bridges and feeling encouraged. I think communication is the key and much apprecicate the work being done by individuals such as yourself and organizations like AKC and NAIA.


Susi January 1, 2013 at 6:30 pm

And thank YOU for the work you did in Santa Barbara, for it’s often said that when California sneezes, the rest of the country catches the cold. I’m most interested in the resolution worked out between fanciers and the shelter community and I can only imagine how heated and/or emotional it got. I can’t help but think if the shelter community knew the facts, they’d be less inclined to lump dedicated fanciers in with the irresponsible ones. The animal rights groups, I fear, are lost to us. But the beat goes on and we keep on trying, right?


Joanne Bradow January 1, 2013 at 6:40 pm

A wonderful article but when I shared it on Facebook, that horrible picture of Michael Vick’s dog accompanies it and probably stops a lot of people from reading the article. Can you change the picture???
I was at the Invitational also and experienced the same euphoria that you apparently did. One of my dogs got to participate in the SuperDogs show and we practiced on Friday and performed on Saturday and Sunday. In between, I met dozens of breeds and fell in love with a lot of pups and dogs. I shopped and glanced over at the conformation judging as I did. I watched Dock Diving and even stayed for the agility finals. I was in Heaven!
I used to show in conformation and obedience but now am involved in rescue and agility. Even though I have been rescuing dogs from shelters for almost 20 years now, I love all the variety of the breeds and certainly don’t want the selective breeding of dogs to end.


Susi January 1, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Gosh, of all the picture FB tacks onto the link,it has to be THAT one? I thought long and hard about using it, but decided to run with it because people who support HSUS need to know where their money and emotional support is going. At the end of the day, there IS no good picture of one of Vick’s dogs that isn’t awful. You could link to where a different picture will appear. Tell folks to look for the article by title since I’ll be putting up a new piece soon. The only thing I can think to suggest if you do use the link going to the article is to put in a caveat that there’s a darn good reason for that awful picture to appear and that the rest of the article is more, um, enlightening??? That said, I very much appreciate you reading the article and writing a comment about Eukanuba. It makes me wonder if I might have seen your dog since I did watch some of Super Dog – wasn’t it just the best?

I love your open mindedness, Joanne, and wish more folks had it.


Joanne Bradow January 3, 2013 at 12:22 pm

I had Jack, the blue merle border collie. He was in the relay, did a little high jumping and was a goalie in the soccer game. We LOVE playing Superdogs! And I wish I had Jack’s energy and enthusiasm. And yes, he’s from a shelter.


JonK January 1, 2013 at 8:31 pm

I agree with your feelings; I’ve held them for a very long time. But as I read through all the interesting comments, it still hit home how much “we” really don’t get it. The dog fancy used to just be regarded as eccentric, if people didn’t understand it well, it was just something weird you did. Now days many people, as has been pointed out, consider dog breeding and showing to be a political statement. And what used to not be analyzed and critiqued is now evaluated critically.

There are so many aspects to this you could generate dozens more blogs about it. Let’s look at dog shows. Do we survive the red-face test with Poodle handlers tying in switches into topknots, terrier handlers coloring their entries (even when they don’t need it), when ears are fixed and tails are fixed (fixed tails in long legged terriers are endemic). When people leave dogs standing on stackers on the grooming tables for up to an hour, not allowing the dog to sit so he won’t smash his hock hairdo? How about hanging out in the execise area where coated dogs are dropped into small wire bottomed xpens as their only exercise so they won’t break their coats? How does that look to someone not used to seeing dogs so “carefully” managed? Are we relevant when to become a top winner you pretty much need $70,000 or more per year so you have slick advertisements everywhere so judges will recognize the dog and handler in the ring? Our judges are not even expected (nor desired it would seem) to judge objectively. If you think that’s an exaggeration you are naive.

We brag on our health testing but lots and lots and lots of breeders are either not testing or they invariably make excuses why their particular special dog who didn’t pass is an exception. Testing is supposed to be about de-selecting stock, not as a certification to include the stock – the latter perspective is why people will pay alot of money to go to a vet to get the best hip xrays possible. Does that feel like we are trying to solve problems or trying to pacify ourselves? Yes there are committed breeders, no doubt. But it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the barrel. We’ve got bad apples in our barrels.

Everyone slams HSUS, yet apparently no one ever bothers to research what they do. They do legislation. That’s what they do, so getting bent out of shape because they do what their charter instructs them to do is whistling in the woods. HSUS isn’t out to kill good breeders. The DO NOT understand good breeders. We are a big blue dot in their scope on puppy mills. Their legislation is aimed at enacting legislation that an inspector making $20,000 can comprehend. So do we partner with them like our lives depend on it so we can develop a workable solution? No we vilify them and chastise anyone in the community who DARES to suggest they have any agenda other than extinguishing pets. We are so ignorant we use PETA and HSUS and ASPCA in the same sentence, every one of those have totally different agendas.

Will a public support us when they find out the AKC supports puppy millers? AKC advertises in their magazines – do your readers know that? How do we survive that red-face test?

My only disagreement with you in your article was that you said we are like canaries in the coal mine. Unfortunately, we have no such luxury. We are in the coal mine with no canaries and we have absolutely no idea how the gases are poisoning us as we stand about very unclear on what’s going on; we just know it’s bad.

Unless and until we tease apart all these and many more issues, we will continue to be extremely unsuccessful in reversing the direction this ship has taken. This isn’t a simple issue and it’s not all “their” fault and by the way, “they” aren’t going anywhere. We need to put ourselves very sympathetically into everyone else’s shoes, to see the world as they do. You can only solve problems when you work WITH people who you see as your adversaries. We need to admit there is plenty in what what we do that is subject to criticism and work to correct those issues.


Susi January 1, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Very though-provoking comments, Jon, which should inspire some soul searching in all of us.


Meghan January 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Very well put.


