The Double Standard for Dog Breeders
This is something I'm probably going to get in trouble for: comparing dogs to humans. But I work with both and if you understand one, it gives you invaluable insight into understanding the other. Surprise. Another unpopular opinion. That is a topic that is on my never-ending list of things to blog about. But today, I want to talk about how our reproductive standards for humans are one hundred percent less carefully though out than compared to dog (or most domestic animal) breeding.
A Facebook friend of mine recently shared this article. It discusses the many reasons why people decide to stay child-free and how those are valid lifestyles. I don't have kids. I don't have plans for kids. I don't foresee that changing. Health wise, I don't bring a ton to the table. I mean, my health isn't terrible, but it's nothing to brag about either. I am skilled in some fields, but far less so than a huge section of the population. I don't think it's fair to any potential future children if this is a topic I feel ambivalent about. I should be all in and dedicated to having and raising my children, if that's what I want. And I cannot commit to that right now, nor likely in the future. And I am slightly selfish - I don't want to change my lifestyle and I don't want to try to work kids into my lifestyle because I think I'll fail to do it well and something will have to give. I don't say that my dogs are my children because anthropomorphism is a problem (despite the fact that I believe there are valuable similarities between dogs and people). But my dogs are my passion. And I can't guarantee the same about any potential children. So to my mind, it's not fair of me to have kids.
That being said, I don't mind kids. I worked in theatre with kids for years. It's amazing to watch them find their passions, make friends, learn about the world. I am by no means anti-child, but I don't want children on my own.
I do want to talk about good breeders and what they do. Good breeders are health conscious. They are aware of what genetic issues are in their dog's lines. They seek to avoid breeding two dogs with the same health issues together. They test what they can and are smart and conservative about pairings when they can't test.
Good breeders consider temperament and understand temperament to have a genetic component. They don't breed two fearful dogs together. If they breed a fearful dog, they breed it to a confident dog with confident dogs behind them in their pedigree.
Good breeders wait until their dogs are fully physically and mentally mature before breeding them. Particularly if their dogs have diseases that you can't test for, they delay in breeding their dogs to see if those diseases develop. They wait for dogs to be mature themselves before letting them become mothers.
Good breeders recognize that not every dog needs to be bred - that not every dog has important and significant contributions to the genepool. Certainly there is nothing wrong with breeding healthy dogs with solid temperaments even if they are not a breed record holder. But the dog with the overbite making it difficult for the dog to eat comfortably? The dog with allergies so bad the dog pulls their own hair out? Do they need to be bred?
Good breeders know their pedigrees inside and out. They know what disease, what structural shortcomings are common in their lines. They understand that just because the particular pairing of dogs they are breeding doesn't have the issues that are prevalent in their lines doesn't mean those issues won't pop up in the litter.
And yet, "Adopt, Don't Shop" is the reigning culture of the day. There is nothing wrong with adopting a dog from a responsible shelter/rescue. Nothing. But there is nothing wrong with buying from a responsible breeder too. Yet breeders have been so vilified that even those that do all of the above are all too often maligned as evil (I'm not being provocative with the language, it's something I heard people say time and again).
How can the culture of "breeders are evil" and "every person should have children" exist side by side? How, when good breeders are putting so much work into ensuring health, happy dogs can they be evil?
Again, we obviously do need more children in the world if we are to continue to have a human race. Every person gets to make their own decision for their own reasons about having children. I'm really not anti-children. I'm super happy teaching them and encouraging them in their endeavors. I just don't want children of my own, but I am not about to tell anyone who wants them that they're wrong.