The Butler did it (the whelping I mean) By G. Revill
Are you a back yard breeder? Yes more than likely. Well you sure as he** aren't doing it in the front yard. Maybe you are a side yard or a back veranda breeder, a spare bedroom breeder? Well it's a silly term anyway. It is supposed to define the good breeder from the bad one.
If you are a show breeder, that is, someone who does it to produce the future show dogs and the future of the breed, you are not doing it once in a blue moon, every five years or when the planets are in alignment. If you breed like that you are simply a dabbler, not a true breeder. I have heard many self righteous so called breeders exclaim that they are more virtuous because they only breed every so many years, therefore they are not contributing to any excess, therefore they are holier than thou. They define themselves as being better for the breed. Imagine if the original development of the breed was in the hands of these blue moon breeders. Would we have any Great Danes at all?
Let us examine the show breeder. Yes, they are certainly bent on producing champions. Dogs that exemplify the breed in as close proximity to the standard as possible. What's left over should have, though only 'pets', the same stamp of quality as the show material, and therefore what the public pet owner gets is still a high quality dog (in theory). It has the same genetic base for the attributes that make up a show dog and a basic good dog should be par for the course along with hopefully a good temperament. (But you know all that.) The show breeder has high standards (well should) as to what he wants to show and to go on with in his breeding program. Because he constantly pits himself against mother natures desire to return all of dogdom back to a snippy lipped, average sized, generic looking wolf dog, not to mention her dirty tricks, he sometimes finds his best laid plans go astray. He may not get what he wants in the most thought out swatted over coupling. Well bad luck Huh? That's that for another five years? Yeah right. Back to the drawing board at the next available opportunity. And that might still be six months away. I might also mention some what should be obvious facts.
1. We don't have 5 years to spare with Great Danes and
2. Nature actually means for bitches to be bred every season, so leaving them unmated and entire for season after season is detrimental, it is effectively working against your bitches biological viability and health.
Developing a kennel and a consistency in type and to be able to choose the right pups for optimum shot at improving and or keeping the quality you are trying to achieve cant be done by breeding a couple of litters in 10 years. Fine if you just want a pet to replace the other, but don't profess to be a conciencous 'breed helping' breeder doing that. .It does nothing to help the gene pool. The non breeder or the dabbler tend to throw the term around loosely at show breeders who have more than one litter a year or every other year. 'Well, they must be in it for the money'! What shame is there in actually getting a bit back for all the blood sweat and tears and the hard work, the continual outlay financially required to produce quality dogs that will hopefully stand the breed in good stead for the future, and that pet owners want and often demand as 'consumers'? Most of us 'big' breeders own shares in our vets establishments. We have helped pay off their BMWs. Care to hire someone the equivalent of a geneticist, vet nurse, kennel maid, dog transporter, consumer advice bureau, and anything else you can think of attached to breeding and rearing a litter of purebred dogs so that they not only fulfill their genetic potential, they fulfill the requirements they are intended for and are sold in good health. (This isn't allowing for the 'unforeseen, like an emergency Caesar or puppy woes that might occur.) Should we be entitled to get a bit back? Bloody oath. The bigger breeders have often invested a lot of money importing bloodlines to widen the gene pool and try to improve the breed. We are not all millionaires throwing dollars around without a care. It has to come from somewhere. Why shouldn't the dogs 'pay for themselves?' If a litter of pups finances the importation of genes for the continuation of the breed in an other wise small gene pool, is that a crime? No it is not. The pet owner and the "in a blue moon" breeder still take advantage of new bloodlines bought in to the country. They should think carefully before biting the hand that feeds them.
The important issue here is "not how many litters one might breed" but whether one can find 'good' homes for the surplus. This is the real issue when breeding a lot. In order to get the cream of a gene pool a breeder may need to play the numbers game, and this of course means a lot also more pet puppies into the market.
The True backyard breeder, whom we really should rename as the puppy farmer or maybe the under porch whelper or something. Define the Puppy Farmer as some one who only does it for a quid solely, who wont keep anything at all until his 'breeding pair/s' get old or die, who is not interested in actually true breed conformation as long as it looks generally like a Great Dane, who has no knowledge of bloodlines or health issues, nor does he care. He either offers no or little breed info when he sells his pups and it is often misinformation and he never wants to hear from you again. He has achieved his objective.
Yes there are those who are the 'lets breed a litter' brigade for the kids or for the bitch such is their rationale, who really do care about the pups and where they go, they may be a fraction better than the afore mentioned but still not ideal breeders by any means . These often do the one litter and after finding out all the expense and work decide they won't do it again. Good.
A true 'puppy farmer' might breed all year round, but he usually has more than one breed too, but what is classified as a (breed) BYBer by us probably doesn't breed as often as some big breeders. As an aside, never the twain shall meet as we don't share the same market place really, so we don't actually compete with them. (so from that point of view, they are not 'stealing' our sales)
Whether breeding one or three litters a year or whatever , the 'good' breeder still has to find appropriate homes for his pets but unlike the under porch /tied to the fig tree whelper, we more often than not have orders from the discerning level of the puppy market. People, who are after a very specific 'product', are willing to wait and deliberately avoid the newspapers when looking for their next Dane. Most good breeders rarely advertise a litter in the paper and the first anyone might even know of a breeders activities is in the kennel gazette notices, well after all pups are home and hosed. Such breeders have 'internal' orders and are recommended via word of mouth and Dane clubs etc. Once upon a time price would often be the difference between the well bred GD and the scrubber, but BYBs are quite savvy these days and not only do they have registered dogs but sell them at 'our' prices, sometimes more than we would charge, much to our horror. (Fortunately, instigated more recently, they do need to complete a course with the kennel control to get a prefix, and this might just be too much to have to do for someone only interested in financial gain.)
Though the current numbers at shows belies this, the Great Dane is a very popular breed. Despite the vagaries of gigantism and rearing requirements, the constant availability of small breeds, the demand for this breed is fairly high. Never a week goes by that I personally don't have at least one enquiry, but more like the norm is at least 3. One week I had twelve, six by phone and six on the net. Be that as it may, even the big breeder can't cope with all the orders they get as a rule. Colour specifics, for one, or just plain old mother nature. One doesn't order a litter of puppies one day and they are here the next. One thing that does come of it is that you can pretty much pick and choose whom you think are the right people for your puppies... If you cant help someone, you can refer then on if you think they sound 'fitting'. Whether we like it or not the BYBer picks up the slack, as they cater to a market that fills in the gaps the 'reputable' ones cant or wont fill.. There are always the 'I want one now' people, and more often than not, you cant help them, even if you actually physically have a litter in the whelping box (or under the porch?). (make that 'Porsche' .........we are after all doing it for the money)
When labeling someone with the onerous name of back yard breeder, take all things into account before you bandy it around. If you got your dog you are proud of from a high profile breeder who is known for good stock , breeds regularly and seems successful, remember what it takes to achieve that level of success and quality. Bear in mind all the other breeders involved in the ultimate procuring of that one dog. He is the result of many years of breeders breeding. It isn't handed to them on a silver platter, it was a lot of hard work and dedication.
When deciding that someone only breeds for the money, there is a distinct difference between the dogs themselves helping toward the ongoing kennel and its high standard of stock and never ending financial outlay, to Joe Bloggs churning out anything and everything with out regard to quality or care and putting very little into it and raking in the doe.
Well that's all from me for now....
Now where is that butler? Probably over at the east wing bringing the Lamborghini around so I can go down to the yacht for the day.
G. Revill