Jane Burkey January 1, 2013 at 11:20 pm

I, like Kathy Graves, dual register my dogs (three Miniature Poodles) in both UKC and AKC. I find that UKC is MUCH friendlier and supportive than AKC, and UKC has more venues in which you can compete in. EX: I was able to enter my MINIATURE Poodle in their Hunting Tests (never allowed in AKC), and Star is the FIRST EVER Miniature Poodle in their History (50 states & 25 countries!) to earn a Hunting Title – the HR (Hunting Retriever – middle level). Admittedly, there was a lot of confusion even within the “higher ups” in the HRC (Hunting Retriever Club – under the umbrella of UKC) as to whether or not a Mini could legally run. But, UKC counted her points, and gave her the title. Mutts can run also. Not so in AKC. UKC also has weight pulling, and other things not offered in AKC.
I think MOST of the “shelter dogs” DON’T come from reputable breeders, but from a fairly big variety of “pet owners”, and from the “designer breeders” (MUTTS!!). People get a puppy from a breeder (whether reputable or not), promising to spay/neuter their puppy at the agreed upon age. Many “breeders” are NOT reputable, and so don’t have a spay/neuter contract, and IF they DO, they never follow up on it. Some new owners of puppies from reputable breeders, LIE about getting their puppy spayed/neutered, and breed ANYWAY – even IF the pups can’t be registered, they are advertised as purebred dogs. Assuming they bred WITHIN the breed, they are “right” the pups ARE purebred, but of “PET” quality, or they would have been sold as show quality. The new owners of the puppy “fall in love” with the temperament of their dog, and “want one JUST like it” (WRONG – each dog has it’s own temperament – not to be “reproduced” – similar MAYBE, but never identical), so, rather than go back to the breeder who produced such a wonderful put, they don’t, and they don’t spay as agreed, but they let her have a litter (also so she “can experience the “joys” of motherhood”). They haven’t a CLUE of how to judge the temperament of the puppies, so they PROBABLY keep the WRONG pup (going by “cuteness” rather than actual temperament). They either give or sell the remaining puppies (ALL of which are “PET QUALITY” and SHOULD be spayed) to neighbors/friends/family without any contracts or requirements, or health tests. SOME of those “placed” puppies will NOT fit in with the new home(s), and cause “problems” (MOSTLY through lack of training), and so are taken to the shelter to be “rehomed” The puppies that are kept (whether or not they SHOULD be) by the neighbors (etc.), then continue on the “tradition” of the “joys of motherhood” with THEIR dog, etc.
In all actuality, probably 95% of the dogs taken to shelter have only ONE PROBLEM – they are NOT TRAINED. It takes TIME, ENERGY, EFFORT, CONSISTENCY, and KNOWLEDGE (whether through reading, classes, or experience) to TRAIN a dog so that it BEHAVES itself both in the home and in the public. 75+% of dog owners don’t MAKE the TIME, ENERGY, etc. to properly train their dogs, so a vast majority of them have dogs that pose “problems”. Many of these “problem dogs” are left to their ow devices throughout MOST of the day, whether they are inside dogs, or outside dogs, because TRAINING THEM takes TOO MUCH EFFORT.
WAY TOO MANY people allow the dog(s) to run rough-shod over everyone in the household, and rather than actually TRAIN the dog, and then, rather than CORRECT the dog for violating its training, they make excuses about the dog’s behavior. At some point MANY of these dogs are then surrendered to the shelter because of the “problems” that have been allow to start, grow, and totally BLOSSOM into problems (sometimes dangerous ones).
Another thing people do, is get the puppy (promising to spay/neuter) and let their puppy have it’s “freedom” to “be a puppy” and don’t train it, OR contain it. She comes into heat (most people don’t know what to look for even with that), gets “tied”, and has a nice litter of MUTTS – which are then given/sold to neighbors/friends/family, who continue the “tradition”.
Another thing that happens are when SOME shelters “adopt” dogs out with the new owners’ ‘promise’ to spay/neuter their new dog. They frequently don’t – at least until “SURPRISE” their dog is pregnant, and has a litter of MUTTS. Then, they might follow through and get the dog spayed. But now, there’s another “unwanted” litter of mutts. Of course all these things happen with un-neutered male dogs too – its’ just THEY don’t have the litters – only the females do.
I don’t know how many times (a huge number – to be sure) I’ve heard dog owners either of PET quality or MUTTS say they don’t want to “deprive” their dogs the “joys of motherhood”, or the “joy” of having sex (males). OR, they don’t believe in containing their dogs – they believe the dogs should have the “freedom” to roam about as it wishes. (WHY even get a dog????)
I always remind them, they got the dog for THEIR PROPERTY, not MINE, and that IF I had wanted their dog, I would have bought it, and KEPT IN ON MY OWN PROPERTY, not allowing it to poop in my neighbor’s yard. I ask them if they went around and asked ALL their neighbors in a 5-mile area, if the neighbors would mind that their dog comes and poops in their yard, and may chase their cat, or digs up their garden, or impregnates any bitches in heat (whether or not properly fenced/contained). Because, that’s probably about the range a loose dog covers… Can you guess? They don’t go ask the neighbors…
I believe that REPUTABLE BREEDERS do ALL they CAN – not only to ensure the health of the breed they love through proper testing appropriate to their breed, but ALSO follow up with the “forever homes” on the spay/neuter part of the agreed upon contract.
Another “biggie” with me are the “designer breed” breeders. They are a BIG problem with the over population of unwanted or “shelter dumpee’s”. They take 2 purebreds and PURPOSEFULLY CREATE MUTTS – of NO consistency in temperament, coat, size, color, etc. People pay THROUGH THE NOSE for these MUTTS, then, to “re-coup” the money the spent on them, BREED them AGAIN – MAYBE back to one of the two breeds, maybe to a third – and advertise them as “designer dogs”. So many of these MUTTS (designer dogs) come from POODLE mixed because people want a dog “that doesn’t shed” – well GET A PUREBRED POODLE THEN!!!! Labs AND Poodles are BIRD retrievers, get the one that SHEDS, or the one that DOESN’T SHED – crossing them will cause PROBABLY HALF the litter to be “shedders”, and even possibly those with a curly coat that STILL sheds.
The lack of predictability in all the aforementioned characteristics (temperament, coat, size, etc), only creates more MUTTS, that when they don’t have the particular characteristic desired by the new owner, the poor dogs then become “shelter fodder”.
I’m not against people who “rescue” an abused dog, but I AM VERY MUCH AGAINST people who BLAME the BREEDER, and NEVER take a look at the new owner!!! YES, there are puppy mills – EVERY SINGLE ONE should be SHUT DOWN FOREVER, but DON’T go after the reputable breeder – they are the ONLY ONES who LOVE their breed ENOUGH to go to great cost, effort, dedication, and testing to ENSURE that only the best are bred to IMPROVE the breed – not just reproduce a litter for “profit”. I am NOT a breeder, but I know that reputable breeders generally only breed each of their best dogs MAYBE three times in that dog’s LIFETIME 10+ years. Some, only have a litter when they are in need of another show quality pup to take up where the other has come to “retirement age”…


Kathy Graves January 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Umm, I consider myself a reputable breeder and I don’t require manditory spay/neuter of the puppies I sell as pets. In fact, as of my last two litters, my contract states that if the dog is spayed/neutered prior to 1 year of age, all structural health guarantees are voided.

There are reams of board reviewed studies showing that early spay/neuter can cause devastating long term health/temperament issues. I discuss these issues with my pet buyers prior to the sale. Most are unaware of the potential problems of early spay/neuter and are impressed that I care enough about the long term health of my puppies to make what many of my fellow breeders would consider an unethical decision.


Meghan January 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Kathy, thanks for bringing that up. I’m not a breeder but I got my pup from a responsible breeder who requires that her puppies remain intact until at least eighteen months of age. She screens her buyers VERY carefully. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s easier to get a bank loan than it is to get a puppy out of her. I am happy that I don’t have to risk my dog’s structural integrity because of some random spay/neuter law aimed at irresponsible owners/breeders.


Kate January 2, 2013 at 2:55 am

I read this article and the following comments via a link in a rat fanciers discussion (please spare me the ‘ewww rats’ remarks 🙂 ). It was posted there due to a similar discussion in regards to rescues and animals from breeders. Thank you for an interesting article and also to the many thought provoking replies.
I must confess to rather mixed feelings in this debate, like ‘Hunter’ I have seen examples of some breeds that value form over function and have in all honesty been saddened and repulsed, I also am well aware of the value of a good breeder and the contributions they make.
I am one of those homes for both rescues and pure breeds (there are a lot of us out there I think). I have two dogs – one pure bred (a staffordshire bull terrier) and one ‘rescue’ (a BC cross from a pound) and I will probably always have a mix of rescue and breeder animals in my house. I would say that while I love my BC cross dearly, he is just the type of dog that would (and may well have been before our home) have been cycling throough shelters over and over. He is small (best guess is he is a BC x corgie), so is very cute – but has all the drive of either of those breeds, a recipe for trouble for an inexperienced owner – this is typical of many rescues. Responsible rescues do their best to test and match to the right owner, however in many cases they are testing in abnormal situation, that coupled with a fervent desire to find a home for an animal can lead to ‘glossy’ picture that may not prove true once in a family home.
In short this is a complex issue, but I have enjoyed reading all the input here 🙂
(I’m from Australia, so obviously some of my observations will differ)


Susi January 2, 2013 at 9:23 am

I like rats!!! Living in the country, we’ve had our share of pack rats, and during the summer, have a rigorous “catch and release” program of our very own since I refuse to “dispatch” them. I’m pretty suspicious that we’re trapping the same rats over and over again since anymore, they’ve brought their own snacks to wait out the drive to the nearby lake. That said, like you, we are also a rescue/purebred dog family and it works out just fine. I simply ask that the two worlds not act as if we’re in competition, but rather, serve the dogs. Not every family is suited for a rescue dog for the reasons you cited, and they shouldn’t be vilified for preferring a predictable breed. The dog fancy already is engaged in dog rescue and knows its value. Welcome to DogKnobit, I’m glad you wrote!


