Thursday, June 27, 2013

Why people buy from BYBs (Part I)

So much blame is put on breeders as the reason why people end up buying dogs from less-than-reputable sources.  But is it really the breeders' fault?

I recently spoke with a person who was interested in purchasing a Doberman puppy from a responsible breeder.  I was cautiously optimistic until she mentioned that she wanted a male puppy... but currently had another male dog.

I'm not sure how many of my readers are aware of the level of same-sex dog aggression (henceforth called SSDA) in Dobermans.  It's deeply-rooted in the breed, and the only dobes that seem to have fewer instances of SSDA tend to be dogs in rescue.  This is not to say that rescue dobes never have SSDA, but the chances of getting a male dobe that's fine with other males is more likely through rescue than it is through a responsible breeder.

To some of you, this may seem 'backwards' - after all, shouldn't "good" temperaments be found in responsibly bred dogs?  The issue here is "easy temperament" versus "correct temperament."  My theory on why you see more SSDA in well-bred dogs is that it is linked to other temperament traits that are correct and desirable for the breed.  In fact, here is the breed standard for Doberman temperament:


TEMPERAMENT 
Energetic, watchful, determined alert, fearless, loyal and obedient. The judge shall dismiss from the ring any shy or vicious Doberman. 
Shyness: A dog shall be judged fundamentally shy if, refusing to stand for examination, it shrinks away from the judge; if it fears an approach from the rear; if it shies at sudden and unusual noises to a marked degree. 
Viciousness: A dog that attacks or attempts to attack either the judge or its handier, is definitely vicious. An aggressive or belligerent attitude towards other dogs shall not be deemed viciousness.

Note the bolded section. An aggressive or belligerent attitude towards other dogs shall not be deemed viciousness. Dog aggression is so common, so deep-rooted, that it is even mentioned in our standard as something that should not be penalized.

So you see, a "good" temperament in a Doberman is different than a "good" temperament in a Golden Retriever. Dog aggression isn't bad in some breeds. It does make them more challenging to own, but it doesn't make them bad dogs, and doesn't make their breeders bad either.

Of course, training and socialization can lessen a male Doberman's reactivity towards other males.  A well-trained, well-socialized SSDA male Doberman will appear completely friendly in most situations, but the owners are able to read their dog's body language and are constantly vigilant for signs that their dog is going to react aggressively toward another dog.  For example... in the photo below, at least one of these dogs is SSDA, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the photo. 

 So in this instance, the person I was talking to wanted a male Doberman that did not possess one (or many) of the breed traits associated with the breed.  I gently explained why she would not be able to purchase a male Doberman from the particular breeder in question, and warned that she would have difficulty finding any other responsible breeder to sell her a male. She quickly became upset.  She insisted that she didn't want a rescue dog, that she knew more than I did about SSDA (despite never having owned a Doberman, and never having any direct experience with SSDA) and that she'd have to go 'elsewhere' for a puppy.
I predict that this person will end up buying a puppy from the first backyard breeder (BYB) that will sell her a male.  After all, BYBs are so focused on profit that they are willing to place puppies into inappropriate situations. Is this the fault of the responsible breeder?  No. Was rescue suggested to the person, only to be shot down as an 'insulting' suggestion? Yes.  
In an ideal world, people would get their dogs from responsible breeders.  There would be no irresponsible breeders, so rescue organizations would most likely begin to be phased out.  However, this is not a perfect world.  People will still go to BYBs and pet stores, simply because responsible breeders care too much about their dogs to put them into unfit homes.  The real problem here is that not everyone is a good pet owner. Not everyone should own the animals they insist on owning.  People know what they want, and will go to great lengths to get it... even if it means supporting a backyard breeder, mill, or puppy broker.  
But that is not the fault of the responsible breeder.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post and a wholeheartedly argree with you. Sadly some people want instant gratification and that blinds them. BYB know this and know what "sells". Sad truly b/c it ruins the breed.

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