The Website Dilemma
Updated: Nov 30, 2020
There are other lovely articles written on this subject, but considering the trend hasn't changed, I'll add my voice to the plea:
If you're a breeder, please get a website.
If your website is old, please update it.
When I first started researching azawakh it took me three years to find a breeder I wanted to get a puppy from. I checked my parent club's website, I checked Facebook for breeder names, and most of all, I checked the ever popular Google. I didn't expect to find a breeder close to me, but surely one must exist...Somewhere? The closest I found to me was Tombouktou in Germany. I still love their dogs, but the timing never worked for me, so I never got in touch.
You see, I came from the world of shelters and rescues. I'd had a mixed breed dog who I loved but I wanted more predictably. I had purebred rescues. I was baffled when I went to look for my first purpose, preservation bred dog and I couldn't use Google.
My process on the past has been to use Google or, yes the dreaded, Petfinder to find dogs I was interested in and then I would research the shelter/rescue online again via Google and Facebook. I would read testimonials and scroll back on the rescues' Facebook to see their modus operandi. From there I would contact the rescue and work on forming a relationship, even when they didn't have a dog available I was interested in.
This may distress people who have only existed in the purebred world but my methodology was substantially more thorough than that of 90% of my clients. The majority of people I talk to found this breeder on Google and then inquired about whether there were puppies available. If there weren't, that moved on to the next breeder. Or they checked their Craigslist classified ads (after all, dogs used to be advertised in newspapers). If they wanted a rescue or shelter dog most literally went to the nearest shelter, no research required no breed or mix in mind and picked up the dog that some to them most. In the case of a few well bred dogs we get in they were repeat clients of their breeder or they used Google to shop around and then actually followed through on researching.
Note, no where in that list is methodologies was:
Contact the parent club
Contact via Facebook
Attend a dog show to meet a breeder
I think I've met exactly one owner, she owned a vizsla, who told me that she'd attended a dog show to meet her breed. Dog shows are intimidating to the general public! Before owning my first show dog I legitimately didn't realize they were open to the public! I thought you needed a ticket. And I promise you, I am not alone in that assumption.
The average general public member doesn't know what a parent club is. I know people in dog sports that some know what a parent club is! At the time of writing this if you search azawakh, our parent club site is buried under two Google pages.
As for Facebook pages, not everyone is on Facebook. It's a familiar format, but certainly not the best for organizing information. You can post health test and dog files, but most people won't look at your files section. You're limited by the Facebook user interface. And what's more, Facebook is increasingly cracking down on the sale of animals, so if a Facebook page for your kennel is the only you are available for contact, you're risking losing everything. I think Facebook is an awesome way to meet potential new owners, to display brags, but it's not a clear medium to communicate information effectively.
I've talked to so many breeders that say: "I have a website, but I haven't updated it in 5-15 years, but I still place my puppies just fine". Okay, sure yes, it is possible to place puppies without having an up to date website, but I feel that websites are more about how you want to present yourself as a breeder to the public.
If I see a website that hasn't been updated in 12 years and has clearly been designed with highly outdated technology, most people are going to look at that and decide the breeder is no longer breeding. They're going to assume that the contact information is no longer accurate and they're going to move on. That means that those with outdated websites who are being contacted are mostly being contacted by two different kinds of people. 1) the people who are already part of the breed community and 2) the pushy people who are going to contact a breeder even with an outdated website. The people who likely send every breeder they come across a message with very little research. Naturally there are exceptions to those categories, but that's mostly what I have found when talking to my clients.
A common strawman I hear about having a website is: 'I'm too busy focusing on my dogs to make a website. Do you want me to neglect my dogs?' This is so disingenuous to me. One time wen heard this argument I took a look at my calendar. Over the course of twenty weeks I had been to trials or shows 16 weekends. This was the same time period that I created my website. If I can put 30 titles on four dogs over the course of two years while working full time and also creating and maintaining my website, other people can too. Wix has been a great platform to build a clean website on, but frankly most platforms out there do a good job.
I could talk all day on this subject and will probably do another post on it at some point. I honestly believe that websites are how most pet homes find their dogs and I want to be somewhere I can be found. I want to provide accurate information to the best of my ability and represent my breed well.