Cindy January 2, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Perhaps some folks (like me) are not big fans of breeders/purebred/show dogs because of that ‘breed standard’ you mentioned. When I can look across a building or field and tell which dog is a ‘working’ dog and which is a ‘confirmation’ dog by coat and head shape, something is indeed wrong. When I have to tell someone their dog isn’t suitable for X activity because it comes from confirmation lines and is structurally a mess and weak and fairly useless as a working dog, something is wrong! When dogs have to be born by cesarian birth because of the breed, something is wrong. When a breed is bred for a beautiful coat and ears that are shaped just-so, but the head turns into something that looks like an anteater, you betcha something’s wrong! And, if a field dog looks more like a potbellied pig than a capable working dog, oh my goodness, something sure is wrong! Standards seem to outweigh usefulness and breed integrity in the ring, and that’s all some people see of purebred dogs. If strong, healthy, structurally correct, tempramentally sound and mentally stable dogs were the ones winning, maybe there’d be less garbage accepted by the public and more respect toward breeders/showers. JMHO


Susi January 3, 2013 at 10:53 am

A rather broad brush, Cindy. I appreciate your thoughts, but I have to reject your notion that all purebreds can be identified on sight as “working” or “conformation” dogs. In reality, most breed clubs hold as part of their National Specialties performance tests relevant to that breed. Portuguese Water Dogs and Newfoundlands, to name a couple, have water exercises and tests. Herding breeds such as my own, have herding instinct tests. Depending upon the breed, you’ll see coursing, earth dog, herding, pulling, and scent tracking, to name a few, as standards of a specialty weekend. You have zeroed in problems that WE abhor, too! It serves us no purpose to show, let alone breed, a crippled dog. To people like me and those whom I respect, these dogs are our life long companions, our pets, and we want the best of them and for them.

Let’s say for the sake of argument that most purebred show dogs are as unhealthy as you say. We’ll turn to “designer dogs” which I often hear being touted as a healthier alternative. No responsible breeder I know in their right mind would breed their dog to anything but the soundest, typiest example of the same breed. The very idea of purposefully breeding their dog to something outside their breed is an anathema. That leaves only the least responsible breeders using the worst example of their breed to breed to another breed, as equally unsound and owned by an irresponsible breeder at the first. And I’m to believe that the puppies resulting from two unsound dogs bred together are somehow better than the dog that’s the result of serious research of pedigrees, CERF, OFA, BAER test and appropriate DNA testing? I don’t think so.


Jane Burkey January 3, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Kathy, I did state in my write up that the spay/neuter was of “an agreed upon age”, whatever that is agreed upon between breeder and client, be that 1 year, or 18 months. I know about the problems that can be caused by spay/neutering too early, and I know from experience that the vets REALLY push getting the dog spayed early, but, I myself practice the policy of “later is better and safer” on the spaying issue. I’m talking about pet quality dogs, that, according the the Parent Club Breed Standards, are far enough removed in quality that they probably would not/should not be shown to a championship. They are called “pet quality” for a reason, and they are determined to be “pet quality” by the actual breeder. Since the breeder themselves classified the pup as a “pet” (i.e. as understood by most breeders that that dog is not of a quality that should be reproduced), and chose not to keep the dog for their own breeding program, it would (in my opinion) be wise to have a spay/neuter requirement for that individual dog. This keeps down the population of puppies having qualities that would not improve the breed from being bred. MOST reputable breeders require the spay/neuter of a “pet quality” dogs to keep the “averageness” (pet quality) from being too prevalent as recognized by the breeders themselves, since every puppy carries the breeder name and reputation. “Pet quality” bred to “Pet quality” leads to more health problems, since owners of “pet quality” dogs do NOT health test, know nothing about genetics, and don’t research the lines they are breeding to. Not a good stewardship of the breed.
UNLESS we are talking about a breeder who breeds ONLY PERFORMANCE dogs (& not for the show ring), that is a whole other “kettle of fish”. If the breed stock from such a breeder has a nice long line of performance titles in current and previous generations on both sides, it obviously has structural integrity, and has performance qualities breeding true.
In my opinion, breeders who do all the appropriate testing for their breed, and have the agreement to spay/neuter pet quality dogs at the agreed upon age as determined by that breeder, are looking to the future of their breed. They are helping to ensure that the current problems found in their breed are weeded out through a breeding program that allows the best of their lines to reproduce, while at the same time, allowing the others to enjoy their “pet” dogs with the spay/neuter contract.


Susi January 3, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Nicely put, Jane.


Kathy Graves January 3, 2013 at 2:27 pm

To each their own. I wouldn’t sell a puppy to some one I couldn’t trust to do right by the dog. I know more than one breeder of Pems who breeds purely for the pet market and they do more testing than some of the top “big hat” breeders.
I’m now shrugging into my flame suit and am going pose a few questions.
1) When did it become a crime to humanely breed dogs for a profit? It’s not a crime to breed cats, birds, fish, etc. for the pet market but for some reason, not dogs. Answers must be backed by facts, not emotion. TIA
2. Anyone remember when some show breeders had more than one breed-one to breed for the show ring and one to breed for money to support the show dogs? Twenty years ago it was fairly common.
3. Wake up call, a lot of pet owners don’t give a rat’s a** about pedigrees or the fine points of breed standards. Some don’t care enough about registration to complete the process. Why do you think AKC is so pushy about whole litter individual registration-it’s the only way to get their money on the puppies sold as pets.
4. Vis a vis the dogs purchased from commercial kennels-if the vast majority of the buyers weren’t happy with their purchase, the kennels would go out of business due to a lack of repeat customers.
Hobby breeders can’t produce enough purebreds to satisfy the market and if those people who can’t get a puppy from a hobby breeder don’t buy their purebred from a commercial kennel, than what other choice do they have? Why a shelter dog, of course. So we want more people to choose purebreds over shelter dogs but want the commercial purebred breeders to go away? Does this really make any sense????
5) A lot of today’s breeds had their start in the hands of wealthy breeders who owned huge kennels and bred many litters a year. They kept the best, shared those with their equally rich fellow breeders, bucketed some and the rest were sold pretty much to anyone with the price of the pup. They advertised and shipped to new owners sight unseen. What name would most of you give to a kennel that did this today? I’d bet it’s the PM word.


Belle January 5, 2013 at 7:40 am

1) It’s always been a crime in the dog fancy to breed and *gasp* make money from your dogs. This is because the “fancy” as it was termed was started and maintained by the filthy rich. These people were already millionaires, they had no need to make money off their dogs.
Back then it was I do these dogs because I love them and also, I have so much money I don’t need to make a penny off them. Now it’s become the catch phrase of a reputable breeder.. they don;t make money off their dogs.
Let’s be real. If you have a nice female from the right lines and she has passed her health checks, and is championed out, depending on the breed, you can get anywhere from 1,200 to 2,500 plus per puppy. Should it be a larger breed that throws 8-14 pups in a litter, you quite easily make back all your investment on the first litter. The second litter is pure profit.
It’s even better when you have a stud, because if you have a nice male that’s burning it up in the ring, dual titled, health checks out the wahzoo and producing nice puppies.. you can charge a phenomenal stud fee, and there will be people lined up around the corner wanting to get a piece of the action.

2) I remember that is was gauche to have more than two different breeds, because it was said you could not give proper attention to the standards of more than one breed. I wasn’t aware that some of these breeders were “peddling” for lack of a better word, the second breed to pay for the first. It does explain a few things though.

3) I agree with this observation. To add to that, if you have a pet quality dog, you know it’s no point in showing it, you may have had to get it sterilized, and so you couldn’t show it for kicks if you wanted to.. what’s the point of sending in the paperwork? Once it helped as an identifier, but with chipping, you have abetter proof of ownership inside the dog, rather than a piece of paper that could belong to just about any dog of the same breed, gender and color.

4) I agree here too. Even if I do nit agree with commercial breeding, and I DON’T. I am sure commercial breeders do not WANT to perform unhealthy dogs, even if they are lazy about health checks. Nor do pet stores want to sell unhealthy dogs. Both make for bad business, and what business model is it that has people selling a substandard product and making money off it for years.
At the same time, we have said a reputable hobby breeder doesn’t produce more than 2 or three at the most litters a year, and the best ones only produce one litter or less a year…
But we want people to not buy from pet stores, buy from hobby breeders and chose them over shelters, even though the supply outstrips the demand. I would almost thing it was a way to keep sale prices artificially higher, but then again, I know that there are people paying more for a pet store puppy than they would form a hobby breeder.. So, how come these hobby breeders are not commanding better than pet store prices when they have a much better product? What is wrong with this picture?
Is it because in a pet store you can buy a puppy no questions asked and walk away not feeling as though you have gone through an interrogation? Not that I think it’s OK to impulse buy a LIFE, and as a former breeder I too want the best for my puppies and have forged friendships with my puppies family that have lasted through decades, BUT at the same time, I have to ask, are hobby breeders making it harder for people to buy from them due to the all the things we’re told a reputable breeder does?
And reading all the things that a reputable breeder will ask a potential buyer, does that not make the buyer leery? I mean when I went to buy a new puppy after not having dogs for for a while, I was turned down flat by several breeders, despite my over 20 years in the dog world, because it was a new breed, they didn’t know me and my vet had passed away some years before, so I didn’t have proper references.. And the president of my former breed club wasn’t good enough, because it wasn’t anyone they knew in the new breed I was interested in.
My finance, sweet dog world innocent that he is, went and bought me a puppy from that breed, a puppy, that was born several states away, and brokered to him, because he believed the guy when he said that he bred this litter, and didn’t know enough to look at the vet check or registration papers. Funny though, this Mennonite bred puppy impressed a CoE breeder with her conformation, though she was who knows how many generation from anything that ever won a ribbon.

5) I prefer puppy peddler. But yes, this goes back to my first point. Back in the day, these people were filthy rich… Am I the only one struck by going back and reading Irish Red and Lassie Come Home, the imagery of really really rich people with a lot of very expensive dogs that were their play things that they really didn’t care too much about, save for the status symbol they got from them?You were not just buying a dog either, you were buying a status symbol. This dog was bred from champions from a Rockerfeller Kennel (did they breed dogs? lolol).
Anyone remember how the boy from Where The Red Fern Grows bought Dan and Ann, (true dog lover that I am, I can’t remember his name, but I remember the names of the dogs, lol). That was common practice then, and I’m not sure when it became de rigueur to screen buyers like you were adopting out children. Though when I think about it, back then you could also go to an orphanage and pick out a kid like going to a shelter and picking out a puppy, so I’m not sure the comparison holds.


Jane Burkey January 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm

I should have mentioned that I believe the breeders of “performance dogs” should ALSO have a spay/neuter contract in order to keep control of their kennel name and reputation, and again, since the owners of a “pet performance dog” don’t test, research, etc., not be allowed to breed – that is for the breeder who does still test, research, etc to keep the quality and health the best it can be.
In reading back, one COULD get the impression I implied that the “performance breeders” don’t health test, or have knowledge of genetics, or research the lines they intend to breed to. I did not mean that at all. They are just less “worried” about the current “fad” of their breed (most breeds do go through “fads”), and are concerned and breed towards the PERFORMANCE (usually “purpose”) qualities of their breed, taking just as much care, monies, etc as any other reputable breeder.


Maria Nation January 3, 2013 at 6:41 pm

I appreciate your thoughts and the gentle quality of your positions. I agree with some of your concerns and am glad you later clarified that you are not opposed to rescue work. May I suggest that one of the things that is making the purebred fancy increasingly marginalized is the tendency amongst fanciers to reduce very complex issues to simple “us” verses “them” arguments. “We” the breeders vs “Them” the Animal Rightists.

There are many, many conscientious breeders who work selflessly and at great expense to promote and protect the future of purebred dogs. I have worked for years to support breeders like this. But there are many, many other purebred breeders who are greedy, heartless and despicable in every way. Fair or not, the reality is this: puppy mills, hoarders, animal abusers, cruel breeders, etc, make great television. Animal Planet’s viewership numbers continue to climb. All day, every day Facebook, Twitter, – even HBO – carries images and exposes of dogs in need. In the public’s mind dog breeders are getting lumped together with dog fighters – and every day, with every image of a puppy mill dog, this association gets stronger. It is not fair – but this is the reality.

I dare say it is not the “AR” people who are giving breeders a bad name. It is bad breeders who are doing it. It is being on the wrong side of powerful television and internet images that is allowing all breeders to be defined by the same brush.

With a daily dose of heartbreaking images of innocent dogs being abused it isn’t surprising that the American public is demanding a stop to it. They want laws, added enforcement, additional monies, spay/neuter – anything and everything – to stop the abuse. And it is here that purebred fanciers – in trying to protect themselves – are actually helping to further the erosion of public support. It is here that the “us” vs “them” simplification is hurting the fancy.

It would behoove conscientious breeders to find a way to differentiate themselves from the bad breeders. It is imperative to redraw the lines and clarify for the public the difference between the breeders who CHIC, test, vet, research, plan, nurture, lose sleep (and more often than not lose money) and the bad breeders. It is imperative to signal that conscientious breeders are just as horrified by the abuse that exists and, being dog lovers, are just as determined to have it stopped… – but what is actually happening is exactly the opposite. In fighting most legislation that is meant to stop dog abuse (and clumsily throwing around the epithet “Animal Rightist” at anyone who so much as voices support for ending abuse) the fanciers (led by the AKC) is putting themselves on the same side of the fence as the puppy millers, the dog fighters, the hoarders, etc. With this approach it is no wonder the general public can’t tell the difference between the conscientious breeders and the bad guys.

It is a losing game and perhaps you are right: the tipping point has been reached.


Susi January 3, 2013 at 7:39 pm

A truly excellent comment, Maria, and I can’t argue with your points except to insert my view that there is a very real distinction between animal rights activists and animal welfare proponents. While researching for an earlier piece on “guilt,” (, I became persuaded that in the pyramid shape of the animal rights movement, the people at the very tip know full well the difference between irresponsible breeders and those dedicated souls who, as you say, lose sleep and money over a nurtured litter of puppies. And they don’t care. They don’t care because I believe some of them are on this side of deranged. I know of no one in the fancy who objects to rescue or animal welfare, or who doesn’t involve themselves in that worthy cause, but their eyes DO glaze over at the mention of animal rights because in the legislation that the AR movement supports or has proposed, and in their targets, they shown themselves to be unreasonable and zealous. I agree there is much we can do that hasn’t been done, and I fear that many will continue to regard the fancy’s efforts as “someone else’s” job. And I go back to my original point that it isn’t just that the culture has been persuaded by the Animal Rights lobby, the culture has found “feeling” to be easier than thinking. Our “fast food have it your way L’oreal because I deserve it” society, it’s easier to have feelings than to consider what a well bred dog brings to the table, or that there’s room AT that table for both shelter and well bred dogs. I hope to be proved wrong.


E January 4, 2013 at 4:41 am

I would gladly get me a borzoi once the akc stops supporting puppy mills.


Norman Epstein January 4, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Susi wrote in part:
“A rather broad brush, Cindy. I appreciate your thoughts, but I have to reject your notion that all purebreds can be identified on sight as “working” or “conformation” dogs. In reality, most breed clubs hold as part of their National Specialties performance tests relevant to that breed. Portuguese Water Dogs and Newfoundlands, to name a couple, have water exercises and tests. Herding breeds such as my own, have herding instinct tests. Depending upon the breed, you’ll see coursing, earth dog, herding, pulling, and scent tracking, to name a few, as standards of a specialty weekend. You have zeroed in problems that WE abhor, too! It serves us no purpose to show, let alone breed, a crippled dog. To people like me and those whom I respect, these dogs are our life long companions, our pets, and we want the best of them and for them.”

Well I for one don’t reject Cindy’s points. First of all there is a huge difference between a manufactured test and real work done in harsh environments. Second what percentage of these breeds do you believe undergo these for the most part “instinct tests? Do you believe it’s enough do to maintain a breed behavior.

From Dr. Burchard: “What one typically seems in non-working populations are dogs with fragments of their breed’s original working abilities. Fragments that the fancy confuses for the total package of working abilities. Fragments that may allow the dog to do wonderful AKC obedience, or pass a herding instinct test, or display some breed characteristic
behaviors, but not do demanding breed appropriate work. Some working abilities seem more resistant to neglect than others, but none are immune” and this

“From a practical point of view, it’s irrelevant if, for example, 0.01% or 0.001% of AKC showline GSDs alive today is capable of doing demanding dual purpose police work. When abilities become that rare in a population, they are effectively but perhaps not theoretically gone. Moreover if you do not understand the cause of something, you are not very likely to be able to change”. I have not asked or received permission to cross post but know he wouldn’t mind.

Consider the following from Mr. Watchel.

1) field trials aren’t necessarily the same as real work

2) the occasional anecdote doesn’t prove the point.

3) function is not lost all at once, or in all individuals at the same time.


Peggy January 4, 2013 at 9:07 pm

I agree, field trials, herding trials, etc. aren’t the same as “real work”. But how many of us who own/show/breed purebreds can have them do that “real work”? I don’t have and don’t want a cattle ranch. A flock of sheep would be nice, but not enough room in my backyard.

Face it, todays dogs are mostly pets. Not working dogs. IMO, they need to be suited to be pets first and everything else second. Now, that doesn’t mean we forget type (type is what makes a dog look like it’s breed, style is the differences in within a type).

My heart is in the conformation ring not at the herding trials. I would love to get some herding titles on some of my dogs, but may not ever get the chance. Finding training sites isn’t easy. Finding time and money for everything I want to do with my dogs isn’t realistic either.

I’ve been “in dogs” long enough to see that the pendulum swings to and fro. In some breeds it’s out at one end or the other and very extreme. Give it time, it will come back.

Yes, standards are subjective. I really don’t see any way to write a standard to make dog breeds into cookie cutter replications. Remember Mother Nature has a lot to say in what happens too. We know much now days and have many tools to work with but breeders are not Gods and we all need to remember that.

If you don’t like a certain breed, don’t buy it. If you don’t like where purebred dogs in general are going, then adopt a mixed breed from a shelter or rescue. There are many options now days and each of us are entitled to our o pinons and to make our own choices. And may it stay that way!


norman epstein January 5, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Peggy wrote in part: “Face it, todays dogs are mostly pets. Not working dogs. IMO, they need to be suited to be pets first and everything else second.”

What makes you think that being a pet and a working dog are mutually exclusive. In fact when a working dog has a job it makes it a more balanced pet. IMO it is cruel to choose a breed that has been for many generations selected for hard work and then restrict it to a life in suburbia on a couch. The only reason that your working breed has the behaviors that attracted it to you is because of its working selection/breeding; without that history it wouldn’t be as agile as biddable or intelligent.

Peggy wrote in part: “Now, that doesn’t mean we forget type (type is what makes a dog look like it’s breed, style is the differences in within a type) My heart is in the conformation ring not at the herding trials.”

And history has shown over and over again that only function confirms and protect type choose it because it can function, because correct type follows function not the eye of a judge. Your heart may be in the show ring but the show ring alone has never protected type, health or character in fact it has made all of them less than they were. If you want to protect your breed put it to work

Peggy wrote in part: “I’ve been “in dogs” long enough to see that the pendulum swings to and fro. In some breeds it’s out at one end or the other and very extreme. Give it time, it will come back.”

Please name that breed that has come back from the extremes of the show world to what is was since the first bench show some 100 years ago when they were chosen because of what they did not because of what they looked like.

Peggy wrote in part: “Yes, standards are subjective. I really don’t see any way to write a standard to make dog breeds into cookie cutter replications.”

Your above is confusing. No one in the working world wants or requires a cookie cutter example of a breed only the show world, the place where your heart is, strives for this. The show breeds have changed not because of the subjectivity of a standard but because of the subjectivity of the market place and or the show judge i.e., type du jour.

Peggy wrote in part: “If you don’t like where purebred dogs in general are going, then adopt a mixed breed from a shelter or rescue.”

Given the myriad of heath problems mainly due to the overuse of favorite sires and tight breeding and the extremes in type of what caring person can like where the show pure breed is going and I have no problems with owning a mixed or cross bred dogs.


Susi January 5, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Having responded to you once already today, I think we can’t keep meeting this way, Norman, but I had to jump in here. What makes you think mixed breeds are immune from health issues? Surely while driving down a street, you, like the rest of us, may notice a dog walking alongside its owner, the owner oblivious to the obvious slipping patella, wonky hip or broken pasterns. And, actually, I can think of at least one breed which breeds have improved over the years. I wrote about it here:


norman epstein January 5, 2013 at 6:21 pm

In your zeal to intercede you seem to have misread my reply in that I have never written that mongrels are immune from health issues. What I continue to contend is because of hybrid vigor they (mongrels) have fewer, save your extinct example. I appreciate your offering anecdotal examples of seeing unhealthy mongrels I have seen them also but I have also seen many more unhealthy pure breeds walking in a show ring. Now lets put aside what we have or have not seen and look towards science. From PetMed

And from information gathered by Hullmuth Wachtel

R. Beythien, Tierarten- und Hunderassenverteilung, Erkrankungshäufigkeit und prophylaktische Maßnahmen bei den häufigsten Hunderassen am Beispiel einer Tierarztpraxis in Bielefeld in den Jahren 1983-1985 und 1990-1992, 1998, Diss., Tierärztl. Hochschule Hannover Mongrels less often in a vet surgery

B.N. Bonnett, A. Egenvall, P. Olson, Å. Hedhammar, Mortality in Swedish

dogs: rates and causes of death in various breeds, The Veterinary Record, 12/7/1997, S. 40 – 44)
Insured dogs .“Mongrels were consistently in the low risk category” (S. 41)

A. Egenvall, B.N. Bonnett, P. Olson, Å. Hedhammar,Gender, age, breed and distribution of morbidity and mortality in insured dogs in Sweden during 1995 and 1996, The Veterinary Record, 29/4/2000, p. 519-57

Insured dogs. “The low risk for morbidity of mongrels also agrees with previous findings that mongrel dogs are less prone to many diseases than the average purebred dog.” (S. 524) Second lowest morbidity and mortality of mongrels in ten “most common breeds” (again, without size distinction in mongrels).

(Lowest risk breeds, however, are 10 other breeds, of which 9 are Scandinavian native hunting dogs, and Sibes. Results probably skewed by this fact and therefore residences in remote regions.)

H. Eichelberg und R. Seine, Lebenserwartung und Todesursachen bei Hunden I. Zur Situation bei Mischlingen und verschiedenen Rassehunden, Berl.

Münch. Tierärztl. Wschr. 109, 292-303,1995

Mongrels were no different (S. 292)

A. R. Michell, Longevity of British breeds of dog and its relationship with sex, size, cardiovascular variables and disease, Vet. Rec., 27 Nov.

1999, S. 625-629

“There was a significant correlation between body weight and longevity.

Crossbreeds lived longer than average but several pure breeds lived longer than cross breeds, notably Jack Russell, miniature poodles and whippets” (S. 627) – Thus only small and toy breeds, as to be expected

G.J. Patronek, D.J. Walters, L.T. Glickman, Comparative Longevity of Pet Dogs and Humans: Implications for Gerontology Research, J. Geront., BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 1997, Vol 52A,No.3, B171-B178

“The median age at death was 8,5 years for all mixed breed dogs and 6,7 years for all pure breed dogs… For each weight group, the age at death of pure breed dogs was significantly (p=.0001) less than for mixed breed dogs.” (p. B173) Mongrels lived 1 – 3 years longer.

H.F. Proschofsky et al, Mortality of purebred and mixed breed dogs in Denmark, Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 2003, 58, 53-74

Higher average longevity of mixedbreed dogs (lumped together! Age at death mixed breeds Q1 8, Q2 11, Q3 13, purebreds 6, 10, 12

Renner, A. S., Statistische Analyse der Rassenverteilung, Erkrankungsfälle und prophylaktischen Maßnahmen bei den häufigsten Hunderassen am Beispiel der Patientenpopulation einer Kleintierklinik in Südbaden von September 1987 – Juni 1992, Diss., Inst. F. Pathol., Tierärztl. Hochschule Hannover, Hannover,1995

Least morbidity in spitz and mongrel (but just few spitzes).

Studies reviewed by Renner: (GROSS 1977, DOMKE 1983, KAUERTZ 1985, MIHALEVIC 1988, MIHALJEVIC 1989, LADEHOFF 1994).“ S.168

Invariably less health problems in mongrels in all those studies

E.Switzer und I.Nolte, Ist der Mischling wirklich der gesündere Hund?, Der Praktische Tierarzt, 88,1, 14-19 (2007) . In 11 studied diseases (afaik polygenetic and infective ones) average representation, mongrels over represented in mammary tumors and fractures of extremities). No indication of weight compositions of the dogs

K. Stromberger, Genetisch-epidemiologische Untersuchung ausgewählter Erkrankungen beim Hund – Vergleich Rassehund – Mischling, Thesis, Veterinary University Vienna, June 2000

Only study using epidemiologic procedures and opposing the category “pedigree dog” with the category “mixedbreed” (no weight groups).

No difference found, though some heterosis stated. Severe bias: there where ca. 50% small dogs among purebreds as against 5% in mongrals

Stormy January 4, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Since I share moderator duties with Dr. Burchard on a yahoo list, I will politely and respectfully disagree with his assumptions about the showline GSDs. As a favorite GSD breeder says frequently… “We choose not to perform, it’s our choice… but we have many of our progeny owners who has, in many venues, and who will again.” Certainly the less than rigorous tests that the GSD (or probably many other breeds) go through to obtain a certificate is not the demanding work that the actual working dog does. It isn’t the choice of the show fancier to do that. But when the GSDs do, they do it with ease and vigor. Relating a statistic without rigorous science behind it is not anything but an opinion.


The Hooded Thing January 6, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Well said.


Susi January 6, 2013 at 5:46 pm

I appreciate that, Hooded thing!


Walt Hutchens January 7, 2013 at 8:27 am

A fine post and many wonderful comments but we should see the dog fancy’s situation in context: We are in the position of the homeowner with roof leaks, a flooded basement, and water coming under the door due to the storm of the century going on outside: We have a serious and potentially fatal problem about which we can do some things but for which the root problem is beyond our pumping and stuffing of rags.

That root problem is that modern popular America has a growing distaste for liberty and what comes with it, chiefly responsibility. Oh, I want MY liberty all right — defined as the opportunity to follow my whims as they occur — but I really HATE it when you do something I don’t understand that might be subversive or cause a foul smell. And damned if I’m going to waste my time trying to understand what you’re doing: I JUST WANT IT STOPPED.

Responsiblity? Sure — whatever … The Government should take care of that.

Since there are lots of mes out there calling for laws to ban subversiveness and potential foul smells, we’re all running out of liberty at the same time.

The dog world didn’t create this; we’re victims along with the rest of what used to be American culture. Acting within the dog world we can’t fix it, even for our dogs. Acting in the larger America we can only share the monumental effort that will be needed.

Both good and bad news are in the fact that our country’s current trajectory will end soon with the collapse of our economy. Reality — chiefly the fact that liberty was the source of our amazing prosperity — won’t be suspended just because Congress isn’t interested, our President considers it nasty, our media finds that it doesn’t draw viewers, and voters don’t think it matters when choosing office holders.

Don’t think ‘Greece’ for our future, think ‘Weimar Republic.’ We’re too big to bail out, our current culture is more deeply fractured, and we will not quietly exchange liberty and prosperity for a few dabs of comfort.

As dog fanciers we should think in terms of conservation: How can the best of today be carried through the coming hard times? As citizens our focus should be on surviving and having as much fun as possible when government ranges from unhelpful to our mortal enemy.

As reality takes charge, the anti-liberty movement will be swept away. A lot of what happens will be unpretty and unfun but it probably won’t be worse than the period when our nation was founded the first time. Those early Americans found strength for the work and so will we.

The next decade will be the most interesting and exciting of our lives.


Susi January 7, 2013 at 9:40 am

Always an honor, Walt, to have you and/or Sharyn share opinions, here. You said very eloquently what I tip-toed around in the article. Yes, yes, yes, it is a distaste (or perhaps they forgot the sensation of truly relying on yourself) for liberty means. As you said, we now live in “have it your way” times. Your evaluation of how this all “goes down” is one I’ve heard before from respected and education people. I was hoping for a cushy old age, but that doesn’t seem likely now. Hey Walt, care to write a guest column?


Walt Hutchens January 8, 2013 at 11:14 am

The honor is mine, Susi.

I will see what I can come up with as a guest column.


Kim West January 7, 2013 at 2:31 pm

This article was weak! I totally disagree we have improved by leaps and bounds the future of the show dog is brighter than ever!


Susi January 7, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Thanks for the comment, Kim, and for the sunshine you brought to the topic. Obviously, I don’t share your unbridled optimism for the future and if you could point out the reasons for your sunny outlook, I’m all ears (or eyes, as the case may be). I’m happy to be wrong on this but need to be persuaded.


Norman Epstein January 10, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Unless I missed it the below post offered 1/8/2013 has yet to be posted. If you found there is something in this post or the language used that would render it not suitable for this blog please let me know. Moreover would like to know if I for some reason have been banned for posting.

Norman Epstein January 8, 2013 at 8:26 am
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

So it seems you have been reduced to hanging your hat on pop-science that for obvious reasons have not been or ever will be peer reviewed. I note from your example (say hemochromatosis) you seem to have read the same review I did (g). Per that review I noted that Jonathan Prince, with whom Dr. Moalem wrote the book, was a senior adviser and speechwriter in the Clinton administration and oversaw communications strategy with NATO during the war in Kosovo. Enough said. The review goes on, one can’t tell what contribution he made to the book, but I find it interesting that he was involved.
It continues, the emerging field of evolutionary genetics is something everyone should become literate in, given the pace of discoveries. Survival of the Sickest is a great introduction to the field and addition to the popular science literature. Read it, laugh, and learn (?) I ask you how often laughter is suggested when reading serious science. If the book is as comical as the review it will as you suggest certainly be a good read. But let’s for argument sakes lay the crux of Dr. Moalems thesis that the reason that a particular disease is in evidence is because it protected against another an immediate threat, say on the Doberman Pincher. Now the incidence of cardiomyopathy, which evidences itself mainly in large breeds but for still unexplained reasons in Doberman’s this malady is greater than that in all other breeds combined. What is the immediate threat do you think the cardiomyopathy is protecting the Doberman from, maybe HD?. And why in those unusual numbers the Doberman? Which begs the question since cardiomyopathy shows itself at around five year of age why doesn’t the disease, if it gave a damn protect it sooner, before it has been selected many times as a favorite sire.

You suggest my writings would lead one to believe that I have contempt for purebred dogs and or their breeders. I can only assume by that statement, you have not read what I have previously written because if you had you would know I have no animosity for pure breeds or their breeders my only contempt is for the process that allowed for the most part unhealthy exaggerations of what that breed was once to become a breeding template for future rosette seekers. I have found it is mentally lazy to become entrenched by the certainty du jour.

You go on to suggest the result of continued universal testing for function I think you called that “test driving” “ to ensure its soundness” at least we agree it would do that, would result in (your words) “ a generic dog much like we see roaming the streets of Mexico” So that is your studied conclusion. You might consider that “test driving” for function which by the way is much the process that has been used for thousands of years and in large part is the reason we have our different breeds today. As an example you also might consider by only breeding to the same species and “test driving” the Dingo and Wolf without a breed registry or the AKC look like wolves and dingoes not like dogs roaming the streets of Mexico. The same holds true for working Border Collies whose breeders for about one hundred of years have been using the same method of selection and they don’t look like feral dogs. That said I do agree that left to their own devices all dogs would in time look alike but that sameness would have nothing to do functional testing but everything to do with unrestricted breeding.

Here are some original Shar-Pei’s

Here are some modern Shar-Pei’s–ZUeVrLMGhg/UBk9Xzo27qI/AAAAAAAABG0/jqvtThSXU0U/s400/CruftsU-045.jpg


Susi January 10, 2013 at 9:21 pm

I’ve enjoyed our dialogue, Norman, and have appreciated your input on this important conversation. My readers now have many points of views to digest, and as they say on TV, we’ve reported, now they can decide. Don’t be a stranger, Norman.


Katie January 13, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Do not write a check to PETA! They are terrible and defeat the purpose of what they do. Great article though. I always convince people to adopt, but if they are set on a purebred, I tell them how to find the right breeder/


Susi January 13, 2013 at 6:03 pm

I totally agree, Katie! I only used that phrase to underscore the choices we have to write, or not write, that check. To illustrate how harmful a group it is, consider reading what I wrote here:


Lenna S. Hanna-O'Neill January 14, 2013 at 3:56 am

I read the article and was impressed, as always, with the way you get to the heart of the issue. And then I *tried* to read the comments. Wow! But, I am not surprised. This issue is very near and dear to me (as you know) and I’ve been in the trenches fighting this with you for a long time now. It raises a lot of hackles, and one thing I have noticed is the distressing tendency, in so many walks of canine association, for people to be looking for a fight. For example, I saw nothing anti-rescue in this article but people were sure ready to read that into it. it is as if they can’t just accept a pro-breeder comment without seeing it as a challenge or indictment of rescue. I agree with you, we are ALL needed, and many breeders have rescue dogs in their homes. At the moment, I have 3. I don’t see it as a conflict of interest; more as a natural product of living with, and loving, dogs. I just wish that others could see it that way too. *sigh*


Susi January 14, 2013 at 9:41 am

I appreciate the comments, Lenna, both for the confirmation that what I wrote resonated with you, as well as a personal tip of the hat (can any of us ever get enough of that?) And like you, I was puzzled by the interpretation of some. As you said, it was as is some were looking to spar and I can only conclude that they’re of a mindset that say if you’re not with me, you’re against me. Those folks should have lived in the 60s when the mantra was to love the one you’re with, including the dogs we chose to love.


Puzzled January 30, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Check out this web page. Need more breeders like this. Very few responsible breeders have websites (are they afraid) while mass breeders advertise like crazy. I agree public perception is very important, so why aren’t the good breeders more visable?


Susi January 30, 2013 at 7:37 pm

I applaud this breeder, but I can tell you exactly why more breeders don’t follow suit: They’re afraid, as you guessed. They’ve had threats made on their dogs, their homes and their property. AR zealots will stop at nothing to intimidate them, but now some local law enforcement agencies are as bad. I hardly recognized the country anymore.


Susi January 2, 2013 at 9:18 am

I appreciate hearing from you Jerry, and while you might take issue with my views, I get to say what I’m thinking on my blog. I fully agree with you that’s a mistake to lump shelters and rescue together, I know how this feels. How? Because those worlds have lumped all breeders together, from horrendous, for-profit breeding farms to the dedicate, serious and responsible hobby breeder. It’s not a good feeling. I could “live with” being unpopular except for the teeth behind legislation that impacts all of us as if we were the same. I also agree with you that our two worlds need to work together, but it’s difficult to have an honest working relationship when mythology passes for fact (the overpopulation “issue” is regional, at best, and difficult to embrace when thousands of dogs are imported from Europe, Puerto Rico and Mexico to fill demand at shelters);

I applaud the work you do in rescue, and like you, most of us in the show world are involved in rescue. We have our own, beloved “Jackson,” a rescue Puli, in addition to his show “cousins.” In fact, 33% of dogs rescued out of shelters are done so by people acting on behalf of their AKC member club. So I agree – as the Beatles would say, “come together.”


Susi January 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm

I agree, Merry, and appreciate your comments. Dedicated, responsible hobby breeders have been lumped into the same category as horrendous, for-profit puppy farms, mom & pop stick-two-of-the-sme-thing-in-the-yard, and designer-let’s-make-money! people for years, and we don’t like it one bit.


Merry January 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Susi, your Tipping Point article and the response it has generated are valuable contributions in the battle to keep purebred dogs from becoming extinct, and I applaud your effort to stay involved in this discussion. The link appeared on a Golden Retriever list today and I hope everyone reads it. I addressed this very topic in the member club column I write in the Golden Retriever Club of America magazine (GRCA News), and I think it will be appearing in the March edition. I called it “A Public Relations Issue,” and suggested we need an organized PR campaign to counter the one the AR zealots began in earnest in the early ’90s. Our targets: the media, the social media, and politicians. There’s a a lot we can do, and we have a great “product” to sell, but an organized effort would be much more efficient. Of course, we are only one of the ARistas’ targets, but that shouldn’t stop us from speaking up. A life of tofu and stuffed animals is not acceptable.


karen January 9, 2013 at 12:47 pm

education, education-people-training-dogs. AKC standards, policies, protocols for a responsible breeder. Puppy mills are not this yet ship pups with registration papers and pedigrees to the big chain pet stores. Mixed message to public. Dogs are living breathing wonderful creatures and should not be a product. Family purchases from store (not educated on breed, training) puppy has kennel cough (more often than not and sometimes other medical challenges) and thinks wait this dog has “papers” . This scenario should not represent AKC or the great breeder of pups out there. Fix that. Education. Now this families in-laws decide they will do the rescue/adopt route-after filling out 25 pages (ok maybe 5……) they bring home a dog say a guess of beagle mix. Not educated about breed-they are frustrated walking the dog cuz he is pulling with nose to ground not listening. Training. So we all need to help each other-educate – change – train. I have been in the show ring and the shelters btw.


Susi January 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm

I couldn’t agree more, Merry. As “they” say, perception is reality and this is as much a PR challenge as anything else. As you say, we DO have a great “product:” Predictable dog breeds suitable for any kind of life style when matched correctly bred by dedicated, serious and responsible breeders gaga over their dogs. A lot of money, a charismatic spokesperson and an army of really pissed off people who aren’t going to take it anymore (pardon my French) and are boots-on-the-ground ready would be helpful.


Merry January 2, 2013 at 6:47 pm

I’ve only been in the fancy 10 years and have never met any of the AKC grand poobahs, so I haven’t a clue who would be a good candidate for the “charismatic spokesperson” position. Money is necessary for lobbyists, but there’s much we can do that would cost nothing. Media outreach requires media savvy people with good writing and PR skills. Inviting politicians to dog shows and asking them to present the BIS trophy… well, anyone can do that.


Susi January 10, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Education is certainly key, Karen, and until we have our backs against the wall as far as we can be pushed, we may not have one voice that will eliminate mixed messages.


Susi January 1, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Great points, and I was about to point a finger at Hollywood, and yet, it’s not like they haven’t featured purebreds in movies; The public saw its first Dogue de Bordeaux with Turner and Hootch, there was the dog in “As Good as it Gets,” and so on. It’s an interesting cultural phenomenon, this subtle pervasion of the shelter and rescue message. Off the top of my head, I suspect a good deal of money, a willing icon in the public eye (a popular actor/actress) and a well crafted message simply promoting responsibly bred pure bred dogs would be a great start. Have you seen this one?


Susi January 4, 2013 at 8:14 pm

I wish I was 20 years younger too to do all the things I want to do, but as long as we have a pulse, it’s all good? That said, I totally agree with you but I’m not sure legislative liaison is enough any more. We need to be sitting AT the table with the power of a vote. I’m still ruminating on this…..


Susi January 1, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Which is an entirely different problem? With over 100 comments made so far, I need help knowing which comment goes to which remark (sheepish grin)…..


Susi January 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm

As you said, Norman, form follows function. The Shar-Pei was a fighting dog and excess wrinkles made it more challenging for the dog’s opponent to get much more than a mouthful of skin.


Susi January 5, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Very impressive, and when I have a spare week, I’ll review your citations, Norman. I’ve written my piece, I stand by it, I will never persuade you, thank you for your feedback, and now I’ll let others whose breeds you’ve cited speak for themselves and their breeds.


Norman Epstein January 7, 2013 at 8:44 am

So Susi you contend the reason that the Shar-Pei has folds of skin hanging off of their body and legs is because of its function of it being a fighting breed which begs the question why didn’t the original version i.e., before bench shows, have this exaggeration we often see today on many champion Shar-Pei’s. I think you would agree that they are not now a fighting breed so why the degree of excess skin around their eyes and nose, don’t they, fighting or not, still need to breathe.

FYI I have changed my opinion on many things because like you I used to believe that bench shows maintained pure breeds. I don’t now because science and breeding history as proved otherwise. If you want to change an opinion of mine it would be more constructive to do that with other than anecdotal evidence.

Regarding your offered evidence of the improvement of certain breeds, sans function which for the record is impossible because it has never occurred in any living organism, which is inclusive of AKC pure breeds, because of something called survival of the fittest. The show world population makes the easy difficult. Instead as they do now drawing up angles, toplines, and size limitations and then assume that if dogs fit that template it can do that thing, have dogs ACTUALLY do that thing and use that PROVEN template as THE type for that breed. I leave you a thought written by Hellmuth Wachtel.

In reality this is not “health testing”, it is just testing for horrible inherited diseases.
Real “health testing” would mean checking for fitness, vitality, longevity, sports medicine analyses and such, urgently needed for the purebred dog. Even some molecular geneticist have the illusion medicine eventually will eliminate all heritable defects and then dogs will be “healthy”.

As far a Dr. John Burchard not be taken seriously because his breed of choice is Saluki’s is, and I am being kind, absurd because Dr. Burchard speaks for dogdom not any one breed. Given your/their opinion of Dr. Burchard’s supposed limitations it would be interesting to hear how you/they reconcile all breed judges.


Susi January 7, 2013 at 9:56 am

The original Shar-Peis DID have this exaggeration – and more so, judging by photographs taken of the breed when Guinness recorded them as the rarest breed in the world. Which segues nicely into the problem many breeders have, and that is the limited gene pool with which they have to work. And by the way, may I suggest your read a book called, “Survival of the Sickest?” It’s a wonderful read, not entirely related to the topic at hand, but it might persuade you that “survival of the fittest” isn’t necessarily how nature always worked. Why would certain diseases, say, hemochromotosis, exist today? But I digress. I’m not sure where you’re going with this, Norman, or what you’ve actually suggest that is a remedy in the times in which we live. From what you’ve been writing, I’m fairly certain of your scorn for the state of today’s purebred dog, along with the breeders that brought it to its present state. You dispense with anecdotal evidence in favor of test-driving each specimen of every breed to ensure its soundness, but at the end of the day, I suspect what we would end up with is a generic dog such as what we see roaming the streets in Mexico. You point out, and I suppose it is one way of looking at it, that breeders aren’t “health testing”, as much as testing for horrible inherited diseases – but that is surely a critical part of the equation; running fields all day long after sheep is not proof positive that a dog won’t develop Dystrophy Myopathy and have passed it on to offspring.

Remedies, Norman.


Norman Epstein January 8, 2013 at 8:26 am

So it seems you have been reduced to hanging your hat on pop-science that for obvious reasons have not been or ever will be peer reviewed. I note from your example (say hemochromatosis) you seem to have read the same review I did (g). Per that review I noted that Jonathan Prince, with whom Dr. Moalem wrote the book, was a senior adviser and speechwriter in the Clinton administration and oversaw communications strategy with NATO during the war in Kosovo. Enough said. The review goes on, one can’t tell what contribution he made to the book, but I find it interesting that he was involved.
It continues, the emerging field of evolutionary genetics is something everyone should become literate in, given the pace of discoveries. Survival of the Sickest is a great introduction to the field and addition to the popular science literature. Read it, laugh, and learn (?) I ask you how often laughter is suggested when reading serious science. If the book is as comical as the review it will as you suggest certainly be a good read. But let’s for argument sakes lay the crux of Dr. Moalems thesis that the reason that a particular disease is in evidence is because it protected against another an immediate threat, say on the Doberman Pincher. Now the incidence of cardiomyopathy, which evidences itself mainly in large breeds but for still unexplained reasons in Doberman’s this malady is greater than that in all other breeds combined. What is the immediate threat do you think the cardiomyopathy is protecting the Doberman from, maybe HD?. And why in those unusual numbers the Doberman? Which begs the question since cardiomyopathy shows itself at around five year of age why doesn’t the disease, if it gave a damn protect it sooner, before it has been selected many times as a favorite sire.

You suggest my writings would lead one to believe that I have contempt for purebred dogs and or their breeders. I can only assume by that statement, you have not read what I have previously written because if you had you would know I have no animosity for pure breeds or their breeders my only contempt is for the process that allowed for the most part unhealthy exaggerations of what that breed was once to become a breeding template for future rosette seekers. I have found it is mentally lazy to become entrenched by the certainty du jour.

You go on to suggest the result of continued universal testing for function I think you called that “test driving” “ to ensure its soundness” at least we agree it would do that, would result in (your words) “ a generic dog much like we see roaming the streets of Mexico” So that is your studied conclusion. You might consider that “test driving” for function which by the way is much the process that has been used for thousands of years and in large part is the reason we have our different breeds today. As an example you also might consider by only breeding to the same species and “test driving” the Dingo and Wolf without a breed registry or the AKC look like wolves and dingoes not like dogs roaming the streets of Mexico. The same holds true for working Border Collies whose breeders for about one hundred of years have been using the same method of selection and they don’t look like feral dogs. That said I do agree that left to their own devices all dogs would in time look alike but that sameness would have nothing to do functional testing but everything to do with unrestricted breeding.

Here are some original Shar-Pei’s

Here are some modern Shar-Pei’s–ZUeVrLMGhg/UBk9Xzo27qI/AAAAAAAABG0/jqvtThSXU0U/s400/CruftsU-045.jpg


Susi January 13, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Many thanks for the citation!


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